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A Skinny Fairtrade Latte in the Food Court of Life

  • Nine Years of NEDness

    Today was my annual check up at the breast clinic.  Always a slightly anxious time - it doesn't matter what common sense tells you, there is always the faint possibility that something will be wrong, and I have a feeling that anxiety is catching... I walk in fine and am nervous by the time my name is called!

    Anyway, good news, I am now nine years a NED and have only one more year of follow up to go.  Cue happy dance!

    Back in 2011, when I had my surgery, the standard follow up for this part of Scotland was a decade.  Things have changed a lot, and now it is only high risk patients who are offered long term follow-up.  Many, maybe most, of the people I know who were diagnosed after me have been discharged - their risk is lower than mine.  I sometimes get told off for being 'fatalistic' or 'negative' but the reality is I have beaten and continue to beat, the odds for my starting point; even using the latest data, I am in a shrinking minority.  I am truly grateful to be here, and to be well - but I cannot ever forget the lower risk women who are no longer here.

    Annual post check-up nag, then... do the screening, do the self-examinations, report lumps, bumps, bleeding, dodgy moles, persistent coughs, unexpected weight loss and so on.  Cancer treatment isn't fun - but it's better than the alternative.

    Still NEDdy after all these years!!

  • Social History...

    Yesterday, after years of wishing to, I finally took the Glasgow Central Tour and it was really brilliant - the best £13 I have spent in many a long day.  I certainly gave me lots to consider - social history, industrial archeology, hiddenness, revelation and muchmore.

    This post is really a bit of an advert - if you are in Glasgow, have legs that can walk for an hour or so (alas it's unsuitable for anyone who isn't mobile) it's well worth it.

    Also good when the only person able to recite the motto 'nemo me impune lacessit' in Scots is me!!

  • Mysterious Ways

    As part of my last major declutter, I discarded my 'banner making' books, thinking I no longer had use of them.

    Recently, I regtretted that, thinking they had ideas I might wish to adapt for current use.

    For various reasons, the boxes of books from the last cull have sat undistrubed in my kitchen for a few months - and yesterday I realised that there was a chance the books were still there - and in the very first box, there they were.

    Well, it made me smile and express a little 'hmmm'

  • Seeing it Differently

    Yesterday I walked to Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, a place that is familiar and is full of 'go to' exhibits.

    Deliberately, I set out to see the museum afresh, accepting a floor plan from the steward, then, after a quick lunch from the coffee shop off the main hall, I enjoyed an organ recital, lots of familiar tunes that linked to other times, places and people.  Then, having consulted the floor plan, I chose a couple of rooms to visit before wandering around some of my favourites, such as the statue 'Motherless' (above, seen from the rear).

    This depiction of grief is poignant and beautiful, but coming at it from behind offered new things to ponder.  I love the attention to detail in the fringe of the blanket, in the battens in the back of the chair.  It also made me think how often, in life, we don't encounter things neatly and face-on, rather we find ourselves coming at them from an angle, having to wait to discover what is actually there.  From the rear, this could easily be mistaken for a man reading a book, or even dozing; it's only as you draw closer and move alongside or around it that full revelation becomes possible.

    It also struck me how easily we - or I at least - can settle into such familiar patterns of looking that we/I no longer see beyond what we/I expect.  Deliberately approaching from a new angle, and trying to set aside pre-existing ideas, can be really valuable.

    I discovered something new to me in the art gallery - of which more another time - for now though, I will try to remain alert to the way I encounter and view things, especially those I think I know well.

  • Pilgrimage?

    The plan for this two week Sabbatical Block was to walk from Glasgow to Whithorn, a pilgrimage route.  It was always going to be subject to weather and transport, and in the end weather overtook my plans, as storm Ciara blew in form the west bringing rain, sleet and snow, disrupting trains and making walking untenable.

    Which has made me think about how sanitised we have made pilgrimage - and perhaps faith - neatly parcelled into prescribed blocks that we can walk in sequence over a prescribed period of time, when the reality would have been very different.

    Pilgrims in the past set off without a route map, without hotels booked or trains to carry them from A to B.  They set off in faith - often in pentience - and with no idea of what lay ahead.  There must have been times when the pilgrims had to pause and wait for the weather to change, to recover from injuries, or even to take a rest.

    The first day of my walk was familiar, and so it was easy enough.  I enjoyed looking at familiar sights through different eyes, passing churches, shopping centres, dockyards, railway stations and more.  It was mildly asmusing to arrive at Paisley Abbey just in time to see the curator fit the padlock to the gates as it closed for the day!

    The second day was a slog from Paisley to Lochwinnoch along a former railway line.  It would be a fantastic route for cyclists (its intended users) but not so much fun for walkers, as fences and trees obscured the view most of the way.  Then, near Lochwinnoch finally it opened up with a lochside view, an RSPB reserve and a sense of achievement as I reached the railway station just nicely in time for a train home!

    Checking the map, it was clear that Day 3 was going to be more sloggy walking - partly the same cycle route, but also a long road stretch.  I decided to cheat - to take the train to the start of Day 4 and walk from Kilwining to Troon.  But was it really cheating?  Perhaps pilgrims would have taken advantage of opportunities to take a ride part of the way?  I don't know, but it gave me a lot of food for thought - afterall, in life, we can't simply take a ride to bypass the boring or tough bits, we have to travel them, however hard it is.  For all that, I refuse to guilt-trip myself!  I also refuse to press the metaphor too far!

    So my Day 3 was a stroll from Kilwinning to Troon, which combined some beautiful rural countryside with yet more cycle track.  It was a good day, lovely sunshine, and, even though it was sometimes a but mundane, I enjoyed walking coastwards, and the final mile or so along the seafront was delightful.

    Then the weather changed, Storm Ciara disrupted plans, and instead of walking from Troon to Ayr, I took a train to Paisley Abbey which was open for worship.  It was restful and gentle.  It reminded me, by its difference, of what I value, and often don't notice, in my own congregation.  It reminded what I value in preaching (and it reminded me that I'm not bad at it!). And it showed me that it was good not just to be 'sensible' but to be open to what opportunities might arise instead of my plans.

    And now as rain, sleet and snow tumble from the sky, I spend this day indoors, reflecting, resting and reprogramming.  There has been a little (necessary and known about) work to be attended to, but there is also the unexpected gift of time.  Time to listen to (and enjoy) the sermon preached the day I was ill.  Time to still my soul and mind as well as my body.  And a reminder, were one needed, that Sabbath (and hence Sabbatical) is made for people (including Ministers), and not vice versa.

    The weather forecast is such that walking plans are shelved, and that's ok, because the walk was never what it was really about - if I have gained nothing else, this is worth pondering.