Monday, April 30, 2012

Lesson 13. Dressing up makes everything better.

I HATE CLEANING.  My very being loathes it. I would happily sit in a mountain of clothing and estranged kitchen appliances if I had life my way. Unfortunately for both you and I, we are not creatures of the Lydia world, but inhabitants of the real world. My mother always told me the day would come when I would realise the necessity of a tidy house. I suppose today is that day. According to the 'Duties' board that my slightly Monica-like flatmate made, I too must play my part in this menial task.

I had an excellent day. I got things done, spent time with some top quality people, made my girls their favourite dinner. I even received a care package from my former employer and pals that was full of love and other household items. I had an excellent day. Come the evening I was in quite the chirpy mood (literally, for some reason tonight I felt like singing as though I'd sucked on helium) and decided to tackle not only my rostered duty but a few of the others as well. Tonight I became Lyderella.

I did not do an average clean tonight. I was thorough and meticulous. I was scratching at every persistent niggling little spot on the bench, I even wiped the kettle down. Food preparation cleaning sensation? Yeah, you could call me that. However, I have come to the conclusion that the only reason I was so driven to this character transformation was by one thing: I was playing dress ups.

You did read correctly. I am eighteen and I still take great delight in dress ups. I think you'll find you probably do too if you stop trying to be so alternative with your herbal tea, rolled up jeans and passion for music that sounds like someone whining and sobbing in a log cabin somewhere desolate. Dressing up just makes everything better. I put on my housewife head scarf, wore my polkadot button up tied at the waist with my high-waisted pants and let me tell you, I was a domestic dream. I then put on  "The Mouse Song" from the original Cinderella soundtrack and once again got my chirpy-mouse-meets-chipmunk voice on. It was potentially followed with a bit of "Call Me Maybe" and "Let's Get it On" but hey, let's not judge me based on what I may or may not find enjoyable to get down and dirty with (Again, I mean these things in a literal sense, my kitchen was kind of bogging tonight). For a moment or two, I forgot how deeply I hate cleaning. I actually kind of enjoyed it.

So I encourage you to let go of your inhibitions, your adult sophistication and your indie folk music. Listen to an original Disney soundtrack and dress up next time you have to do something boring. Take it from Lyderella herself, dressing up makes everything better.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lesson 12. Hot water bottle usage is key.

The cold is setting in.  Alas, our summer romance is no more.

Gone are the days of you and I frolicking (wee side note: frolicking is a splendid term, I challenge you to use it in a conversation today) down by the seaside, splashing one another with dainty feminine hand flicks that slightly resemble a small child waving and smiling at a non existent camera. Winter and his chilly chums are moving in, and word on the street is that they're planning on sticking round for the next few months. We must accept his arrival and prepare for what awaits. It will only get colder from here. 

But do not fear! I have hope for you friend, and his name is hot water bottle. The cold bed dance need not last more than three seconds when hot water bottle is inhabiting your bed. No need to wriggle or jiggle or quiver or shiver around your bed until it reaches an acceptable point of warmth, all you need is your hot water bottle (and love according to the Beatles). When it comes to winter, hot water bottle usage is key. There is no point lying in bed whining about how chilly your belly is (Yes, hot water bottles sit best on the belly) when you could be snuggled up to a toastie companion. Hot water bottle usage is key. 

Brace yourselves, I'm about to make a life lesson out of a hot water bottle. Hopefully after this post you will see hot water bottles in a completely different light. If not, I'm sorry for doing a poor job but it's late and all I can seem to think about is my bed, which has a hot water bottle waiting for me in it.

We all have winters in life. I don't know your winter anymore than I know your middle name, I do however know that you will have known some form of cold or darkness through the seasons of your life. Maybe you are in a winter now, maybe you are sitting freezing wondering when things start to look up. Do not fear! I have hope for you friend, and his name is hot water bottle. That's right. In the winter of your life, find something to hold onto. I know it is there because we are never left without a vice, there is always something to better your situation, something little to make things a little easier. 

Pick up something small you can do to better your situation and it'll make surviving the winter a whole lot easier. Hold tight to what keeps you going. Hold on tight to what keeps you warm when everything else feels dark and chilling. It might mean holding on to a thought, a story, a memory. It might mean clinging to something more tangible like a relationship or just a someone who knows you and knows your winter. It might sound crazy but I'm of the belief that holding close to something that makes you happy will make the sadness a little further away and the light a little brighter. I'm not saying it will change your whole situation, I can't promise a life transformation or that you'll fall asleep with your hot water bottle and then wake up in the summertime, but I can promise a smile. A hope. A vice. Hold on tight to what keeps you warm at night, what helps you sleep when life gets rough. Hot water bottle usage is key.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lesson 11. The eleventh hour pulls through.

I have this assignment. I would disclose details but you might swear never to set eyes on my blog again due to how immensely boring it is. I've been trying and trying. Crying and crying. Not quite my-life-is-over-sobbing until I'm in the fetal position, but definitely getting a little misty eyed over the whole ordeal. Stress does strange things to you. Puts the highest of walls around you and places you in the most confined of spaces. You know that feeling when your chest tightens simply at the thought of something looming in your future? I've been in that state for about three weeks. Trying to write two songs that meet some musically mad lecturer's requirements is apparently not the easiest of tasks.

It's due on Monday. One song has been done for a few days, the other hardly touched until yesterday. I sat and stared at my guitar. I then moved to staring at other stationary items such as my laptop. I tried a few things out. Got too frustrated and moved on to facebook. I tried again and then the most peculiar thing happened: I started writing. I wrote the lyrics in about an hour and I wrote the music during a conversation with my excellent older (but not the oldest) sister today.

It's strange how sometimes the eleventh hour pulls through. It is so easy to lose your head to stress to a point where you can no longer care about what happens. I think sometimes it's when we really lose ourselves to the possibilities, we get a little crazy, become willing to try almost anything that we discover our genius. Have a little faith in yourself, sometimes the eleventh hour pulls through. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lesson 10. When you lose your license, check your wallet.

I lost my drivers license for about 4 hours last night. I of course immediately flew into a large scale panic and went around my bedroom tossing clothes about as if they were my garden salad.

I told my sister, my flatmates, my boyfriend, my friends from my course. The world is over, my drivers license is no more (Even though I don't have a car in my possession currently) and I think it's fair to say I slightly overreacted. I plonked my wannabe-beyonce-behind on the stairs and huffed and puffed. Not until I blew my house down, just until I felt a slight sense of stress release and then returned to my room. I began an essay but my drivers license dilemma was still ticking over in the back of my mind. As per nightly routine, my flatmates came and sat on my bed and I told them my sad little sob story.

"Lyd, have you properly checked through your wallet?" Well what a silly suggestion, of course I had. I had opened it and stared at it and nothing had happened, that counts as properly checking right? Apparently no. It does not.

I opened my wallet, started pulling cards out and in my hot little hand I found my license. If I was an 'FML' saying woman, I would've said it, but I'm not, so I didn't. I just had to laugh at myself. How stupid is it that we so often don't check thoroughly in the simplest of places?

You think you've lost something for good? Maybe it's your license, maybe it's your touch, or if you're anything like me, maybe all of the above plus your mind. Look in the most obvious places, it's when we over complicate that we are blinded to the simple solutions. Get back to basics and you'll find that it has been under your nose while you've been scaling the countryside. Save your energy, check your wallet.

Lesson 9. Learn to tune out the sirens.

I live on one of the busiest roads in the country. Potentially disclosing too much information about my whereabouts but hey, let's just say we're already at the stage where I've told you I can lip sync the whole of Celine Dion's 'All by Myself' and that I occasionally google myself. Well, at least now we really are at that stage.

Anyway, back to my place (no, not like that cheeky). I hear drunk people singing badly most days. I hear strange arguments from the street below. All night long the sirens go. 

The noise is so hard to get past. The first few days of living here were torture. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't focus, I dreaded returning home because of the background clutter. Life gets like that so easily. 

It's so easy to be overwhelmed by the sirens of life. So easy to let our heads ache because of the business. It's the simplest thing but it's something we need to learn to do. To make time to tune out the noise. Spend some time in the quiet. Tune into the calm as opposed to the squeals and screams of life's demands.

Listen to some music. Write some music. Talk to a friend. Let a friend talk to you. Tell someone you love them. Call your parents. Take a walk some place still. Appreciate the beautiful noises in life. Learn to tune out the sirens. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lesson 8. You probably already have it all.

I deserved a slap in the face today. A good solid smack- none of this gentle correction stuff, a genuinely exasperated blow to the cheek. I have been so stupid.

I have been feeling sorry for myself all day. I have been listening the things that are hard: University is hard, missing home is hard, leaving your teddy bear at someone else's house is hard. It's a hard knock life for us. WHAT A JOKE. How preposterous! 

It's so easy to become so accustomed to the world that we live in that we neglect to notice the incredible details of our day to day lives. I bought a guitar today, isn't that exciting? I bought a really cool guitar today and all I also spent a portion of the day feeling sorry for myself. It's basically an oxymoron.

University is hard, yes. But I attend University. I am one of the few in the world (if you look at it on a larger scale) that was able to get earlier education and financial means to attend University. 

I miss home. Only because I have thus far lived the dream. My childhood was pretty much white picket fence. I have amazing parents and sisters and potentially the most beautiful dogs in existence. Of course I miss home. I am so lucky that I have grown up in a home worth missing.  

I left my teddy bear at someone else's house. My teddy bear wins. Snoosan wins at all of life. I am lucky to have my Snooze. 

And although the high points of life I am about to list have not yet made an appearance in this post, I'm going to tell you about them anyway because I am now enjoying having a wee brag. I am so blessed.

I have the best friends. We could have a super cheesy television show about our lives because we literally always end the day with a pep talk and cuddles. Sometimes we even plait our hair together. Seriously.

I have a God who conquers all. I have a God who loves all. I have a God who is all. 

So yes, today I deserved a slap in the face. My life is far from perfect, but I have a few things in it that come pretty close. I think sometimes you'll find if you stop staring your problems down and actually count your blessings, you already have it all. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lesson 7. Don't cry whilst making use of the public transport system.

I had a bad day today. My lecturer is not very nice to me. My class finished, so I walked down to the bus stop, and I cried. I then swiped my hop card, proceeded to sit down next to some poor unsuspecting slightly overweight blonde woman clinging on to her groceries for dear life (potentially why she was slightly overweight) and continued to cry. People gave me funny looks left right and center (literally, it was a very full bus) For once, I was the crazy person on the bus you try and sit a few rows back from in case of any violent outbursts. I was the man with the missing teeth who asked me on a coffee date two days ago. Lydia, crazy crying bus lady.

The thing was, no one on the bus was going to help me. Don't cry whilst making use of the public transport system, I assure you it will get you no where. However, do cry when surrounded by loving, wonderful friends. Do cry when you get in the door. Do talk about it. Let them listen, let them care. Let the people you love be the ones you lean on. Whether it's your best friend or your boyfriend or your not-so-touchy-feely but still very lovely flatmate. Let it out. Crying can be such a healthy release. I learnt that today. Within the right context, tears can help to process difficult situations. I got home yesterday and collapsed on my couch into the arms of the people who know me and actually love me anyway. There was such a great release in letting it out. Sometimes we just have to learn to let loose in the right situations. So my loves, cry with people who care. Don't cry whilst making use of the public transport system. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lesson 6. Things are never as bad as they seem. So dream, dream, dream.

We tend to over think our hurdles. We tend to build things up so much in our heads that of course we feel like we can't ever get past them. We create our own giants, pile up our own walls. I started back at University today and I thought it was the end of the world.

Turns out it wasn't. It was actually quite pleasant. I realise now how much time I wasted believing that it was going to be doomsday. It wasn't. The time I spent working up to how horrible it was going to be could've been spent dreaming, wishing, hoping. Why is it that we let our minds lean so much towards the negative side of life? We let our heads be ruled by disbelief, cynicism, criticism, fear. It's time to switch gears. Things are never as bad as they seem. So dream, dream, dream. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Lesson 5. Practical solutions to everyday problems.

I am a girl. I am over emotional and tend to make mountains out of molehills. I wallow in my self pity and I bathe in a good over-indulgent 'woe is me' spiel.

If you are of the female variety, I'm willing to go out on a limb and say at least once in your life you've done this. It seems to be a nasty tendency of ours, to dwell on the negative happenings and not the positive solutions.

I date a boy. He is practical and can almost always see a step by step way to move forward. He does not sit and cry, he gets up off of that thing and does something about it 'til he feels better.

It was late and we were talking. Or at least I was talking and getting all weepy about facing University and he was listening. He began to step me through what we were going to do to get me through this together. He didn't let me stay in my state of fear and self pity, he brought me out of it and talked me down. It wasn't only getting there on my own, but how we were going to get me there. We went through each paper and talked about practical things we could do to make it easier. We put things in place for each and it actually put my mind at rest.

Snap out of it. Write a list. Do some actual work. Get a better attitude. Build your bridge and take a quick paced stroll over it. Baby steps towards big goals, practical solutions to everyday problems.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Lesson 4. Talk about your feelings.

I was discussing life and love and all their mysterious friends with one of the most precious people in my life today. She hasn't been in my life too long but in the time that she has, she has changed it. Today I was honest with her. I talked about some things I find hard to talk about. I realised that we don't do this enough.

We tend to shy away from honesty in order to maintain the illusion that we are not human, no no, we are perfect porcelain shells of perfect people. Truth is, it's only when we are able to be seen raw and real that we are able to found and freed. My friend reminded me of this today. God does not force us to unmask, he simply waits for us to come and place our masks at his feet. Contrary to the world, he wants to love us through the brokenness, through the flaws, through our battles. He wants us to lean on one another, to open up and take the hand of the fallen hurting neighbour. He doesn't want us to simply send flowers, he wants us to be listening ears and crying shoulders. 

Western society creates such a strange illusion for the likes of you and I. It tells us the oddest of lies. To set the record straight, there is nothing normal or okay about pretending that life is fine and dandy when it's not. We would live in a different world if only we had the courage to be honest with one another. Truth is freedom and it begins with you and I. Don't shy away from being real about what you face, believe me, it's when we face it with a friend and a saviour that we can find freedom.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Lesson 3. Sometimes life's surprises are greater than its anticipated joys.

Apologies for the tardiness of this post. For once my Friday night didn't involve excessive eating and bed before 10. That's right, no staying home with friends made of fruit this week! I got a little wild and interacted with friends made of 80 percent water and goodness knows what else. So do a little celebratory jiggle about my social Friday night and let's jolly on with the show.

What did I learn/appreciate yesterday? Many things my friend, apparently social interaction means you learn a lot. I learnt a few things I perhaps would've been better off not knowing about male bathroom habits- but we'll save that grotesque little anecdote for another day. I learnt that sometimes life's surprises are greater than its anticipated joys. Last night I ran into some girls I went to school with. They were lovely, they've always been lovely, we just never spent scads of time together during the hideous/awkward high school days. Outside of those blue Bethlehem College gates, things were different.
It was as though we'd always been great gal pals, we greeted each other with big squeezes and high pitched babble. Something about seeing people from your hometown makes you feel secure, I was so happy to see people that belonged within my world, where I came from. We spent the night with friends and it was lovely. I didn't expect or plan to see them, it just so happened that they turned up to the same event I did, and the night evolved from there. I know it's not the greatest or most profound of life's lessons, but I think it's also one of the most underrated lessons we can learn. It's pretty straight forward really, sometimes life throws little joys our way when we are looking another. Appreciate the small surprises, from the smile of a stranger to a reunion with some sweet friends you used to know. Our world is in such a state of doom and gloom that we so often look past the good things and dig deep into the bad. Stop and realise that God puts good things right infront of you, sometimes when you least expect it.

Appreciate one of life's surprises today, you might find they're greater than what you had planned for your Saturday night.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lesson 2. Unpack your bags in an orderly fashion.

I think I've mentioned I have a messy streak.
I will tell you now that I am not a half pie kind of gal.
Put two and two together and you'll discover what I mean is that I am the kind of messy that makes my flatmate scream every time she enters my rather unsightly quarters and bears witness to the 'floordrobe' situation.

Today I did something a little out of character and it felt really good.

I unpacked my bags in an orderly fashion. I didn't throw my clothing on the floor. I didn't just unzip my suitcase and take what I needed. I didn't make a mad dash through all items in search for the baking I had stashed. I put my knickers in my knickers and socks drawer, my winter clothes on the winter shelf and my suitcase in the storage cupboard. I placed my belongings where they belong. I then proceeded to eat 12 cookies (I realise this is irrelevant information but I feel quite naughty about the whole thing so consider that comment me coming clean, all I have eaten today is cookies and I'm about to make dinner)

This whole process got me thinking. Maybe the process of unpacking in an orderly fashion is something that needs to be applied to life in general.

If you've read my previous post, you'll know that I've been dreading the return to University. It stirs up all sorts of feelings that I'm often unwilling to deal with. Feelings like self-doubt, fear, homesickness, stress, loneliness, nostalgia. I can't help but wonder what the outcome would be if I unpacked these in an orderly fashion.

What would happen if I took my feelings and dealt with them? If I placed them in the appropriate places instead of letting them sit in the middle of my floor only to trip me up when I try to move forwards. What would happen if I always made sure I put my clothes in their correct drawers on my return? What would happen if I made sure my insecurities were left at the foot of the cross? What would happen if my shoes were put neatly back in their shoe rack and my heart was placed neatly in the hands of the only being capable of holding it?

I might be messy but today I learnt a lesson about the kind of tidiness necessary to keep chugging along. Do yourself a favour and always unpack your bags in an orderly fashion.

Lesson 1. Be brave for your mother

Today I left home for the second time. This is one instance where the 'first the worst, second the best' theory turns out to be a lie from the firey pits. The second time leaving feels harder.

I spent the day on the brink of tears and avoiding honesty like the plague. Leaving became a topic I was unwilling to discuss, alongside bills, my Father booking incorrect flights and our recent home phone switch to Vodafone which seems to have caused my Mother deep distress.

I didn't quite manage to stomach my whole dinner with my impending doom advancing towards me at such a great pace. I knew what was coming and I was terrified. I placed my knife and fork side by side on my plate and decided to tackle leaving home head on.

My Father gave me a slightly-awkward-brisk-yet-sweet-hug and turned his cheek to be kissed. He is a man of practicality and trusts that I will return. Yes, Gregory had enough bravery of his own and went through the process with a smile. It was at this time I realised it was time to say goodbye to my Mother. I heard a slightly-wobbly-but-still-very-Irish voice say "Can you call me tomorrow? I'll be home all day" I then looked to the left and a little down (she's just a wee woman who fits under my chin) to see my Mother standing with tears coursing down her face. She doesn't cry a lot but when she does it's for her children. I hugged her, kissed her head and found myself reaching a conclusion I have never reached before.

Sometimes we have to be brave for our Mothers. Sometimes our fears can burrow so far into us that they can seep into the deeper places of those who care. Sometimes this means we are called to be courageous not only for the greater good of ourselves but for the people who love us. Sometimes we have to be brave for those who have spent our whole lives being brave for us.

I want to be brave for my Mother. I want to face the next few days that I have been dreading with courage and gumption. When life throws scary unknowns, face them with the kind of courage that would make your Mother proud. Take a moment to be thankful for the things she has faced for you. Today I am thankful for my Mother and her bravery throughout my life, today it's my turn to step up to the plate.

Kids, be brave for your Mother.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dear Friend, Here is the Silver Lining.

My name is Lydia. I am messy, emotional, of questionable sanity and I occasionally find myself hilarious. I also do this terrible thing that people do sometimes and I focus on the bad things. I pretend my life is a music video for Daniel Powter's 'Bad Day' and then I go home and eat my feelings. It's an awfully self indulgent habit and I've decided it must go. You see, I've had an idea. The kind of idea that might just change my life. The kind of idea that might just change yours.

I don't know you. I don't know which street you grew up on or who you got your smile from. I don't know how you feel about mornings or the comeback of the boyband. I don't know your battles or your victories. I don't know you.

However, I do know that if you're reading this you are a living, breathing human being. Because of this astounding information I know you've seen bad days. You've most likely tripped on your own feet, been late to something important, poured juice instead of milk into your cereal, walked around with your skirt tucked into your knickers or your shirt sticking out of your fly, forgotten your mothers birthday or your keys. You've known heartache and grief, anger and frustration, love and it's other hand loss.

Here's where my idea comes in:

I've decided to get back up when I trip over my own feet. To leave 15 minutes early for my important somethings, to put an extra clear label on my milk, to pull skirt completely before facing the public, set a reminder a week before mum's birthday, and keep my keys in my handbag. To not lose hope by heartache or grief, anger or frustration, love or loss, but to find it in finding a way through the madness. That's right my friend, I've decided to learn. I'm determined to love each day. I'm determined to find life's lessons and be grateful for them before my head hits the pillow every night. I'm determined to change the way I think and see the world.

So join me. Here is where you and I begin (consider this the moment our eyes meet and sparks fly) You and I are about to embark on a trek of 217 days. 217 days of finding the silver linings in the clouds of day to day life. Get your skates on, pack your backpack, and insert any other cheesy trekking related metaphors that tickle your fancy. I, Lydia, vow to post once a day something I am grateful to have discovered about life until Thanksgiving. Why thanksgiving? Well my little cyber pal, why not? It's the perfect timeframe, challenging but not out of reach and at the end of my time I will be able to sit down and be thankful for 217 lessons along the way.

Let's make something magnificent of our off days. Let's start learning from one another's mistakes and being thankful for our opportunities to grow. Let's do this together. Maybe it's just writing something little down everyday that you are grateful to have learnt. Maybe it's simply sharing it with a friend or maybe it's standing in your local town square with a megaphone announcing it to all. I don't know what shape or form this challenge might take in your life but I know that if you do this with me, we might be able to rid ourselves of our self indulgent woe-is-me mindsets.

I won't promise constantly correct grammar or impeccable writing. Nor will I promise profound discoveries for every minute of my existence. I will however promise you honesty and heart. I will promise to tell you the big and the small, the minor and the major, the insignificant and the pivotal. I promise that by the end of this, you and I are going to be mighty well acquainted, just call me your new bestie (bffl, soul-sister, home-girl etc.)

Dear Friend, here is the silver lining.