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I’ve fallen in love with England…

We went exploring this weekend! I had been looking online for tea rooms (the English equivalent of a cafe) that hold a variety of loose leaf herbal teas in our area and found a promising looking one in Broadway, a little village in the Cotswolds. On Saturday morning we made a last minute decision to spend the afternoon out of the house and headed out just after lunch. The hour or so drive down to the Cotswolds is absolutely lovely; each spring I fall a little more in love with the English countryside! We drove through little villages, past rolling green hills and fields of rapeseed and sheep bordered by dry-stone fences. The weather wasn’t perfect; the sky was overcast and it was rather chilly, but thankfully there wasn’t any rain!

Broadway is actually fairly large as far as English villages go. We drove through it until we found the car park and then wandered up the High Street. The street is curving and lined with period houses and honey-colored cottages. I  love exploring the little shops on high streets, they always have such an amazing variety of unique and cute goods. I do my best to just enjoy the experience and not actually spend any money, which can be hard at times! I always love having Jason with me on these excursions, but it definitely is an added bonus that he keeps my from buying anything unnecessary or that I can make at home.

We walked past the shops and along the more residential part of the street where many of the cottages were covered in wisteria, clematis or ivy. I just love wisteria blooming in the spring! I don’t recall ever noticing it in Canada, I don’t know if it isn’t grown much over there or if I just wasn’t taking any notice. I suppose all the extra water helps the wisteria and clematis vines grow like crazy. Whatever the cause is I’ll just appreciate the absolute beauty!

Once we had walked back down the High Street we went to Tisanes Tea Rooms and managed to find a table outside in the back garden. They are in what must have been a home at one point and the back garden is surrounded by an old stone wall with flowers growing out of it. They also had rosemary planted outside as shrubs in the flower beds, which again is something I have never seen before! It has these beautiful little blue flowers that contrast amazingly with the dark green of the rest of the plant. We ordered tea and sat talking for a long time… until I got rather cold and decided I needed to get moving or inside somewhere warm!

 

By the time we got back to the car we didn’t want the afternoon to end quite yet so decided to go over to Bourton-on-the-Water, another little old Cotswold village. We had visited there at the end of November 3 years ago and really enjoyed ourselves, despite the fact that it poured with rain the entire day. They also have a hedge maze right in the village that we wanted to go through, but it happened to be closed that day, much to Jason’s disappointment. We were sure it would be open this time, seeing as it was a Saturday well into May, but we were wrong! We ended up walking up the High Street and checking out a few of the shops, then walked back down the creek that runs through the village crossed with low stone bridges.

It really was a very simple day; we didn’t go on any adventures or do anything terribly exciting, but I still enjoyed it so much. There was so much beauty to appreciate and so much time to talk about everything and nothing. It is amazing how easily we can go through evenings or days at home without having proper long conversations! I really want to make sure we do this type of thing more often; there are so many lovely and unique places to visit in England that are not far from where we live. I just need to make sure we take advantage of it!

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Change is actually possible for me!

I think we all have a picture in our mind of who and what we want to be. I know I have built an image of this ideal woman who is always happy and contented. She doesn’t let other people’s attitudes shake her own mood and always responds with love. She keeps her home perfectly clean and organized and works out at least three times a week. I could go on and on and on…

This perfect woman is constantly in my head, usually pointing out the ways I’ve failed to live up to her standards each day. At times she inspires me to do better, but most of the time I just feel depressed and incapable of change. However, a few days ago my husband said something to me that made me realize that I’m not as useless as I generally feel and I am actually capable of improvement!

It was Sunday afternoon and Jason was watching me start cleaning the bathroom while he was lying on out bed (he wasn’t feeling well at all, not just being lazy!). This was shortly after I’d been griping about how I really did not want to housework and just felt like chilling. He just said “I don’t know how you do it.” When I asked what he was referring to he explained that I just push on and do whatever needs to be done regardless of how I’m feeling.

Now this may not seem like a big deal, but to me it was huge; not only because he isn’t always overflowing with compliments, but because I have viewed myself as a very lazy procrastinator. I’ve always been a very messy person, my room at my parent’s house was usually about a foot deep in clothes and various other of my possessions. Before we got married I had no idea how I would cope with housework and keeping things tidy and just all the things that need to be done around the house on a daily or weekly basis. And to be honest I was pretty awful for the first while… dishes wouldn’t be done for days, my clothes were still left all over the floor and it would take most of the week to finally get the weekend’s clean laundry put away. The state of our house usually made me feel depressed and rather like a failure as an adult and a wife. I think it irritated Jason a fair bit as well… with good reason!

I realize that being tidy and organized is not the be all and end all in life. I know that you don’t have to have the perfect home and wash and dry each dish immediately after use to be considered mature and responsible. But I also knew that I really needed to improve (and still do)! And as I said at the beginning, my natural tendency is to look at my weaknesses as evidence of my general worthlessness rather than simply areas that I need to work on improving.

Having Jason point out how I’d started automatically tidying up and having him impressed with me really meant so much to me! It made me realize that I actually have changed over the past few months; something has somehow clicked in my brain that as the dishes need to be washed I just need to get on and do them! In no way do I keep an immaculate house, but now my clothes are always put away, the dishes are almost always washed and the rooms are usually tidy overall. I hadn’t noticed this change; it happened so gradually that it became my new normal. I still viewed myself as messy and lazy because I hadn’t recognized that had actually (mostly) left that part of myself behind! It took Jason reminding me to stop and compare myself 6 months ago to who I am now to realize that I am actually capable of improvement. I really can’t say just how good this made me feel!

The point of this post isn’t to point out how amazing I am for cleaning my bathroom and washing my dishes. Please don’t take it this way! I have just realized how helpful (and necessary) it is to look back at where we were some time ago and recognize what changes and improvements have been made. Many times it is near impossible to see how you could ever make even a small change when in the moment; just take a step back and think about who you were a year ago. I’m sure you can find a least one area where you’ve grown closer to your ideal.

And on that note… I need to go wash the dishes before heading to bed!

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We’re home!

We’ve just recently got back from our Canada trip and it is so good to be home. I am so very thankful for all the time that we had to catch up with family and friends. I don’t think I will have the opportunity to go back to for that long of a visit again, so I really wanted to make the absolute most of it. We were away for almost five weeks; most of that time we were staying with my parents, but we also spent a week with Jason’s sister and her family as well as going down to Vancouver for a night. When we first arrived it was still quite wintry, the lake was still frozen over and there was a lot of snow on the ground, but we were there for long enough that it had all melted by the time we left (which made me very happy). I wasn’t quite ready for the shock of the cold weather at first; it hasn’t taken me long to get used to the milder English weather!

We have been back in England for a week now and I’m just starting to feel like I’m adjusting to normal life again. I couldn’t slowly ease back into routine and recover from the jet lag; we arrived home Monday afternoon, I went to choir practice Monday evening and was back at work early Tuesday morning. As much as it made for an exhausting week, it meant I had no trouble getting to sleep at night! The only real jet lag effect I have had is being tired all the time, which is really not nearly as bad as it could be.

Last week we had two glorious days of sunshine. It was the best coming home present ever! Skies were blue, air was warm… felt like summer. There is something so incredible about the new life everywhere after the cold grey winter; all the daffodils, baby lambs, trees budding and blossoming. It is just the contrast of winter that makes you appreciate everything about spring so much more. I am always amazed at the difference it makes to my state of mind. One evening we took the dogs out for a walk and within a few minutes I was so happy, positive and relaxed, despite the stress I had from work. I’m not sure whether it is the sunshine or the warmth or maybe something else, but it has been a while since I remember feeling that contented and energized at the same time. I suppose it was also the first time this year that I have really felt it is spring, that winter is well and truly gone. I know could go on about this for way too long… spring is definitely my favorite time of year!

I do want to post more about the trip, but I think it will be best to leave that to a separate post or two. I did manage to take a lot of photos as well, though they were all on my phone so not always the best quality! More to come 🙂

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Mornings

I have never been a morning person. At times I was complete grouch and miserable to be around each morning. I have always hated getting out of bed, and even once I would get up it would usually be a good hour before I would be fully awake and functional.

At night I would mentally calculate just how few hours it would be before I would have to get up. I got in the habit of setting my alarm at least thirty minutes earlier than I planned to get up just so I could have the feeling of lying in bed longer; and even then I’d usually stay in bed for forty-five minutes. Work mornings would always be rushed; I got to the point where I could get dressed, do my hair and make my breakfast in twenty minutes tops. I would do the bare minimum to make myself look presentable and usually ate my breakfast in the car. Weekends were not much better. I would stumble upstairs with my hood pulled over my face and curl up on the couch, still practically asleep. I’d speak only if necessary and even then it would be a croaky mumble.

But lately this has started to change. Somehow I’ve managed to get to the point where I actually enjoy getting up in the morning. I’m not quite bouncing out of bed and bursting into song, but I am upright and moving within few minutes of waking up (at least during the week, and I don’t stay in bed much longer on the weekends). I actually have a reason to get out of bed now.

I’ve created a morning routine that calms and relaxes me and prepares me for the day. I’ve allowed myself enough time to get ready for work without rushing. I have a yummy, filling breakfast and sit down and actually appreciate the tastes and textures while listening to a psalm. I spend some time writing out my thoughts and what I am grateful for each morning. I just sit for a few minutes, sipping my tea while watching the morning sky through my kitchen window.

To be honest, I am rather amazed at the change in my attitude towards the morning. It makes such a difference to my entire day to have a calming and slow start to the day. I’m happier and have a more positive attitude overall. Now I notice the change when I sleep through my alarm and have to rush to be ready for work on time; I’m more stressed, more irritable and less able to cope with my emotions and life in general.

If I can make this change then anyone can. Yes, I know that’s a rather clichéd comment, but it’s true! The key for me has been to create something to look forward to in the morning, some motivation to get out of bed. The first few mornings were really hard; it took a lot of effort to force myself to actually get up within five minutes of my alarm going off. But it was only a few days before I wasn’t thinking ‘just a few more minutes …’ and getting up half an hour later. Now I know that my will be better if I stick to my morning routine and I know I will enjoy it. I’ve gone from falling asleep dreading my next waking moment to falling asleep anticipating the quite morning hour ahead of me. I think I might almost be a morning person! Almost.

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Making Memories

I’m just an ordinary person with an ordinary and sometimes rather boring life. Is there any point in me writing this blog? What do I have to say? Is there anything I can offer or add to what is already out there? And will anyone even read this? It has always been a dream of mine to start a blog, but I never  have as I don’t think I have anything unique to set me apart from the millions of blogs already out there. But I’ve been convinced by my husband and my slowly changing perspective on life; I need to just give it my best shot and see what will happen!

I am realizing that I need to stop saying that I want to start a project, that I want to have some experience someday, that I wish I had more of a certain quality, or that my life had a different focus, and then not doing anything about it. All this does is build an immediate subconscious reaction of “there’s no way I can or will be or do that” to anything I think of doing. This tends to put me in a negative frame of mind and fosters the rather depressing feeling that I can’t do what I want and I will never be who I want to be.

So here’s to shifting my mindset, to changing my life a little bit at a time and going on adventures!

I want to be a happy and healthy wife; healthy both physically and mentally.

I want to have a technology-free morning routine that I actually stick to!

I want to building a daily habit of Bible reading and prayer.

I want to start selling the products I make with my hands.

I want to be productive and use the time I have been given wisely. It is a precious gift and not to be wasted!

I want to take advantage of the fact that living in England means I have five weeks of annual leave a year and all those European countries are very accessible. A weekend in Vienna anyone?

I want to be physically fit so I can go on a hike with my husband and actually keep up with him. I want to build some sort of physical activity into my daily routine.

I want to make memories, to be able to look back on this period in my life and remember the exciting, unique, adventurous things things we’ve done. I want to take advantage of the freedom and flexibility we have right now to do more than just sit at home every weekend!

There; I’ve written this down and published it on the internet. All that is left is to document my journey from where I am now to where I want to be. I know my attempts will be clumsy, I know that my natural inclination to be lazy and procrastinate will get in the way of any form of speedy progress. But one day I will look back on where I am right now and realize just how much I have changed.

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