Time to Talk Day

I’ve seen this on several friends’ updates on Facebook today.

It links back to the Time to Change website.

As this post will automatically link to my Facebook account, I thought that perhaps it would be an appropriate day to also take the Blog for Mental Health 2015 Pledge.

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2015 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”

In addition to this, I also pledge to be there for the bloggers I follow.  I will read your posts and try to comment in an appropriate and supportive manner.  I will care.  And I will also then take you and your situation into Chapel and light a bunch of candles for you.

My mental health is currently mostly OK.  I’m one of the lucky ones, because my mood is affected by my hormones, and by going on the Pill, that has balanced that out.  I know I can’t stay on the Pill for ever, but for now it works.  But I have also found that if I start the break for my period when I am in a retreat that is longer than a day, my mood will plummet.  I am still a sensitive soul and someone snapping at me can easily upset me at times.  However, I am learning how to get perspective and not take things too personally.

There seems to be a family history of depression and other mental health issues through my mother’s side of the family.  As I said, I’m one of the lucky ones.  And I pray that it will continue that way.

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First Profession

As I posted previously, I went into my 5-day retreat on the evening of Saturday 24th January.

The theme for the retreat was the above song, which links very nicely with the three vows of Poverty, Celibacy and Obedience.

During the five days, I had plenty of time to think and pray, and also knit!  I also spent some time organising some of my things, as there were papers to be thrown out or destroyed, and things to tidy.  Also, when a Novice makes her Profession, she moves cell (bedroom) and once professed, no longer has free access to the Novices’ study room (called the Noviciate).  So I wanted to make sure my things were as organised as they could be to help with this moving.

Thursday 29th January was my last full day of retreat, and it was also a day of celebration for OHP, as 100 years previously, the very first Sisters had received the students from St Hilda’s School into Sneaton Castle – a continuing of the school but a founding of the new order.  We had a special service at mid-day, followed by a celebration dinner.  I ate the dinner but not with the Sisters, as it was a talk meal and I was in a silent retreat!  We had also woken up to a light snow-fall that morning.

Thursday afternoon brought with it the rehearsal for the Profession service itself, which was nicely straight-forward, but it also brought the news that some of my friends had telephoned to say that with the weather forecast for snow in Cheshire, they didn’t want to risk travelling to Yorkshire and getting stranded.  I was given the instructions to contact the folks I knew who were coming and warn them.  A phone call to my parents followed my supper, and all seemed hopeful.

Friday morning I woke up early, having been awake for at least an hour and a half in the night.  I was joyfully awake all through corporate quiet time, but perhaps not thinking coherently because at one point I wondered why there wasn’t a cloth on the altar, before remembering that the Profession Service takes place as part of the Eucharist.  (Normally on a Friday, we have a said Eucharist straight after Lauds/Morning Prayer.)

Breakfast, then preparing for the guests to arrive.  I vacuumed the Noviciate and was then ordered out of the way, which meant that I spent the best part of three hours kicking my heels.  Fortunately I had a book to read which helped.  Then, at about quarter to ten, both the Prioress and Sub-Prioress appeared outside my cell.  One to deliver to me my Profession habit and girdle, which had been on the altar overnight, and the other to deliver the news that my parents weren’t going to be able to make it after all, having set off and travelled all of 40 miles in an hour and a half.

That was a bit upsetting but I’m glad that they took the sensible decision and stayed put.  I finished reading the book, and then at about 11, decided to change.  Oonce dressed in my new habit and the girdle (rope belt) I was taken to Chapel and to my place for the ceremonies to begin.  It was lovely to see so many people who had come for the occasion.

The service itself was pretty straight forward, and the Spiritual Advisor to OHP preached as well as presided and received my vows.  He managed to have everyone in giggles, as he described how he’d once had to deal with someone in immigration and explain to them about the vows of Poverty, Celibacy and Obedience.  The moral of the story: “ask a nun”.  Then it was time for the profession ceremonial itself.  Liturgically it’s not long and the person who does the most talking is the priest!  I was told afterwards that I was loud and clear so all could hear.

After that, I spent the rest of the service grinning like an idiot, apart from a few brief moments when I was trying to not cry with an odd combination of joy and happiness, and sadness that Mum & Dad weren’t there.

After the Eucharist concluded, there were photographs taken, and many people decended with cameras.  I don’t have a decent shot of myself with Fr J and the Prioress, sadly they’re very blurry, but I’m hoping that other folks do and I can then snaffle a copy.

Just professed and grinning like an idiot

Just professed and grinning like an idiot

Then was the standard buffet celebration lunch, which was very, very, very nice.  I just about managed to speak to everyone.

After all the excitement I got out of clearing up by entertaining the last of the guests to depart, and grabbed half an hour to myself to open cards and gifts, before afternoon tea with the Sisters.  This is an age-old OHP tradition whereby the celebration cake is cut and shared, and everyone gets a chance to look at the cards and items given to the person whose celebration it is.

So, half for me and half for the Prioress, is that OK with everyone?

So, half for me and half for the Prioress, is that OK with everyone?

Once we’d finished looking at the cards it was time for Vespers (Evening Prayer) and by this point I was yawning my head off.  Supper and then Compline, and I was in bed with my light out by half past 8.  It’s a rock-and-roll life, this nun business!

“Normality” resumed the following day with the wind band rehearsal and my being on portress duty – and of course, mucking out the donkeys.  I’ve nearly moved everything out of my old cell now into the new, there’s just one item to properly move and then some rubbish to throw out, the bed to strip and some cleaning to do.  It’s going to take a bit more work to get my things out of the Noviciate.

My new cell is technically a bit smaller than the old one, but it feels much better equipped for storage.  It has a nice-sized bookcase, and the chest of drawers has much bigger drawers in it.  All of my underthings have gone into one drawer, instead of one and a half.  This feels like a big improvement and will hopefully make my life a lot easier to keep tidy (although I would strongly recommend that people don’t try holding their breath on this one).

Pre-Retreat Musings

I started writing this last night, but didn’t have time to post it before Greater Silence.

So, this time tomorrow I’ll be in my pre-profession retreat.  I’ll have addresses from the Prioress on three of the days, and plenty of time for prayer.

This time next week, I’ll be going to bed in my new cell.

Between now and then, in addition to the retreat addresses and prayer time, I’m going to be sorting out Stuff.  My clothes, my craft things, my notes from my classes, my stationary.  Anything which is in my cell (bedroom) now or in the noviciate.  I’ve made a start on the noviciate already, by moving bookcases to vacuum behind, and I haven’t really unpacked my clothes from being on rest with the family.

Other random thoughts are about how people see me.  A friend is currently living out of their car, having left the community they had been in.  They were staying with OHP recently, and we’ve been exchanging emails, and while they were here I gave them a few bits & pieces which I knew they would be able to use, which are surplus to my needs.  To me, this isn’t anything to write home about.  To my friend, you’d think I’d given them a winning lottery ticket.  (I may be in a Religious Order but if I got hold of a winning lottery ticket, there’s no way I’d give it away.  I’d claim it and let the Order have most of they money.  What I’d keep, I’d give to my parents and my sister to make sure that they all are mortgage free and have any home improvements costs covered for the foreseeable future.)

I guess what it really means is that my normal, my ordinary ideas of practical help, for some people can really mean a lot.

***

It struck me this morning, as I was tidying up a few things in the noviciate before breakfast, that it’s like packing my whole life up to come to OHP all over again, although this time I’m not actually physically going to another place.

I’m not going to run out of things to do, what with sorting my cell, the noviciate, and the knitting that I wish to crack on with.

I’m going to have to sort my cell this evening, as I’ve dumped a whole load of stuff on the bed.

I really hope that the power doesn’t cut out again this week.  The last two mornings I’ve been in the shower when it’s gone off, which is an inconvenience.  I’ve discovered that it’s almost impossible for me to keep my balance when trying to dry my feet in the dark.  I might start taking a lit candle to the bathroom with me just as a precaution!  (The cause of the power going off is our system becoming overloaded when people wake up and start switching on applicances.)

I want to finish the socks I’ve been knitting for the last two years (or thereabouts) so I can wear them on Friday.  They’re almost done.

So, here’s my random musings ending.  I’ll see everyone after my Profession!

2015 Aspirations

Before I can talk about my plans for 2015, I probably need to round off the end of 2014.

Having said previously that I’d applied for First Profession, and had the review/assessment/interview thingie, the Sisters voted on this at the Christmas Chapter.  I was not the only Sister doing something like this on the Agenda.  Our Ghanian Postulant had applied to be clothed as a Novice, and our First Professed Sister had applied for Life Profession.

The results are that all three of us have been accepted.

So now to the aspirations or goals for 2015.

The first one is the biggie, which is make my First Profession.  The date is Friday 30th January, at 12 noon (GMT).

I have a number of projects for the Order to work on, some of which relate simply to my own studies, but some of which will be for the Order’s Centenary celebrations and also archive purposes.  Things like the website, scanning in photographs, collating data, updating data, and one project that’s been on the go a while has been to scan and fix the typos on the notes on the OHP Rule of Life from Mother Margaret’s addresses to Novices.  I’ve done the scanning part of that task, but I do need to crack on and get it collated into one document that makes sense rather than about 40 different one page documents!

I also have a number of craft projects on the go.  Knitting, crochet and cross-stitch, and some have been on the go for a Very Long Time.  Like a Winnie-the-Pooh cross-stitch that I bought and started a little over 13 years ago, when my sister found out she was pregnant with my eldest niece.  One of the main reasons for trying to get these finished is because I will have considerably less storage space available to me.

Music.  Namely my flute and my singing.  I do need to play my flute more than I do, and I also need to spend a lot more time learning some music for upcoming choir concerts.  Especially because I’ve been asked to sing a duet or two.

And the final goal is to enjoy the Centenary celebrations.  There are four of us on the Centenary Committee, and there’s a heck of a lot for us to organise.  While the jobs will be delegated, we will also be on teams and leading teams to make sure we do get everything done, and we’re having a number of events throughout the year.  Fortunately there are only four or five events which will be open to all comers.  Or maybe not, given that the majority of events are for the Sisters, and apparently trying to organise one’s Sisters has been compared to herding cats.

Will I still be sane at the end of the year?  Who knows…  Watch this space and maybe I’ll manage to blog a bit more frequently about what’s going on!

How many Sisters does it take to boil a kettle?

I realised I had to get a post in before the end of the year, for several reasons.  But mainly because it’s really quite a long time since I last posted something of my own!

The reason for the title of this post is quite simple.  Around the Priory, we have a number of water heater urn thingies, which consistently provide hot water at the flip of a lever.  The most used one is the one in the Priory kitchen/pantry area, from which we fill the teapots for breakfast and supper, and sometimes afternoon tea.  It has served us well, and it is still working valiantly at heating water.  We just now have a problem with getting the water out of it, as the little lever thingie has broken off.  (Yes, I know, First World Problems…)

So we’re now boiling kettles, which has made me think about how long it actually takes for a kettle to boil.

There are several things to take into consideration for this.

  1. The volume of water in the kettle
  2. The starting temperature of the water
  3. The specific heat capacity of water
  4. Altitude (if you go up a mountain, water will boil as low as 80 degrees centigrade, which doesn’t make for a good cuppa)
  5. The efficiency of the heating element of the kettle
  6. The efficiency and reliability of the power supply

There is also another couple of factors, which I feel are more important than all of these.

  1. How urgently the hot water is required
  2. How many people are waiting for the water to come to the boil
  3. How patient or impatient the combined temprament of the people waiting works out to be

Basically, the more people there are, and the more urgently the hot water is required, the slower the kettle will boil.  I really hope that we’re going to be able to get the urn fixed soon!

‘Tis the season to be jolly….

Well, it’s 2nd December which means all the shops will now be playing Christmas Carols ad nauseum. Not that I’ve been in any shops just yet.

What has happened since I last posted? Quite a lot, actually, so I’ll resort to bullet points for the convenience of all.

* My mum had to have a hysterectomy at the beginning of August. It turns out that it was cancer but they’ve removed everything so she doesn’t need further treatment, just regular check-ups. She’s still recovering from what was pretty major surgery.

* My rest with my family in August was very busy, but brilliant. I spent a lot of time with my sister and my nieces and nephew.

* I went to Greenbelt at the new site in Kettering. It was brilliant although somewhat cold at night and rather wet on the last day. One of the best things was that when I went along to the OuterSpace Eucharist, this year I didn’t go by myself but had 4 friends with me who were also resident in the Pop-Up Friary (as we call the base where we were camping as it was heavily staffed by Franciscans).

* 27th September was my 2nd Clothing Anniversary.

* We’ve had two women visit over the summer who are looking at whether Religious Life is for them or not. One is Australian and the other Canadian, and I owe both of them an email.

* I attended a Creative Writing retreat at St Oswald’s in October. I will be typing up some of what I wrote and posting it at some point.

* There has been a big change in the number of Novices in the UK. We’ve had three leave and two Profess, and there’s another 5 going to be taking vows this month.

* On the subject of taking vows… I’ve applied and had an assessment/review/interview with the Prioress, Novice Guardian and two other Sisters last week. The community will then receive feedback from this and vote at the Chapter meeting over Christmas.

So, nothing hugely pithy this time, just a note to say I’m still around.

The Secret Keepers

faithhopechocolate:

Abuse perpetuates abuse. Only by speaking out and breaking the cycle can the victims – past, present or future – heal. Not all victims go on to become abusers of others, but they certainly could be described as being abusers of themselves. And it’s all because of the lies they – we – have been fed and believed.

Originally posted on Mended Musings:

secrets

I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to ask you to share this post. Reblog it, share it on Facebook, tweet it. Someone out there needs to hear this message today. Even if you think you don’t know anyone who has been abused. Even if you don’t read the entire post.

About a month ago I was asked by Dawn at WTF words, thoughts, feelings to contribute an essay for an anthology that she and Joyelle are creating for parents who are survivors of childhood sexual and physical abuse (learn more at https://www.facebook.com/TriggerPointsAnthology).

I submitted my essay but I also want to shine a bigger spotlight on this project because I fear that they may not get many submissions. Not because it’s not a worthy cause or because there aren’t enough people out there to contribute but because survivors of abuse are secret…

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