A letter to my ten year old self

My parents did a major clear out recently. They called by the other day with a file full of my primary school work, which up until this point had been gathering dust in their attic. It made for interesting reading – for me, at least! These are what my grand life goals were at the tender age of ten:

‘I’m going to get 10 A*s in my GCSES, have four children and a dog, and live in a big house.’

Wow. Short and to the point, but very revealing all the same.

My tenth birthday

So far, I haven’t achieved any of these lofty goals. But here’s ten little pieces of advice I would offer that wee girl now, over twenty years later:

  • Grades on a sheet are no reflection of the grade of character formation in your life.’ Do your best in everything, but most importantly, do your best to be kind. Kindness trumps achievement, always.
  • ‘Doing something you love imperfectly, but passionately, is much more admirable than doing something you hate to perfection.’ Do what makes your heart sing, not just what others expect you to do, because it might just be what you were created for.
  • Getting something wrong is not a disaster.’ Really, it isn’t. You might believe that lie right now, but you will learn that the real catastrophe in those moments is punishing yourself and talking yourself out of another attempt. How much you will miss out on if you do that! Put your best foot forward and try again. Learn to fail forward. 
  • Being right isn’t the most important thing in life.‘ Eating a slice of humble pie now and again will make you all the sweeter, and you’ll be a much nicer person to be around.
  • Sure, a big house and a fancy car would be nice‘ (no kidding!) But there is far more significance in taking whatever resources you have, and filling them to bursting with love, life, laughter and guests.
  • At times it is useful to be independent and self-sufficient, but it’s equally good to know what is like to receive love and care in times of need.’ Learning to receive others’ generosity requires you to let down your guard and acknowledge that you need support. Not only does this grow you as a person, but it allows others to be blessed as they give to you. Don’t rob them of that blessing by being too proud to accept help.
  • ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ I wish I could repeat this a thousand times over! Learn to celebrate the beauty and achievement in others: out loud and on purpose. Make a decision that their joy will be your joy.
  • Think of your life like the perfect recipe, put together by the Master Chef himself.’ God has given you the list of ingredients; He has chosen talents and abilities in specific measures on purpose – all to create something exquisite. Throughout the cooking process, don’t doubt he will rustle up something gorgeous. He’s the expert, after all.
  • There’s a time for everything.‘ A time for tears to fall, and a time for laughter to bubble up from deep places. A time to say goodbye to friendships, and a time to build new ones. A time to lose those you love, and a time to hold them tight. Don’t run from the hard times. They may sting unbearably, but they will also shape you for the better – if you let them.
  • Don’t let your words and actions be governed by how other people will perceive them.‘ Instead of the question, ‘What will they think about me?’ ask yourself, ‘Is this the right thing to do?’ And if in doubt, always do the right thing.

Dear ten year old self, you are much stronger than you could ever know, and more blessed than you could ever appreciate. Seize life with all you’ve got, never stop dreaming, and always be unapologetically yourself.

H x

P.s What advice would you give your younger self today? It might just change the way you think about your life.

Looking for Eden, Finding Home

Finding paradise right where you are

A ubiquitous phrase in our family’s vocabulary is, “Where’s Eden?” My second-born has a habit of rapidly disappearing just out of sight; just out of earshot and just out of view. Her life is a perpetual game of hide-and-seek. I spend a large part of my day just looking for her.

Isn’t it so often the case that as women, parents, partners, relatives, employees or homemakers, we expend huge amounts of our time and energy searching for how we might make:

  • Our image more presentable?
  • Our home more beautiful?
  • Our finances more comfortable?
  • Our family life more peaceful?
  • Our relationships more secure?
  • Our work more fulfilling?

… And yet why does that perfect life always seem just out of our grasp, just beyond our reach?

Here’s the thing: often I’ve chased Eden the whole way around the house, only to find her right back where I began the search.

I think there’s something in that.

Maybe a little piece of paradise is to be found right where you are – in the beautifully imperfect, messy reality of image imperfections, family squabbles, cluttered living spaces and work frustrations.

Whatever it looks like for you, on your search for Eden, try standing still for a moment. You might just find your little piece of heaven right where you are.

H xx

About me

Hello from Northern Ireland, the land of beautiful coastlines, green fields, Tayto crisps, soda farls and potato bread!

I’m Hilary, wife to Bill; mum of two precious girls; follower of Jesus; teacher; lover of books, coffee and all things chocolate.

Who am I?

A 30-something working mum

… who spins too many plates and never fails to smash a few along the way.

A recovering perfectionist 

… who is now ok with smashing the plates (sometimes!)

A (messy) minister’s wife 

… with a disorganised car, house and life. Come into our home and you’ll never once find finesse, but you will always find friendship.

A ditzy ‘doctor.’

… Think Alice in Wonderland … down the rabbit hole … ‘Curiouser and curiouser.’ Well that’s me! I’m short on common sense, a bit quirky, a perpetual over-thinker, a relentless researcher, and a restless wanderer with a woeful sense of direction.

A quintessential people person

… I spent my early childhood in a real life ‘Eden’ – an African jungle to be exact. Not idyllic by any means, but beautifully enriching all the same. I am still a little wild on the inside, though. I don’t like to follow the crowd. But I do love to get to know the people in the crowd. One of my biggest passions in life is people, of every variety. How they tick … how they love … how they live. Separate me from other humans for too long, and I shrivel up. Any day, hour or minute of the week, I would choose people over animals or nature. My friends are paramount to me.

A determined daydreamer

… When it comes to housework, the motivation is simply not there (sorry if that disappoints you!) I do it when I have to, but honestly, I never desire to do it. I’d rather be a scruffy old sage telling a good story than a sparkly ‘Hincher’ doing her laundry. Dreams, on the other hand – nothing seems to stop me pursuing those. My most pressing goal right now is to write down words that are ‘good to think.’ Words that go beyond small talk. Words that matter. Words that interrupt ingrained assumptions and thought patterns. Words that affect how we feel about ourselves and others, and how we see our situations in the light of faith and wisdom.

Whether thought, read, written or sung, words matter. And here are some words that matter to me. A lot

We are all uniquely designed by a perfect Creator. 

We all have something beautiful to bring to those around us.

We are not alone, but there is a contribution we alone can make to this world.

What (or who) am I here for?

I’m here for me

When I became a mum in 2015, I kept myself (relatively!) sane during sleepless nights and endless feeding sessions by scribbling down new things I was learning about life, health, parenting and my faith. From painful moments of realisation, to funny scenarios, to interesting observations – this blog is made up of little snippets from this journal, which began five years ago and continues to this day.

So I’m here for me (because writing makes my heart sing).

But I’m here for you, too (because writing wouldn’t mean a thing if it wasn’t for someone). This blog is for:

  • Those of you who are trying to carve a piece of paradise in the midst of your daily chaos.
  • Those of you who at times feel ordinary, overwhelmed and inadequate in life, and are looking for a way to think differently in those moments.
  • Those of you who walk a tightrope of countless demands, but are still looking for a place where you can be fully, wholly and unashamedly yourself.

I am all those people too, and I’m so glad you found your way here.

I’d love your company. Make yourself at home.

Whether you’re a trail blazer, a rule follower, or someone who just likes to mess about in the grass, there’s a journey of discovery to go on, together.

H x