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Archive for the ‘12 Point Plan!’ Category

It’s nearly 2013! YIPPEEEE!!!! So, here is last years 12 Point Plan, my aims for 2012. How did I do? Have I successfully changed the world??

1. Take German classes, improve my spoken German.

So… I went to like three classes and kinda poked my Hazzer P auf Deutsch a couple of times. Carried over to next year- not a good start. What I’ve learnt though is that I need to make my strategy for doing these things more realistically achievable for me. I find it almost impossible to go to evening classes- I panic, cry and hide. Obviously, I need to attack this in a different way!

2. Apply for a PhD (this obviously necessitates getting my MPhil- eek).

SUCCESS! I’m doing it and… I LOVE IT. I passed my MPhil and am studying for a PhD in Theology and Psychology comparing self-destructive behaviour in Medieval institutions to the present day and how that affected meaningful religious involvement  in the outside world.

3. Continue this blog, blog about the project, try and get some new readers.

Done! I need to continue to be a bit more diligent at posting regularly and including more Bible studies.

4. Make an EP with my “band” (there’s two of us, some people don’t think we get to be a band- humph)

Sort of! We recorded a CD for a competition and won some super gigs! Come and see us at Loughton Folk Club- http://www.loughtonfolkclub.btck.co.uk/ Next year we will make a proper CD and people have shown an interest in giving us actual cash monies in return for it!

5. Run a half marathon.

MAJOR FAIL! Rolled over. Didn’t happen basically because I was lazy- no way way out of it. To succeed next year, I must be LESS LAZY.

6. Practice good mental health and be aware of how I feel and why- experiment with stuff that promotes happiness- hopefully the other eleven points!

This was interesting! I’ve had counselling, CBT and anti-depressants and all in all I think I’m on the up 🙂 I’ve also started yoga which along with CBT I’ll continue with next year. (See also point 9!)

7. Make a quilt.

Unexpected Twist! So, I made half a quilt for my beautiful baby cousins and I’m still going to finish that but I’ve also started this project- dronesquilt.wordpress.com- at work which is a really important work of advocacy and protest against the needless, mindless and disturbing murder of soldiers and civilians across the world! Please read the website and find out more.

8. Make some postsecrets and leave them where people can find them.

This was like the easiest one- how did I fail so massively???? Bad Jessica!

9. Write more poetry. 10 poems to be exact.

I wrote some depressing, stormy, 14 year old girl poetry but it was cathartic and a couple turned out with good ideas in them. I put a couple on my blog: here and here.

10. Read the ENTIRE Bible.

Uh… yeah… so… no. I read Genesis and Exodus and then bits. This is being rolled over, and I might try and buy a guide to help me, so any suggestions let me know.

11. Take up some Latin.

Should have been major failure but thanks to the great and marvellous Rob S appearing in October its been one of my biggest successes, I now have 2 hours of one to one tuition a week and actually do my homework! Sum bonam feminam!

12. Buy a Farmyard for Send A Cow… check it out here http://www.justgiving.com/Jessica-Sends-A-Farmyard

Part done. We’ve raised a bit of cash but I did lose impetus, so I’m extending my project for another year and will try and raise the £2000, the lovely Lucy R has given me a folder of ideas. Please donate if you have any spare Christmas monies or if you fancy buying me a birthday present for this January 🙂

Tune in tomorrow for the official 2013 News Years Resolution List!

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As those of you who read this blog regularly know, I set myself some challenges known as the “12 Point Plan” this year. I am going to fail horrendously at quite a few of them but I have managed to write a couple of poems, most of them are too terrible to ever be viewed by another sentient creature but here’s one… I call it The Seventh Plague cos that’s suitably pretentious and all Biblical.

***

One night

as I lay in bed

waiting for my sweetheart to come home,

I thought I heard death scrabbling at my apartment door.

I was unsure

if the gentle scratching

was the sound of my lover

or death,

ready.

I thought

I’ve only just learnt how to hear music,

to listen without reaching our for something to stop the sound of Puccini or the violin

getting too close to my racing heartbeat.

I thought

I’ve only just learnt to be human again.

I hoped that death would pass over my door

with its rust-coloured blood stained mark

just a little while longer.

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1. Improve my German, try and read Hazzer P in German and learn 10 German words a week. I’ve had to admit I don’t have time for classes; I’m working full time and doing an MPhil so I need to be (a bit) sensible! But I want to keep my German up but I’ll have to do it my own time and flexibly so i have some text books for grammar and I’m going to try and learn 10 new words a week.

2. Apply for a PhD- finish MPhil. I did it!!! The PhD bit anyway! I’ll be starting in October looking at self-mutilation in the Middle Ages compared and contrasted with self-harm in the modern Evangelical Church.

3. Continue blogging and writing. Doing my best…

4. Make an EP, intentionally pursue opportunities to sing. I’ve done it!!! We have produced a 5 track CD that we can give out at gigs in the summer and we’re through to the finals of New Roots (a competition for young singers of traditional music). Now I need to pursue more opportunities for us to perform and maybe, just possibly, do some practice.

5. Run a half marathon. Oh. Dear. Half Marathon is in September and links with number 12. Need to GET ON IT.

6. Positive Thinking. I’m trying to have two laptop free hours a day, eat five fruit and veg and to talk more about my feelings. I’m also going to try and read more for pleasure and (see point 7) be more creative. So, I have a sub-plan- not going too badly!

7. Make a Quilt. More generally, pursue creativity; make one thing a day. The Quilt is coming along but I’ve enlarged this project to do something creative and different every day. This week I’ve made lino prints, decopatch and today I made my Postsecrets 🙂

8. Make Postsecrets. Half done! I did two today and will pop them in library books. One was an actual secret that will NEVER be revealed but here is a jolly one I made!

9. Write more poetry. I wrote a poem for Maundy Thursday! Will try harder. Promise.

10. Read the ENTIRE Bible. Pursue Local Preaching. I AM FAILING. Am going to try and read Exodus this week. Not. Cool. Spectacled. Bear. Have now linked this with Local Preaching which I’m pursuing and have  done a bit of work on and a few services with my mentors. That is going much better than the first part, by virtue of it actually happening.

11. Do one “bearventure” a day. A new and exciting thing. Latin just wasn’t going to happen. I cannae lie. So I’m going to do this instead, which hopefully will link in with positive thinking. Today I did make my PostSecrets which kind of counts but I probably need to be a tiny bit more intentional.

12. Buy a Farmyard for Send A Cow and commit to my other chosen cause; Penal Reform. Ticking over; we’ve raised just over £300 of the £2000 with a sponsored dress-up and some collections, as well as fining my flatmates for self-deprecation. Am planning a big ebay sale and our profits from summer gigging are going this way. My half marathon will be sponsored as well. If you want to donate, go to http://www.justgiving.com/Jessica-Sends-A-Farmyard

Phew! This year is EXCITING.

SB x

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So German is ace… I’m enjoying it as much as I did before which is strange because I’m not a natural linguist. It’s encouraging because its number one on my list so when I look back at the plan my first feeling is one of success or at least non-failure!

In bigger news, today I submitted my PhD application. It was terrifying. I have a painfully ambivalent relationship with academia most of the time. Occasionally I have this amazing magical THING and it all makes sense and I feel useful and fulfilled blah blah blah. But not often; mostly I struggle with doubts about my own ability, apathy with completing work or pursuing research, low concentration, frustration and those horrible days where I feel like I’m just doing nothing because I’m procrastinating so much. The juries out on whether its worth it. But I do really feel, at the moment, like my PhD is the right thing to do so I’ve put the application in and as soon as it comes back (if it does!) I’ll start applying for funding. My topic fascinates me- for those that don’t know its a comparative study between modern cases of self harm and the self mutilation of medieval mystics. I’ve read some stuff today for final references for the application and I think its going to be a stimulating 3 years, although, as my supervisor points out, not full of laughs.

More work is required on the Bible. For serious. And the poems. And the post secrets. Have made one baby step towards the Latin because a wonderful friend sent me Winnie the Pooh in both Latin and English! Together with my Latin textbook maybe we can make a tiny tiny bit of progress in this department…

I have a thoughtful post planned…

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So I am making NO progress with my resolve to read the Bible this year. To cut myself some slack and because I know I have genuinely read Genesis cover to cover twice I’m going to tick its box and next on the list will be Exodus.

I love Genesis… Really really really love Genesis.

Three things I especially love, that inspired me and made me excited-

1. In Chapter 1 verse 2 it says “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” which makes me think about myself as God’s creation and His spirit was hovering over me- perhaps that’s something we should think about when we feel like “nothing” now, as we live in the world. Chapter 1 also contains the great affirmations of God over His creation; before anything else, before sin and death we are GOOD. Matthew Fox writes about the Original Blessing and we see it here in black and white, our origins are pleasing to God. When we’re born, God doesn’t despise us because of sin he loves us because we’re His.

2. Then there’s Genesis 3 and that sticky verse (16) where God proclaims to the woman that…

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”

These verse has sprung a lot of discord but actually I see something really positive in it. I understand the curses of the fall as consequences. If we understand the fall as a paradigm for our own individual falling short then God’s answers are not so much retributive punishment but the genuine consequences of sin. In the sense that if I cheat on my partner, I’ll upset them. Sin and consequence. In this light, the rule of husband over wife is presented as a consequence of sin, it is NOT God’s original design for us. This is a liberation passage, a sign of freedom! Female submission is a result of the fall, a symbol of our falls.

3. One of my favourite parts is Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32. It reminds me that when we’re doubting and scared, its ok to ask God questions, to challenge and shout and get mad. Jacob asks God his name!! A huge intimate question to someone who is overpowering him! I also love how it really explains the Jewish tradition of not eating hip bone meet in remembrance of this occasion. Its reminds me in turn to look at my own Church’s traditions and rituals and ask why we enact them. We can be overly-critical of tradition because we perceive them as getting in the way of relationship and real experience but sometimes they exist to point us to profound truths. Sometimes we should fight to preserve them.

Three bits I find REALLY difficult-

1. Sodom. Although I had a brilliant Hebrew teacher who explained to me that in the text the Hebrew verb to “have sex with” can also mean “to know” (in a hospitable sense). He suggested that the sin of the Sodomites was not demanding homosexual gang rape from Lot but that they were angry that Lot had not conformed to the complex hospitality laws of the region in inviting the angels into his home straight away rather than taking them to the town elders. Lot then misunderstands them as demanding sex, perhaps in the confusion. Maybe we can read this passage as a critique of mediated over unmediated access to God’s messengers?? It’s only a small thought!

2. The rape of Dinah in Genesis 34. Dinah is raped by Shechem and he then falls in love with her and asks to marry her. Dinah’s brothers (the 12 sons of Jacob) are so angry that they say he can’t marry her until all his people are circumcised. When they have just been circumcised, they enter the city, rescue Dinah and kill everyone. Jacob is angry with them but they justify themselves saying “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?”. Explain please?

3. I don’t really get the Noah/Ham/drunkenness thing either :S

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Today, I fulfilled a large chunk of 12 point plannage!!! Point 4 was to make an EP and today, Tom and I recorded 5 of our songs to use to enter a competition called New Roots. We were finalists in this contest last year; it’s for young singers of traditional music and out of it we played at Warwick Folk Festival (which is a fairly big deal!) as well as some folk clubs and got some requests for CD’s. It was an amazing experience and really gave us the confidence to keep going with our singing. Anyway, we now have tracks for an EP and can enter again which is great- you can listen to them here:

http://www.myspace.com/tomandjessicafolk

We won’t use these recordings for the final thing as the recording quality is not great- we’d hoped to use some professional kit but were foiled at every turn! We both are really passionate about traditional music and I know I don’t need to wax lyrical about how spiritual an experience singing is here- I know, blah blah blah. True nonetheless.

In other 12 point plan news, I made steps towards my PhD success by presenting my first paper at a conference this week! I talked about Mechthild of Magdeburg (a German mystic) at the Gender and Medieval Studies Conference and it was well received and, with the exception of some sexually aggressive males in my hostel dorm it was an ace 3 days! The conference dinner was fantastic; it was great to sit down with thirty other Medievalists and be geeky together, especially when one of them was a very attractive New Englander.

So, in conclusion- GO ME! Something thoughtful to follow this week!

J x

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Point 7 on the plan is to make a quilt! Now, for Christmas, my mother made me and my other half the most beautiful quilt ever seen:

Now, I want to make a full size quilt eventually and the very kind mother of a friend has offered to lend me a hand deciding what to do but, to start with, I’m going to make a mini (baby-size in fact) quilt to get me going!!

Here’s a picture of what I’m making, although the size is confusing:

So I have assembled the necessary tools:

And made one patch out of four:

Hurrah! It’s been VERY satisfying- just the right amount of challenge, creativity and relaxation. How wholesome. Honestly though, it has been ace so far; it feels really good to have decided on doing something I’ve never tried before and really get into it, I’m v excited that I can give the finished article to one of the new babies about to enter my family (squeak!) and it feels almost spiritual to create something practical and beautiful-ish from scratch 🙂

GO PLAN!!!

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