Before you can love anyone else. Before you can care for anyone else. In fact if you want to be any use to anyone long term:You have to love you first.I used to think loving myself was selfish. I thought prioritising my needs was self-indulgent. Surely it was better to sacrifice what I wanted to make others happy?I was a classic people pleaser, believing I would be loved and accepted only if I behaved and performed as others' wanted me to. So I morphed and changed according to who I was with. I tried to keep a lid on any...

The simplest truths are the hardest to hold onto.It was the school nativity this morning.My children are too old to take part and I wasn't sure if I could spare the time. But the excitement in the yard was infectious and I found myself walking round to the front of the building, entering through the main doors and taking my place with all the other parents in the hall.The collection of angels wearing over-sized t-shirts adorned with tinsel sung of the glory of God. Some waved as they spotted their Mum or Dad in the packed assembly hall. My friend and...

This isn't really a new blog post.It started as a letter to those who have subscribed to this blog, who I email most weeks.But after writing it and sending it to them I thought I would share it here too.It has been such a strange day. A day of conflicting emotions. A day where our nation has poured out sorrow and grief and anger...

I find it hard to know how to relate to my body. There is a lot of conflicting information thrown at me.It should be strong and sporty because 'this girl can'. It should be thin and well-kept because why wouldn't you make the most of what you have got? I shouldn't give it a second thought because appearances don't matter.It is confusing.And I am 37. Surely I should have got this one sussed by now?I know how I look is not the be all and end all.  And most of my life I have used this as my reason for...

There was a time in my marriage when, in amongst the normal and the good, a space had started to open up.  A distance was widening between us.My plan was to ignore it. If I busied myself with the day to day I assumed (I hoped) we would one day naturally regain our previous ease, our relaxed intimacy.While I waited, I held Matt at arms length.To protect my heart, I hid how I was feeling.Matt tried to talk to me about how things were, but I refused to acknowledge it. I had neither the time nor energy nor courage to...

On the 1st December I started to write an Alternative Advent Calendar. I have been posting these 'gifts' daily on Facebook and Instagram.Christmas is busy, and expectations are high. It can become stressful and overwhelming very quickly. My Advent Calendar is an antidote to this. Each day I have been writing short thoughts about ways to manage this season, ideas about how to stay sane, maintain mental health and hopefully enjoy the festive period.I am writing to remind myself. To talk truth to myself.And to remind you. To talk truth to you.Here are the first seven daysDec 1st The Gift of...

I struggle to articulate the discoveries I have been making about my faith, in part because what I believe cannot easily be squeezed into language. It cannot be condensed and compressed into words, black and white on the page.I am only ever able to scratch the surface, if I am lucky.Even if I had all the time in the world I would still remain unable to articulate the breadth and depth and complexity, the clear and pure simplicity, of the faith I am discovering.This was not always the case.I used to find my faith far more straight forward. For every question there was an...

Learning to love someone is like poetry.I don't mean that it is beautiful and full of romantic imagery.I mean that it is hard.Poetry is hard.When I was 17 I went on a school trip to a day of talks about literature in the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. There were many speakers. They talked about their favourite texts, or about their own work.Some of it was very boring.But two of the talks have stayed with me, and I remember them all these (nearly 20) years later.Germaine Greer talked about her favourite Shakespearean sonnet and Simon Armitage unpicked his poem, Kid.I happened...