6 Thoughts I had while watching the England vs Columbia game

1. Their kits combined look like egg and ketchup

2. My gosh he can run fast!!

3. Harry Kane has funny looking eyes

4. Columbian women (or at least the ones the camera operators are focusing on) are beautiful…and why do they all have really good teeth?!

5. Headers look like they really hurt

6. What’s a nutmeg?!

8 Things I heard while watching…

1. if I’m going to chant about any vegetable it nots going to be a celery

2. Well that’s the difference between wisdom and knowledge isn’t it, knowledge is knowing tomato is a vegetable, wisdom is not putting it with a fruit salad

3. I’d look past the genocide if hitler wore a waistcoat

4. He’s got a big forehead….. now Let’s put a ball on it.

5. “Why do boys wear footaball strips and shout at the telly?! I don’t get it…It’s not like I sit in a bikini and straw skirt to watch Moana” – Georgie Jeffery

6. You fecking melon!

7 Fuck love island, there is only one love island, I LOVE MY ISLAND!!!

When I arrived at Ben’s with Harvey to watch the footy I was fully expecting to scoff at the boys and not understand. Needless to say I loved it, and got fully involved! It’s amazing how patriotic football can make you! Go England!

– C xxx

P.s. cover art by Rafael Mayani

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A dodgy box of blueberries

This morning when I got the punnet of blueberries out of the fridge for breakfast, I felt a sinking disappointment. I’d left it too late, and the little guys had gone over. I shook the box about a bit and on closer inspection there were a few dodgy ones but most of them looked okay.

I got to selecting, all it took was a closer look and a little squeeze to find out that actually, nearly ALL of them were okay.

It made me smile and realise what a great metaphor that was for life (or for today!). I’m sorry Forrest, but I’m changing the saying,

“Today is like a box of blueberries, at first glance, perhaps a little dodgy, but on closer inspection; full of absolutely wonderful things”

Find the good blueberries in your day today!

⁃ C xx

3 girls, three opinions, one episode of Queer Eye!

I watched episode 1 of season 2 of Queer Eye on Friday night and cried my way through it. I love the ‘Fab 5′ and all that they do! If you haven’t seen any of Queer Eye, pop onto Netflix and get binge watching. You won’t be sorry.

After crying my way through episode 1, I text two of my girlfriends telling them how wonderful and brave the episode was.

It’s a flammable subject. The episode centres around the church and their approach to tut LGBTQ community. Truly, I thought everyone would love it as much as me but…. well, they didn’t!

The three of us are wonderful friends as well as feminists, pro LGBTQ, and we represent all three options of faith; (a Christian, an Atheist and an Agnostic) – we could be a girl band, or the beginning of a really bad joke.

Needless to say we had hugely different views on the episode and what ensued was a fantastic WhatsApp conversation covering our opinions and our feelings.

I enjoyed the conversation so much, and found it so interesting, that I asked the girls if they would be up for me writing a blog post about it and include their opinions. They (very kindly) agreed so here we go, three girls, three opinions and one episode of queer eye!

*spoiler alert – don’t read any further if you haven’t seen the episode and you want to*

Q: So we all had very different opinions about episode 1. What was your overarching feeling about it?

H: I actually had a really positive overarching feeling about the episode. Whilst I’m not black or gay, the struggle Myles had with being able to identify within the Church is something I can relate to. I also appreciated how each member of the Fab 5 had their own perspective on what it meant to be gay and a Christian; something I feel isn’t addressed as a norm in mainstream media.

W: I found it very difficult to believe. I find it hard to see how the gay community (granted, represented only by 5 men) can be so forgiving to people who have openly shamed and bashed them for so long. My overall feeling of the episode was extremely narcissistic and conceited. I found the one on ones were very forced and quite frankly couldn’t take what they were discussing seriously. Also the episode glossed over the fact that this “kind” woman abandoned and thought less of her son because of his sexuality due to her religion and thoughts of her community and her asking for forgiveness, for me, was a selfish act to have her feel better about herself. I thought the reactions of the Fab 5 were rehearsed and insincere. The episode should have been about her son and not her.

H: I agree that the episode should have been about him. There was so much more to emotionally invest in with his journey. I don’t feel that she warranted the “help” that the Fab 5 could give, nor did they seem the right “fit” to give it to her (please forgive my superficial definitions!)

C: I thought the episode showed so clearly how “the church” (in its most broad stroke and generalised view) has hurt so many of the LGBTQ community (Bobby couldn’t even step into the church!) I think it also gently illustrated that those views are wrong, outdated, very hurtful, and showed people what incredible damage they do. Also showing at the same time that there is a road back. My overarching feeling was of complete What I took away their need for that conversation re: forgiveness was that she needed him to say she forgave him, not for her benefit, or that so she could feel better about herself, but so that she could then go and apologise to God – because she knew how horribly wrong she had been. Of course, hearing her son say he forgave her would have been a relief for her, but I personally didn’t feel like that was the main driver.

Q; What was your favourite/ least part of the episode?

H: My favourite part of the episode was when Bobby opened up to Tammye about his reasons for not going into the Church. I felt that he was being incredibly sincere about something that was clearly very difficult to talk about. My least favourite part of the episode was when Myles was brought into the salon for a makeover. I felt that this was a cheap after-thought and the attention was yet again drawn to his mother which I thought was unnecessary – let the guy have his moment! I felt a lot of what he was doing was to please his mother rather than out of honest intention/choice.

C: I’d agree that Bobby coming into the salon cheapened the sincerity! And yes! Bobby talking about to Tammy was very emotional!

W: Hooking onto this, the Bobby section was absolutely the bit that made me roll my eyes and begin hating on this episode. To not walk into a church because the cameras were rolling and to just begin a story line is how I saw this part. I believe his struggle he spoke of with Mama but she glossed over that too. Nothing was solved, resolved or actually discussed, everything just came back to “God is Love” which helps and explains nothing. My favourite part was seeing the interaction between Karamo and Myles because that was the closest relation and sincere interaction I saw in the programme. Also Myles’ happiness with singing with the choir, albeit badly.

H:Lol I couldn’t disagree with you more Hahahaha I love that we can though!

W: Exactly, totally opposing views. It’s interesting. I am a hard arse though! Haha

H: You also have no experience of the church whatsoever which will mean we definitely will have opposing views! You aren’t a hardarse you’re lovely!

C: Sorry Willow, I’m with Hannah on this one. And from a Christian driven perspective, the idea that “God is Love” is absolutely crucial. Because it’s that concept that will begin to change Christian people’s minds who aren’t so inclusive about this issue! Also Willow, you are lovely!

W: No I agree that is what the faith should be and what the vast majority of most religions is based on. What I’m opposing is that it just kept being said and not acted upon. You abandoned your son, but “god is love”. I have lots of issues surround the church because of how I was treat, but “god is love”. I’ve come back and I’m terrified of walking back into a community which shuns everything I stand for, but “god is love”. Nothing was being resolved, just “god is love” being repeated.

Q; You guys know that I’m a Christian and my positive experience of my faith means I found the episode really wonderful. How did you think your experience of faith informed your opinion of the episode?

W: Good question. My experience of *any* faith (and that’s important) is that the majority do good deeds to make themselves feel better and look better in the eyes of their god. Yes helping the poor and needy is fantastic, but it’s done to achieve that golden ticket to this magical town on a cloud. Obviously as ALWAYS there are good good people who are total selfless. But the underlying message of this episode for ME was that if Myles forgave his mother then his mother could be seen in a good light to God. Why not be in a good light because she fucked up hugely and abandoned her son and made her son feel the way he did because an old re-written book says so? I found nothing sincere except Karamo.

H: I don’t know about this one 😞. I think it’s very important to point out that the US generally has a much more positive perception of Christianity than we do in this country. By that I mean that I think it is much more “socially acceptable” to believe in God than it is here. If that’s just me being ignorant then please call me out on that. For instance, the majority of the fab 5 were all still quite open about the fact they believed in a God. I don’t think people are open enough in the UK about having faith. I think we as a nation are very sceptical of belief. Perhaps that is my own experience speaking, I don’t know. I found the episode resonated with me a lot, in that I have made excuses in earlier years about my faith, because of other people’s perceptions of it. And over time that faith has dwindled. I understood how Bobby felt (yes, okay, this was probably played up for the cameras) because I have felt somewhat how he felt. I don’t think that actually answered your question!

I also feel that Myles was doing a lot of what he was doing in order to better his relationship with his mother (out of fear) than out of choice. That resonates a lot with me and my “faith”.

Deep gals. Deep.

C: Haha! Sorry! Knew that one would get heavy!! I know I’m coming at this from a completely different perspective than you. But from my point of view (both a Christian and pro LGBTQ) it was an episode that seemed to heal a lot of hurt, and was completely inclusive in nature. To have a verse from the bible, the Quran, from Buddha, from Ghadi (as well as so many others) at the beginning of each chapter was a lovely touch.

Karamo clearly has a faith and has been accepted by his church (I absolutely loved his comment when he said “my grandma said God is Love and that’s all there is too it” – happens to be my personal stance) and yes there are MANY who feel that the LGBTQ community and the church community can’t mix. But that has to change and I think that it is changing. What you have to realise is that those views are SO deep rooted in the “church” that for particularly the older generation and those communities really out on the fringes (like hers) but many of the people that have faith that are my age hold the same opinion as I do.

W: That’s interesting for me because I don’t find this a difficult conversation at all 🤷🏻‍♀ maybe because lack of faith or interest or belief. That being said though, the morals I live by are the same as every religious moral and ethic. Be kind.

Thank you guys for being so honest! I think there’s so much to be said for talking about to difficult things and sharing what’s important to us!

Like Hannah said to us when we were chatting earlier, “we can only educate each other” and celebrate each other’s differences and crucially, our many many similarities.

With love

⁃ Cxx

It takes a village…

I got in my car on Friday morning on the way to life group and as I drove past the church we got married in, I saw my husband standing outside, waving to me on his way to the bakery. As I continued on my way, my very close friend pulled out in the car in front and waved as she did. I arrived at my destination with a smile ready to share life with wonderful ladies from my church.

It struck me in that moment, quite how important community is to me and how much I thrive off the wonderful people around me.

Now, I’m not some neighbourhood angel. I’ve never introduced myself to the people next door. I’ve never popped over with a cup of sugar, or whatever it is you’re supposed to do? In a world of Amazon Prime what’s the equivalent? A promise that I’ll take their parcels if they’re not in?

I don’t know the names of our neighbours, a “hello” in the car park is about as far as it gets… and we share walls with these people! I subscribe to the more ‘Friends’ approach to neighbours – naming them; ‘the couple that go to the gym a lot’, ‘the noisy ones downstairs’, ‘the one who smokes’, ‘the ones with a baby’.

Having said that, nearly all of my closest friends live within a ten minute radius, and my family are all within a twenty minute one. I am literally surrounded by the ones I love. I am so incredibly blessed! How many people can say that?

In this Amazon Prime world of ‘global community’ I can (and regularly do) voice note, FaceTime and WhatsApp my dear friends who don’t live in this country, it county. Social media is FANTASTIC for connecting far away friends! But I have 344 friends on Facebook and 350 followers on Instagram – I know from personal experience that those numbers do not a real community make.

Our government has just appointed a minister for loneliness, Tracey Crouch is carrying on the amazing work that the late Jo Cox started. That says a lot about the seriousness and scope of of the issue.

In 2017, a year of unprecedented connectivity, 9 million people in the UK were diagnosed with chronic loneliness.

Stewart Dakers wrote an fantastic and thought provoking article in the guardian,

“… it [loneliness] is an indiscriminate disease that has become an epidemic. There are some obvious pathogens: the destruction of community, the conversion of citizen into consumer, the politics of envy.”

I love what he says here, and I have to say I completely agree.

Convenience is killing community. We’ve swapped bakery’s for supermarkets where we trundle under the 24 hour strip lighting eyes downcast; simply getting the job done. And hey! If you can’t get what you want there. Pop on your phone, order a deliveroo and have it dinner brought to you, furtively receiving it through a not quite opened door, eat it while binge watching Netflix.

The global, virtual community is great, but it’s killing our real one. Community has been the driver for so much good, so much change and so many relationships. I looked into this and a study by the University of Pittsburgh found that, ‘the more time a young person spends on social media the more likely they are to feel socially isolated’. That’s a bit of a ‘duh!!’ moment for me! Of course it does.

But it’s hard isn’t it….What if you work a night shift and you don’t really see many people? What if you are a single mum and you can’t get out to make friends? What if you’re too old, unwell or unable to be social?

The bible says “love your neighbour as you love yourself” – Mark 12:31 and that’s a heck of a challenge for me. I don’t think knowing your neighbour as “The one who smokes” is really what Mark had in mind when he wrote that.

The old saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child”, I could be smug sit here and say that when that day comes for me I know I’ve found mine (I have – and they’re amazing!) but how about a challenge to myself. To start a community where I live? To make friends with my neighbours? To give “the ones with a baby” a real name? To offer a cup of sugar/take in an amazon parcel?

The equation seems simple.

End loneliness = start community.

With love

⁃ Charlotte

Bigger Jeans

The week before Claire and Paul’s wedding I rooted to the back of my wardrobe and pulled out my pink high waisted skirt that I had decided I was going to wear. I merrily slipped along to my sister in laws to borrow a top. I got into my skirt and….. IT DIDN’T FIT. To add insult to serious injury, nor did any of the tops Ella had picked out for me.

Mortified, and blaming it on a delicious Good Friday roast lamb I dejectedly sloped home. What the hell was I going to wear?! That was my only spring wedding appropriate outfit! I was hideous. I was fat. How could this have happened?!

The thing is, I’ve been pretty lucky in the body department. Thanks to an active job and great genes my weight has never really fluctuated. So it never occurred to me that pulling something out of the back of the wardrobe that I hadn’t worn in 2 years wouldn’t fit. Why wouldn’t it fit? I’ve still got tops in my cupboard that I’ve had since I was 16 – I really need to throw them out, but they still fit….sort of!

Calling my mum in desperation she laughed at my state of mild hysteria offering some of her dresses and suggesting that surely I could “squeeze into something” she had. Thanks Mumma! I did, and she hooked me up with a beautiful LK Bennett dress and heels, and told me to keep the heels. Score!

As much as my situation had been solved, and my accessories collection embellished, I couldn’t shake that slump. Was I fat now? How was it that I couldn’t fit into a skirt I loved? I beat myself up about it. Wearing baggy jumpers at work and watching at myself in the mirror (perils of a dance teacher) and berating myself for the body I have.

Thats until I saw a student of mine do the same.

She tugged on her leotard and said under her breath, “I shouldn’t wear leotards” – I pulled her back afterwards and told that beautiful, wonderful young woman that she was incredible, just the way she was. That words were important, and that she couldn’t talk to herself that way.

Why couldn’t I do that for myself?!

So. I had a choice – I could wallow and mope. Berate myself for the perfect healthy body that I have or….. now this is revolutionary, here goes…. I could buy bigger jeans!

My Mum came with me shopping and we stood in the zara changing room together laughing till we cried looking at our bodies. Our bodies are exactly the same. Exactly. Take a photo of both of us in our underwear and without our heads it would be tricky to tell us apart.

My Mum is gorgeous. So why was upset to have a body just like hers.

We’re constantly told, both bluntly and subliminally that we need to look a certain way. And if we don’t… heaven forbid! I’d challenge anyone who said they were immune to this. Young, old, male and female – no one gets out unscathed.

I am so blessed to have the body I have. I’m healthy; I can run, jump, hike, I can do anything I want. My body is perfect in the way that it was made.

We need to start believing that, otherwise what’s the other option? Hating ourselves, killing ourselves in the gym, only eating celery and cringing as we look in the mirror.

Me? I’ll be eating healthy and doing exercise…sometimes. Mostly though. I’ll be eating peanut butter m&ms by the handful and drinking wine. In my new bigger jeans, and I’m happy with that.

C xxx

The Wife Of A Photographer

My husband takes photos. Loads of them! And they’re beautiful.

Harvey studied photography at university; he has a lot of knowledge and some pretty fancy kit!

His camera is one of the most expensive things we own. When we first started going out, on passing it to me he would say, “Careful, this costs more than my car” (a completely warranted concern, I’m pretty clumsy)

When on holiday and on long walks with friends, more often than not, Harvey gets left behind as he stops. Considering framing and perspective, he waits for the perfect light, for the wave to break, or for the sheep to turn and look his way.

People have become impatient with him in the past. Stopping and looking over their shoulder wondering why they’re waiting.

I’ve never felt like this; because it forces me to stop too.

When Harvey takes a photo and we are walking together side by side, I stop so he can get the shot of an uninterrupted landscape without a person in sight. When I stop I often look at what he is looking at, see the beauty he sees and can see the photo he’s about to create.

I’ve discovered podcasts recently and have been listening to the ‘Slow Home Podcast’. It’s all about minimalism and how we can live a slower, simpler and more intentional life. I’m absolutely loving it and whenever I listen to it I get a huge urge to throw all my stuff away, get a cow, become completely self sufficient and live off the grid in the woods! On the drive up to Scotland Harvey and I listened to it for 6 straight hours and discussed how we could make our lives simpler and more intentional.

Watching Harvey take photos epitomises this for me; why on a walk in some of the most beautiful places in the country am I looking at my shoes? Why am I rushing to get to the end, to the headland, to the pub, back to the car park? Harvey taking photos forces me to slow, to look, to be intentional… And often gives me an opportunity to catch my breath 🙂

I’m grateful for our family photo albums and the shots that sit in frames and remind us of our wonderful adventures but mostly I’m grateful that that Harvey taking photos offers us the opportunity to stop, to look, to appreciate, and often for me to thank God for Harvey, our time together, and the world we enjoy exploring together so much!

What do you do that forces you to stop, breathe and say thank you?

With love

– Charlotte XxX

Choosing to Trust

Hi! Gosh it’s been a while! How are you? I hope 2018 has treated you well so far!

January has been a tricky one for us; a big ol’ bombshell, a change, a bout of Aussie flu and a wisdom tooth removal plan has meant that we’re not wistfully waving January off as she drives into the distance with her hand out of the window. It’s been more of a ‘mmkay, bye Hun, see you later’ *shut door and sigh of relief* kind of situation!

Having said that, all those tricky things January brought with her have been absolutely okay. Absolutely not a problem and absolutely peaceful. Why? Because we’ve chosen to trust.

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”

– Jeremiah 29:11

Trusting God can be a tricky business! Ironically I find it so much easier to trust in Him when things are bad. Does anyone else feel like this?

When everything is hunky dory (I wonder where that phrase comes from….!) I’ve thought in the past “don’t worry God. Take the day off – I got this!”

I’ve tried to do things in my own power and tried to sort things on my own. Although I might think that I’ve got this, of course I haven’t. Our hearts know that we can’t do it alone – but our heads – they like to think otherwise.

The crazy thing; the coolest situations arise when we go “you’ve got this God. Take the wheel”

My friend Fi, when I was away at university in the States called me and said, “get on the phone. I need to speak to you right now” she was going to Tunisia on the border with Syria to help out in a refugee camp. She’d been praying and asking God for something to ‘happen’ in her life. She gave it to God and God gave her an adventure.

My friend Lauren. She’s currently on the most incredible journey in South Africa, (you can read about her adventure here) she was terrified before she left. Her (completely understandable) fear of the unknown was huge. That didn’t stop her though – it made her trust God all the more. We sat and prayed together, talked through plans, cried together (a lot) and I couldn’t be prouder of her. She’s out there – absolutely smashing it for God and in return He’s doing incredible things in her life. It’s not an easy road but she’s handed him the steering wheel and as He drives, and she’s helping so many people; He’s helping her.

My friend Sarah. She’s going back to work after having the most beautiful baby boy (biased – he’s our godson) and as of yet has nothing concretely lined up to go back to. Is that scary? Of course! Is she anxious. Yes! But she has been so inspiring in telling me that she knows God has a plan and she knows he’s got a path all ready for her. She just can’t see it yet.

In my own experience? Africa, on a world challenge expedition as a staff leader. I had no control over what happened on that trip. So I gave it to God and prayed almost continually over that 3 and a bit weeks. I’ve never felt more close to God or more peaceful about a situation out of my control. My biggest fear on that trip – getting sick and not being able to do my job. Did I get sick? Nope!

In all those situations, the path is unclear. Walking blindfolded isn’t comfortable but “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Just like in any of our relationships, trusting is a choice we have to make every day. It’s a mindful intentional thing. Speaking from personal experience. Trusting is so worth it. It always wins the day, and it’s something I’m learning to do more!

With Love from

– Charlotte

XxX

P.s here are some more plan related verses to check out

– proverbs 16:3

– psalm 25:4

– proverbs 3 5-6

– psalm 103: 2

P.p.s Hunky Dory – the origin is unknown, I checked!