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right now – March

March 27, 2013

FebBlog

March. You’ve been a mix of the good and the meh. It’s been the month of low motivation and believing with each fresh snowfall that this must be the last snow of the season, only to be proven wrong a few days later. But it’s also been a month of baby showers and parties and drinks at the Mudam and meals with good friends. It’s been a month of planning and budgeting for some exciting future trips.

And I get to end the month with my parents, my little sister, my Grandpa and a whole bunch of aunts, uncles and cousins as we celebrate the Easter weekend together. There’s not a lot better than that. So here’s to an April full of inspiration and self-discipline. And many more wonderful memories with friends and family.

This month I’ve been…

reading.

I started Holy Week with Nick Page’s fantastic book The Longest Week. I read his The Wrong Messiah last year and it had a big impact on me. By the end of that book I felt like I was one of the disciples walking towards Jerusalem with Jesus, so in love, so inspired, but so entirely bewildered by why he was not conforming to my expectations.

The Longest Week is the follow up book, and looks entirely at Holy Week, so it seemed fitting to finally pick it off the bookshelf now. I planned to spend the week reading it, but then got 3/4 of the way through all on Sunday because I couldn’t put it down. It’s packed full of facts and knowledge of first century Jerusalem and opens up the intrigue, the political workings, the religious drama that was all swirling that pivotal week. It tells a familiar-to-me story in a way that is fresh and exciting and tense (even though I know how it ends). Now I’m hoping this weekend I can steal borrow from my dad the third book in the series, Kingdom of Fools, on the unlikely rise of the early church.

I’m also still working my way slowly through Madeleine L’Engel’s beautiful and thought-provoking Walking on Water, about art and creativity from a spiritual perspective. I have a week of holiday in the UK coming up with lots of train and air travel, so I have a few books hoping to be picked for the journeys…

listening.

No new favourites this month. All Sons and Daughters is a strong favourite, as is Of Monsters and Men. And in anticipation of the Mumford and Sons concert in Luxembourg TONIGHT (!!!), Babel has been accompanying me through my days.

Through a twitter chat with Alece Ronzino and my cousin Helen, I discovered Coffitivity – a website that plays the ambient background noise of a cafe. As someone who hates to work in silence and dislikes being on her own all day, this is just perfect for those days I need to pretend I’m surrounded by happy, caffeine-fuelled people.

watching.

I went to see Silver Linings Playbook with some girlfriends in the middle of the month. It was one I’d not heard of before Jennifer Lawrence won the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in it. But it was also one of the few Oscar-nominations still playing so we picked it to see.

I really liked it and was still pondering it days later. The general story follows two characters who struggle with mental illness. He has just been released from an institute following his attack on his wife’s lover. She was fired after sleeping with everyone in the office as a not-so-good reaction to the tragic death of her husband. It doesn’t sound like the makings of a happy-ending film and yet it was.

The biggest realisation for me (and maybe this was hugely obvious to everyone else but it was an aha moment for me) was that the two main characters are the ones with the “mentally ill” label, the ones that everyone whispers are “crazy”. And yet nobody else in the film is mentally healthy. No one. It startled me to consider how we label people in this way, how we stigmatise and misunderstand mental illness. As Jennifer Lawrence said in her fantastic press conference, “If you have asthma you take asthma medicine, if you have diabetes you take diabetes medicine, but as soon as you have to take medication for your mind, there’s such a stigma behind it.”

Full disclosure: I may be a little in love with Jennifer Lawrence.

At home, Rasmus and I have also started watching Sherlock from the BBC. Living abroad means we’re always hopelessly behind following the series that come out back home (in the UK or in DK) but we’ve been loving this one. Each episode is 90 minutes long and each season is just three episodes but that didn’t stop us getting through the whole first season on one blissfully lazy Sunday afternoon…

I also watched this thought-provoking Ted talk by Dan Pallotta, challenging our assumptions about the way Charities should work. This makes me wish I was still in my Brussels job, so I could call together my much-more-intelligent colleagues and get their opinion. This video is worth 20 minutes of your day.

eating.

It’s been a month of fun cooking. I made buttermilk fig scones for one babyshower, mini chocolate meringue pies and petit fours for another. My good friend came over and we made steak and ale pie followed by strawberry white chocolate muffins. There was a delicious loaf of seed-full soda bread last weekend, and what Rasmus declared “the best burger I’ve ever had in my life”. (It was a chicken, blue cheese, and apple burger topped with crispy bacon, chilli sauce, and caramelised onions, in a multigrain bread roll. You can stop drooling now…)

in Luxembourg.

There’s a new coffee shop in town! My friend Melanie introduced me to The Golden Bean last week and I’ve been back a few times already. The decor is a little unimaginative and less comfortable than my still-to-be-beaten-favourite Konrad’s but the coffee is really good and the guys working there are super friendly. Also, they have a loyalty program and I’m never one to turn down the prospect of free coffee…

surfing.

There’s been lots of goodness online this month. Here are the few of the blog posts and articles I bookmarked this month to come back and read again because they were so good…

Six Months Later – a beautiful post about miscarriage by Anna at the Any Other Woman blog (thanks to Amanda for sending this one my way). So much I could relate to here, and I’m just glad when women can talk openly about their lost babies.

God-Shaped Hole, by Addie Zierman – Addie had a miscarriage this month and she writes tenderly and honestly about it: “We are, all of us, punched through with holes, living with a little bit more emptiness every year. And it’s possible to be filled with the Spirit and still feel the void.”

Notes from the Margins: What We Talk About When We Talk About Abuse in the Church, by D.L. Mayfield. It’s a heartbreaking topic and she deals with it with compassion and strength.
“This is happening, all around us. Now is the time to be honest about the potential for abuse, even in our sacred institutions.”

Nora Ephron’s Final Act, by her son Jacob Bernstein for the NY Times. This is the beautifully written story of his mother’s final days before she died and a poignant look at how we face death. Definitely worth reading all seven pages.

For every Francis, a Clare. By Maureen O’Connell, for the Washington Post. This was the month the world got a new Pope and I’ve enjoyed reading about him. I also had a long coffee with a sweet Catholic friend who illuminated so much of her faith to me. I loved this article from Maureen O’Connell, confirming the key role of women in the church.
“Since such partnerships remain a rarity, Francis and Clare might remind the new pope: if you want reform, work with tenacious women.”

So tell me, what did I miss this March? What have you been into?

  • http://becomingpeculiar.com Kathleen | Becoming Peculiar

    Wait. You describe yourself as “someone who hates to work in silence and dislikes being on her own all day” ?? I just cannot relate to this. I find that very interesting for some reason.

    You hadn’t watched Sherlock yet?? Oh. Man. You’re in for a treat. Season 2 blew my mind in so many directions I’m still not over it, four months later.

    Now I REALLY REALLY want to read The Longest Week — it sounds like a perfect Holy Week read. I wonder where I could get my hands on it without necessarily buying it? And I would love to check out that TED talk. Have you read When Helping Hurts? I wonder if there would be quite a bit of overlap? (I just finished it. VERY thought-provoking).

    I love these “What I’m Into” posts. The only trouble is that they make me want to read/watch EVEN MORE stuff.

    • Margaret

      Kathleen: you can get a couple of excerpts from The Longest Week here: http://nickpage.co.uk/books/the-longest-week/

      but personally I agree with Fiona – a book not only worth getting but worth giving to others too.

    • fionalynne

      Ha, yes, I’m discovering that most bloggers seem to describe themselves as introverts, but my energy comes mostly from social contact, not from alone time. I have “big thoughts” about all that which I might write about soon…

      Nick Page is a British writer so I’ve no idea how widely available his books are in the US. Definitely check out the excerpts and then if you’ll have an idea if you’ll like it before investing.

      (And I’m with you on these posts… my “to read/watch/listen to” lists always grow massively!)

  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

    It sounds like your March has been quite full.
    I am glad the article I sent you somehow helped you. Because you linked to it in FB or Twitter I read “God-Shaped hole” and it also struck a cord with me, so thanks for sharing.
    It sounds like your Easter weekend will be lots of fun, enjoy time at home and with your family and friends.
    I am very curious now about Nick Page’s books, specially the 3rd one as the life of early Christians has always fascinated me.
    March here has been quite busy too, it is going fast in any case. I went to my painting class in the UK, I am about to launch the cake painted business, we made some photos for it last week, I am having a job interview next week (those are so scarce!) and we’ve visited friends pretty much every weekend, which is always nice.
    Have a nice Easter. I am preparing to cook a lot this weekend.

    • fionalynne

      Happy Easter, sweet lady! Enjoy your long weekend in the kitchen :)

  • http://my-invincible-spring.blogspot.co.uk/ Sadie

    That Coffitivity site is kind of hilarious. March has been ups and downs here too…Even though I LOVE the snow, I’m ready for it to be spring already! But we managed some lovely travels despite the cold weather, and other little indulgences.

    I’ve been baking a lot, in anticipation of my plans to go gluten free from April onwards…(maybe gorging on wheat beforehand kinda defeats the purpose, but still…).

    I also got a bit engrossed with the show Mr Selfridge, which is totally sudsy, but I love the costumes and the discussions about how modern consumerism came into being are kind of interesting.

    We’ll be decorating a little tree from pussy willows, and colouring easter eggs this weekend (in the hopes that some fertile vibes rub off!). Have a great time with your family!

    • fionalynne

      You’re going gluten-free? I’m considering doing a gluten-detox for a few months from when I get home. Someone told me it could be a factor in my perpetually-bad skin, so I’m willing to give it a try.

      I love pussy willow! Sure your home will look beautiful this week, and definitely sending up a prayer for some good news for you this Spring.

  • http://Www.tallworldafterall.blogspot.com Jessica

    Heehee, thanks for coffitivity site, so fun! If you like voice and accoustic guitar, check out Steve Bell, he’s great! I’m Eastering it up with the inlaws, so lots of new traditions, and I’m reading Nordic crime (camilla lackberg at the mo). Here’s to a bright, un-meh April!

    • fionalynne

      Thanks for the recommendation, will check him out. Yey to new traditions! I hope you had a really wonderful Easter!

  • http://www.leighkramer.com HopefulLeigh

    I haven’t heard of Nick Page before but those books sound fascinating and well worth the read. Hope you had a great time at the Mumford show! I saw them last year and it’s easily in my top 5 concerts. So good. I still need to track Sherlock down- I’ve heard such great things!

    Thanks for linking up with What I’m Into!

    • fionalynne

      Nick Page is a UK writer so I don’t think he’s known at all in the US, but he’s written a lot of books and is a good speaker, a really dry British sense of humour, and a great ability to cut to the c***. ;)

  • http://spaceforme.typepad.com Adele

    You know, I didn’t really like Silver Linings Playbook. Great cast of course but I felt that the portrayal of mental illness was poor and everything tied up too neatly and happily for me. I’m certainly in the minority though! ;)

    • fionalynne

      Adele, that’s so interesting to hear. I’ll be really honest and admit that my understanding of mental illness is really not that good. So I’d love to hear more about what you thought was lacking. Perhaps even if it was poor it can be a good conversation starter, since mental health gets so few positive discussions in the media?

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