All in a year’s work

It feels like an insanely long time since I last wrote in this blog. Life has just become too busy and exciting to want to spend all my time writing and I’m so happy to be able to say that.

A year ago on this day I was working my last shift in one of the most soul destroying jobs that I think I’ll ever do. I was just an unimportant number to my employers and knew that by resigning I wasn’t affecting anyone; management wouldn’t miss me and my place was probably filled soon after by ten more poor souls who had no where else to go. I would only be missed by the few people I had made a connection with; the rest of the people in my office might recognise my face but they only knew my name by the sales target board that I tallied up my “successful” calls on. I always knew an office job wasn’t for me, especially a call centre job, but now I can safely say that I know this is true because I’ve actually done it.

Since then my life has done a total 1-80; I’m now a qualified chef and I spend my time in work on my feet trying to think about a million things at once. This is the start of my career as a chef and I hope to keep advancing it. Both inside and outside of work I’m surrounded by good people, funny people, people who want to listen to me, people who want to get drunk and fall into a taxi at the end of the night with me, people who want to get breakfast with me the next day as we all discuss the previous night’s events, people who message me to make sure I’m okay, people who don’t give up on me even when I melt their heads.

I’m going back to college in September too and I cannot wait. I graduated my first year with a merit and a student of the year award and am unbelievably proud of myself. Last summer I was a shell of the person that I am today and I have college to thank for it. Cheffing has boosted my confidence and changed me massively. Most of all I’ve found something that I’m truly passionate about and I love that. Next year I’m aiming for a distinction and possibly another student of the year award, I just have to work insanely hard to make sure I get there.

All in all the past twelve months have been incredibly life changing, and I’m beyond excited to see what the next twelve have in store.

x

You get what you give

The clocks went forward last night, which means that right now, at 7:04 pm on the 30th of March 2014, it’s still broad day light and my heart feels so content. I adore spring, I adore this time of year, because it’s when the world starts to grow again; it’s when I start to grow again. Winter is all about the shedding of painful memories and broken dreams, but spring is for new life.

I turn 24 in just under two weeks.
A lot has happened since my last birthday and I already know this one will be the best I’ve had in a long time. I have plans; real life plans to look forward to, and some of the best people in the world to share my excitement with. I’ve come to realise in recent months that I neither want or need lots of friends, just a few brilliant ones who I know I can count on.

Two weeks ago I put my foot down with someone and removed them from my life. It hurt terribly to think I’d lost a friend when I don’t have all that many, but when I accepted that this person was only bringing me down I realised that it was the best thing I could’ve done. I’ve realised how strong I am too, to have walked away from it knowing that it wasn’t doing me any good. Up until a few days ago I kept thinking it over, kept feeling anger and resentment towards the person, but on Thursday I got incredibly upset and a good friend told me to stop torturing myself with my thoughts; it was the best advice I’ve been given. Not only because it means I’ve had an amazing, chilled out weekend, finding myself smiling at the realisation of how far I’ve come, but also because I’m in a position to be able to do that now. In November if someone had told me this I wouldn’t have been capable of controlling my thoughts.

Slowly, yet surely, I’m falling in love with who I am, both on the outside and the inside. I’m one of few women who is able to love their exterior and not worry what people think. I work out and, honestly, sometimes worry that I’m doing this for the benefit of others, but also know I don’t detest or want to change any part of my body. I do a lot of yoga, which relaxes the mind and tones the body, and since the evenings are getting brighter I want to get back into running again.

I’ve learnt a lot of brilliant personality traits from my friends and I’ve become a more empathetic, courageous, confident person. I probably still complain too much but I have a far more positive outlook on life than I used to and would like to think that I’ll be able to nip that one in the bud soon. It’s safe to say that I like who I am, and can’t wait to see who I become.

This time last year I was a shell of who I am now, but today I found myself driving to Tesco with the stereo turned up belting out the words to You Get What You Give like an absolute fool, knowing that everyone driving past could see me yet not caring at all.

So friends, give the song a listen and remember:

“When the night is falling,
and you cannot find the light, 
If you feel your dream is dying,
Hold tight…”

x

 

 

Attack of the Christian.

Yesterday I posted this status on Facebook:

The amount of married Christian couples who’ve deleted me off facebook in recent months says a lot for the Church I used to go to and for the faith I used to be a part of that claims to love everyone.

And after having done so received this message (I’ve edited a few things to allow the sender to retain anonymity):

Just heard what you posted about being deleted off Facebook by us. Just want to put somethings straight. [My husband] was deleted by you. He didn’t delete you. Secondly, the reason why I deleted you was because I was fed up reading your posts about how crap Christians were and how our beliefs offended you. Also you slagged off [a certain area of the public sector] . I happen to work for them and if [what they do] is not your bag I’m very sorry. I was offended by what you wrote. I see you didn’t put on Facebook about us welcoming you into our house every week and sharing our deepest thoughts and feelings. You didn’t happen to mention that we have prayed for you and continue to pray for you even though you aren’t with us. If you had a problem you should have spoken to us but you didn’t give me the chance to explain. I’m sorry you feel hurt but we also are hurt. God bless you with whatever you are doing and all the best for your future

To be quite frank I find the whole interaction completely hilarious, so I’m going to break it down.

Just heard what you posted about being deleted off Facebook by us.

Really? Your ego is so large that you think, months after it’s happened, my status was only related to you and that there aren’t people in my life who were ten times more important to me who’ve deleted me? Girl, get over yourself. Also, “just heard”? So it’s quite clear someone told her about it, which says a lot about these people too (I’m currently approaching people to find out who it was as I have a good idea).

[My husband] was deleted by you. He didn’t delete you.

That’s pretty funny. Why would I have been upset about it originally and then posted this status if I had deleted him? Or maybe I did it by accident (because I have zero recollection) but as I stated to this lovely woman in my response, I would’ve had no reason to delete either her or her husband from Facebook. The only time I delete someone is when I feel we’re not really friends because the friendship has faded away and I never see them any more and was never close with them in the beginning, and so don’t believe they need to be on my Facebook that is generally pretty private.

Secondly, the reason why I deleted you was because I was fed up reading your posts about how crap Christians were and how our beliefs offended you.

This is probably my favourite part of the whole thing because I constantly see Christians posting Bible verses and worship lyrics and rubbish about being pro-life on my news feed and I ignore it, but when I say how I disagree with Christiantiy and that it’s a bit screwed up sometimes they think “Well, I should delete her!” What?! What happened to loving people and allowing them to have their own opinions, what happened to turning the other cheek? What happened to admitting that there are a lot of Christians in the world who are total dicks? I’ve had so many Christians be really kind to me in recent months. They’ve discussed with me or sympathised with me over the bad treatment I’ve received in the Church, so it’s sad that the ones who take such negative actions seem so prominent.

Also you slagged off [a certain area of the public sector] . I happen to work for them and if [what they do] is not your bag I’m very sorry. I was offended by what you wrote.

I loved this part and I have only one response:
Image

The worst part was that I actually fully support the company she works for in what they do but realise that they regularly have numerous failings and had pointed one of them out and said they really need to step up their game, so I told her I didn’t really know what she was getting at here. But am I supposed to cater my Facebook posts to the social and political beliefs of everyone in my friends? What on earth would be the point in that? At the end of the day if you’re constantly offended by people not agreeing with you you’re going to get burned. Too many Christians have this weird idea that you all have to sit quietly and not argue over anything, but I think if you remember correctly Jesus flipped over some tables one time when he saw some shit was going down in the temple, so it’s pretty important not to be a wilting flower. This is also like me refusing to be friends with someone who doesn’t like the catering establishment I work for; incredibly petty and a wee bit insane.

I see you didn’t put on Facebook about us welcoming you into our house every week and sharing our deepest thoughts and feelings. You didn’t happen to mention that we have prayed for you and continue to pray for you even though you aren’t with us. 

This bit annoys the absolute shit out of me. I’m a generally pretty socially awkward person so social situations can be really tough for me. I went to this group every week and only a couple of people spoke directly to me, and this woman thinks that sharing her “deepest thoughts and feelings” is something I should have felt privileged of? Fuck me, I do that all the time on this blog, you’re not special. And that is such a guilt trip sentence. She’s also sneakily made this paragraph make me feel like every one in the group feels the same way towards me; I do not feel the same way about everyone in the group. And pointing out that they still pray for me when I don’t even hold the same faith or values as the any more? That’s really nice but am I supposed to feel bad about it? I don’t believe prayer works so why would I feel bad that you still include me? Especially when you send me cheeky messages like this, clearly feeling a lot of bitterness towards me? Your prayers mean nothing to me. A few others have told me they’re praying for me, a few other lovely people who really do care, and I appreciate that they care and that they pray because they mean well. YOU do not. YOU are trying to gain Jesus brownie points. Get over yourself.

She also has no idea how happy I was to be a part of the group for the first few months because I was so incredibly lonely and it was my only escape from going to work in my crappy job and being alone, but I guess that’s irrelevant to her now.

If you had a problem you should have spoken to us but you didn’t give me the chance to explain. I’m sorry you feel hurt but we also are hurt.

Good for you. Well done. I feel terrible. *intense sarcasm intended*
It was quite clear from the moment I realised she had deleted me that she had issues with me, and it’s all come out in this message. Does she really think that I would’ve felt comfortable approaching her? When I barely knew her or her husband? When I had clearly never been completely at ease in social situations with the rest of the group? If she was the one deleting me when I had no problems with her should she not have contacted me?

God bless you with whatever you are doing and all the best for your future.

I literally said to her, “Don’t tell me ‘god bless’ when what you really mean is ‘fuck you’.” She’s just trying to make her incredibly cheeky message seem somewhat nice, as if she’s a “good Christian” when she’s actually been a total dick, and I don’t fall for that kind of shit. She doesn’t care about me in the slightest and this message proves that.

I had no intentions of going back to the Church that I used to go to, or any Church for that matter, but this woman alone has claimed her territory and she can have it, because if this is Christianity then I don’t want to be involved in it, honey.

x

Contentment

I used to run away from my problems.

Two summers in a row I headed to the United States of America and worked two jobs that I didn’t really love, and I did it all because I wanted to get away from Northern Ireland. Ever since I moved home after graduating from university I’ve spent so much time trying to get out of here, of travelling elsewhere, of being somewhere, anywhere, other than here.

But last week, after what is now 21 months of living in Northern Ireland, I realised that it’s not where you are that matters, but what you do with that place.

After what I now realise is only a few months of incredibly hard work and determination I’m finally well on my way to living the life I want to live. I’ve lost a lot in the process; I’ve walked away from the Church, I’ve let a lot of people behind, I’ve totally changed how I live. But I’ve grown a stronger backbone, a thicker skin, I’ve made some truly amazing, inspiring friends, I’ve realised who I want to be and how I want my life to be and chased after the things I want like there’s no tomorrow, I’ve found an industry that I’m passionate about and I’ve taken so many steps to finally start my career in it.

I’m beyond proud of myself for who I’ve become and who I’m becoming. Thinking back on where I was a year ago, or even six months ago, I never thought I’d be where I am today when I was stuck in a crappy job feeling like I had nothing to look forward to.

After having got the call on Thursday evening from my new employer to say I’d got the job for the interview I’d had only a few hours before, my next step is moving to Belfast. I’ll never love Bangor; I just can’t. But I can tolerate it while I have to be here. I spend 80% of my time (if not more) in Belfast these days and I really don’t have much keeping me in this town any more. I would be working and living in Belfast already if it had been possible but life has worked out in perfect time. Everything just feels right; I wouldn’t have been capable of doing the job I’m starting this week before Christmas and I’m happy enough to work for a month or so before starting to look for places to live.

I’m also competing in a cookery competition next month which is something I never would have been able to do until recently. I just seemed to gain all this confidence and I don’t know where it came from but I absolutely love it.

Learning to be content where I am, to stop wanting to keep running away because it seemed easier, was the hardest thing to do. A while ago a friend told me that I needed to be okay here before I could be okay everywhere else, and she was right, I just never realised how long it would take me to finally be okay. But after months of hard work, and refusing to quit because it was hard, I’m finally at a point where I’m pretty content with my current situation.

I found this brilliant article that a friend had linked on my Facebook news feed and I just wanted to share a quote from it with you all, something that I can relate to 100%:

“There is bravery in travelling, but there is bravery in staying home, too. There is bravery in staying still long enough for everything to catch up with you, in trusting that whatever it is, it won’t drag you down. Because it hurts like hell when there’s nowhere to run, when the only place to circle is within the confines of your own addled brain. I lie awake at night trying to figure out ways to escape the barbed wire thoughts closing in. Every memory digs a little deeper into my skin.”

I am so fucking brave for staying here and letting life catch up with me.

x

Life as I know it.

I’ve wanted to write for a while but every time I sat down to do so my heart wasn’t in it. But, finally, I’m ready.

Since admitting to the world that I was walking away from the Church I don’t think I’ve ever felt happier or more free in my whole life. I’ve been doing yoga and meditation, I haven’t worried about not being married, I’ve been loving college. I feel like I spent so long believing that any strength I had was in God rather than myself that I forgot how strong I am, and I almost put myself down for not being as strong as him. I was constantly trusting in some higher being to help me do things but, now that I’m free from all of that and have seen just how strong I am, I’ve been able to conquer so many of my fears and I’m consistently happy for the first time in my life.

I’ve thought a lot about religion in general. It’s easier to look at all religions when I’m not a part of one, and it baffles me how similar they are, how they all have an agenda. I think there’s something out there guiding us, I believe that the universe makes things go the way they do and that everything happens for a reason, but I don’t know if it’s something like a god. I think the part that annoys me the most is knowing that I’ll now become a project for some people; they’ll start praying for me but will continue to barely say a word to me and, even when they do, there will always be some sort of intention behind it. I’ve accepted my decision not to be a Christian any more, I just hope that everyone around me can.

I think I stuck to Christianity for so long because it was the easy thing for me to do. I was too scared to walk away from it because it was my comfort zone, I didn’t have a clue what to do without it. But now I’m learning and figuring out life without God and it isn’t all roses but it’s certainly going a lot better than I thought it would. I love all the friends I’ve gained in the past few months, they mean the world to me and they’re far more genuine than a lot of the people I knew before.

Last summer I helped with a kids club in County Cavan and I loved it and was so certain I’d be back again this summer, but I no longer believe what they preach. Before I started college I planned to finish this year and then head to Canada for the foreseeable future, but I’ve just applied for another year in college and might do another year after that if things go well. It’s crazy how inconsistent humans are but that’s why life is so beautiful, nothing stays the same, everything changes and we grow and we open ourselves up to new experiences and walk away from old ones, and if we’re happy that’s all that matters.

x

Walking away from the Church

I have spent most of my life calling myself a Christian. When I was 19 I fully committed to God and made the decision to follow Him, whatever that meant.

But life changes, circumstances change, we grow up, nothing stays the same; and I have come to the conclusion that, for the foreseeable future at least, I don’t want to call myself a Christian. I don’t want to go to Church. I don’t want to be define by my beliefs.

Recent events have made me realise that I don’t think any god is in control of my life, or the life of anyone else. I believe that there’s something in the universe that makes our lives work out the way they do but I don’t think it’s anything so strict or rigid that there’s a book about it.

Some of you will worry about me; you’ll think the Devil has got me, you’ll pray for me. But I’m okay, I’m really okay, we’re all okay. I’m figuring life out and I’m figuring out how to be happy, and that’s something I was never able to do before. Something I was never able to do when I was part of the Church, while I was trying so hard to find God. I’ve found my own strength, and being able to own that is so freeing. To know that I can conquer all the things I’m afraid of is so unbelievably freeing. 

Life was dark for a while. On the days I couldn’t get out of bed it was so dark. But the sun is brightening up the sky and I can see the beauty in things again and I don’t need a god to help me do that. It’s just me and the people I love. I have some great people in my life and I’ll never be able to thank them enough for being around the past few months, as I’ve gone through all this insanity.

But for now I’m just figuring out me, I’m figuring out how I want to live; and I’m really okay.

Strength

The window is wide open and I’m listening to the rain pour down as if waterfalls are descending from the heavens.

It’s washing everything away; all the dirt and rubble, everything that tore my heart in two. Things aren’t okay, the problems aren’t gone, but I finally have clarity.

I am strong. I am so unbelievably strong and I deserve to know and accept that.

I have motivation to go running again.
I don’t know where the heck it came from but I have motivation.
I have motivation to eat well, to go to bed at a decent hour, to get up to see the sunrise.

I was driving home today and the wind was so strong I felt like it might blow my car off the road, but in the distance I saw a flock of birds getting ready to go to bed. I said to myself out loud, “How on earth do they manage to fly in this wind?”

They do it because they have to; they do it because there’s no other way to get to the tops of the tallest trees.
It’s just like life, isn’t it? I have gotten through the tough days because I have to, because there’s no other way to reach the things I want, because the opposite of life is death and I don’t want that.

I want to see everything this world has to offer me, I don’t want to miss any chances, I don’t want to ignore any possibilities.

And there is rest; just like the birds find their rest when they land in their trees, we sleep every night too.
I sleep every night! I can sleep again!

What I’m going through is a roller coaster; it has its ups and downs and what I’m experiencing now probably won’t last forever. But every time I feel like this, every time I feel strong, it gives me some hope that one day I’ll always be able to feel like this, and it reminds me that no one but me can build this strength. I have done this, I have grown this. I’ve had many people encouraging me and I’ll never thank them enough but, at the end of the day, no one but the individual can become who they want to be.

There is so much beauty in these rainy nights; always be grateful for them.

x