drafting skills

Dear friends

A few evenings ago, I helped Daur1 complete the first draft of her personal statement for medical school, reducing it from 6000+ characters to less than 4000 (the maximum allowable). At the end, at 2359h, she exclaimed to the rest of the awake household (Son1 and her father):

Mum has a superpower!! A gift!!

I know! replied her father, and they began discussing how I should do proofreading after retirement… in 20 years πŸ™‚ I explained that it’s a bit too plain English for the academic environment!!

It took me a while to discover this skill and I do recognise it is a little unusual. It’s closely related to my other superpower, the ability to quickly assimilate large amounts of information and identify the salient points. I first realised I had these twin skills some years ago when I re-wrote and collated a submission for beacon council status following a rather inadequate draft from a private consultant which my boss was not too happy with. We were shortlisted and went on to win the status.

I’m actually quite a slow reader; with the statement last night (made worse because I was tired but then adrenaline kicked in…) it took me a good 15 mins to read the initial 6000+ words and understand what Daur1 was trying to write.

I’ve learnt that skills and abilities come in many, many ways, some hidden, some more obvious. I know all of us have a super power, probably several, something that makes you uniquely you and something that you can use to help others. Gifts, talents, skills, super powers, are not there for selfish reasons and I think rarely directly benefit the person who possesses them, except in a way that they can serve others. I’ll let scripture explain more eloquently what I’m trying to say, from Doctrine and Covenants section 46:

11 For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.

12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.

26 And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God.

Advertisements

the value of time… 13 reasons

Dear friends

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

I’ve always taken great comfort in this passage of scripture (Ecclesiastes 3 verses 1 to 8). There’s time to be all I need to be, but maybe not I’m one day!

The list below is from a post, from one of my cousins, following a story about a young man who learns, from an older man, that the most valuable thing in the old man’s life was the younger man’s time. Hopefully there will be something in this list that encourages you. Thank you for taking the time to read πŸ™‚

1. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way..

2 A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don’t like you.

3 Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.

4. You mean the world to someone.

5. If not for you, someone may not be living.

6. You are special and unique.

7. When you think you have no chance of getting what you want, you probably won’t get it, but if you trust God to do what’s best, and wait on His time, sooner or later, you will get it or something better.

8. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good can still come from it.

9. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look: you most likely turned your back on the world.

10. Someone that you don’t even know exists loves you.

11. Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks.

12. Always tell someone how you feel about them; you will feel much better when they know and you’ll both be happy.

13. If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they are great.

protecting our children

Dear friends

This morning I read the headline that Brady was dead and my mind went back to many years ago.

In 1994 I was serving as a full time missionary for the Lord, assigned to the England Manchester Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  One of my first areas was at the edge of the Pennines, a town named Oldham.

As we met people on the streets, a question was often raised concerning the nature of God and:

Why did He let that happen to those children?

I didn’t understand at first and then someone mentioned the names – Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.  I understood; I explained to my American companion.  This is where it happened, this was the town, our view to the hills was a view to the moors, Saddleworth Moor.  Five children, tortured and killed in the 1960s, buried on the moors.  I was not born but the murders were notorious and 30 years later, even with the guilty ones in jail the community still felt the pain and anger; no remorse was ever shown.

I have not come close to feeling what those parents and the community felt.  But there will be some people who sadly have.

Summer is approaching and growing up it seemed this was the time when children tragically featured in the news – Sara Payne, Milly Dowler, the Soham girls, Jamie Bulger.  This has made me cautious as a parent; I think it’s made many parents cautious and changed the way children play outside the home.  

Today the world has predators, games, social media and wrong influences in the form of images, music, films that can reach right into our homes, through modern technologies.  We can not let down our guard or let anyone else raise our children.  Our children are still vulnerable; they are our treasure – they need teaching, they need our protection.  Its difficult but not impossible.  As parents, I believe, that we must trust God, stay close to Him and His counsel, and everything will be alright.  

The world is incessantly pulled by a flood of enticing and seductive voices.  Overcoming the world is trusting in the one voice that warns, comforts, enlightens, and brings peace β€œnot as the world giveth.” 

Elder Neil L Anderson, April 2017

And the prophet said…

Dear friends

This past weekend (first weekend in April) was General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which I am a member.  This happens twice a year, six months apart, and is when the general (world wide) leaders of the church address the general membership and the world.  With satellite and internet technology, wherever we are in the world, we can receive the messages, virtually instananeously, through live streaming, audio and/or video as the conference takes place at church HQ conference centre in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

As a Latter Day Saint I believe in living prophets and I trust that, for our spiritual safety, when they speak, we should listen and follow.  For me it’s​ no different to the trust the ancient Israelites had to have in Moses, that if they followed him, they would gain their freedom from the Egyptians where they were in a state of slavery.  Which ultimately is what happened.

So the conference actually all began last weekend with the women’s session where female church leaders spoke on trusting the Lord and not leaning (Proverbs 3:5-6), the beauty of holiness and being faithful, certain women, in the New Testament sense.  And then an Apostle (Henry B Eyring) spoke on the peace that we can only receive from the Lord Jesus Christ; it was sublime.

When you prepare yourself for conference, it’s as if the speakers are speaking to you, personally.  The words resonate within my spirit as I hear words of truth.  There were admonitions to be kind, charitable, true, faithful, how to recognise and follow the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit, how to not live by fear, how to overcome the world. 

And the prophet, Thomas S Monson, in his Sunday morning address, asked: We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today? And the answer: I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety.   And to develop and keep a strong testimony: read the Book of Mormon, each day πŸ™‚  And the promise if we do this? 

As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives.

I am very grateful for the simplicity which is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ – it is a the greatest blessing in my life and that of my family.  I love our Saviour, Jesus Christ; I’m grateful that He speaks still through living prophets, same as anciently – all things have been restored.  

Mummy spam…

I love my Motorola!!

Dear friends

It’s been a while – we’re all fine. There’s bits of news – like I started piano lessons!! again, after… 30+ years = πŸ™‚ my dear husband is paying rather than my dear mother – but I’m going to quickly ask:

How often can I message my children?

I mean, I’m embracing the technology! Making sure they are safe! And on time for lessons at college! I, me myself, I don’t see a problem with that!!  After all, I carried my children in my tummy for 9 months each and nurtured them, I think they can at least text back when I check up on them. Right?  I don’t bother anymore with Son1, I only receive monosyllabic responses so I only message when picking him up from work (he works part time in a fast food restaurant) or when he’s picking up Son2 from school (an occasional reminder!). Daur1 always politely replies, letting me know where she is on her journey.

But this evening as I chauffeured Son1 & Daur1 (18 and 17 years old respectively), I suddenly heard Daur1 say:

At least you don’t get the Mummy spam!

And proceeded to list off how often I text her (we have unlimited so…) – did you get bus OK? Did you catch the 8h train? Have you been to your chemistry 1-1/ workshop? Are you nearly home? 

It did sound ridiculous and Son1 said – I’ll block you if you do that with me!!

So I clearly need to restrain myself!! Even Daur1 can distinguish if Son2 has used my phone to message her because:

Mum uses punctuation!

So there you have it.  Despite having phones which do everything, so quickly and easily, and let’s face it, they’re like the communication devices in Star Trek! (I’ve recently discovered you can video call through WhatsApp!!) – despite this there seems to be some unwritten protocol about how often is too often! … And I was thinking about getting an App to track where they are… in case of emergency!! 

listening…

Dear friends

I’m here at Son2 piano lesson. His teacher feels he has great finger technique, and he’s definitely more natural than I ever was as a child. But… 

Son2 is 9 years old. And trying to get a nine year old son to practice is tough, unless he’s in the mood, which most of the time he isn’t.  

Son2 struggles with reading the notes or at least remembering them and currently has the attitude that as long as he can play the piece, reading the music is secondary.  Last night I gave him some notes quizzes to encourage him, but it began and ended with tears, Son2’s.   Son1, who was doing Chemistry revision, said did I really need to put Son2 through this?  I took Son1 out of violin lessons when he reached the age of no practice (around 9 years), and my dear husband feels that was a mistake, so I’ve made it quite clear that Son2 will continue unless Son2 declares to his teacher, grandma and father that he wants to give up.  Is that too tough?  

As I recall, at nine years old, one, generally, has little experience but you feel like you can do everything and anything given the chance – be a pilot, be a train driver, be a famous dancer/ singer/ actor.  But you don’t know what it takes to get there, i.e. the self discipline to practice, the humility to learn. 

So I’m listening to the scales, listening to the notes, listening to the teacher, listening to Son2 struggling and achieving!  It may be difficult right now but one day you will appreciate the self discipline that you will develop πŸ™‚

returnee…

Dear friends 

I’ve returned to my blog – it’s been a while, I know.  After the surgery I was signed off work until Christmas Eve and then I already had annual leave booked for the last week in 2016.  Then a wait for the biopsy results – all OK for which I am grateful to Father πŸ™‚  So, unexpectedly, I was not at work for the whole of December 2016.

I returned to work on 3 January 2017, as many people.  And due to the transfer of the property business, I returned to my former and first ever employer, the city council.

I returned to my desk, with various trade literature and unopened post – after two days it’s still in my in box, unopened.

I returned to my projects – a little model completed for the feasibility study and several outstanding technical queries on the construction project (with a contractor stating the delay is due to ‘us’).

I returned to discover that such was the concern for me that they had approached a local company for costs to deliver the feasibility study!  I’ve had several colleagues welcome me back.  Since they are all predominantly male colleagues my stock answer is I’m fine – no point getting into a conversation about recovery after laparascopic surgery of a gynaecological nature! – and I swiftly move the conversation on to QS resources, retaining walls or the return to local government.

Back in the home, we’ve also been looking into returnees to Africa.  There’s lots on YouTube.  As the house in Africa is becomes bigger and our mortgage here becomes smaller (can something grow smaller?…) the prospect of going to Africa long term becomes more real.  It will be an adventure for me; it will be returning home for my dear husband. Some would say for me too, clearly, as my ancestry will include slaves taken from Africa to the plantations of the Caribbean islands.  I have many deeper thoughts on this.  I am grateful to Father to know that somewhere in my family, ancestors survived the ridiculous barbaric cruelty of slavery to have offspring and become free.  Free to grow and return. 

it’s the day after yesterday…

Dear friends

So yesterday was the long awaited diagnostic day surgery – hysteroscopy and laparoscopy and polypectomy and… 

attractive and comfortable flight socks, pyjamas and boot slippers

It was an early start – I, unintentionally, woke at 0329h! I lay in bed listening to Mormon Channel Talk trying to go back to sleep – sounds bad but owing to Daur1 breaking my headphones and I can’t receive FM radio without them the BBC World Service was not an option and the talk helps me stay sleepy!!  I, intentionally, got up at 0605h, forgot to fill urine sample, eeekk – drank loads of water before 0630h, showered again with the anti-microbacterial soap – paying special attention to nose, underarms and groin – prepared five packed lunches, scraped the car (frosty) and my dear husband and I set off. Admission time 0745h – toilet trip, urine sample! – strip off to underwear, don designer gown (nurse C tells me as I say it feels a bit breezy on the back!), and wait.

First the consultant who will be doing the procedure.  Young Dr D (does everyone look young to me!?) accompanied by a fourth year student F (are you even my son’s age!!).  Dr D explains they feel it can be resolved by a hormone system being inserted – which will last for 5 years and by then you’ll be 52 so should be into the menopause – and that’s what they plan to do, taking biopsy samples of the womb lining, remove the polyp, take cervix sample, remove any endometriosis found, take sample.  Some discussion about possibly removing the right ovary if it’s stuck to the pelvis. I explain our travel plans for next week, Dr D doesn’t think it would be a problem, it’s not a long haul flight. Student F returns to ask if he can feel me while I’m unconscious.  Mmmmm… no!!  I know students have to gain experience but I’m in no mood for additional feeling! 
Bloods taken again (I’d already been to my surgery earlier in the week but apparently they labeled the sample wrong so it wasn’t acceptable).  So that ruled out left arm which still has bruising. Nurse C tried right arm – no luck and doesn’t want to make me a human pin cushion so calls a doctor, he tries twice in wrists! Seriously, make sure this is their last option – so painful!  Right wrist unsuccessful.  Left wrist he use a syringe to draw blood out!!  Not pleasant.  I’m convinced it’s because I’ve not eaten since the night before and it’s my body’s natural way of protecting itself – I’m not able to give blood either, after a few minutes my veins seem to shrink up.  I tried several times when I was younger and the last time they told me not to bother volunteering again!! 

Anyway,a young Dr A female anaesthetist entered during this painful process.  (Female important because Daur1 wants to be one).  Dr A goes through everything and I explained that my only other experience of general anaesthetic left me vomiting until night. That noted I mentioned my dear daughter and Dr A was very encouraging, she can make it, hardest part is getting into medical school. 

I’m measured for and fitted with flight socks -to help prevent clotting – I need to wear them for two days. I’m third in line and I hear patient 1 and 2 go in – both laparoscopic hysterectomy – I can’t help hearing, the curtains aren’t acoustic buffers!  I should’ve taken a book but I read some scriptures and a LDS conference talk on my phone. Daur1 messages me and suggests an eBook – even if I knew how to download one, I’m sure I don’t have enough phone memory!  I asked the nurse for the literature about the Miruna IUS (intra uterine system) of which I will be a recipient.

Around 1155h, wrapped in my dressing gown, in my new boot slippers, now naked under the blue designer gown, I’m walked down to the pre-op theatre room. By 12h two cannulas are in the back of my left hand and another nurse, while sticking on little paddles to my chest and back to set up the heart monitor, begins asking me about work.  Ooooh, long study, my son studied architecture and went to Japan on an exchange as a student, he practices in London as part of his training, when you’re young London is great, my daughter recently moved out of London.  Are you distracting me?  Dr A does another check of the consent paperwork and that I am me.  I can hear the beep machine – is that what my heart is doing?…  my left arm starts feeling cold, or is it warm?…  the beeps are going faster… 

It’s 1505h.  That must be a big clock, I think, I can see it with no glasses on.  And is that my heart beat beeping away… And…. no pain in my pelvis but… tummy pains…. and, oh, I am so cold, I need blankets, I need to sleep….  I’m wheeled back to the ward.

It’s about 1630h when I wake properly.  Dr D comes over and explains it all went well.  Ovaries were very mobile; small area of endometriosis on left ovary, nothing on right; biopsies taken; IUS fitted; abnormal cells to cervix weren’t very much but biopsy taken; some bleeding when polyp removed; no polyp to womb but adenomyosis confirmed so protestogen hormone should help with that.  Biopsy results will take a few weeks.  Dr D was happy with procedure and will sign fit note for 7 days, that is, I should be fit for work in 7 days.

Then came the awkward process of moving.  Once I was awake they gave me a jug of water.  My throat was, and still is, hoarse and they offered toast or biscuits. I opted for biscuits – on the advice of a friend who suggested you could soften them in a warm drink – but I could only face water.  I was very dizzy, but they wheeled me to toilet and back.  Then I dressed, my dear husband arrived and they let him bring the car round to the front, wheel chair to the door and my hospital day was done.

Back home I had omelette, with cheese and mushrooms, and toast, half a slice.  I was not tempted by the chicken and rice that everyone else was eating – I think my dear husband was disappointed by my choice.  I was not feeling very mobile and was still very dizzy.  I’m grateful for balustrading and walls!! 

So today is the day after.  I feel a lot better – there are four incisions and I recall the nurse saying two of them have stitches which will need removing in a few days.  This morning, Daur1 popped her head round the door and said in a serious tone:

I don’t think we were prepared for this!

😦 I don’t think they were prepared for their mother being out of action for a bit. I heard my dear husband preparing five packed lunches this morning with a warning – nobody should waste this food!!  

So, I was very anxious about it all; I won’t feel completely comfortable until the biopsy results are back and hopefully clear.  I still don’t understand the right ovary situation, maybe it was lodged somewhere but no lesions holding it in place.  But it is a relief to no longer have that pain and to feel I’ll be able to get back exercising.  I’m not sure what affect the hormone will have – but it seems to be very low dose, in the right place, so we’ll see. Dr D suggested I’ll need to give it 3 to 6 months.  

I’m sure I’m going to feel better everyday – I’m feeling better already πŸ™‚  I needed to write this quickly before I forget the sentiment. Thanks for reading and hopefully my experience can help someone else – sharing is caring! πŸ™‚  

perilous times

Dear friends

Family is who you die for

That’s the strap line of a billboard advertising an adult rated game showing several people holding guns. I was going to post a picture but that advertises the game!  So here’s a family stock photo!  

It seems to me that the advertisers have replaced the kill for die and therefore make the whole game seem more… honourable.  Literally glorifying violence! 😦 

It’s an(other) example of how we, and our children, are being bombarded with slightly false messaging.  After all, most people love their families enough that if it were asked of them, they would risk their own lives. But this false messaging seems symptomatic of the last days, these perilous times that Paul described (2 Timothy 3 vv1-5), particularly having a form of godliness.  

1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come….

3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,…

5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:

I did listen to this wonderful talk from one of the female LDS church leaders, which speaks of these perilous times and how we, as women, need to rise up in strength.  I encourage you to listen and be uplifted πŸ™‚

 Bonnie L. Oscarson – September 2016

seeing the good, tender mercies

Seeing the good and tender mercies can missed, like seeing the juxtaposition of old and older in this Normandy village

Dear friends

My last post – small things -set the scene of last week’s events – it was a difficult week! But I should say that during this, I did notice the Lord’s hand and his tender mercies, protecting our family – I especially felt this when the clutch on the car failed.  It could’ve been a lot worse!

It could’ve failed the day before, on our way to church (children and me in the car, we would have all missed partaking the sacrament), or on our way back home from church (all five of us again and none of us took coats – it wasn’t raining but it’s not mid summer!), and we live about an hour walk from church.

It could’ve failed on Saturday when I use it the most – Son2’s piano lessons, Daur1 work (drop off & pick up), Son1 pick up from late shift at fast food restaurant.    

It could’ve failed on Friday, the chauffeur evening, when the three older children were in the car and we were traveling on the motorway at 60 miles per hour on our way to or back from the stake centre in the next city.

It could’ve failed on Wednesday when I had the pelvic scan and in the afternoon I took my dear husband, down the motorway at 60 miles per hour, to an eye appointment at an out of town clinic, before coming home to take oldest siblings to evening Seminary.  

The leak could’ve been nearer the middle of our room, rather than the corner.

And the mouse, well, that could’ve gotten to the front room and scurried all over my dear husband and I during the night… nibbling toes…. eeewwwww….

From Apostle Elder David A Bednar (April 2005):

the Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly, the Lord suits β€œhis mercies according to the conditions of the children of men” (D&C 46:15).