My Framework for Growth – ‘Who I’m Becoming’.

I’ve been reading a book by Bill Hybels, called, ‘Simplify’. One chapter is about your schedule (or diary). There is a quote which I have really taken to heart:

'Who I'm Becoming' Quote from Bill Hybels.
‘Who I’m Becoming’ Quote from Bill Hybels.

This means that we put in our diary not what is coming at us, but the appointments, meetings and events that will help us become who we want to be in the future.

With that in mind, I have created twelve ‘Becoming Tiles’, which are in order of importance, to help guide me in my decisions and what I allow in my diary:

 

1) Be Happy and Healthy.

This means, put my physical and mental health before anything else. If I go down with mental or physical illness, then the whole family goes down, my work and ministry is affected and I can’t care for anyone.

These things need to go in my diary:

  • Doing mindfulness every day
  • Taking time out for myself
  • Having boundaries with friends, family and work
  • Making time for God and Church
  • Making time to be with friends and family
  • Doing exercise
  • Eating well
  • Having days off and holidays
  • Dealing with issues promptly and directly.

 

2) Always put Mike and Isaac first.

This means putting my husband, Mike and my son, Isaac, above all the other items on my list and in my diary.

These things will go in my diary:

  • Spending family time together
  • Supporting Mike in his ministry
  • Taking Isaac places and showing him things that will help him grow
  • Championing my family
  • Spending enough time at home
  • Date Night.

 

3) Prioritising Mine and Isaac’s Character.

This means considering my character in my decisions, and also helping Isaac to grow in character. When he’s an adult I want him to be a catch, a good employee, friend and a polite chap.

Things like these will go in the diary:

  • Regular time with wise friends and family
  • Imput into my discipleship, such as Spring Harvest, training days and workshops
  • Attending the ‘Mind and Soul’ conference
  • Reading books and attending talks on parenting
  • Seeing my Spiritual Director

 

4) Being Fully Me.

I don’t want to be anyone else. I don’t want to water myself down for anyone. I want to be fully me.

This means putting things in my diary like:

  • Being inspired by art, design and style
  • Taking photos
  • Being silly and joyful
  • Going to Theme Parks
  • Seeing plays
  • Going to gigs
  • Enjoying the seasons outside
  • Going to water parks
  • Singing Karaoke
  • Trying new things
  • Spending time on my hobbies, like gardening, calligraphy and nail art.

 

5) Be a Leader and Mentor.

I might be a vicar one day…it might happen. I’ve lead what was really a church in Harrow, Get Together, with forty guests a week and enough laughs and problems to start a sitcom…I have several adult Godchildren, who asked me to be that guide in their life. I am a mentor in my work and also in my Church. I run my own business!

To keep going in this direction, these things need to go in my diary:

  • Attending events at the City Hall to consult around diversity in the workplace
  • Being a mentor professionally
  • Offering my services as a voluntary Mentor
  • Having connections with young people
  • Helping out Mental Health charities
  • Going to Theology talks and Leadership events.

 

6) A Loyal Friend and Relative.

I want to put my friends and family before my work. I want to invest in particular in those that I support, and also support me. I want to be there for important milestones and celebrations. I want to rejoice and commiserate with those I love.

I want these sorts of things to go in my diary:

  • Regular time with my most closest friends
  • Regular quality time with my parents and in-laws
  • Celebrations
  • Time to meet new friends
  • Planning time for special events and celebrations.

 

7) A Kind Advocate and Activist.

I am passionate about standing up for justice and I’m not afraid to speak up. However, I am also a communicator and educator, so it’s important I do this kindly, in particular with those who need education around certain issues. I want to have increasing impact and really make a difference where I am.

These sorts of things will go in my diary:

  • Putting on Kickass Women events (my women’s networking group)
  • Investing in equipping women with the Kickass Women Facebook group
  • Attending events around equality, diversity and women’s issues, such as Leap, Stylist, Red events and Mind events
  • Speaking with my coach to learn how to communicate more effectively and hone my skills.

 

8) Always Curious.

I love learning and I want to keep putting aside time to learn new skills for my business and clients and also just widening my mind and inspiring me.

I want to put in my diary things like:

  • Going to workshops to learn new things
  • Going to art exhibitions
  • Attending Red, Stylist, Figaro Digital and Council events to keep my learning up-to-date.
  • Reading relevant books and articles
  • Going on retreat each season to think how to develop Joy Factory.

 

9) A Lifelong Adventurer

I love going to new places and having adventures. Going on holiday is very important to me, for my soul, my art and deepening relationships with my family and friends.

I want to make time for:

  • A hot holiday in the winter months to raise my family’s spirits
  • Half-term breaks to refresh us
  • A yearly weekend break with my husband
  • A week in France with my Dad and Bean
  • Weekends with my mum
  • Trips with ECC (my rollercoaster club)
  • Crossing places off my travel list, like New York, Helsinki and Sicily.

 

10) Doing Meaningful Work.

It is important to me to do my work with Joy Factory. I want to be a witness to Isaac, my son, to show a woman can carry on the work she loves and is good at, rather than waiting till nursery. I enjoy my work and it’s good for my wellbeing. And I work to be able to pay for holidays for my family to support my husbands’ small income.

That said, any work I do I have to want to do, as I’m away from my son. And also, work I enjoy with people I like is usually more profitable anyway. I go away each season to review the work I’m doing, partnerships and where I’m going.

I want to keep putting in my diary:

  • Seasonal Retreats
  • Priority time with key partners
  • Time in the Harrow Work Hub
  • Meeting with new clients and customers
  • Time to review feedback from clients.

 

11) An Active Artist.

I want to find more time in my diary to make new art. I’ve realised that when I do any art, it’s on my phone, doing digital paintings. I’m usually rushing as I’m with my family! I miss time spent playing with new media and experimenting. I also want to do new exhibitions, so I can sell my work to encourage me to make new work.

I’d like these sorts of things to go in my diary:

  • Sketching days
  • Studio days
  • Putting on or taking part in exhibitions
  • Thinking about other revenue streams, like Etsy and creating prints, etc.

 

12) Hospitable

I love opening my home to people and I love parties. People who come to our gatherings always meet new people., laugh, eat, sing, share and feel at home.

I want to keep these sorts of things in my diary:

  • Celebrating birthdays
  • Having a ‘Thanks’ party in dreary, grey January
  • Marking Advent with Christmas prep then celebrating all twelve days of Christmas
  • Having dinner parties and playdates
  • Playing board games
  • Having movie nights
  • Having a big do at my mum’s once a year, to give people a mini holiday and a chance to dress up!

So there we have it. My ‘Becoming’ tiles and my hopes and dreams for them. I hope this might have inspired folks reading to maybe do their own. Feel free to ask me how I’m doing!

I plan on posting on Social Media about my ‘Becoming’ list as a focus for what I use Facebook, Instagram for etc and also to create a conversation. I also have Pinterest boards I’m working on, which you’re welcome to look at – just search for ‘joyfactoryuk’ on Pinterest.

 

Reflections from Ffald y Brenin, 2015.

Something New
Something New

Much like a good wine or cheese I’ve been ‘letting my thoughts mature’ before posting about my wonderful retreat at Ffald y Brenin in Wales last week.

(N.B. Disclosure…there’s ‘God chat’ in this post as it’s kinda my diary/ milestone recording too, please feel free not to read if this would upset you 🙂 )

The main message I feel I received was about liberty and freedom. I expected the time away to be quite intense and tearful, but in fact it was anything but.

I found myself led by people I met (and was meant to meet), the landscape, passionate and inspiring chats with Mike over lamb shanks and picking up flotsam and jetsam on a sandy beach with whirls of changing, golden sand.

Footsteps in the Sand
Footsteps in the Sand

We’d spent a day at the prayer retreat in the chapel and heard a fantastic message on freedom and how some people can try to trap us with burdens but in fact we are not beholden to any human. I found myself studying Isaiah 43, which talks about leaving the past behind and looking towards the future. (Sounds rather a lot like mindfulness to me!)

Roy, the pastor, told a story of a gate at Ffald y Brenin, which was between the path from the house to the cross on the hill. It had fallen down and Roy felt that it meant the path is open. There’s no gate! No barrier.

The Gate is Open
The Gate is Open

So, after a great day, rather than staying, and feeling like I needed to pull a ‘holy face’ and stay there all day, I wanted to walk along the beach and talk to ‘him upstairs’ there. I really enjoyed padding over the sand and picking up rope and wood for some future art piece. I didn’t have to stay in the chapel and read fifty Psalms!

Here’s some pictures of the chapel at Ffald y Brenin and the beautiful countryside around it:

Snowy road to Ffald y Brenin
Snowy road to Ffald y Brenin
Ffald y Brenin Chapel
Ffald y Brenin Chapel
Stunning Newport Estuarty
Stunning Newport Estuary
Walking along Newport Beach
Walking along Newport Beach

The next day, I wasn’t sure what to expect, going to Ffald y Brenin with no agenda. I needn’t have worried. After starting the day with a delicious fry up in our B&B I settled down in the common room and started a jigsaw.

Breakfast
Breakfast
Jigsaw and a View
Jigsaw and a View

I met just the people I was meant to meet. A lady who was going through similar things to me around wanting kids (and she worked in media!) and a lovely, lovely lady called Rebecca, who we shared our lunch with and we chatted about mindfulness (after folk gave us their lunch yesterday.)

Mike met someone he was meant to meet, too.

After lunch, I wondered if I *should* go for a walk. I thought it through and decided I *did* want to go. As I wandered up to the fields I passed this pond, which I noticed was half-frozen.

Half Frozen Pond
Half Frozen Pond

I walked on past a wooden fort, that looked like a prison to me. (Sorry, no photo). Then up the hill, through the mud, into a stunning, open field, that looked out over the valley and to the cross on the hill. I felt like this was a metaphor: the half-thawed pond was like me, a work in progress, but having been freed from things here. The fort represented the things and people that had trapped me. The field represented a ‘huge, open space’, which I was now free to run around, explore and enjoy.

An Open Space
An Open Space

I left feeling, well, kind of like, ‘I’m not quite sure what’s happened, but *something* has!’, if that makes any sense? I feel empowered, free to keep on working with the causes I’m passionate about and fighting for justice, even if there’s a cost.

I brought home with me the daily prayer book, which has a morning, midday and evening prayer. I plan to carry this on, s-l-o-w-l-y, at home.

Ffald y Brenin Daily Prayer Book
Ffald y Brenin Daily Prayer Book

I want to come back here every year.

And…stop. Now what?

Welcoming Chapel Light
Welcoming Chapel Light

Today I write from snowy Wales. I’m on retreat, visiting a mysterious place called Ffald y Brenin, a Christian healing community, on the recommendation of my good friend, Rupal.

Me and my husband Mike drove down from Harrow yesterday and the peace and quiet still takes some getting used to. As we reached Dinas Cross, we drove down a road so narrow that there was about a centimetre of space on either side and we switched off the engine and listened to the bubbling brook. It’s snowed today and I enjoyed immensely the sound your boots make (kind of squeaky) when you tread in freshly fallen snow.

These observations…I might have missed them before my study of mindfulness. I used to come on retreat with an agenda, a plan, etc, but here…well, I’m just here. Don’t know what’s going to happen, but that’s okay. I can just be, one moment at a time.

I found myself drawn to this verse from Proverbs 31 again, this is the Message version:

A good woman is hard to find,
    and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
    and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
    all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
    and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
    and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
    for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
    then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
    rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
    is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
    diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
    reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
    their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
    and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
    when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
    brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
    and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
    and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
    and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
    her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things,
    but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
    The woman to be admired and praised
    is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
    Festoon her life with praises!

I’ve come to this place to just give up on *my* plans for my life, for a family etc and *gulp*…this feels a bit like ‘coming out’ ;),  give them to Jesus. On paper, our dream of having our own children, combined with my hormone problems, looks unlikely, but I know that with God, ‘All things are possible’. So, here I am, for three days, to wait. And see.

The above verse outlines a ‘Good wife’ and I can see some of myself in this verse (and Mike agrees 🙂 ), as well as some things to work towards.

Here’s some pictures of this beautiful place, covered in freshly fallen snow.

Snowy peaks in Wales
Snowy peaks in Wales
Welcoming Chapel Light at Ffald y Brenin
Welcoming Chapel Light at Ffald y Brenin
Ffald y Brenin Reception
Ffald y Brenin Reception
Arriving at Ffayl y Brenin
Arriving at Ffayl y Brenin