The one where life changes…

I’m sorry for not blogging. I’ve actually blogged a lot…if you count all the half written posts in my drafts folder that remain unfinished.

Life has changed a lot in the last month.

My last month in my previous job was pretty horrible. I’m not surprised to hear more people have left since I have left. It is a shame, because it wasn’t a job I hated it. For sure the hours were pants, and the pay was awful. But it was a job that was often a privilege, had fun in the hard slog of each shift.

One week off turned into two – not for good reasons unfortunately. But two weeks ago, I finally became employed again. And I hope I never take it for granted.

For in the last 3 years I’ve discovered that being employed is a privilege that can too easily be taken from us. My parents grew up in an era of working hard and jobs for life. Being able to save to buy your own home. Knowing you had a job to earn money to pay off the mortgage. If you were really lucky you could afford to go on a cheap holiday to France or Spain once a year.

That is not the case anymore.

As we travelled on the train to London, a new colleague asked me why I was taking two jobs. It’s not a daft question – I live with my parents so my rent is minimal, with one part-time job I’ll be earning almost double what I have in the last 3 years. I could survive without working full-time like I have done for the last 10 years. The answer? I want to be able to save up again. To perhaps go on a holiday. To have a car and afford to put petrol in it so I can drive to friends further away. Even my parents who have kindly loaned me money to purchase a car so I could buy it outright and pay them back rather than the garage’s financing agency, have told me not to rush to pay them back as quickly as I would like to. They want me to have the ability to do things that I’ve not been able to do for so long. My Mum wants me and my brother to go on a road trip in the USA next year. Something I’ve dreamed of doing for a very long time.

(We may have to knock me out to get me on the plane mind you…)

My jobs are not guaranteed. There are probation periods. They are both short-term contracts that will come to their end, and if there is no funding, they won’t be renewed.

Hence the desire to save money.

In fact this weekend I met up with old friends, and two of them have this year had to move back in with parents due to redundancies and financial struggles. My generation are struggling in this world of capitalism.

I still fear the phone call to say that I’m going to be unemployed again. I think it will take a long, long time before I can accept this new life. But already, I’ve taken advantage of free weekends and requested a work day swap so I can spend a weekend with a friend who lives close to London before coming back to Scotland. I’m looking up car insurance quotes and going to church on Sunday mornings again. A new friend has asked if I want to try exercising regularly with her on weekends. Old friends are being contacted in the hope of reunions a long time in coming because of train fares I’ve not been able to afford.

The only negative is I’m going to miss weekday visits with my friends who have babies and pre-schoolers!

There are still more changes coming, new routines to work out. Medical issues that still need investigating and sorting.

But I gingerly want to say (and hope this doesn’t jinx anything) that things look to be turning around for the better.

And I have a lot of patient friends that need to be thanked for pulling me through these last 10 years. Those friends are worth more than gold.

The one where the things don’t entirely go to plan…

This last fortnight has not entirely gone to plan. When I realised that I’d have two weeks with a car and an empty house before I started the first of my new jobs, I was so excited and immediately got started on what became a 3 page long to-do list. I’d hoped to get a lot of things done in my last week at work, but as you know I got taken down by a cold. It’s been a long time since I got affected so badly by one, and it seems that this hideous cold has been making the rounds. I couldn’t afford to be off (and my work couldn’t afford for me to be off either) so when I wasn’t at work I was pretty much contained in my bedroom which was sporting a scent of eau de olbas oil and taking down the rainforest one box of tissues at a time. And trying to force myself to eat.

This week was going to be about doing things further afield and shopping for a car, and it hasn’t happened. For a number of reasons I’ve ended up staying close to home. Firstly I’m still coughing a ton and sporting a very sexy cold sore inside/outside my nose. But also because I’ve suddenly found myself having to save money because I finished work so I’d have a week off before I started a new job. But despite the usual super quick police check update (I’ve had to do be updated by Disclosure Scotland so many times, there must be people in that office who feel like they know me), 3 weeks later and it’s still not arrived. And understandably, I can’t start until it’s come through. However it now means that I’m 2 weeks without pay and there have been no word from the other employer about when I would first start getting paid…so I’m now holding off on the car shopping until I know that I’ve got a more definite start date (and next pay date). I’m trying not to get anxious about it, but after the last decade…that’s easier said than done.

I have however, had the chance to meet a few friends for cake dates, and tried to do as many errands on either side of those to limit what I’m spending on bus fares (as I no longer have my bus pass). And the time at home has enabled me to do a lot of faffy admin things, pick up on multiple unfinished projects and work through the massive ‘to read’ pile.

What I have enjoyed though is peace. The light mornings mean I wake up early (by early I mean by 8 a.m at the latest) and I’ve loved starting the day eating breakfast at a table rather than on my bed. At the start of this month, I got a call from a local bookshop attached to a church in the city centre telling me a book I’d asked about almost 2 years ago had finally come back into print and they had a copy if I wanted it. I was so excited as I’d hunted every book buying website once I’d exhausted my in person buying options (I like to support bookshops, as they are wonderful, wonderful places usually staffed by passionate readers). It’s a book of liturgy written that was partly written by Shane Claiborne, who is someone I deeply respect for his values and his passion for community organising and following teaching of Jesus. The year I moved to Edinburgh I read his book The Irresistible Revolution, and my friend and I phoned each other more than once while reading it. And I think we both bought copies for friends. I’ve had three copies so far, and none of them remain on my bookshelf. I’ve totally lost track of who has them! This book Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals is really intended for daily community prayer, but as there’s just me I’m skipping the songs and just enjoying the meditation of prayer and daily readings.

I also managed on Sunday to go to an actual church service.

A combination of work, singleness and social anxiety combined with being treated not particularly well by a church I used to be part of has stopped me being a really active part of a church. Of course, with so many friends who are church leaders and having godchildren I’ve never stopped being part of the church. I’ve been to ordinations, dedications, baptisms and more over the last 3 years. I’ve shared meals, gone on walks and had long conversations about life, God, the universe, politics and more. I was lucky to have built in deep rooted friendships to keep me going, but it’s not as healthy as being deeply connected into your local community in an authentic, honest, warts and all way.

I hope to change that.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the last few hours of having a house all to myself, sun shine and drinking ice cream floats without fear of having to call in sick the next day if my body doesn’t agree with ice cream being put into it (I’m not being totally reckless, I’m using ice cream that is usually the safest and free of evil beta-carotene colourings!).

And waiting for the postman to bring that all important PVG update certificate…

The one where I get angry about endometriosis research…

*A Pre-warning, that this blog post contains details that may be considered as ‘TMI’ or ‘oversharing’. If menstruation makes you uncomfortable…don’t read on!*

I don’t talk about this on my blog much anymore, mostly because until very recently this illness that I unofficially got diagnosed with at 22 has not affected my life as much as it once did, thanks to the wonderful NHS, the availability of a contraceptive treatment that also works to control my symptoms in the form of injections into my butt cheek/hip area every 12 weeks. But the other week, this article popped up on my twitter feed, and I felt just a tad enraged about it.
img_8705

Why did it make me angry you might ask? Well. First of all the fact that hardly any research money goes into endometriosis. I’m one of the lucky ones. At 22 my life was miserable. I ended up in A&E more than once because of the horrific pain I was in for about 1-2 weeks of every month. I never took myself to A&E…it was usually a friend, or one time a doctor who was driving past when I was collapsed on the pavement dizzy and in pain. I imagine this is because watching their friend wretch (and then start panicking because she has a phobia about being and seeing people be sick) because they are in so much pain while also passing out because they are in so much pain (sometimes hitting their head off bathroom furniture in the process) was a little bit scary to watch. Especially when you are a young adult and not entirely sure what to do because all of a sudden your parents aren’t there to call on. My friends made me go to GPs multiple times and watched as they came up with the most ridiculous answers to the problems I was facing.

Part of the issue was that doctors didn’t know about endometriosis, how to diagnose it and how to properly treat it. Add the fact that at 18 I’d had quite a radical change in my religious beliefs and had chosen to not engage in a particular activity ever again unless I decided to marry someone. Most doctors I met didn’t see the point in checking for a diagnosis or investigating further unless I was at a point of deciding to start a family.

There was no support whatsoever. It was just let’s keep trying every medication we can think of to deal with your symptoms and hope you don’t find out your totally infertile later.

There is little research into treatments, what causes it or cures.

And oh what a shame for these poor men! What about how it effects OUR lives? Or are we still under this weird assumption that women don’t like doing that activity (I’m not a prude, if we were in person I’d say the word, but know if I type it all sorts of issues are created in terms of search engines, spam and people not being able to access this blog).

There is so little funding for women’s health research, so why is THAT a priority?

And then the photo chosen.

How is THAT representative of a woman suffering from endometriosis?

First of all…one hot water bottle ain’t going to do it. I would have them on my front, my back even between my legs because the pain was basically from the inside out and down (if you catch my drift).

Second of all…I would not be that relaxed. If you had a picture of me in the foetal position lying on the floor screaming and crying…sure. Perhaps holding onto a toilet bowl. Basically writhing in pain trying to find anything that makes the pain bearable, and praying to anyone to be able to like…stand, sit or whatever.

Third of all…I would not be lying there in a white vest and pants. Dark clothes, anything comfy and tatty because chances are it’s going to have to be soaked in warm water and be treated with any remedy I’ve heard of that removes blood from clothing before I’m able to put it in a washing machine if I have a chance of being able to wear it again. I might even be wearing two pairs of pants (something my friend used to do – both pairs with a sanitary pad that was meant for ‘night’ use). Even then we could still wake up soaked with blood stained pyjamas and bed sheets…so we would sleep on top of towels.

Fourth of all…I’m going to be a lot more gross and sweaty. Because all those heat packs to try and deal with the pain are making me way too hot and I’m probably wearing a cold wet flannel on my head and arms to compensate….not to mention the pills I’ll be surrounded by and taking maximum doses of every hour I’m safely allowed to.

That’s the reality.

And as I said, I’m one of the lucky ones. At 25 they put me on injections which stopped my menstrual cycle and for the most part that has worked. I put on 2 stone in weight (and thankfully lost 1/2 stone of that eventually) and my hair started falling out and going grey but it was a small price to pay for no longer being in pain and spending a fortune on tampons and sanitary towels which I needed 40% of the month at times. Yes, in the last few months it would seem that I’m having a return of some symptoms and now I’m on a new medication to see if that works before they go down a surgical route. But if you go on the Endometriosis UK forum, there are women who had far worse and symptoms 24/7. I could tell you so many stories of doctors who have been clueless and unhelpful…but some of that is not really their fault. It’s because women’s health is not studied or seen as a priority for research and treatment. You can bet your ass if men had to deal with a uterus and ovaries things would be different.

Ok.

Rant over.

(For now).

 

The one where I’m glad I bought the Kleenex that was on offer…

Photo on 01-06-2017 at 23.22

I was about to start getting back to how I used to blog. Job hunting has become such a huge part of my life, I actually had to stop myself going into places that had ‘Staff Wanted’ signs and every evening I’m still reaching for my laptop to go on websites looking for jobs and will be clicking on links before I realise “Oh yeah…I don’t need to do that anymore!”

I have 3 days off this week, the first two were used to schedule meetings and appointments that I’ve had to put off for ages and to catch up with a friend who’s about to move South. I’m now house sitting while my Mum and her husband are on holiday which means I have a house to myself and the use of a car. Today I finally felt my body starting to relax…and in true BK style, as the day has gone on I’ve got steadily more and more filled with snot. Yep. I’ve got that cold people. (My friends Ruth and Lynn have reported colds too and starting to wonder if they can actually be passed through facetime. Ha ha!)

Not to worry, this Girl Guide is always prepared – she saw boxes of tissues on offer a while ago and bought them because she knew they’d get used at some point when she next caught a cold. And hey, when you work with children, you know it’s inevitable that it will happen!

And I’ve got my food shop in, paid my rent, bought s’mores supplies for the next campfire, put the dishwasher on, done all my laundry and I’m almost caught up with The Good Fight. In case the parentals have discovered my blog…yes. I remembered to put your bins out. And I’ve thought of about another page worth of stuff that I should put on my ‘to-do list’ for the next fortnight. So all in all, I feel like I got quite a few things accomplished before I have to go back to work for the weekend.

And one of those things on the to-do list is….WRITE THE POST ABOUT THE ETHICAL MAKE UP!

🙂

The one where the door finally opens…

IMG_2120

And so hopefully it’s now ok to share with you some news. If you’ve followed me from Musings of a Koala to Learning from Sophie to here, you’ll have known me for close to 10 years. You’ll know my journey and that it’s been somewhat tumultuous. Some of you knew me, supported me and prayed for me when I made the decision to go out to South Africa in 2009. Some of you even remember the jokey pictures a few friends and I had about a camper van and doing church on the beach. You’ve been there when I was asked to speak at conferences and FREAKED OUT about it. You let me into your homes when I was a total stranger to you when I went on my road trip around the UK in my first summer working as a partner for the pregnancy crisis centres network. You were there when I struggled to lead worship. You joined me in praying for people who were very sick. You signed up to be organ donors. You joined in with Airmail Christmas. You cheered me on when I went back to Girlguiding, and then when I went back to university. You were there for me when I lost my job. And lots of you have been there to encourage me for the last 3 years where I’ve faced rejection, after rejection to the point where I wondered if there was even a point of still living.

Apparently jobs are like buses…you wait for 3 years and then two come at once.

They were both jobs I really wanted, but never dreamed I’d get offered both. What is more amazing is they are both part-time, so I can DO both!

On 10th June I’ll be saying goodbye to my lovely colleagues at my current part-time job, and taking a week off before starting the first of the two jobs – as long as my PVG update comes through on time (it should, since I’m already registered through volunteering with Girlguiding, People Know How and Scripture Union Scotland. I’m pretty sure people working in the Disclosure Scotland office must know exactly who I am from the amount of times my paperwork has been sent through their offices over the last 16 years!). Then the week after I head down to London to do my induction for the second of the two jobs.

One job is a youth work job engaging with young women.

The other is a fundraising job for a national charity that I’ve supported for a very long time, since a friend of a friend told me about the support she received from them years ago after her second child was born premature.

There is a lot to do – like I need to get my own car, I need to clear out space so I have room to work from home (the ergonomics of working on my bed which is what I have to do with girlguiding admin is probably not a good long term strategy!) and just trying to get my head around it all.

I am nervous, but excited.

I’ve had so many lovely messages since I shared the news with friends on social media, and I appreciate every single good wish. Quite a few people told me that recently they’d be praying more than usual for me about finding a job, so I guess that tattoo on my foot and all those rainbows I’ve kept seeing haven’t been for nothing after all. 😉 Thank you kind friends xx

Here’s to the next adventure…

And to all those still waiting for a door to open…please don’t give up knocking on them. At times I did, and it was hard to keep trying new doors when they remained closed or got slammed in your face. Eventually, one is going to say ‘Open Me’. I really believe that for you and I know that’s not easy to keep believing…

The one where I see baby penguins…

It’s been a crazy month. And I haven’t been able to talk about it much. If you know me and have been around my blogs and social media a while, you’ll know already that I’m an over-sharer. So many nights in the last week I’ve gone on my laptop wanting to write and I’ve had to just shut it again. I’ve also had a lot of friends checking in with me and it’s been difficult to reply as so much at the moment is up in the air. And then my heart has been hurt with some upsetting news from South Africa followed by the horrific news from Manchester (home to several friends, and it turned out my friend’s daughter & grandaughter were at the Ariana Grande concert – they are thankfully fine and physically unharmed. But many were not so lucky. Several Scottish girls who travelled down to the concert are still missing). So instead of talking about all that is going on in my brain right now, I’m going to share about new baby penguins.

On Saturday, I finished work earlier than usual. It was a miserable day, with bucketing rain but I wanted to stop by Edinburgh Zoo before I went home, camera in tow. Because BABY PENGUINS people…BABY PENGUINS. Yes, this happens every year. And no, it doesn’t get old.IMG_2249

I mentioned on my last blog that for the first time in many years, a baby Rockhopper penguin has been born at the zoo. Another regular visitor hiding from the rain gazing at the gentoo nests pointed me in the direction of the Rockhopper nests. The nest is located in a bit where you can’t get very close to it – there’s a garden area on the other side of the fence of their enclosure. It’s maybe a good thing though for the little chick to get some peace and quiet. With some difficulty and the help of my long lens, I did manage to get this pic…

IMG_2266

I really hope this little one survives and thrives. I love the rockhoppers, and they are always the ones that come right up to the fence and pose for my phone and say hi! Case in point: Exhibit A below…

IMG_2261

Quite a few of the penguins are looking a little scruffy and uncomfortable at the moment because they are moulting. Usually the King Penguins are all very tall and sleek, and felt very sorry for this poor dude. It’s really strange to see a King Penguin looking so cuddly, fluffy and rotund!

IMG_2242

I hope the photos make you smile, and please know that if you are reading from Cottonlands or been affected by what happened last night in Manchester…I am thinking of you.

Much love,

BK x

The one where I visited some fairy woods…

So, it’s safe to say I’m pretty wiped out. Last week I struggled through with sore throat so I figured it was another cold  coming on care of the children of Edinburgh, but on Sunday I woke up with no voice. New self-diagnosis: laryngitis!

Suffice to say, it’s hard to do my work without a voice, so I’ve been resting it as much as possible today before I have to do some youth work stuff tonight. In an attempt to stay awake I thought I’d blog to share some photos from last weekend…

IMG_2082

For the first time in a long time, I rode in Davina. She is still green rather than blue but I’m pleased to say that I didn’t have to pray for her engine to start. Sadly though it was a grey drizzly morning at the beach…so no beam work. Luckily though, members of the church had this very luxurious RV with a canopy for everyone to shelter under. I say everyone, most of the kids wanted to climb all over Davina and run around in the rain.

IMG_2100

While people ate bacon rolls (I keep kosher) I sat in a camping chair snapping pics at strange angles in between having conversations. But this lad may have been my favourite subject to photograph. Even my friend who is an actual professional photographer saw pics and said “That is the most photogenic dog!”. He also woofs along when people sing Happy Birthday.

IMG_2111

While we were there we looked up to see a group who were galloping across the beach on horseback. I’ve only ever seen one or two horse riders at a time, and it was really cool to watch. Especially with the backdrop of Bass Rock in the background. I felt so sorry for the horse that kept lagging behind. I can empathise.

And after going back to my friends’ home to warm up and collect their lovely beagle, we ventured back outdoors to a wood where fairies live…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ve also heard that some baby penguins have been born including a baby rockhopper (the Northern Rockhopper penguins are my faves…they always come to say hello through the fence, and they look like punks so what’s not to love?). It’s the first time in 8 years a baby Rockhopper has been born. Usually it’s only gentoos that hatch eggs. A visit to the zoo is on my to-do list. 🙂

 

The one where I’m headed to the beach…

Hi folks,

It’s been a busy week, with no sign of things slowing down. But I DO have a Sunday off, and it happens to coincide with a certain growing kahuna’s birthday. I rarely get to go to a church these days so taking the chance to check out my friends’ church plant down the coast. I may see if I can still balance on the car park log fence thing.

1044687_641680195861866_1328009158_n

I have been testing out some make up – it’s been going much better than I thought. Still on a search for a few things, but will update you when I get the chance. I also need to try out Lindsay’s flaxseed gel (thanks for posting that recipe video for it in the comments Lindsay!!)

I’m really hoping that soon I’ll be able to post some good news too. I got asked by someone today “What has been your proudest achievement this past year?” I had to be honest and say it’s been simply surviving it. I’ve been desperate for change for a long, long time. It hasn’t come. At least not yet.

Anyway, it’s past my bedtime and I need to get to sleep so I can get up early and locate breakfast before work since I just discovered my raspberries have gone mouldy already. Booo.

Much love, BK x

The one where I stop to capture the flowers…

I got bored while heating up soup in my Mum’s kitchen and decided to grab my camera and take pictures of some flowers I spotted in her back garden. One of our neighbours is a keen gardener, and she also kindly allowed me to go into her front garden to snap some pics of her plants and flowers too. I have no idea what these flowers are, I just like their colourfulness. I also like the ones that have little antennae on the inside. The biggest challenge was focusing on close up to the flower without creating a shadow in the picture and capturing it during the split second before the next gust of breeze blew the flower out of shot.

Anyway, hope the colours brighten up your day…. 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The one where I’m a proud sister…

18033417_10158469526110648_2824800121498295742_n

People ask me all the time ‘Why brunettekoala?’ Well the picture above semi-explains that. Long ago, when I was 21, my hair was dyed brunette and my 14 year old sister was a very tall long limbed teen. She started handing me up her clothes from around the age of 13. We called her the Giraffe. Our little brother was the mischief maker, and we called him Monkey. They decided that as I was small, and liked to sleep (they were kids who liked to wake up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning while I was a teen who felt that getting out of bed before 9 on a Saturday for no reason was all kinds of wrong). I also was the hugger of the three of us. So they decided I would be koala. They even programmed the housephone so that if I called from my flat in Aberdeen or my mobile it came up as ‘Koala’.

Today, that cute (but slightly stinky) almost 11 year old is the same age as I am in that picture. My little brother stole my heart just as our sister did. I was 11 years old when he was born, and there are many pictures of me holding him as a baby. He was a terrible sleeper and often I would be the one to get him out of his cot in the mornings. I would feed him his breakfast – turning spoons of disgusting baby food into planes, trains and race cars. I took him for walks through the woods at the back of our house and he would only sleep if I did the woods first and then back around the neighbourhood – he would not sleep if I did neighbourhood before the woods. He became obsessed with trucks when he was a toddler – we had to wait every Monday for the bin lorry to come so he could watch it reverse in front of our house before we could go anywhere. He learned about the christening of Eddie Stobart lorries, and soon had everyone keeping an eye out for their names so we could cross them off his checklist. He was a bigger chatterbox than my sister and I (which my friends didn’t believe until one time they spent a car journey with him…and left the car shellshocked). He went to A&E so many times that the nurses there knew him by name. Why believe us when we tell you the toaster is hot, when you can stick your hand in it and turn it on to find out?

Monkey, you taught me how to rock a baby to sleep. You made me learn how to build toy garages because well…Dad tried, and he superglued himself to it. And then fix toy cars. And trucks. Often early on Sunday mornings. I know all the characters in the Teletubbies and their favourite things because of you. You taught me how to turn a buggy into a racing car, complete with race car noises which made you giggle and laugh when we went out and about. You were my buddy for watching Top Gear with. I still remember you calling me in Aberdeen upset when Richard Hammond got injured in the jet car crash. You and our sister encouraged my love of Winnie the Pooh, and I still remember how the two of you were so miffed with our parents when they refused to let you club together to get me a giant  stuffed Pooh Bear from the Disney store for my 16th birthday. You always gave me a hug when I asked for one. Even if you grumbled and sighed. And when I returned to Aberdeen for my final year of university, you put all your Winnie the Pooh toys in my bed with mine ‘so they wouldn’t get lonely’. And then you called me up to tell me that they missed me even if you didn’t so I needed to come home to visit. When kids teased you, you still remained kind. When you didn’t understand why people didn’t see the world wasn’t as black and white as you saw it, you still stood up for what you believed was right. You were afraid sometimes, but you still tried. And you always had a reason for everything. Why are you crying about being at nursery? Because someone needed to hold your Mum’s shopping list at Tesco. Why aren’t you going to sleep? Because Mum & Dad aren’t home yet, and you needed to know they got home safely. Why are you calling your 21 year old sister at 5.30 p.m.? Because she’s usually home for tea, and you better check up to make sure she’s ok. And then tell her off for not calling.

Of my four siblings, I’ve seen you go through the most challenges. I’m insanely proud of you Monkey. And I’m glad I get to be your big (even if I’m the shortest) sister.

Happy birthday xx

17426214_10158301080465648_4074972638764988905_n