30 years ago I was towards the end of my first year studying architecture. I may have mentioned before, I studied at University of Edinburgh – it had been my long time desire to study there and I was blessed to make it. I absolutely love my Edinburgh days; I made great friends and had great experiences. I loved studying architecture, that had been my long time desire since the age of about 14 years. However it was not a pleasant experience as generally I recall struggling with the large egos of tutors and fellow students, not all, but enough!
30 years later and I am traveling to a local university where I have been tutoring first year architecture students these past six months. How enlightening it has been for me to discuss architecture with these young people. And how difficult!!! And how sad as I see them not working and continually falling short of what I see so clearly in them. We recently did a hand drawing quiz, prepared by one of the full time lecturers, i.e. 1 minute to draw an internal wall with a door at scale 1 to 50. (This may sound technical but remember these students have been drawing and studying the topic since last September so it should not have been a difficult task). Only a few managed to correctly draw this in the minute given to them 😦
I’m now on my way to see the annual school exhibition. In my first year, my hand drawn sketch of a half onion was exhibited 🙂 I’m interested to see what the third years produce at the end of their degree since some of my first years will be there in two years. Hopefully this will also help me to understand the ethos of this school of architecture and current architectural education.
Much can happen in two years… not to mention thirty years…
I’ve been much more reflective about time in recent months as I approach the age of Kylie Minogue! I recently heard a radio journalist who invited two friends to live by a motto for a month, such as, live every day as if it’s yourlast. I was impressed by the attitude of the individual as they made the effort to contact extended relatives and even organise a simple family gathering.
The recent words of living prophets and apostles – #LDSconf – have also touched my heart. I keenly feel that we are living in the time of the parables specifically concerning the last days, like the parable of the ten virgins. These are wonderful but perilous times – we must prepare and that doesn’t happen overnight… two years?… thirty years?… a lifetime?…
While it is good to pray for and work for physical protection and healing during our mortal existence, our supreme focus should be on the spiritual miracles that are available to all of God’s children.
What do you pray for?
No matter our ethnicity, no matter our nationality, no matter what we have done if we repent, no matter what may have been done to us—all of us have equal access to these miracles.
What will you pray for?
We are living a miracle, and further miracles lie ahead.
(Quotes from Donald L Hallstrom, October 2017, #LDSconf)
I feel the last several weeks have been fairly unbalancing for me… as if my life is ever balanced but things were OK and we were coping. Things have tipped and I know that any balance regained will be different. This is on account of family fractions, fractures, whatever you want to call it. It’s difficult and painful.
I admit, one of these is my doing… I couldn’t keep my mouth shut when listening to my children being compared (negatively) to other grandchildren in the family. The other, I am right in the middle, between two close family members.
Outwardly, I’ve tried to keep going. Praying, fasting, reading scriptures, listening to uplifting talks, trying to get some calm in myself. I’ve delved into work – which isn’t difficult since we are currently at technical design stage so lots to do – but I’ve had some ridiculously scary dreams… car going over a cliff with my dear husband and I inside, me on a motorcycle being rammed by a car but left unharmed, the car was written off, and then alien raptors attacking the city as we hid out in an edge of town estate. Trust me, these were very scary, very vivid dreams.
There’s been other things happening too – some members at church have passed away, the husband of a friend, the youngest sister of some friends of our children and the son of some other family friends who has children.
Physically our home is not settled as my dear husband arranged to have the kitchen replastered, before we’d ordered a new kitchen… the result, we’ve been camping out in the garden for washing up and cooking in the dining room – since end of December. (The end is near – new kitchen is installed next week).
During this winter of discontent, shall we say, there have been moments of enlightenment which have helped me regain my perspective.
Daur2 (who wants to study architecture) was discussing with me, on the way to school, how she’d got 17/30 in yet another maths test whereas the rest of the class got 20+. As I reassured her that it would be OK, she exclaimed, but you can say that, your successful!! I was quite surprised by this and asked her if she ever remembered me not being an architect. Daur2 doesn’t remember and I explained that it was 14 years between me finishing university and successfully getting a job where I could finish training, and the week after I was offered the job, we discovered Son2 was on his way, and all this after failing my final project submission at university and having to resubmit in the autumn.
We all have our moments – some last 14 years but that doesn’t mean we give up on our dreams.
Son2 and I had a discussion recently about 3D vision, and how if you close one eye, you see things in 2D, with no sense of depth. Our brain uses the information from two slightly different angles to give us that depth that we see. Our students at university have also been exploring this as they’ve been to draw sections – some make the mistake of drawing the section as a perspective, showing depth.
I realised that in my life, I can choose to view it in 2D, in a very linear manner, dictated by time. This can be quite limiting and discouraging as it gives a sense of running out of time or not having enough time.
Or I can choose to see events in 3D, things past, present and future, wide-screen, full surround sound. A bit like Ebenezer Scrooge’s experience of Christmas Eve night in A Christmas Carol. Essentially that helped gain perspective in his life.
So I’m training myself to approach my life and trials with perspective, seeing events and people more holistically. This is the correct view – anything else is like having one eye closed!
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known
It’s been more than 10 weeks since my last post and much has happened, in your lives as well as mine. Change is necessary for progress is my personal motto, it has been for a very long time. In modern speak, I suppose that would show I have a growth mindset. Anyhow here’s a synopsis of what I’ve been experiencing these past weeks 🙂
1. Children grow – when our eldest was about 9 months old, a friend gave me some advice which I believe she had received from another friend who is a mother of 10 children. That advice was, remember it’s a phase. Whatever seemingly difficult stage you or your child is at, view it as a phase. This advice has served me well and has certainly helped me to remain sane! I strive to apply it to other aspects of my life, other relationships. I think one day we will realise how brief mortality is and we’ll see all things clearly (see 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verse 12) For now, when I had to buy yet another pair of school shoes for our youngest, Son2 (approaching 10 years old) and discovered he’s now in the smaller men’s shoe size, I thought, it’s a phase… what size feet will he reach as a grown man!?
2. I’ve decided to look up more, seize the moment, capture now, be a little more impulsive and take more photos of life as it happens – like this photo (no filter) of our yellow sky, pink sun, as a result of Saharan sands a few weeks ago. Related to this, I’m going to post more photos, probably of trees and skies as this reminds me to see the beauty all around. We live on a beautiful planet which serves life well. We, humans, need to serve life well too.
3. The long awaited restructure began at work and some of my older colleagues have been taking stock of what their pensions look like and is it worth retiring a few years early. I’m in the generation that’ll work till 67 years so it’s not something I’ve paid too much attention to (I probably should but I’ve not…) So I was traveling to a meeting with two older colleagues, both male, and one mentioned his wife retired several years ago, she earned quite highly so they were OK. The other chuckled, commenting his wife never earned much and “my wife retired at 23!” I impulsively stood up for his wife and said, “I don’t think she would call it retirement, I’m sure she did a great job raising your sons!” He did accept this but I realised how many people out there devalue their own family, because they are making a different contribution. I’m so glad that as a working mum I could still stand up for my sisters.
4. Glass an hour – this is a little mantra I’ve been telling myself in relation to drinking water. It’s like the fruit & veg, 5 a day, here in the UK. I’m blessed to live where I can turn on a tap at home and work and drink safe water. I know many in the world can’t do that and I, sadly, remember a time when living at my dear mother’s home and she’d been unable to pay the water bill and it was cut off (I don’t think they are allowed to do that now). I walked a couple of miles each day to public toilets to fill bottles of water to bring back home. So I appreciate water and what it means for our health. I don’t think we can ever drink too much but we can certainly have too little, so, as I’ve noticed myself feeling thirsty more often, I’ve tried to drink a glass of water each hour. I always feel much better and less tummy aches when I do this.
5. I mentioned the long awaited restructure at work began. I’m one of the few whose salary will increase, quite significantly, as a result of this due to the grading of my job. Our jobs have now been aligned to public sector gradings and although people many are grumbling that it’s less than private sector pay, I say, well, go and work in the private sector if you want to earn that kind of money; don’t expect public taxes to pay ridiculous amounts for you not to deliver! And around the time the restructuring consultation began, I was approached by the local school of architecture to see if I’d be interested in studio tutoring 🙂 Of course!!!
6. The world wide General Conference #LDSconf was, in my humble opinion, absolutely sublime. I am steadily working my way through all the talks, starting with those given by the apostles. I can only suggest you listen to it – check it out on LDS.org or on YouTube. I don’t have a favourite but memorable messages for me are: am I Sad, Mad or Glad?; women in these last days; the need for humility.
7. Finally, the changing world. The past 10-12 weeks have seen human tragedies on an increasing scale of horrific-ness (i.e shootings, terrorism acts) plus natural incidents, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes. And then political incidents across the globe affecting whole countries and regions. For comfort in these difficult times, I gain comfort from the words of prophets reminding us Who wins in the end and I am striving to be on that team. Elder Dallin H Oaks reminded us of these words from 20 years ago in his talk at conference:
I see a wonderful future in a very uncertain world. If we will cling to our values, if we will build on our inheritance, if we will walk in obedience before the Lord, if we will simply live the gospel, we will be blessed in a magnificent and wonderful way. We will be looked upon as a peculiar people who have found the key to a peculiar happiness.
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 🙂 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.
Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 19 verse 14
In recent weeks I have been called to serve in the Primary organisation of our church ward (local unit). The Primary organisation is for the children, up to 12 years.
It’s been about 10 years since I last served there – I recall because Son1 had not long been baptised (at age 8) when I was released. Daur1 and Daur2 were also there, but Daur2 was 3 years old so doesn’t remember.
You can imagine how excited Son2 has been since finding out that his Mum will be with him each Sunday:)!! And I’ve been excited too. I’ve already had a week in nursery (with children aged 18 months to 3 years) – I’d forgotten how delightfully stubborn a 2 year old can be! And this month I’ll be doing sharing time, with all the 3 to 11 year olds, about 12 of them so not too many.
Of course, I will miss the youth Sunday School class… not sure if the feeling is mutual 🙂 … and Daur1 did remind me they are little children!! We had our first presidency meeting – I’m a counsellor -the secretary is the same, and filled us in on recent issues. With a couple of families moving out before summer we will lose several children in a short space of time. But things change quickly so we’re not relying on a small number of children to ease anything.
This will take me out of my comfort zone, that’s always a good thing for me as it stops me becoming complacent. And I feel it’s so important to be able to share the gospel with children; the gospel of Jesus Christ is beautifully simple, and simply beautiful (not my phrase… I think one of the modern day apostles) and so to be able to explain eternal concepts in a manner that a child can understand is important. That’s the way the Saviour taught us 🙂
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 🙂
Sometimes the smallest of things can make the biggest difference in our lives. This last week has been full of that for me and our family.
Before that, after one of the big winter storms in the last few years, we noticed a leak on our bedroom ceiling, right in the corner above the bay window. It really didn’t disrupt our daily lives and it was several months before we got a roofer out. However the following winter, another big storm, same leaking, another small damp patch appears closer in, remote from the first leak. After several attempts with the insurance company, they finally agreed to mend and repair, but not replace the valley flashing gutter (above bay window).
Then several weeks back a roofer came out – did something from a ladder and despite rain we’ve had no further leaks. Yeah! – you may think. So then the company turn to our bedroom interior. The artex ceiling is tested for asbestos. It’s a positive result so they arrange for a specialist contractor to remove the ceiling. This was scheduled for Monday morning.
Before that, a couple of weeks back, a friend spotted a piano being offered for free. Dear husband and Daur2 looked it over – needs tuning and a couple of hammers fixing but would be good for practice – and we paid a man with a van to help bring it to our house. It’s been left in the dining room, having come in through the garden, until we clear the front room (another one of those ongoing tasks!)
So, last Monday morning I wake early to start my usual routine of preparing packed lunches for the family – six of us. As I start with mini baguettes in the oven I see a mouse come out and head back behind the fridge/freezer. I shriek fairly quietly and gingerly continue, my feet shuffling on the kitchen floor – my theory was to make enough noise so it didn’t come out again. That didn’t work and so when I saw it again I let out a mighty shriek. Son1 was the first to reach me and as I stammer there’s a mouse behind the fridge, he says I thought you were being attacked by someone! And promptly turns and heads back to bed. Daur1 reaches me and stays with me while we finish the lunches but then time has gone and she’s in danger of missing her train. She begs me to drop her at the station.
However, before that, over the weekend, my car had been very rumbly. I knew my dear husband had put oil in (I had moaned to him the Sunday evening since the oil was in his car, rather than in the porch so I couldn’t add some earlier), so despite the strange burning rubber smell, I thought maybe I could make it to the station and back.
As we sat in the car – me in my pyjamas and fleece – I mentioned maybe I should give you bus fare to get the fast bus to the station and not risk it. But Daur1 gave her pleading eyes, I gave in and we headed out. We reached station safely and Daur1 skipped to platforms! I headed out the station and immediately the clutch pedal stuck – I was crossing the carriageway so was waiting. I managed to kick it up, back in gear when I saw the traffic clear then as it stuck again at my gear change, I pulled the car over onto the pavement, so as not to block traffic, and stopped. With the hazard lights on, I call the RAC (car recovery) – we’ll try and get someone out to you in the hour. An hour! It’s 0730h, I’m in my pyjamas and fleece. I call my dear husband but no answer… he’s clearly having to pick things up where I left things off…
Two hours later, somewhat chilled on my part, my dear husband and I arrive back home, children all at school & college and I think, great, I’ll quickly shower, dress and get bus to work. Don’t forget the asbestos guys are here, they arrived at 8h, when you were out; they’ve started taping things up. Eeeeekk…. I head to our room to find our wardrobes fully taped up and plastic sheeting across the bedroom door. All that was missing were the guys in white suits – I knew that was coming, they were in their van on break. So, all I could do was work from home; take calls, write emails, give a truncated version of the morning’s events explaining my absence – clutch, pyjamas and asbestos. I did feel quite ridiculous and humbled – if I had listened to the small voice and not taken our daughter to the station, the day would have been largely uneventful, except the mouse and the asbestos removal team.
Ohhhh, and the mouse. In the 12 years we’ve lived here, we’ve never seen any mice – ants, mosquitoes and slugs but no mice (apart from a small family discovered in the lawn mower box in the garage one spring a long time ago). So we were a little concerned – are there more? Son1 admitted to seeing a ball of fluff scurry behind the piano late one night after it’s arrival but failed to mention it to anyone. Dear husband bought fast action mouse killer traps – one went by the fridge and one in the kitchen. We put a more traditional trap behind the piano, with peanut butter on cheese for bait! We had no idea where mouse was. We were on lockdown – all doors to be closed behind us on entering or exiting a room. A few days later there was still no sign of mouse. By now the family began teasing that maybe I imagined the whole thing! But today, I entered the kitchen and there it was, lying, dead, between the washing machine and a cupboard. All observed it – except Son1 who was out – before dear husband and Daur1 disposed of it. Daur2 (& Daur1) seemed rather sad about the whole affair commenting it’s so small… It’s in heaven now… And similar as if I was being completely irrational about wanting to get rid of it!
Ohhhh and the leak. Once the ceiling came down, we spied up into the loft and the underside of the rafters and the water damage was apparent. And above the valley rafter, in the flashing we could spy a pinpoint of daylight in the lead valley flashing gutter. The insurance company weren’t interested – it looked to me as if a slate had punctured the lead. So we’ll have to get some flexible roof sealant and apply from within the loft to make sure we don’t get a random drip onto the new ceiling, which is now in place.
And the moral of this tale… deal immediately with a problem and listen to the small voice… or squeak…. or leak!
On Monday we dropped off our three eldest children at the church youth camps for the week. (It’s quiet at home!)
The difference in the camps for the young women (YW) and the young men (YM)! Wow!! This shouldn’t surprise me but it is enlightening to compare!
First stop at a little before 10h was YW camp, to the north of home. A beautiful green, well kept field, with new shower facilities, much to the relief of Daur1 who had already warned her sister, Daur2, “don’t shower barefoot!!”. Everyone worked together to erect large 6-8 man tents which the girls will be sharing in their age groups. A large marquee was also erected as a food tent, and each girl had been asked to bring not only secret sister gifts to share but also a camp seat/ chair (so they don’t have to sit on the ground). As we hugged farewell Daur2 noted there’s music for the devotionals – a portable organ.
The kit list for the Young Men was similar, minus gifts, camp seats, and including tents. My dear husband and I picked up Son1 (and Son2, too young for the camps, having ate first lunch prepared by Son1) around lunch time and headed south, into the forest. Following the instructions we pulled into a discrete car park behind a golf course club house. A gate in a hedge met us and beyond a grove opened up – the leader greeted us. As we entered the shady grove, several tents had already been pitched around a central area with rubber mats and a rope with a large knot hanging from a tree. I made no comment on what this scene could suggest… There were a few ‘seen better days’ huts and Son1 immediately began pitching his 4-man (all for me) tent at one end of the tent round, closest to the fire pit. I noted plenty of logs that could double up for seats. Others arrived, tents continued to go up, each team of young men working alone or with who they came. Help was not requested and when offered it was rejected – we’re almost there. It was such a macho scene!! Son1 looked embarrassed as I helped with the tent – but I didn’t care, I’m his mother!! We left as more young men arrived and I really wonder if they will all fit – I think there will be some tent sharing for Son1. I’m concerned that he seems to feel he’ll cope without a sleeping mat… night temperatures have dropped… but that was his choice, he refused to get one. His sisters took the air beds/ mattresses 🙂
We left Son1 deep in the forest and headed to my mother’s house for lunch – Son2’s second lunch!
I am absolutely sure they will have fantastic camps. Men and women are different in so many great ways. We have to learn from and be here for each other.