social spark Aisling Beatha


Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy your stay, however short, and find something that interests and blesses you.

The tabs just below will take you to posts of particular topics. So if you are looking for my posts on food, fitness or creativity, you will find them there. You will also find my posts on thankfulness or other more contemplative posts, as well as a set of posts with traditional blessings from a number of different cultures.

You can find posts with labels not included in that list via the labels list over in the sidebar.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Weight Loss as a Spiritual Journey

Since July 2017 I have lost 7 1/2 stone in weight (105lbs for my American readers).

Me in January 2019.

Me at nowhere near even my heaviest weight.

You can see from those images that this has been a big journey physically, but I want to talk about how it has also been a spiritual journey.

Where do I start? Growing up I was always on the big size. In my teens I slimmed out a bit and was probably a UK size 14/16 by the time I met my husband. Within 6 months I was pregnant and the weight began to pile on.  I cannot blame pregnancy at all as I weighed far heavier in the end than I did the day after giving birth to either of our 2 sons.

At various points over the years I lost some and then put even more back on. Around 15 years ago I started to have serious problems with energy levels. By 13 years ago I was convinced that I had sleep apnoea but it took me another 3 years after that to get doctors to take me seriously and give me a sleep study. I was finally diagnosed in November 2008 and got my CPAP machine in January 2009.  I was convinced that this would be the thing that I needed to give me back my energy and help me lose that weight.


welll . . . . .


In fact I put on even more weight.  At every sleep apnoea clinic appointment the nurse practitioner would ask about my weight and what I was doing about it, and push me to do something.

In January 2016 I was told that my weight was such an issue with my sleep apnoea (my sleep apnoea numbers were horrendous, making my case a really severe one) that they wanted me to have weight loss surgery.  I have nothing against anyone who would do that but it is not something I would ever be willing to do myself, for various reasons, so I said "no".  The nurse responded with offering me a deal.  She would give me until my next appointment at clinic (June 2017) to make a serious difference to my weight or they would want me to sign up for the weight loss surgery.

I came away from that appointment convinced that I would do it this time, I would lose the weight, and well, I lasted all of 10 days before going back to all my previous bad habits. Over the intervening 17 months my weight went up and down, but by June 2017 and my next sleep apnoea clinic appointment I was more or less exactly the same weight I had been at that previous appointment.

Before I talk about that appointment, let me backtrack a bit to the Spring of 2017.

In Spring 2017 I was blessed by a friend who paid for me to go on a Fatherheart week at a gorgeous country house not too far from our home.  While I don't now agree with all the concepts in the Father Heart movement, the one big thing I came away from that week with is the Very Real, internalised belief that I am LOVED. No matter what I do, no matter how big I am, or how small I am, I AM LOVED by God/Love/The Universe.  That I do not have to do anything to earn it, it is mine, and it will always be mine, just the way I am.

A few weeks later I came to the "realisation" that I was never going to be able to change my weight and that I was just going to live as healthily as I could at that weight, soooooo I actually went through my wardrobe and GAVE AWAY all those "skinny clothes" that I had been keeping and saving. Yeah, knowing where I am at now, this seems almost laughable, right? All those clothes would have come in so useful over the last 18 months or so, but I actually think this clear out was an important part of the spiritual journey that is this weight loss.  You see, by throwing out all those clothes from previous failed attempts to lose this weight, I somehow broke the guilt or connection with those attempts being FAILED ones.  They weren't sitting in my wardrobe taunting me anymore.

Back to June 2017 and the sleep apnoea clinic appointment.  I knew my weight was more or less exactly the same  as it had been at the previous one, and I also remembered very well the deal I had been offered, so I went expecting a very difficult appointment.  I still wasn't willing to take on weight loss surgery so I was expecting an intense disagreement.

I went in to that appointment and the issue of the weight loss surgery was not mentioned even once.  In fact it was not even hinted at.  I came out of the hospital and sat down on a bench asking myself  "What on earth just happened?"  I realised that I had been given a second chance to do this on my terms.  I came home and joined weight watchers online that evening.

In looking back over all my previous attempts I also came to a big decision. I am going to have to track what I eat for the rest of my life. Whether that be through weight watchers or some other system, I am never going to not need to track and I made the decision to be OK with that. Some people can manage to maintain a healthy weight without tracking and that is great, but I am OK with knowing this is going to be my life.

I took up walking, started adding gym visits to my swimming sessions, and as the weight began to drop I also took up hiking and eventually on New Years Day 2019 I started ParkRun. I continued as an online only WW member until January 2019 by which time I realised I needed some extra help and so I joined my local WW studio. I've been to 2 workshops now and I love it.  I know this is going to get me the rest of the way to goal.
Will I get to hand the cpap machine back at the end of all this? Maybe, maybe not. I know of people who have lost weight and done so, but I also know of people who are not that overweight at all and have been told they will always need their machine.

So to summarise why I consider this a spiritual journey.
1. I knew that I was loved by God.  That He/She/They would always love me, no matter what my size is.
2. I broke the guilt connection with previous failed attempts.
3. I got given a second chance.
4. I accepted I will always have to track in some way even after I reach goal and I am truly OK with that.

Please, if you have any questions, ask in a comment.

50 b4 50 - Update Feb 2019

A further update on my list of 50 Things to do Before I Turn 50.

DONE (or about to be done)
1. Lose 10 lbs
No explanation needed, except to say that since the start of the summer I have already lost 4 st 8 lbs, which is 64 lbs or 29kg.  This is for extra weight lost from that point.

2. Lose 20 lbs

3. Lose 30 lbs 

4. Lose 40 lbs
I hit this before Christmas, then went backwards and finally got back to it the day before writing this post.

12. Visit Amsterdam (THIS entry has been changed due to the current protests happening in Paris, which is what it originally said).
We will be visiting Amsterdam for our 25th wedding anniversary.

18. Visit a waterfall
We did this.  Made the mistake of going on the first hot bank holiday (public holiday) of the year, so it was packed.  If you don't know the area there is a 4 mile road up to the falls which is single track with the occasional passing bay, most of the way.  It felt like everyone and their brother had decided to visit by the time we left and were heading back down the road the other way.  Scary.

BUT I absolutely loved the falls, and will definitely go again.
Pistyll Rhaeadr Falls - The tallest waterfall in Wales

19. Eat fish and Chips on the sea front and don’t worry about the weight watchers points

25. Plan and enact 25th Wedding anniversary celebration (it falls within the 3 years)
See point 12 above, this is happening in the next month and I am so excited.  Yes it will be cold, but I am Soooooo looking forward to it. Don't know how my weight will be by the end of that week, but we shall see and I'm willing to take whatever hit I end up with.

27. Go Horse Riding   
I've been and done this once and would love to do more, but the cost involved is so high I'm not sure how to make it work regularly.  My instructor on the day I went said she could not believe I have not ridden since I was 11 or 12.

28. Walk/Run a 5k  
I started park run on New Years Day and have done 2 more since.  I had to miss the last few weeks but I'm hoping the weather will be dry enough at least one of the weeks between now and our trip to Amsterdam so I can fit another one in before we go.

38. Eat something you think you won’t like   
I don't remember where we were but hubby had piccalilli on his plate when we were out for lunch one day.  I said "Eugh, I don't like that.  Well, actually I don't know that I have ever tried it, or if I just convinced myself I wouldn't like it." and well once that was out of my mouth, I had to, and guess what . . . . . IT WAS OK and now we have a jar of it in the fridge.

41. Wild Swim? My friend, Sue Austin met me at a local lake that allows swimming last summer. I had the absolutely best time.  Sue had to keep reminding me to breathe while we were swimming.  There's loads of pond weed in the lake and the weirdest part was that feeling on my legs.  It felt like it should be the start of a Dr Who episode.  THANK YOU Sue.

43. Walk a Labyrinth 
We walked the huge labyrinth in Milton Keynes when we were there for our anniversary earlier this year.  We hadn't expected it to take so long when we started, but that thing is AROUND 1km!  That's one huge labyrinth.

45. Watch a sunrise from the top of a hill.  
Changing this to add - OR A SUNSET
Which means it actually now fits in the done list as we climbed the Wrekin the day after midsummer to watch the sunset.

SUMMARY - I've knocked 14 off the list, with 36 left to go and that means I am well behind timewise, as I now have less than 2 years left!

5. Lose 50 lbs

6. Reach Goal Weight (which is another few lbs beyond the 50lb mark)
My eventual goal weight is to reach the top of a healthy weight range or my height, by all the usual charts. That means losing another 4 st 2 lbs, or 58l bs, 26.3kg. I might decide to stop before I get there, but we'll see.

7. Discover how to move through the world as a woman of healthy weight.  Seriously, I’ve never done that as an adult.

8. Hand back CPAP machine because I don’t need it anymore. (I can dream can’t I?)
I have Sleep Apnoea, (sleep apnea for Americans) and use a CPAP machine at night in order to function as a human being during the day. 
Every CPAP clinic appointment until now has come with a request for me to lose weight and the questions about what I am doing towards that goal. To be able to hand that machine back would be an incredible achievement, which may never happen, even if I lose all the weight, but like I said, I can dream, can't I?

9. Have a professional photo session with hair and makeover
If I reach goal weight, I will have lost over 8 1/2 stone, which is 119 lbs or 54kg, I think that will deserve a full on makeover and photo shoot.

10. Move eldest son into a permanent home of his own
He's currently working as a kind of intern with a Christian performing arts ministry and still has a room here at home.  It would be a big deal for him to move on from there and into a home of his own.

11. Visit Keil Hill in Scotland

Family will understand why.

13. See Dana again (either me there, or her here)
Dana is the friend I stayed with when I travelled to America some years ago.

14. See the Northern Lights (or should this be a bucket list item?)
At certain times of the year and in the right weather conditions it is possible to see the Northern Lights from Scotland or even Northern England, so it doesn't necessarily have to be a bucket list item.

15. Watch a Meteor shower

16. Complete a 25km hike in one day
Easily combined with one of the other items on this list, probably a National Parks visit.  We already did over 18km on one day when we walked the full circuit at Lake Vrynwy, so I know it's do-able.

17. Stay in a really unusual hotel or other holiday accommodation
There are all sorts of incredible places to stay, even in the UK.  Check out a few of these:

20. Climb Cader Idris   adding or Snowdon

21. Walk the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge

22. Visit all 15 UK National Parks
So far we have only done Snowdonia and the Peak District, so we need to work on knocking some more of these off.

23. Attend a grown up music festival
Unless I do manage to hand back my CPAP machine camping is currently out of the question so it will be a day visit rather than a stay, and I'm thinking about something like Bearded Theory, or Moseley Jazz.

24. Learn some basic BSL – at least enough to be able to say something like “I only understand a little, but can I help?”

I am signed up to an online course but haven't actually done any work towards it, oooops.

26. Get a small tattoo   
I'm thinking about getting some custom temporary tattoos in slightly different sizes of the design I'm thinking of to try it out and figure out what size works.

29. Walk/Run a 10k
I'll be honest that while the 5k seems do-able to me the 10k seems much more difficult.

30. Move House   

31. Get a Dog (rescue)We always had dogs growing up and since I left home I've not had one, it's something we definitely want to get back into.  

32. Complete every lesson in a year long online art class. (By “complete” I mean at least engage with the lesson in some way and make an attempt to do something with it)
I signed up for Lifebook in 2018.  I'm did OK, until about September and then I got off track but the classes are all still there and I will be going back and working on them at some point.

33. Sell a piece of art work   
Anyone want to buy anything you have seen me share on Instagram or Facebook?

34. Create and Maintain a weekly letter writing practise
I'm thinking about treating myself to The Letter Writers Complete Resource from The Postman's Knock to get myself started.
ooooooooops, yeah, this one isn't going so well . . . . . .

35. Read 50 books (see separate list eventually
Books I have read so far
Books I am hoping to read

36. Take an IRL cooking class   
To do this close to home would mean doing the classes that Mukasse Afro Caribbean foods sometimes put on or going to one of the classes at Brompton cookery school.  Although my dream would be to do one of the bread courses at River Cottage.

37. Bake a rainbow unicorn cake   

39. Celebrate one of my birthdays with a day of RAK events (Random Acts of Kindness)   

40. Spend a whole weekend technology free – (still need to remain contactable in emergencies, BUT, no phone, no computer, no internet, no TV, etc)   

42. Picnic under the stars

44. Learn to identify some of the trees we see on our walks, other than the very basics that most people know.
We picked up a book and just have to remember to take  it with us on our walks.

46. Join (or start up) a Stitch and Bitch or a Knit and Natter group.

47. Make more crafty gifts. 
A conversation from last year and something that happened this week made me realise that you never know the impact those gits have, especially when they are made and chosen with care and intention.

48. Go whale/dolphin watching (preferably off the coast of Wales).

49. Attend a live sporting event.

50. Attend a ball or other formal event in a kick ass gown even if I have to sew it myself.  

Although there is no way my sewing skills are up to a dress like that!

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You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Friday, January 04, 2019


Word of the Year 2019
Do you ever get asked that question, about whether you have sorted out your word for the year yet and want to answer with a relationship status?  Yeah, "It's COMPLICATED!"
Not that the word is actually "complicated" but the whole process this year is complicated.  

I had one word that came out of nowhere a few weeks before Christmas and got scribbled down in my journal as a possibility, but when I sat down to dig into some further journaling to figure it out for sure, I came up with a whole list of other words or phrases.  

BUT I figured out that, with the way I am looking at those words and phrases, they all fit within the original word from before Christmas.  So what is it?  

Take time to hear & understand.  Don't listen in order to formulate a response, listen in order to show respect for the thing being communicated.

Did you know that according to traditional church culture, advent is not a part of Christmas, it is not a part of the feasting period, it is, in fact a period of preparation and fasting.  

I was thinking about that and I realised that constant background noise is something I have become used to and could do with a break from.  Whenever I am the computer (which is most of my day), there is a youtube video or art class lesson playing in a corner of the screen, and even when I am away from physical sounds there is an almost constant soundtrack in my head of "what if's".  I never stop to just LISTEN to the spirit around me.  Think about how we use our mobile phones, the constant notifications, the constant checking to see who has commented what on our social media posts and so on, it's all part of that noise that invades our life.

I didn't manage to fast from that physical background noise for more than a couple of days, but I did have that word, burrowing around in my thought processes from then on.  "Listen.  Listen!  ZoĆ«, Listen!"

I knew it was going to involve listening for all sorts of things, what I need to say, what others are saying, accepting their telling of their experience, listening for what God is speaking from Her heart to mine, what my body and soul are saying, and so on.

So, the core word is LISTEN, but then there are 4 supporting words/phrases.

To travel, to journey, physically and spiritually, showing a sense of awe to the experiences and discoveries of that journey. Asking questions, being open to unexpected answers. 

Understand that your body, soul and in fact, your whole self, does, at some level, know what is needed, even if you have got so out of the habit of listening to it that you can no longer discern it's voice.

Listening to what is needed and providing it. Nurturing skills and talents within oneself and others. Nurturing of plants, animals, etc.
Nature is everything OUT THERE, plants, trees, animals, birds, fields, paths, rivers, valleys, hills, mountains, oceans, etc

This was my word for last year and I knew that at some level it needed to continue into this year.  There are so many aspects to this, physical health, mental health, emotional health, relational health, spiritual health etc.  It's about all the parts of the whole working in harmony as was always intended and continuing to make right decisions for your health (whichever aspect), even if the results that you were hoping for are not apparent.

I have no plans at the moment for how this is going to work out.  One thing I do know is that it does NOT mean I have to listen to everything and everyone, because part of this is learning who and what to listen to. 

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Monday, October 22, 2018

50 Books Before 50 - Part 2 - Books I Want to Read

Continuing on from the post in which I shared the books I have read since the beginning of this year and the ones I have recently started. On to the rest of my "50 Books Before 50" list.

20. The Wisdom of the Body: A Contemplative Journey to Wholeness for Women
In The Wisdom of the Body, Christine Valters Paintner focuses on the true meaning of the Incarnation—God became flesh—and points to the spiritual importance of appreciating the bodies God gave us.
Each of the book’s ten chapters is a mini-workshop designed to lead us to new ways of being in relationship with our bodies. Starting with the senses and shifting toward emotions and desires, Paintner explores their role as thresholds to discovering the body’s wisdom. She draws from Christian tradition to offer principles and practices such as stability, hospitality, and gratitude to lead us on a journey that ends with a sense of deep peace and self-acceptance.

21. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
I have read this book before, when I was at my friend Dana's house in America some years ago and I LOVED IT. I still haven't watched the movie, and I want to re read the book before I pick up the dvd.

22. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine
From a jarring encounter with sexism in a suburban drugstore, to monastery retreats and to rituals in the caves of Crete, Sue Monk Kidd reveals a new level of feminine spiritual consciousness for all women—one that retains a meaningful connection with the "deep song of Christianity," embraces the sacredness of ordinary women’s experience, and has the power to transform in the most positive ways every fundamental relationship in a woman's life—her marriage, her career, and her religion.

23. A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace
When did we accept vengeance as an acceptable part of the Christian life? How did violence and power seep into our understanding of faith and grace? For those troubled by this trend toward the sword, perhaps there is a better way.
What if the message of Jesus differs radically from the drumbeats of war we hear all around us?
Using his own journey from war crier to peacemaker and his in-depth study of peace in the scriptures, author and pastor Brian Zahnd reintroduces us to the gospel of Peace.

24. Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart
What happens when you fully commit yourself to love? Endless good, insists Scott Stabile, who found that out by overcoming plenty of bad. His parents were murdered when he was fourteen. Nine years later, his brother died of a heroin overdose. Soon after that, Scott joined a cult that dominated his life for thirteen years before he summoned the courage to walk away. In Big Love, his insightful and refreshingly honest collection of personal essays, Scott relates these profound experiences as well as everyday struggles and triumphs in ways that are universally applicable, uplifting, and laugh-out-loud funny. Whether silencing shame, rebounding after failure, or moving forward despite fears, Scott shares hard-won insights that consistently return readers to love, both of themselves and others.

25. The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth

26. An Altar in the World: Finding the Sacred Beneath Our Feet
We discover that no physical act is too earthbound or too humble to become a path to the divine.

27. Embodied Prayer: Towards a Wholeness of Body, Mind and Soul
Our bodies have too long been in exile. We listen or pray with our hearts and minds but ignore much of our bodies; we become "disembodied." This illuminating book is about honoring what our bodies have to teach us. Brimming with words of wisdom that will allow you to discover what a gift your body is, Embodied Prayer invites you towards wholeness of body, mind, and soul.

28. Life Disrupted: Getting Real about Chronic Illness in Your Twenties and Thirties
Life Disrupted is a personal and unflinching guide to living well with a chronic illness: managing your own health care without letting it take over your life, dealing with difficult doctors and frequent hospitalizations, having a productive and satisfying career that accommodates your health needs, and nurturing friendships and a loving, committed relationship regardless of recurring health problems. Laurie Edwards also addresses the particular needs of people who have more than one chronic illness or who are among the twenty-five million Americans with a rare disorder. She shares her own story and the experiences of others with chronic illness, as well as advice from life coaches, employment specialists, and health professionals.
Reading Life Disrupted is like having a best friend and mentor who truly does know what you're going through.

29. The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health
We have all experienced the connection between our mind and our gut—the decision we made because it “felt right”; the butterflies in our stomach before a big meeting; the anxious stomach rumbling we get when we’re stressed out. While the dialogue between the gut and the brain has been recognized by ancient healing traditions, including Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, Western medicine has by and large failed to appreciate the complexity of how the brain, gut, and more recently, the gut microbiota—the microorganisms that live inside our digestive tract—communicate with one another. In The Mind-Gut Connection, Dr. Emeran Mayer, professor of medicine and executive director of the UCLA Center for Neurobiology of Stress, offers a revolutionary and provocative look at this developing science, teaching us how to harness the power of the mind-gut connection to take charge of our health and listen to the innate wisdom of our bodies.

30. The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma
The effects of trauma can be devastating for sufferers, their families and future generations. Here one of the world's experts on traumatic stress offers a bold new paradigm for treatment, moving away from standard talking and drug therapies and towards an alternative approach that heals mind, brain and body.

31. Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith
Benjamin L. Corey thought he was suffering a crisis of faith, but it turned out to be a spiritual awakening.
Corey became aware that the constant fear of hell and judgment that defined his Christian faith was out of sync with the idea that God acts from love, and promises to deliver us from fear. In the wake of this realization came newfound insights--from reading the Bible to re-examining American life and the church's role in the wider world. Corey learned that what he had been taught was a distorted version of Christianity that was not only untrue but caused real spiritual harm.

32. Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible
Gain a greater understanding of gender in the Bible through the eyes of a diverse group of evangelical scholars who assert that Christians have missed the point of some scriptural stories by assuming the women in them were “bad girls.”
Did the Samaritan woman really divorce five husbands in a world where women rarely divorced even one? Did Bathsheba seduce King David by bathing in the nude? Was Mary Magdalene really a reformed prostitute?
While many have written studies of the women in the Bible, this is a new kind of book―one in which an international team of male and female scholars look afresh at vilified and neglected women in the Bible. The result is a new glimpse into God’s heart for anyone, male or female, who has limited social power.

33. Undivided: Coming Out, Becoming Whole, and Living Free From Shame
Vicky Beeching knew if she ever spoke up about her identity it would cost her everything.
Faced with a major health crisis, at the age of thirty-five she decided to tell the world that she was gay. As a result, all hell broke loose. She lost her music career and livelihood, faced threats and vitriol from traditionalists, developed further health issues from the immense stress, and had to rebuild her life almost from scratch.
But despite losing so much she gained far more: she was finally able to live from a place of wholeness, vulnerability, and authenticity. She finally found peace.

34. Shameless: A Sexual Reformation
Nothing gives church folk anxiety quite like the subject of sex. And that's why in Shameless, Pastor Nadia sets out to reclaim the conversation for a new generation. In the spirit of Martin Luther, Bolz-Weber calls for a reformation of the way believers understand and express their sexuality. To make her case, Bolz-Weber draws on experiences from her own life as well as her parishoners', then puts them side by side with biblical narrative and theology to explore what the church has taught and about sex, and the harm that has often come as a result. Along the way, Bolz-Weber reexamines patriarchy, gender, and sexual orientation with candor but also with hope--because, as she writes, "I believe that the Gospel can heal the pain that even the church has caused."

35. The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen: Opening Your Eyes to Wonder
She never expected the questions to lead as far as they did when her husband told her he no longer believed in God. The death of a friend, the unraveling of relationships and career, the loss of a worldview, and the birth of a baby girl with two heart defects all led Lisa to a tumultuous place; one of depression and despair. And it was there that her perspective on everything changed. The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen tells the story of what can happen when you dare to let go of what you think to be true; to shift the kaleidoscope and see new colors and dimension by way of broken pieces.
Lisa’s eloquent, soul-stirring memoir brings you to a music stage before thousands of fans and a front porch where two people whisper words that scare them to the core. It is the story of how doubt can spark the beginning of deeper faith; how a baby born with a broken heart can bring love and healing to the hearts of many, and ultimately, how the hardest experience in life often ends up saving us.

36. Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image: Learning to Love Ourselves as We Are
When women are told that what is important about us is how we look, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to feel comfortable with our appearance and how we feel about our bodies. We are told, over and over--if we just lost weight, fit into those old jeans, or into a new smaller pair--we will be happier and feel better about ourselves. The truth is, so many women despise their appearance, weight, and shape, that experts who study women's body image now consider this feeling to be normal.
But it does not have to be that way. It is possible for us as women to love ourselves, our bodies, as we are. We need a new story about what it means to be a woman in this world. Based on her original research, Hillary L McBride shares the true stories of young women, and their mothers, and provides unique insights into how our relationships with our bodies are shaped by what we see around us and the specific things we can do to have healthier relationships with our appearance, and all the other parts of ourselves that make us women.

37. transforming
Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians provides access into an underrepresented and misunderstood community and will change the way readers think about transgender people, faith, and the future of Christianity. By introducing transgender issues and language and providing stories of both biblical characters and real-life narratives from transgender Christians living today, Hartke helps readers visualize a more inclusive Christianity, equipping them with the confidence and tools to change both the church and the world.

38. Falling Upward: A Spirituality For The Two Halves Of Life
In Falling Upward, Fr Richard Rohr offers a new understanding of one of life’s most profound mysteries: how our failing can be the foundation for our ongoing spiritual growth. Drawing on the wisdom from time-honoured myths, heroic poems, great thinkers and scared religious texts, the author explores the two halves of life to show that those who have fallen, failed, or ‘gone down’ are the only ones who understand ‘up’. The heartbreaks, disappointments and first loves of life are actually stepping stones to the spiritual joys that the second half has in store for us.

39. The Giver
The novel follows a 12-year-old boy named Jonas. The society has taken away pain and strife by converting to "Sameness", a plan that has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of Receiver of Memory, the person who stores all the past memories of the time before Sameness, as there may be times where one must draw upon the wisdom gained from history to aid the community's decision making. Jonas struggles with concepts of all the new emotions and things introduced to him: whether they are inherently good, evil, or in between, and whether it is even possible to have one without the other. The Community lacks any color, memory, climate, or terrain, all in an effort to preserve structure, order, and a true sense of equality beyond personal individuality.

40. Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons
"Within the struggle, joy, pain, and delight that attend our life, there is an invisible circle of grace that enfolds and encompasses us in every moment. Blessings help us to perceive this circle of grace, to find our place of belonging within it, and to receive the strength the circle holds for us."
Beginning in Advent and moving through the sacred seasons of the Christian year, Circle of Grace offers Jan's distinctive and poetic blessings that illuminate the treasures each season offers to us.

41. Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children Boxed Set (as in, I would count the whole set as 1 book for the sake of this challenge)
Because they are awesome. So awesome that I am going to a "meet the author" event next month and I am travelling over 2 hours each way to get there.

42. How to be a Bad Christian: ... And a better human being
In this handbook to Christianity for people who describe themselves as spiritual but not necessarily religious, Dave sketches out some key practices for how to be a 'bad' Christian, including how to talk to God without worrying about prayer, how to read the Bible without turning off your brain, and how to think with your soul rather than trying to follow rules.

43. Harry Potter Complete Collection
And yes I'm counting them all as 1 item.

44. Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen
In this compelling memoir Stephen Hawking's first wife, Jane Hawking, relates the inside story of their extraordinary marriage. As Stephen's academic renown soared, his body was collapsing under the assaults of motor neurone disease, and Jane's candid account of trying to balance his 24-hour care with the needs of their growing family will be inspirational to anyone dealing with family illness.

45. Mend the Living
In the depths of a winter's night, the heart of Simon Limbeau is resting, readying itself for the day to come. In a few hours' time, just before six, his alarm will go off and he will venture into the freezing dawn, drive down to the beach, and go surfing with his friends. A trip he has made a hundred times and yet, today, the heart of Simon Limbeau will encounter a very different course.
But for now, the black-box of his body is free to leap, swell, melt and sink, just as it has throughout the years of Simon's young life.
5.50 a.m.
This is his heart.
And here is its story.

46. With the End in Mind: Dying, Death and Wisdom in an Age of Denial
Told through a series of beautifully crafted stories taken from nearly four decades of clinical practice, her book answers the most intimate questions about the process of dying with touching honesty and humanity. She makes a compelling case for the therapeutic power of approaching death not with trepidation but with openness, clarity and understanding.
With the End in Mind is a book for us all: the grieving and bereaved, ill and healthy. Open these pages and you will find stories about people who are like you, and like people you know and love. You will meet Holly, who danced her last day away; Eric, the retired head teacher who, even with Motor Neurone Disease, gets things done; loving, tender-hearted Nelly and Joe, each living a lonely lie to save their beloved from distress; and Sylvie, 19, dying of leukaemia, sewing a cushion for her mum to hug by the fire after she has died.

47. Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
I haven't watched the movie, but I really want to read the book first.

48. Embracing the Body: Finding God in Our Flesh and Bone
I won a copy of this book a few years ago and didn't finish reading it at the time. I want to go back and finish it.
Our bodies are more good than we can possibly imagine them to be. And yet at times we may struggle with feelings of shame and guilt or even pride in regard to our bodies. What is God trying to do through our skin and bones?
In Embracing the Body spiritual director Tara Owens invites you to listen to your thoughts about your body in a way that draws you closer to God, calling you to explore how your spirituality is intimately tied to your physicality. Using exercises for reflection at the end of each chapter, she guides you to see your body not as an inconvenience but as a place where you can meet the Holy in a new way―a place to embrace God's glorious intention.

49. There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love
Written in a how-to, relatable, we’ve-all-been-that-deer-in-the-headlights kind of way, There Is No Good Card for This isn’t a spiritual treatise on how to make you a better person or a scientific argument about why compassion matters. It is a helpful illustrated guide to effective compassion that takes you, step by step by step, past the paralysis of thinking about someone in a difficult time to actually doing something (or nothing) with good judgment instead of fear.
There Is No Good Card for This features workbook exercises, sample dialogs, and real-life examples from Dr. Crowe’s research, including her popular "Empathy Bootcamps" that give people tools for building relationships when it really counts. Whether it’s a coworker whose mother has died, a neighbor whose husband has been in a car accident, or a friend who is seriously ill, There Is No Good Card for This teaches you how to be the best friend you can be to someone in need.

50. many many many more books are actually on this list, but I know that over the course of the next 2 years I will certainly add more books to this list and remove some from it. So I'm leaving it here for now.

If you have read the last post AND this one I am fairly sure you will have spotted some themes amongst this list.  I can see at least 3 clear themes straight away but I am sure there are others.

What themes do you see?

BTW, if either of these lists has you concerned about my relationship with God, please don't worry, I'm sure She doesn't.

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