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 🙂  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. 

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2nd stage assessment

Dear friends

A few weeks ago I received a letter in the post inviting me for mammogram, as part of a trial for screening younger women, those in the few years approaching 50y, which is the age breast cancer screening starts with the NHS.

So, I went. Ladies, if someone had only told me a fair amount of squashing was involved!  I could have mentally prepared myself 🙂  :). 

Then, less than 2 weeks later, I was called back for 2nd stage screening.  The letter didn’t explain why, I would be told on the day. So, there were several days of anxious waiting.  I tried not to think on it.  We didn’t tell the children anything; though finally Daur1 heard my dear husband ask about the ‘hospital appointment’ and spoke with me.  We had a frank but brief discussion – if there’s anything I’ll be treated and I’m in reasonable good health so I’m sure it’ll be effective 🙂  

Another two mammograms confirmed the findings of the first – an area of dense tissue on which the consultant wanted a biopsy done.  

Two hours later, an ultrasound scan plus several more mammograms – more unpleasant squashing! – and there was nothing identified to do a biopsy on!!  I was given a pink copy of a standard letter with the consultant circling her name saying, we’ll see you again in three years.

I am grateful for modern medicine and more particularly the National Health Service (NHS).  We pay into the NHS for as long as we work through national insurance contributions and taxes.  There may be lots that people moan about… Yes; I don’t particularly think it’s fair that I have to pay for eye tests and spectacles, which are not optional, I’m very short sighted… But I can’t fault that when you need help, or when investigations need doing, consultants are there and very thorough.  I’m grateful for the five women that handled me, most intimately, with care and concern.

the burning hut

Dear friends
One of my cousins passed this story to us, so I’m passing on, hoping it will encourage someone else 🙂

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little
hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, and soon there was nothing left. The worst had happened, and everything was lost. He was stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger. “God, how could you do this to me?” He cried.

Early the next day, he was awakened by the sound of a ship approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” The weary man asked his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

In life it’s easy to get discouraged when things are going bad, when things are not going our way, but we shouldn’t lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain, and suffering.

Remember this the next time your “hut” seems to be burning to the ground. It just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God. Please consider passing this message on, because “You Never Know Who Feels Like Their
Hut Is On Fire Today”

Tender mercies

Dear friends
This past weekend has seen some miracles in my life, not large scale like parting the Red Sea but equally meaningful to me and I know the hand of the Lord was involved.  A prophet (Thomas S. Monson) has said:

The Lord is in the detail of our lives

I truly believe that and these are the details where I saw Him in my life the past few days.  I encourage you to look out for the Lord and the Holy Ghost at work in your life – Father is always there.

1. Finding matches: Some weeks ago we noticed the match box (we use them for lighting the gas cooker) was low. They were on the shopping list but last week when we went shopping we couldn’t find them in the household goods section. None. This wasn’t critical until this weekend but my dear husband still didn’t buy them.  Yesterday, Sunday we used the last few and I checked with dear husband that he still had a lighter (he’d bought them to light to cooker but I find them difficult to use without lighting my thumb!) So early this morning, resigned to using a lighter, I went to my husband’s desk to find one. As I dug around the top drawer, lo and behold!, I find a small box of safety matches!! 🙂

2. The conference talk: last Sunday, after sacrament meetwith as I was getting the classroom ready, for the youth Sunday School class that I teach, I was asked to give a 10-15 minute talk on the Saturday evening session of stake conference, in 6 days.  (For those of you who are not LDS, this is a large local area meeting for the church, the Saturday evening for all adults, so typically around 200 people in attendance).  The presiding area seventy had made some changes to the proposed programme and asked me to speak.  No topic – I was to be inspired, like general conference (from Salt Lake City, for everyone #LDSconf).  I looked at him and said “Me?” I was a little incredulous but was assured that this is what the Lord wants.  So last week I prepared a talk, completing it in the early hours of Saturday morning, the theme being who are we and what is our relationship with God and each other.  I timed it, 11m 30s, and practised reading it a few times.  When I was asked to sit on the stand, beside another speaker (who said she’d received her assignment some weeks ago, with a verse of scripture to base it on), I still has no idea when I was speaking or the other topics.  As the meeting began, I peered forward to check the programme held by the stake president.  I saw my name, after the intermediate hymn and right before the visiting seventy.  I was the penultimate speaker, eeekk!!  I did, however, feel a great calm as each speaker spoke. And by the time the stake president had finished, I knew that the talk I had prepared was in fact the perfect summary of the previous three – right down to the stake president using a phrase which I had written.  It was one of the most sublime experiences that I’ve had and I am humbled to know that the Lord knew that I had the personal views and experience that would meet the stake’s needs for that meeting. (I’ll post my talk separately).

3. My tablet – I have a Samsung 10.1inch Galaxy Tab 3 tablet and since a little after Easter it has not charged, at all.  I had bought some new cables, left it charging, returned from work, and nothing.  The children were interrogated. I’ve never understood the full story – “Son1 killed it” “Daur2 switched it off!” “I didn’t touch it!” You know how it goes!  I took the back off, back on, left it to rest, tried again but nothing. So, I reluctantly decided to take it to a fixer shop at the end of this month (payday!), dreading how much I’d be charged.  This morning, as I was about to go to work, I thought, let me try again, and I set it to charge.  I’ve already learnt to be patient with devices… seconds later, the screen lit up with the battery symbol, charging!!  Yeah!!! 🙂

PS – when I told our daughters about the tablet charging again, they gave each other a knowing glance and Daur2, we thought it might – maybe Heavenly Father took it away so it wasn’t a distraction while you were writing your talk!!

a thought on ranting

Dear friends
A thought – when I was younger, my big sister used to tell me to stop moaning.  This probably happened frequently because I still remember it now. I always felt justified, of course, but I think my sister learned early on something that it has taken me considerably longer to learn.

Some things we may feel are worthy of a rant or moan…

Like the guy driving in front of you, in a huge range rover with smoked windows who doesn’t know how to use the indicators when turning and appears to be on a mobile phone.  Grrrr…

Like those people who feel it’s OK to squeeze toothpaste from the middle of the tube and leave it that way for the next person… 🙂

Like the wages of professional football (soccer) players, oh, and public servants expenses…

But after my rant, I rarely feel better – I mean feel (really stress that word feel) better. Do you?

So, now I try to not moan or rant about things that I can’t or am not prepared to change.  It doesn’t mean that I passively accept all things, but I try to be like Nephi after his brothers were tied him up to leave him to be eaten by wild beasts in the wilderness, 1 Nephi 7 verse 21 (a fairly just reason, I think, to moan…)

…I did frankly forgive them all that they had done,…

That’s how I deal with matters when other people are involved,  which is most of the time.  At the end of the day other people have a choice,  and although it’s hard when their choice directly impacts our lives – e.g foolish car drivers, I try to forgive them.  My personal measure of if I have forgiven, I try to imagine how I’d feel if I saw that person in real need, and no one else were around (a good Samaritan scenario – Luke 10 verses 30 to 37) would I help?

And when others aren’t involved, then I need to forgive myself, change if necessary, and move on.  Those words of Queen Elsa – I promise not to quote Frozen too often 🙂 – apply to ourselves:

Let it go! Let it go!!

‘V’ days

Dear friends,

Do you remember that TV show back in the 1980s ‘V’?  Aliens taking on a human form to take over planet Earth?  Scary stuff… I digress…

Tomorrow (8 May) is VE day – when we remember victory in Europe, the end of world war 2 in Europe.  I gave up history in school before studying the 20th century so forgive me if I’ve missed something. There’s been lots on the local radio – tears sprang to my eyes listening this morning.  War is not good for anyone – I would certainly be a pacifist if I didn’t believe in the right to defend ourselves.  Maybe most people would be?

Today (7 May) is voting day in the UK national and local elections. Polling stations close at 10pm – our local scout hut is the station rather than the local school so the children didn’t miss school for once.  It’s been political campaigning for about 3 months and on Sunday our afternoon was even disturbed by a councillor canvassing for votes!! I was once described as a conservative socialist – have I said that before? – let’s just say, I’m hoping for a new Prime Minister come next week!  And, since so much of our work is local government, it will be good to get some decision making on schemes waiting approval!!

Both of these V days help me appreciate and be thankful to our Father in Heaven that I live in a place and time where, as a black woman, I have freedom to vote, freedom to live, freedom to believe.  Many women, men, children, of whatever colour skin, still do not enjoy this freedom.  We must remember and help them in whatever ways we can, including by prayers. As I was reminded last Sunday, look how peacefully and swiftly the Berlin Wall fell.  It does and can happen!!

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. (Article of Faith 11)

prefer running!

Dear friends
I didn’t think I’d find myself saying this but I’m liking the running (jogging).
Yesterday was early morning seminary for our eldest children so I didn’t go. Today I was up and ready before our eldest daughter. I knew it had rained and since we have no rain gear for running we decided to stay home. We started jumping jacks and sit ups but seeing dear daughter losing interest, I suggested she find a 20 minute YouTube workout…
I was the one to not make it to the end, I’d had enough of very slim lady saying “awesome” every 10 leg lifts and I don’t think my thighs need an intense workout like that…
By the end dear daughter declared, “I prefer jogging!” Yeah! So do I, even if it’s raining! 
So that’s it. Even if it’s raining – what do you wear in the rain? – we go for 30 minutes and it is great.  There’s only one other time in my adult life that I’ve been into exercise, that was many years ago and was sea swimming – another time!
I’m enjoying it because I am thankful to God for my body. I feel I am giving back to my body which has done me good for nearly half a century, so I think I can look after me a little bit better and maybe it will keep going for another half century! 🙂