High Tea at The Ritz London

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Having afternoon tea at The Ritz has been on my Life List ever since I accepted that it was the only way my modest footwear would meet their plush carpet. If you can’t afford a night at the fanciest hotel in London, then dressing up and faking your rank in society for two hours is the way to go. Plus, I just adore the way the British do afternoon tea – it’s an event. And I suspect my first word as a baby was “scone”, or at least it would have been if I was born in Mother England.

If you know me at all, you know that I’m not exactly ladylike. I wear pretty skirts and and even lipstick on the weekend (reow) to cover up the fact that I have the manners of a child. I am learning, slowly, thanks to my friends who tell me off for talking with my mouth full and remind me to wax my legs (TMI?).

Pair my disastrous self with my friend Cate who is 8 months pregnant and one of the most hilarious people I know, and you have yourself a party. You could say this was a highly anticipated day, since we booked it in May when she didn’t have a bun in the oven. As expected, we laughed our heads off the whole way through and definitely had more fun than anyone else there. Quote of the day was definitely…

“I’m just not cut out for this posh shit. Tehehe, I just said shit at the Ritz!”
“At least you didn’t say #^*@”

Though anyone in their right mind would find the idea of paying £42 for SANDWICHES preposterous, myself included, it was worth it. The tea, sandwiches, scones, dessert AND cake was the best I’ve ever had. We ate until Cate’s babeh punched her from the inside and screamed “please, stop woman!” Plus, you’re paying for the experience, right? To be treated like you’re royalty even though they know you aren’t (they can just tell, I think).

And in case anyone was doubting that I’m easy to please; my favourite sandwich was the egg and mayo. Keepin’ it real. Holla if you want to take me on a cheap date.

I took a ton of pictures because I was unashamedly gobsmacked by the splendour.

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The last one is of me in the bathrooms, because honestly, it would have been rude not to. LUSH I TELL YOU.

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Boundaries: You Are (Not) Responsible

I’ve got good news and bad news.

The good news is that you aren’t responsible for the happiness of your partner, spouse, family or friends. They are responsible for their own happiness. So phew, you can stop juggling that ball!

The bad news is the exact opposite of that; your happiness is your responsibility, no one else’s. In case I walked in on you blaming your parents, friends or the world for your problems. I know I know, life’s tough and so unfair! Tell me about it!

To break that down, you’re the one that has to create the boundaries in your life to not take on other peoples issues and problems. But that also means you also can’t blame anyone else and remember that your happiness falls on your shoulders. It’s one of those damn two way streets…

These two things sound simple in theory, but I’ve been surprised by how hard it is to put it into practise. This year has been a lot of learning how to for me.

You and I are different people and I don’t know your story. Maybe you have healthy relationships with every one in your life and you’re the King or Queen of boundaries. Though with all the angry, broken and selfish hearts roaming the streets, you and I included, I doubt that very much.

My story is that I spent years carrying people because I’m a rescuer. Growing up I wanted to make everyone happy and couldn’t stand to see the ones I love upset or hurt.  I’d run circles mentally and emotionally trying to fix everyone and everything. Angry at myself when I couldn’t, as if somehow I was lacking. The truth is that I was just a kid taking on responsibility that wasn’t mine to bear, and that no one has asked me to.

There’s compassion and empathy which is in our human nature. However, without clear boundaries  it can quickly turn into unhealthy rescuing. Pair that up with being a people pleaser (which is more or less most people, in varying degrees) and you have a very burdened person who is always fretting for someone else. Fretting for someone that has a mind, heart and the free will to make decisions for their lives. It’s interesting how often I forget this.

We all have within us the capacity to choose. Some people make good choices, others not so good. Whether you are making the bad decisions or watching someone else do it, look after you and do your life well. That’s the best thing you can do. You’re a better asset to the world and your future that way, not to mention your present life.

I’ve made some good decisions and some bad ones too, and they bought me here, to this very place in my life where I am totally humbled and deeply happy. I’m looking after me and making decisions that I hope will inspire others, but I can’t make them for anyone else. You are always being watched, remember that. Be an example to those who look up to you even if you never see who those people are.

When I was in a relationship, making my boyfriend happy stressed me out. I saw it as my job, my role to be his constant provider of joy. It was hard work for one reason: I was taking his whole life into my hands and buckling under the pressure, when I didn’t need to. He never asked me to. I just thought that’s how it went; that from day one it was my job to make him happy.

Obviously it came from a place of love and because I wanted to make this person happy, but that’s not what relationships are for! Romantic, friendship or family based; it doesn’t matter. Human relationships are to share, come alongside, support, uplift, love, bounce off and have fun with each other. To enjoy life together! They are a source of happiness, of course, but I believe that’s ones own responsibility. Not the people that they do life with.

I want to fix, please and encourage. I can absolutely encourage, but I will only die trying to do the other two. I will never fix anyone or please everyone.

Do your life well and empower others to do their lives well, but don’t do try to do it for them. Your happiness is on your shoulders and you have everything it takes to tackle the daily curve balls of life.

They are responsible for them and you are responsible for you.

Does any of this strike a chord with you? Have you experienced the burden of making someone else happy, or have you blamed other people? 

Olympics in London Town

OH HI EVERYBODY! Above is me saying hi to all my internet friends… Call me a poser, bored or just plain silly. It’s all true. I never thought much of PhotoBooth until last night (possibly when I was procrastinating) and now it’s the best thing ever!

So, um, sorry I dropped off the face of the earth for two weeks. It wasn’t planned, but turns out that’s what happens when old friends and THE OLYMPICS come to town!

Oh man, it was so much fun. I wasn’t at work for the 2-week duration of the London Olympics (don’t ask why, just be very envious). So I got to make the most of my old buddies Scott and Macka staying at my place, and experience Olympic fever to the max. There are an awesome bunch of my school friends either living in London or visiting this Summer, so it’s pretty much “reunion time” ALL THE TIME.

I went to a couple of Olympic events and spent the rest of the time in front of the telly or a big screen watching the action. There were screens, pop up gigs and events all over the city, so it was hard to miss out. London did great at hosting such a massive event, I gotta say. The general vibe was amazing and I loved every moment of the festivities. There was a lot of laughing, cheering and crying… Who knew watching athletes succeed and fail was so emotional? Not me.

Here’s a few pictures of exactly what I’ve been up to, and I will resume normal posting next week.

Opening My Mind

Meet Esther. She’s an awesome God-fearing girl that loves Jesus and isn’t afraid to show it. Esther was raised in a Christian home, and growing up she adopted the beliefs of her parents. They screwed their noses up at homosexuals, distanced themselves from any other religion, and criticised people with tattoos. They did a lot of great things for people too, but always for the cause of conversion.

Esther went to University and immediately made friends with other Christian girls who agreed with her way of life. They supported each other in their walk with Christ and they mixed with others occasionally, but usually because they had to. Esther found it uncomfortable being around people that swore a lot, dressed promiscuously or drank a lot of alcohol. She was disconnected from the world.

Now, let me introduce you to Sophie, who is also a God-loving girl. She had much of the same upbringing as Esther; strict parents with firm beliefs. But that’s where the similarities end. Sophie chose to go to University in a City that was known for it’s diversity. She lived in halls, and on the first day she learned her roommate was a staunch Muslim. This was a shock and she wasn’t sure how to respond. Sophie had never been close with someone who’s life was so different to her. But she opened her mind, and determined that despite their obvious differences, she would make an effort to be friends with her new room mate.

Who will have more impact in her world and sphere of infuence? Whose walk with Christ will be seen more, just from her way of life?

In all of our diversity and multi-culture, each person in the world has one thing in common: we all have a world-view made up of opinions and beliefs. Some of us are more convinced and assured than others, but we all stand somewhere. As Christians we are to be in the world, but not of the world. So yes, we need to be careful who we mix with. We need to watch who sets the temperature in our lives. Are you surrounded by people who make good decisions and encourage you to as well? You should be, because iron sharpens iron.

However that doesn’t mean you cut off everyone else. Which is tempting to do. Obviously it’s easier to hang out with people that see things exactly the way you do. Me? I can strongly relate with Esther. I find it hard to be around people whose life choices, outlook and attitude greatly contrast mine.  But that’s just my pride talking, because really the issue is that I don’t like being questioned or disagreed with. I want to have it all together and when people ask hard questions or challenge me, my weakness is revealed. And my pride is hurt.

I’m really confronting my tendency to be narrow-minded, because I don’t believe I will have much success in being a light to my world if I don’t. My prayer is that I would be humbled and open my mind, because there really is something to learn from everyone. Each and every person has a story and is on a journey, and they’re learning too. The pace may be different, their teachers may not be the same as yours, but they still know a thing or two.

When I moved to London all of my friends were from church, which was important for me in the delicate and immature stage I was in. I still spend a lot of my time with friends from church, but I don’t want to live in a safe Christian bubble any more. I want to be surrounded by people from all walks of life, from all over the world. And London is a thriving hub of multi-culture, so it’s the perfect place to start.

Everyone is a brother or sister in Christ, no matter of race, religion or political position. So let’s swallow our pride and opinions for a minute, and get out of our comfort zones a little in our social lives.

Do you struggle to mix with people that are very different to you? Or do you enjoy debates and discussions? Leave a comment. 

Photo credit 

Independence Isn’t Cool

Not sure if you know, but I’m actually really cool. I moved abroad and I barely even call home because I don’t need family anymore. So independent, so cool.

Yeah, and I often just block God out and say ‘I’ve got this’, because I’m that capable and awesome. I can make it on my own.

If you didn’t already know how hip and cool I am, that’s because I’m not at all.

I’ve just created the belief in my head that doing life on my own makes me awesome, which is entirely untrue. All that my independence does is show me up for my fear of vulnerability and my arrogance, which is so not cool.

Strength is important to have so that we can dodge the curve balls that life throws at us. However strength and independence are not the same, and independence is not the goal. Independence from people is lonely. Independence from God? That’s a sin.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Yes, I can stand on my own two feet. I am capable of looking after myself and had to learn pretty fast, which is great and something I am proud of. But I am never enough. I still need God, need my family, and need my friends. That is not a sign of weakness or a bad thing in the slightest, which I am only just beginning to accept.

Vulnerability is strength unarmed.

I started to think about all this recently when I was really ill. I had a nasty virus and was bed ridden for the best part of 7 days. It was horrible and it was the loneliest I had felt in a long time. I could have reached out to my friends and my housemates for help. I didn’t because I didn’t want to bother anyone or look completely pathetic.

If I didn’t try to do it on my own, that week wouldn’t have been so dark for me. I would have had food in the house and regained strength, but instead I didn’t eat for over a day and got worse. Pa-the-tic.

I’m probably more vulnerable with my counselor than anyone. When I saw him and we talked about my week, it came out: I desperately needed love and attention but I was too scared to ask for it. The independence was a facade to hide that.

I’m learning that fierce independence is more pathetic than vulnerability. It’s a guard so that people can’t see what’s really going on. It’s isolating and dangerous.

The main point is that we all need support, and though we all need a level of independence as adults, taking it too far isn’t cool.

So I quit, because to be vulnerable is to truly be strong.

Can you relate? Are you independent, or do you struggle to be independent? Leave a comment. 

Hey You, Be Better!

Sometimes, I’m very impressionable. Occasionally, I make bad choices. Every now and then, I lose sight of who I’m living for.

Most of the time, I know I can be better.

Whoever you are and wherever you are; you can be better too. Don’t get me wrong, you’re already great. Chances are we’re friends if you’re reading this and I’m only friends with great people. (If you’re reading this and you’re not my friend then that is GOOD and you’re great too because it means I’m gaining more readers!)

Trust me, I know my good points and I know I’m already pretty great. But my point is that I can be greater. I can stay the same as I am now but that wouldn’t do me any good, because I can be better.

I’ve realised that I can be very influenced by my world around me to the point that I reduce my ideals and standards according to others, either for their approval or just to fit in.

Then I remember I’m not like everyone else; I am from the world but I am not of the world. I’m living for the audience of One, the One who loves and adores me as I am. The One who believes in me and knows I can be better too. The One who makes me better.

Always be inspired by the great people around you, but never try and be them. Be you.

Don’t excuse yourself from certain behaviour because you saw someone else do it.

Never think of yourself better than anyone; you haven’t arrived and you never will.

And don’t live for the approval of people, you will die trying.

Better is whatever you make it. Better is one step further than where you are now. Your better and my better are probably different. That’s okay.

For me, better is

+ Smiling more on the tube where no one smiles (I am honestly too scared which is ridiculous, I know)

+ Sitting down with the local homeless guy and chatting

+ Giving my friends the time they deserve

+ Living with an open hand

+ Being on time all the time

+ Giving God the praise He deserves

+ Working hard at my craft

+ Living with integrity

+ Persevering, committing

+ Forgiving

+ Giving my very best in my job

+ Worrying less, trusting God more

You get the picture. What is better for you? Define it and live it. But also encourage yourself. It’s a journey. Perfection is not the aim, growth is. That can be one step or five steps, the point is that you’re growing and being better.