Happy almost May, everyone! April is more than halfway gone so there is no better time to post up our March review than right now. We had a busy month filled with lots of good things. Working hard to meet deadlines with the PhD, taking part in some exciting things at The Prince’s Trust, traveling to Belgium, road tripping in the Highlands with our besties from Colorado and getting Ryan prepared and packed for Germany.
It was busy. Busy isn’t bad but I came across an interesting print this month and have been thinking about it a lot lately. It made me realize that we live in a society that glorifies being busy and that many of us have bought into it. We have bought into the belief that being busy = being a productive person = a greater sense of accomplishment = attaching this to our identity and our self-worth. It is when we are immersed in busy times that I forget a very simple and profound piece of advice – slow down!
It can be such a challenge and an art isn’t it? The art of slowing down, being mindful, enjoying the moment and taking rest. Mindfulness is not a hippy thing, it is not a religion, it is not something to be afraid of, it is the act of intentionally drawing your full attention to whatever you are doing. Giving everything a time and a place, that whatever your hands find to do, to do it well (Ecclesiastes 9.10 ESV).
Some of the ways that we slowed down in March was by flipping through the pages of books and listening to some new podcasts.
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis : Starting with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to the final book of the series, The Last Battle. I remembered these books being exciting as a kid, but their themes and symbolism is even better as a grown-up.
The Lion’s World, by Rowan Williams : This book explores the moral landscape of all seven novels in the Chronicles of Narnia series, and reads as a guide to their spiritual subtext. The Lion’s World is a rewarding and ultimately joyful read that gave us a deeper appreciation for Lewis’ work.
The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins: This book was a page-turner, a psychological thriller and kept me up way too late. If you have ever binge watched Law & Order, I think you’ll appreciate it.
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson : A beautiful read, full of wisdom and simplicity. Her writing style is magic and the memoir of a father to his son is beautiful and full of spiritual goodness.
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. It’s mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues such as; The Creative Brain, Jesus of History vs. Christ of Faith, Feminism and Activism, Exercise in Radical Empathy, and Netflix: the New Age of Television, just to name a few… if you like TED talks, I think you will also enjoy these.
Gretchen Rubin – The Happier Podcast is a thought-provoking podcast that brings practical, manageable advice about happiness and good habits. Episodes include: Flawed Can Be More Perfect than Perfection, What Do You Do if You Can’t Remember a Name?, Do You Suffer from the Sunday Blues, The Challenge of Impulse Shopping, and Make Your Bed. I have applied a few of Gretchen’s practical tips to try at home like setting an alarm an hour before bed, reminding me to power-down and be intentional about a bed time routine.
Part of slowing down for me is finding a good work/life balance. I find a lot of joy in youth work but it doesn’t come without some difficult days sprinkled in here and there. Work took it’s toil on me last month but there is always something that encourages me at the very moment that I need it.
Every year, the charity that I work for, The Prince’s Trust hosts an awards ceremony called Celebrate Success. Two of the UK’s biggest names in entertainment, Ant + Dec, host the red carpet event, and many of our celebrity ambassadors show up to support young people that have overcome incredible obstacles. This year, I had the privilege of attending and walking the red carpet at London’s Palladium Theatre. Being present at this event gave me a boost of motivation and reminded me of why I am grateful to be part of an organisation that seeks to empower young people across the UK.
It wouldn’t be a complete review if I didn’t include the weather. Although the weather is still not warm here in Edinburgh, the breeze is a bit more mild, the skies are bluer and we are having less rain these days (knock on wood). My morning walks to work are a highlight of my day, keeping an eye out for all the fuzzy green buds on tree branches. The first sign of spring here is always the daffodils- yellow, bright, cheery and you can’t help but smile when you see them.
April is almost over and before long I’ll being writing a review of it. But until then, may we take time to enjoy our days, to slow down and draw attention to what our hands find to do. I am eagerly waiting for my first trip to see Ryan in Germany next weekend. Thank you for your thoughtful emails, cards and texts over the past couple of weeks, God has helped to ease the transition and we are grateful for this opportunity.
Travel Journals: wandering Bruges, Belgium and a journal of our legendary road trip to the Scottish Highlands
With love from Scotland,
R + A