Be right there.

Heyyyyy, you guessed it: the Chartres pilgrimage is almost here and once again, I am really looking forward to it.

I haven’t really been keeping up with my blog posts (and by that I mean that I have barely written anything, but since I write mostly for my own benefit, I don’t think I’ve let anyone down), but I always find time to write something around Chartres time because this is when my levels of procrastination reach an all-time high as I have so many things to do, but so little will to do anything that is connected with packing my bag.

Would you believe that I have actually taken a day of holiday just to get these things done? That is how slow and disorganised I am (though apparently I am efficient at work. Hurray! If this could just happen in my personal life too, that would be great).

I firmly believe that the reason why I have so far avoided obesity is because I am so disorganised and slow when getting ready in the mornings, or at any time, that I speed-walk and sometimes run almost everywhere I go. So, if I am late to meet you, this isn’t a personal insult to you, I have a genuine problem. Sorry in advance.

slow snail

I think I will change the beginning of the year, and the time when I make all my resolutions, to the day after the Chartres pilgrimage. Last year, Fr Withoos read out a meditation on the writings of Blessed John Henry Newman on all the simple things we should do to become perfect and, to my surprise, I have actually followed quite a lot of those things and kept them up all year (see the post on that here). For one thing, I was not making my morning offering until hours after I got up and sometimes not at all. Since Chartres last year, I have (almost always) made some kind of morning offering as soon I wake up. I have not got to the point where I can pray a full rosary before breakfast like some people do, but the first thing I do now when I walk out the door in the morning is to start praying it, and I do believe that these things are almost all due to the graces earned on the Chartres pilgrimage.

There have been some setbacks too and a very kind lady sent me an email about modest dressing the other day after she sat in front of me at mass, so presumably this has also gone downhill. I have to say that some of my clothes were borderline Amish-style not so long ago, so I am trying to find a balance.

My sister stayed with me in November and commented that she had not seen me in trousers for two years, which is probably about right (that is, I am wearing trousers occasionally now). I think that, apart from gym clothes and stuff worn at home, I had not worn a pair of trousers for about that amount of time. I made a conscious effort to do that and I have let myself relax a bit on that front. I don’t know…I don’t believe in this not showing the tops of your arms thing, for instance. What is so seductive about that? Of course, dressing modestly is so important, but I am not going to wear ankle-length skirts. If God pulls me up on this, on my head be it, but for the moment I don’t see that I have to cover up as much as some people say. I have to watch the videos that I was sent by this lady. Maybe I’ll completely change my mind.

Speaking of clothes, vanity, hairstyles and all that, I have been having a meltdown over how to deal with my fringe and Chartres (sweat, baseball caps and no showers) for a while now. I have a full, thick fringe now (photo here of my colleague and me at a Christian exhibition yesterday). Watch this space for how hilarious and ugly my hair can get in less than a day. After this, nobody can say that I am unwilling to do extreme penance.

The servant is not greater than his master

Today I had that uncomfortable experience where someone I barely know seems to have taken against me. I don’t know what I’ve done to them or what they’ve heard about me, but I get the impression that they find me quite unpleasant. Naturally, I want to be liked, so it’s not particularly nice.

I thought of this story that I read about Fr Hugh Thwaites and luckily, I was able to find it very quickly today, so I can reproduce it for you to read. One day, maybe in the very distant future, I hope I can be like Fr Thwaites. I hope this helps someone reading it to realise that you can’t please everyone.


“When I think of Fr Hugh Thwaites, the word that comes most readily to mind is ‘simple’. Not in the sense of stupidity, not at all, but in the sense of uncomplicated directness. In this he was a true son of St Ignatius; for Fr Hugh, there never seemed to be any shades of grey. Instead he worked out in his own mind what needed to be done, and simply did it without regret, without considering how that might affect his own dignity or position. His decisions were easily made and steadfastly adhered to. His opinions likewise were simply arrived at and adhered to with ardour.

He was, I think, the most humble man I have ever known, and inspired by that I am going, for once, to fess up myself. Once, on board a ship bound overnight for France, I and a priest friend, having parted for the night from Fr Hugh and another priest friend, they being bound for another cabin corridors away, spent a pleasant hour or so in our bunks cheerfully lampooning the characteristics of Fr Hugh. In the morning, the friend who had shared with Fr Hugh was tight-lipped and furious with us. By some strange quirk of the ship’s construction, the corridors that had taken them off into the bowels of the ship had returned them to the cabin that was back-to-back with ours, separated by only the very thinnest of walls. In other words, everything had been heard by him and Fr Hugh himself. My friend reassured me ‘and he has the very keenest hearing. I have never been so embarrassed’. Well, I was horrified, as you would imagine. But Fr Hugh never failed throughout our trip (we were actually going on retreat together) to treat me with the greatest kindness as ever. He gave no sign of resentment, and eventually I thought that the only thing to do was to go to confession to him and acknowledge it there. Even then there was no reproach or even allusion to the incident, but, on afterwards me talking to him about my difficulties with mental prayer, he simply said ‘oh gosh; I’m no good at praying at all.'”

Taken from:


A conversation with my flatmate yesterday:

Me: I feel so down at the moment. I really believe in that thing, what it’s called, the thing when the weather changes?

Flatmate: SAD.

Me: *Stare blankly for a second* Oh yes, sad. What does it stand for again?

Flatmate: Dunno. Just sad.

Both stare out the window. Cat stares at us.

What a pathetic conversation! Who else is feeling like this right now? I usually get this in October, which is the month I hate, but I think because the weather has been fairly mild, it’s only just hitting me now.

My wonderful friend, Mary, prayed for me yesterday and today and I really felt her prayers boosting me all day today. I thought today was going to be horrible (for no special reason), but it was alright and alright is good enough for me.

My flatmate was telling me yesterday about a friend she has who has had a bit of a rough life, and she would be on her own at Christmas, were it not for my flatmate and her boyfriend who will go to her house on Christmas day. That is so sad. No wonder so many people kill themselves around this time of year.

I’m going to make a special effort to pray for people who feel ‘down’ at the moment, because it can take over if you’re not careful. Will you do the same?

A minute’s silence

Save the storksCalling all pro-lifers: this Monday, the 27th of October 2014, marks the 47th anniversary of Royal Assent given to the Abortion Act. Royal Assent is approval of a law passed by a nation’s parliament, given by the constitutional monarch.

So far, around 8 million babies have died as a result of this legislation – a tragedy almost beyond comprehension.

SPUC headquarters will be holding a minute’s silence at 11.04am (the time at which Royal Assent was given) on Monday to commemorate the unborn children who will never know what it is to love and be loved in this life, the mothers and fathers damaged and those parents who have withstood tremendous pressure in order to give their children the right to be born.

Will you join us in this moment of silence to remember our unborn brothers and sisters?

Remember: 11.04am, this Monday the 27th of October 2014. 1 minute’s silence for the unborn.

Just to be clear

I don’t want you to think that my last post was a cry for help or something like that. I’m actually fine, I promise 🙂

I am not saying that I, or someone who has a similar experience, will flip out and out and eat every French Fancy in sight if you make a negative comment. I’m just pointing out that having an unhealthy obsession with food is pretty run of the mill nowadays, but that’s not how it should be.

I think that these things need to be corrected; we need to know what is a normal amount to eat, and since many people have temporarily  lost the natural ability to gauge this (and since our perception of what is a normal body is totally skewed), it has to be re-learnt, and that’s a gradual process, but it’s good and it requires patience from those around these people too. So, thanks for putting up with fitness-related posts 🙂

I am not a basket-case, I swear! No need to tread on egg shells.

God bless!

Being consistently sensible

I know you know that I like to post about fitness. Yes, we all know this and I also know that some people find it very annoying (by the way, you’re not obliged to be friends with me on facebook or to read what I write here if you don’t like what I post 🙂 I am not holding a gun to your head). I’m sure lots of people think I do it because I love myself or because I have this amazing body or some such nonsense. Actually, neither of those things are true. I do it because I have had a ‘complicated’ relationship with food and exercise in the past and guess what….lots of girls and women do and it’s not healthy or normal or acceptable. Actually, it’s very sad and, for the most part, it’s kept hidden because it’s not very attractive to talk about how you hate how you look.

The reason why I post about doing exercise and eating right, is because I have all but ruined my metabolism through starving myself and then eating badly, exercising on next to no food and over-eating (I don’t believe I’ve ever properly binged as in a tub of ice-cream, packet of biscuits, 3 burgers etc. Some girls do this…in secret, of course). I don’t do these things anymore and I would like whoever stumbles across this blog to know that there is a way of ‘healing’ from this vicious cycle, but that it won’t necessarily mean that you finally end up with your dream body. You just come to accept that you are a work in progress.

Women in my family have struggled with their weight and it rubs off on younger children. If I ever have children, I would like to be so careful in this regard. It’s not anyone’s fault but it’s very easy to damage a little girl’s perception of what is healthy and normal and what she should/should not be eating.

I would like people to acknowledge, and to be sensitive to the fact, that there are a lot of girls and women who obsess about food and who feel trapped in a cycle of restricting their diets and then binging from the pressure of eating so little. You wouldn’t believe how widespread this is. There are a lot of women who have wrecked their metabolisms and they have to recover from that. Please don’t dismiss them when they try to hold themselves accountable by posting on social media about their new healthy and reasonable eating habits. Personally, it’s a great help for me to do it because it helps me to be consistent (I am also part of a private group where I can do this and be in a little community. It helps a lot!). If the world of facebook knows I am going to go to the gym and not just skip breakfast and eat cookies for lunch, then I will do it and I will keep on doing this.

If I were posting about the cake I baked and ate all to myself this morning, I don’t think anyone would object (in fact, it would probably get a lot of ‘likes’), but if I say that I’m happy because I managed to do X exercise in the gym, I’m told to calm down. Which is the better option for me, physically and mentally? Can we please encourage each other to have a sensible lifestyle?

RIP Richard Collins

Richard Collins, the author of the Linen on the Hedgerow, died this morning.

I think he was an amazing man. Anyone who has read his blog can testify that he was devout, loyal to the Church, and Her teachings, and he had a great sense of humour, even with the knowledge that we are knee-deep in a crisis in the Church today.

Please pray for the repose of his eternal soul and for his family.

A meeting planned by God

Wherever you go, God will put the people He wants you to meet in your path.

This evening in the gym (see, the gym can be spiritual 😉 ), I was speaking with a man that I met a few weeks ago. Somehow, we got talking then and he had asked me about my job. So, I told him. He told me he agreed with me and thanked me for doing that work (actually, this happens to me quite a lot)! We had a big talk about women’s role in society and how women are not feminine anymore. He said his wife is often made to feel guilty for looking after the children and he tried to reassure her that she was doing the best job possible. What a good husband, I thought! When we parted ways that time, I said to him, as a lot of us say to many people, “God bless!”. I went home, he went home, and I hadn’t spoken to him since then.

Today, weeks later, he saw me, came up to me and asked me if I was spiritual because he remembered and heard very clearly that I had said, “God bless” and he had been thinking about it. He also said to me that he felt that I was at peace and he wanted that peace (this is funny for me because my life is a complete mess right now. I am in a huge pickle so I find it strange that he should feel that from me).

We talked for about an hour about all sorts of things. He was baptised a Presbyterian, but his wife is a Catholic (and a good one, from what he says) and they are raising their children as Catholics, but he has lots of questions. Nonetheless, he wants them to have a faith so that they have a good start in life. He also spoke about how he wanted lots of children (his wife is expecting their third) and I told him the quote my mum says, which is that only God knows how many children it takes to bind a couple together. We were definitely on the same wave-length here!

So, we’re talking and talking about loads of things. He says he gets frustrated with people in the Church; they’re so hypocritical. I told him what Fr Thwaites said about the Church being a hospital. I said there are tons of people in the Church I don’t like. Sometimes, the meanest people in my life are Catholics but Holy Mother Church will leads us to God, not them. We’ve got to love them and what do we expect when even Christ was crucified for loving His children? I said we have to accept that none of us are saints. I spoke about St Therese and the little way and what a struggle it is to do the little things but that this is also a path to sainthood.

I tell him about how to become a Catholic, to read things on, talk to the parish priest etc. Eventually, he tells me that sometimes he receives Holy Communion at Mass. I said to him that he absolutely must not do this. He must become a Catholic before he does this. So then we talk a bit more and I discover that he went to a Catholic boarding school in Ghana and lo and behold, he was confirmed there! So, he IS a Catholic but somehow he didn’t realise or he was very confused about it all because it happened when he was young! He had thought there was more to it than that. That there would have been weeks and years of preparation. Well, I was never prepared for it. It just happened one day. He said that he sort of remembered the priest asking about this before his children were baptised. Thanks be to God! So then I ask him if he’s ever thought about confession? He says he has. I speak about it a little bit, about the benefits of it, how this can be such a great cure when your prayer life is an uphill struggle.

Eventually, I have to go home because it’s 10:30pm but I feel like I did a lot more good skipping most of my workout to speak to him…

He kept saying to me that God was giving him all these signs and asking things of him and we both agreed that God wanted us to speak for a good reason. I suppose this meeting was a sign for me too, but I’m not sure what it means. Maybe it means I’m not as bad as I think I am? I don’t know. Maybe it means my life is less of a mess than I think. It’s a mystery.