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Thursday, 12 April 2018

What March Gave Me

Life moves so fast and while this year I have a workbook dedicated to monthly goal setting and reflection I wanted a journal style account of all the notable things that happen each month. Welcome to my new monthly series 'What x Gave Me'.


In my church I oversee the running of the children's programme and teach a few times a month. I love serving the children and taking our beliefs down to the simplest of forms. This year the theme is I am a Child of God. Due to work and other commitments I have completely lacked the energy and motivation to properly redo the display in the primary room. I knew the kids deserved better and I just couldn't do it.

As a part of my monthly goal setting I started the challenge 30 Days Closer to Christ after someone mentioned it in a speech at church. One talk usually lasts me a week and I study on my phone during my morning commute to work. Using the LDS app I have a digital notebook where I record my thoughts. One morning while I was half asleep I was struck with the importance of improving the display for the kids. I knew that my regular study helped me to be more in tune with God and better prepared to receive strength and ideas to do His work.

His children needed better. I was inspired with an idea. I purchased a 'bulletin pack' from Etsy by WozyWorks and got to planning. I also created a worksheet that said '_____ is a Child of God' and spent one of my lesson times at church teaching the children about Heavenly Families and got each child to fill in the worksheet with their name and decorated the border. I took a photo of each child and later stuck it in the 'frame' provided by the worksheet. (The photo shown here is without their pictures to protect their privacy.) Other female leaders from my congregation helped me put the whole thing together and it looks amazing! It gives me such a warm feeling in my heart which I know is God telling me that He is pleased.

This month we also celebrated Mother's Day and the children sang to the whole congregation. Our music leader does such an amazing job and their beautiful voices fill the whole room with peace. It is always uncertain how the performance will go during practices but they always blow me away! The teenage boys in our church also arranged that chocolates be handed out to all the women over the age of 12.


In my job we run lots of art events throughout the year and our first happened in March! There is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into these and they are always so incredibly rewarding. On this occasion we had a stand at The Other Art Fair as their charity partner. We had over 150 postcard sized original artworks on display and held an auction on the Sunday. Usually our auctions are at the auction houses themselves but this one was at the fair and it was electric! It was the perfect setting, with over 14,000 estimated visitors at the fair over the course of the weekend we were definitely in the right place. So many people came by and joined in half way through and we raised £15K! This particular art fair is run for the benefit of individual artists who pay to have their own stand, whereas most fairs typically have stands run by galleries. It was wonderful going around and looking at all the different work and meeting the artists who had created it. The fair lasted four long days and while it is incredibly tiring, it was so much fun! During the fair I even had a friend from my church visit me! It was so unexpected and I was so touched by it!

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March also brings us our wedding anniversary! We have now been married for three years and I love it. Someone recently asked me for marriage advice and I think I said to expect the unexpected. There are so many challenges that you cannot plan for or preempt but there are so many moments of joy. It is journey to constantly shift the balance and rework the relationship to adapt to changes in life, in each other and in circumstances. But I would certainly recommend marriage wholeheartedly.

In between our London life we celebrated on the day by going out for drinks and dinner at Blues Kitchen in East London. I cannot tell you how many vegan burgers I have had recently (Gourmet Burger Kitchen has been the best so far.) However for our main celebration I have organised a few days in Bath and have a booked a session and a massage at the Thermae Spa which I am soooo looking forward to to rid ourselves of the stress and tension that comes with this fast paced London life. While we have almost been together five years (in May) it has just become a natural part of my live and I don't often marvel at how long it has been, but facebook did one of those 'celebrate your friendship' videos a few months ago and I realised it had been five years since we added each other as 'friends'. It brought back all these memories of when we first met and the goosebump moments of getting to know one another before we even went on our first date.



This year Easter fell on the last weekend in March and Easter is hands down one of my favourite holidays! As a child I would make my bed into a 'nest' and curl up in it waiting for the delivery of chocolate eggs in the morning. I love the daffodils and promise of spring. In primary school we would make Easter Bonnets and parade them around the playground. I keep mentioning this last one to people and no one seems to know what I am talking about! Regardless of whether or not my future children's school does this, we will definitely be doing it at home!! While planning a lesson on the resurrection of Jesus Christ for the children at church I started looking into Easter traditions and found some great books which I might buy in the future. When we do have children I hope to celebrate the whole month leading up to Easter and I am so excited for it!

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With Easter changing dates every year, it fell right next to my Dad's birthday! I took an extra day off work and combined with Good Friday and Easter Monday I spent almost five days at my parents home in the North of England. It was so restorative. I love love love spending time with my family and having a bigger space to live with a proper kitchen! I cooked them lots of vegan meals, we had countless deep chats and silly chats. We took the time to visit the temple together and watch General Conference. While at the temple we visited the LDS bookshop where I purchased Our Heavenly Family, Our Earthly Families, I love this book and the divine truths it teaches. I recently bought a copy online from America for a friend's baby shower gift and was amazed to see it available here! I have been toying with the idea of buying one for our home for a while. It seems costly to ship it over from the US when we don't have any children yet, but I didn't want it to become unavailable in the future and I have actually read a page from it online in a primary lesson. I am so glad I bought it! I also bought a beautiful postcard sized painting of Jesus that is now up in our home. We spoke about our hope and dreams and I am beyond blessed to have such a supportive and loving family.


While I was there I also had time to read! Bernard wasn't able to come with me and I left my laptop at home, so I cuddled up in my comfy make shift bed and finished a book called Flawed which I started over Christmas. It is one my mum is into and was just finishing last time I was there. I finished the book and took the second one back to London! I love reading but have found I have stopped over the past few months. I look forward to summer days were I can take my lunch break outside, have my pack lunch in one hand and a book from the local library in the other.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Pastel Houses and the Macabre



I love the journal style of blogging. Recording our thoughts and days. It is what I enjoy most when I read the blogs of others. While sometimes there are events in our lives that deserve a whole glorious post to themselves, it can be hard to keep up and carve out the time to sit down and write.


Right at the beginning of the month one of my best friends from university came to visit to celebrate her birthday. She comes 3-4 times a year and we always pack so much into those weekend visits! By coincidence we spent the day in Notting Hill, exactly where we were on her trip one year ago! I arrived slightly earlier than her and enjoyed milling around the market before it got too busy. It was so calming. Music was being played by street performers to the dreamt back drop of multicoloured houses and smells of fresh market food. Once Leanne and I were united we tried to visit Biscuiteers cafe but they were all booked out for Mother's Day afternoon tea and instead drooled over their beautiful biscuits. My favourites were of course the unicorn and teacups.




We went for lunch at Farm Girl Cafe, a place I have been lusting over for so long but the food didn't quite live up to what I had hoped. Afterwards I felt like something sweet and in keeping with my '80% plant based goal' I was thrilled to spot a Hummingbird Bakery who have just brought out VEGAN red velvet cupcakes!!! It was divine.


In the afternoon we meet up with our dear friend Rickie. I had proposed that we visit The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art and Natural History which is pretty macabre but I knew that they would both like it. It was my first time visiting and it was really interesting! 


Tucked away in an unassuming space, it first looks like a bar and we had some glorious mocktails. Due to the space of the museum it can only hold a few people at the time, so once we were called we descended the steepest, spiral staircase to have our senses assaulted with the weirdest, interesting and most disturbing array of objects. I felt really inspired by some of it but had to look away at others. All in all however it was a hit and they loved it!

Saturday, 3 March 2018

2017 | A Year in Review


I love having these to look back on each year. I am a firm believer in celebrating the little things and finding joy in the mundane day to day. It can be so easy to watch time fly past and feel terrified thinking 'What have I done that is meaningful or productive?' and so it is vital that we record our memories and plan for the future. 


Getting hired!
The biggest event of the year was that I made the official transition from intern to signing a secure graduate career position!! I am officially the Assistant to the Director of an art company!

This in turn changes everything. Not only can I now afford to go on holidays (I have always wanted to be the kind of person who took breaks away on bank holiday weekends 😂) but it was such a huge sigh of relief. Since graduating in 2013 I went from planning to volunteer for my church for eighteen months to turning it down, getting married, moving to two different cities in the first year since university, waitressing part for 2 years, working a grand total of 9 internships/voluntary/gallery positions before getting this position 3 years on!! Graduate life is rough for so many reasons and it really needs to be discussed more. As you can imagine getting this position means so much to me! I worked so hard to get this job and I am so happy to be working in the art world.


 

Croatia 
In May Bernard arranged a surprise holiday for us! I had no idea where we were going until we got on the train to the airport!! Croatia was beyond amazing. We stayed near Dubrovnik and had a great mixture of chilled days by the pool and adventure days in the city. I wrote a whole blog post about the trip here.

2nd Wedding Anniversary 
We celebrated our second wedding anniversary with our first west end theatre experience to see Matilda and Bernard tried his first ever Shake Shack (it was only my second, but now there seems to be a million all over London)! 


Family Time
My family moved to another little known village in the north of England which is beautiful! We went to visit their new home for the first time in the spring and stayed with them to attend my cousin's wedding. 

Church
Throughout 2017 I continued overseeing the children's programme in my local congregation. As a world wide organisation we are given themes for each month and topics for each week. I am constantly surprised by the doctrinal truths we teach such young children and how amazing they are! They understand so much and ask such great questions. As cheesy as it sounds I love stripping back to simple teachings and learn so so much from the children themselves. I love building relationships with them and trying to see things from their perspective. Working with children was certainly not something I expected God to ask me to do and I have been in this role for about two years now!



Turning 24
Bernard & I went to Brighton for the first time to celebrate my 24th birthday. It was glorious and I cannot wait to go back. I wrote all about our Brighton exploration here.

To celebrate further my lovely friend Leanne came to visit and we went to an interactive theatre show called Alice Underground at The Vaults. I have never experienced anything like it. We were a part of the show, playing cards to be exact. Rather than a traditional stage, we were taken through these incredible decorated rooms and tunnels underground (essentially 'the vaults'), made plot decisions and it was amazing!!! I cannot recommend it enough. We also went to the Butterfly Sensations tent just outside The Natural History Museum that they put on in the summer. There are just so many things to do in London that I see posters, make a mental note and don't actually get around to it until the year after. The tent was so humid but it was so wonderful and captivating to watch these beautiful creations.




Sister Time
My youngest sister Sophia came to visit London for the first time ever!! We had such a fun time. She stayed in our tiny flat and I showed her all the obligated London sights and took her to our favourite Japanese restaurant in Angel, Camden Markets, Naked Dough, Miki's Paradise and all the good places. It was so exciting to see her experience it and of course all of her favourite parts involved London’s wonderful food scene.


Art
In the autumn I took another painting course at The Art Academy and loved it. This time I went for an intermediate class and realised that while I have all these ideas in my head, I would like to go back to basics to learn the best ways to execute them.

While visiting Amelia she announced that our activity for the day would be to paint a mural! A misty forest scene to hang on her bedroom wall at university. We loaded up on supplies at Hobbycraft, used her local church building and got to creating. We were so happy with how to turned out and it really wasn't as intimidating as anticipated! 

Learning
I joined a library near my work and throughout the summer had my lunches outside with a book in one hand and a pack lunch in the other. Through making pack lunches I became interested in nutrition and began researching veganism and incorporating plant based meals into my diet. I watched so many documentaries, read books and discovered some wonderful vegan youtubers, my favourites of which are Ellen FisherSarah Lemkus and Claire Michelle.

I bought my first ever ‘brand new’ iPhone!! I went from a 4S to an 8 and oh my goodness has it made my day to day life so much easier! (Plus it’s beautiful) I had worried that the novelty would shortly wear off after spending so much money, but I am happy to say that owning it has been a great help. (All of my previous iPhones have been second hand.) Once again having the luxury of headphones, a phone that isn’t incredible slow and a good amount of data helped me rediscover the joy of listening to music to on the move and podcasts! My favourites have been Art for your Art by The Jealous Curator, Ted Talks, The Art History Babes and Earth to Us.

In November I starting attending yoga! For months I have been wanting to do something active. Once I started working at my internship full time back in 2016 and I quit waitressing it was confusing not to be so active during my work day and sit instead at a desk all day (apart from when we hold events). I wanted to stretch, use the gift of a body that God has given me and MOVE. I knew yoga would be a good first step as it was not too physical (I tried running twice throughout the year, lasting 3 times a week but only for two weeks at different times before getting too tired/cold/sick/etc.). After lots of research every yoga class I found was too pricey. Then in October I saw a sign outside a tube station for £5 yoga!!! Don't they say that when the pupil is ready a teacher appears? I plucked up the courage and went. I now go consistently almost every week. It feels so blissful, empowering and amazing!
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