Walk-thought wanders: Stadtwanderweg 1

HELLO!! It’s been a while since I last posted! That’s partly because I’m working on a post that’s taking a little longer than expected, and also because I’ve been busy getting settled in Austria! I’ve had lots of new experiences since being here. Living on my own for the first time, leading a bible study group, getting used to serving at the church here in Austria… the list goes on. I must say I have been made to feel very welcome at Christ Church and am settling in well! I’ll post a more detailed update soon, but I want to move on to what I hope will be my regular Monday post.

Monday is my day off and I love to spend the morning walking. Last week, I came across something called the ‘Stadtwanderweg’. They’re a group of trails covering different parts of Vienna and have so far been a great way to find hidden gems that you wouldn’t otherwise come across! There are 12 in total, so my aim is to get through them all during my time here! Walking is a time for me to let my mind wander, so I may well share some of my ‘walk thoughts’ here too!

Stadtwanderweg 1 – Kahlenberg:

I got the tram to the starting point, a place called Beethovengang, which is said to have been one of Beethoven’s favourite walks. On the way, I started listening to Brené Brown’s book ‘The Power of Vulnerability’. I’m now on chapter 4 and so far really connected with a lot of what she wrote. I think especially at the moment, having moved to a new country, started a new job, and met lots of new people, it is quite natural to feel vulnerable, or in other words, more exposed. I am quickly learning, as Brené Brown writes, that “vulnerability is not weakness”. Instead, she describes it as the “birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity”. Brené Brown also talks about the link between vulnerability and perfectionism. For me, perfectionism has certainly been a shield, a way to try to hide my vulnerability, but also a way to try and ignore its existence. Anyway, that’s what my new post is going to talk about so I won’t say any more now!

I have to say, I wasn’t blown away by the first bit of the walk. It went through a forest which did feel quite peaceful, however it was a fairly long stretch and I suppose I like a bit of variety! But what was to come was very unexpected and just beautiful! When I came into Kahlenberg, I was met by this wonderful church building.

The Kahlenbergkirche, also known as the Josefskirche, was originally constructed in the 17th century, was destroyed, and rebuilt later on. It is situated just around the corner from the wonderful view in Kahlenberg pictured below. It’s at times like this when I really try to practice gratitude. Being grateful that I can walk there, being grateful for the time to take in the view, and being grateful for the view itself. By just standing and taking a moment to express our gratitude can really help us to deal with the more difficult parts of the day. 

As I wandered on from Kahlenberg, I came across the very fun-looking Kahlenberg Forest Rope Park, which I might go to at some point during my year here! The Stadtwanderweg then takes you into a very tranquil area where there are some absolutely beautiful views. While I was up there, I took some time to really take in the view. Looking across, I was drawn to a church-looking building pictured below, which I believe to be St. Leopold’s Church. It’s on the very top of the hill, and peers out from the trees. Views and moments like these are often where I go in my mind when I’m feeling stressed or anxious. I close my eyes (if I can) and try to imagine literally taking myself out of the stressful environment and placing myself in the calmer environment. I try to picture the views, what can I see and what colours are around? I imagine the wind gently touching my skin, and think about what I can hear. Are the birds signing? Are the trees making that familiar whistling noise? Then when I come back into the stressful room, I feel calmer and more able to cope with the situation. It’s taken time to get to the point of being able to imagine myself in a peaceful place, but if it’s something you think may help you in those stressful moments, first try the exercise at times when you’re not anxious. If you do this for a few minutes every day, it becomes more like a habit, and that makes it easier to bring up the image when you’re feeling more stressed. 

Another thing I was reflecting on whilst on this walk was why I love walking, and what purpose it serves. Walking and being in the hills helps me to feel closer to God AND further away from fear. When I’m on a hill, or even walking through a forest, my mind is less busy and I can therefore focus more on being prayerful. I’m a person whose automatic reaction when things are difficult is to want to fix things either for myself or others. But being in the middle of nowhere with my phone on silent and the majority of my belongings at home, I am more aware of my lack of power to change things, more aware of my vulnerability and in some ways, my insignificance. The one thing I can do however is pray, and so that’s perhaps why being in the hills helps me to feel closer to God. I can accept my vulnerability and inability to ‘fix’ things or people, and instead hand it over to God in prayer. That then also feels like a weight off my shoulders! Some quite deep walk-thoughts for today!

The walk then heads back towards Beethovengang and before I knew it, I was back where I started! I have to say, it was a really lovely walk and I’m also very grateful for the beautiful weather.

So that’s Stadtwanderweg 1 complete! The next one will be 1a, and I look forward to seeing what that will bring. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you have been doing this week, what you have been reflecting upon and/or any comments about this post!

And please remember, we are all on different parts of our journeys and therefore it would be unfair to compare ourselves to another individual! I share my thoughts with the hope that someone somewhere may take something from it, but equally this isn’t a perfected piece of writing, nor is it ‘gospel’. It’s just thoughts shared on a page by me, an imperfect human being who is and always will be learning and growing! 

Onwards and upwards,

Rosie x

Moving from fear of failure to considering other possibilities

Every Wednesday afternoon for the past ten weeks, I have been attending online training in Intentional Peer Support. I’ve learnt so much and I’m really looking forward to sharing some of my thoughts in a series of blog posts inspired by the things I’ve learnt and have since been reflecting upon.

6B6C9A86-D75E-45B8-8307-FA86EC183562_1_201_a

So the first: moving from fear of failure to considering other possibilities! Part of the course has involved doing group activities including role plays, where two people take part in the role play and a third gives feedback. Any feedback given during the sessions takes the form of saying what worked well and then exploring other possibilities. At first, I wasn’t convinced that simply changing ‘suggestions for improvement’ to ‘other possibilities’ would make much of a difference, but it really has for me! This is why:

As much as I’m better at managing it nowadays, I’m still very much someone who can let perfectionism get the better of me. I like things to be perfect and if they’re not, I can get frustrated with myself. Logically, I know that ‘perfect’, at least my idea of perfect, does not exist, but that still doesn’t stop my brain from insisting that I get things 100% right 100% of the time. This has often meant that I resist trying something that I might not do well at because I’m so fearful of the possibility that I might ‘fail’. At times, I have also struggled with receiving feedback from others because it somehow felt like I was being criticised and sometimes even attacked. (Logically, I know this wasn’t the case but that’s just how it felt).

The thing I started to realise was that by not welcoming feedback and not accepting that I didn’t always have the answer, I was not allowing myself to grow and develop. That’s when the idea of ‘other possibilities’ comes in. I’m slowly allowing myself to ask others for feedback on everyday things like asking my mum what she liked about the soup I made and her suggestions of other possibilities for next time. By introducing this concept into the ‘smaller’ and ‘more simple’ things, I have been able to work up to receiving feedback on what may feel like ‘bigger’ things, such as my performance at work. I also try to do a self-reflection. What went well, and what are other possibilities for next time? With these two lots of feedback, I can then weigh up what I could try keeping the same, I what I could change. I can see this working in so many different aspects of my life. Playing squash, work, baking, music, even prayer. 

I’ve found this process to be quite a liberating one. It means that I no longer feel stuck. Instead, I know that I don’t have to do things perfectly the first time, but can build up from where I currently am. I have also felt less pressurised, because I no longer put an intense amount of pressure on myself to make sure nothing goes ‘wrong’. In fact, I’ve been finding that sometimes, things haven’t gone how I wanted them to, but actually the outcome has been better! To use walking as an example: I set off hoping to follow a certain track on a walk but must have taken the ‘wrong’ path. I decide to carry on and what I did eventually come to was a beautiful stream, the sun shining and the birds singing such beautiful tunes. It wasn’t where I had planned to go, but I’m glad I ended up there. When I did eventually find the other track another time, it wasn’t as beautiful as the place I discovered ‘accidentally’. 

Personally, I don’t believe these things are ‘accidental’, as I feel God is guiding us. I often try to pray about this area of my life too. I pray that I may be given wisdom to recognise these other possibilities and that I may learn to trust God more. I pray for the courage and humility to hand over the control to God, and let him lead the way rather than me trying to control everything. I pray all this whilst accepting that I am only human, and sometimes I will fall. So when that happens, I pray for God to lift me up.

Of course, I still do and always will aim for the best I can, but I accept that my current ‘best’ may be my future’s ‘mediocre’, and that’s ok. So if you’re feeling like nothing but ‘perfect’ is good enough, maybe you could try to recognise the times when you don’t do as well as you had hoped, and see them as opportunities to learn rather than moments of failure. It takes time and perseverance, but it has certainly been a liberating process for me, and I’d love to hear how you get on! Also, if you have any tips or thoughts around perfectionism and self-improvement, I’d love to hear from you! 

Onwards and upwards,

Rosie x

Acceptance, Comfort Zones and German Verbs

Me smiling in a cafe alleyway
This photo is me yesterday sat outside at a little coffee house in York. It got me thinking (not that it takes much :P) about acceptance, comfort zones, and, strangely, German verbs. (It’ll all make sense soon!)

This was the first time I have been to a coffee shop in months! I was a little bit apprehensive because I’m still not comfortable being around more than a couple of people, and am still definitely not ready for indoor meet-ups! This felt manageable though because I was outside, felt reassured that the owners had put the correct measures in place, and the place itself was quite quiet! That then meant that I was able to actually appreciate why I was there: to see my friends, catch up and have a good time!

I think one thing that has helped me recently is trying to accept (without judgement) where I’m at at any given point. Even little sayings like ‘this is where I am right now and that’s ok’ can be really helpful. The more I’ve been saying that, the more I’ve started to believe it.

Once I’ve accepted where I’m at, I can then consider whether that’s where I want to be. If yes, great! If not, I try to think of where I am now, where I want to be, and what steps I can take to get there. The likelihood is I will still have to push myself outside of my comfort zone, but having smaller, more attainable goals feels more manageable than having one huge goal that seems so out of reach. Having these smaller goals also helps me to feel like I’m making progress!

Take learning to ride a 2-wheeled bike as an example! If my dad would have taken me off my trike and put me straight on a bicycle with no stabilisers, I would probably have fallen off and given up. Riding a 2-wheeled bike was too out of reach at that moment. But moving me from a trike to a bike with stabilisers, to one stabiliser, to 10 seconds without stabilisers and so on enabled me to eventually reach my goal of being able to ride a bike! It took acceptance, perseverance, patience and a few grazed knees, but I got there in the end!

So back to current times. Maybe, like me, you’re a little (or very) apprehensive about coming out of lockdown. It can feel very overwhelming, like everything is happening at once and you just want things to slow down. Maybe others around you seem to be adapting more quickly, but that’s ok. It’s not a race! There’s often this sense that now we are allowed to do certain things, we have to rush to do them straight away, but that’s not the case! I never thought my German degree would come in handy for a blog post but I think it might!

In German (as in English), there are a group of verbs called modal verbs. Here are a few:

  • müssen – ‘must’ or ‘have to’
  • sollen – ‘should’ or ‘ought to’
  • dürfen – ‘allowed to’
  • können’ – ‘can’ or ‘able to’

Currently, we MUST follow certain rules. We are ALLOWED TO do certain things such as have a socially-distanced picnic in the park. Just because we are ALLOWED TO do something, it doesn’t mean we MUST, or even OUGHT TO. But what we are, or at least feel, ABLE TO do is a very personal thing, and can change over time.

Sorry if I lost you getting carried away with German verbs, but my point is this….

Maybe you are comfortable having a socially-distanced picnic in the park, or maybe you’re not quite there yet. Either way, that’s ok! Equally, there are some things that we’re not allowed to do right now, but that won’t be the case forever. Just like learning to ride a bike, it helps to try to accept where we are right now, and to be patient with ourselves and with the current situation. Step by step, we will be able to move forward, to reach those little goals and at some point, we will look back and realise that we have moved forward and have reached the bigger goal that once seemed out of reach!

So my questions to you… Where are you at right now? Where would you like to be? And what steps can you take to make that possible?

Onwards and upwards,

Rosie x

 

 

 

 

Goodbye York (for now), hello…. Vienna!

To those who know me (and those who don’t), this title may come as a bit of a surprise, but to be honest, it did to me too, especially during this time of uncertainty in lockdown!

For the past four years, I have been living in York. It is the place that I call home, and I imagined myself being here for a long time. I have loved discovering the hidden gems of the city, one of which includes St Denys Church which I started attending in week 2 of my first year at university, but I digress. 3 years in York wasn’t enough for me, so I got a job at the uni in Student Life and Wellbeing. As I’m writing this, I’m 2 weeks from the end of my contract and, although I am very sad to leave, it has been a great experience, and one which has taught me so much about work, wellbeing and much more! There have been many challenges and I’m not going to go with the cliched line of these past for years being the ‘best years of my life’, but they have certainly been the 4 years in which I have learnt the most and grown the most as a person!

IMG_2248

Over the past few months, I have felt a calling to go further afield and somewhere new, at least for the next year. I thought that I would end up in another city in the UK but in fact, I’m about to move to a whole new country!! In some ways, thinking of moving away from York is difficult. As I said, York is home to me. I have a great support network, wonderful friends, lovely housemates and a job that I love. Giving that up,or at least parts of it, even just for a year, feels quite counter-intuitive! At the same time, the opportunity that is ahead of me is one that can’t be missed, and it just feel right. As you know, I’m a great believer in pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, and it’s also a good trust exercise. In all the current uncertainty I am faced with, I must try my best to trust that God will lead the way and provide!

So for the next year, I will be working as an intern in Christ Church in Vienna. It’s certainly a massive change, but I am really excited to experience church ministry! It’s been lovely to join some of the chaplaincy’s zoom services, and to get to know some of its members a little more. I have such a good feeling about this place. Now that’s not to say that there won’t be challenges, but I look forward to sharing both the challenging and the exciting times, and all in-between! I am very aware of the tendency on social media to show the highlights of your life, and to perhaps not always show the challenges. I am therefore going to make a conscious effort to have more of a balance, to be more honest and to show a more realistic picture. That might take a bit of getting used to, so please bear with me, but I will try!

Anyway, I wish you all a week filled with peace and hope, and look forward to writing another post soon!

Onwards and upwards,

Rosie x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome!

Hello!

If you visited my website/blog before, you might have seen that things have changed and my previous posts have been taken down. Since I was doing a revamp of the whole website, I thought it’d just be easier to start again, and to reframe a little! So if you’ve been before, welcome back and if you haven’t visited before, then welcome!!

IMG_20200703_142020359

Previously in my life (Miranda quote for those who love a bit of such fun!), I mainly wrote about the importance of mental health awareness as well as sharing my thoughts on the ups and downs of recovery from mental illness. More recently though, I have felt the benefits of moving away from an ‘illness model’, and thinking more about wellness and wellbeing. That’s not so say I only focus on the positives (although lots of people would say I’m an optimist), but rather reflect upon the ups and downs of everyday life in general, not just everyday life in recovery. I’ll be writing another post soon to explain why I find this useful, so keep your eyes peeled!

Wellbeing (like mental health) is something that always exists, and that can change from day to day and hour to hour. Recently, I’ve been asking myself what has a positive impact upon my wellbeing. Normally, it’s the things that I deem to be important parts of my life (my faith, loved ones etc.) or things I am interested in (nature, sport and exercise, baking etc.). So I’m hoping to post more about those things and to also share my thoughts and discoveries about life in general. As a person who likes to think deeply about stuff and analysing pretty much anything and everything, I don’t think I’ll run out of things to write about! Well at least not for a long while anyway!

After having a break from social media and campaigning, now feels like the right time to come back! I’m about to finish my job and start a new adventure, but more to come on that in a future post! (Sorry to leave you on a cliff-hanger, it’s 10pm and past my bedtime!!) I’ll be back soon with more details!

Onwards and upwards,

Rosie x