15 Aims for 2015

Annual Failure Report

I’ve decided to name these yearly reviews my Annual Failure Report, and there are no prizes for guessing why. I am not a naturally ambitious person and so these yearly aims and reviews force me to face up to my fears of mediocrity and failure. (If you haven’t done something like this yet, don’t. It’s a terrible idea. Unless you’re bored or something and want to explore the deepest, darkest depths of your soul…even then still don’t do it. But if you insist I would love to read them.)

And so, without further waffle…

1. Learn to love pop culture

This was harder than I imagined. One challenge I set myself was to look at magazine racks — with all their body-shaming, sexism, celebrity worship and lusty consumerism — and learn to simply look, rather than label.

It wasn’t all bad. In a hospital waiting room I discovered an issue of Good Housekeeping that was genuinely profound and uplifting, and this aim has emboldened my LOVE of cheesy Christian worship music.

I have heard a lot of profound, life-giving teaching this year and, unfortunately I only discovered that I don’t really know it for myself while in the process of sharing it with others. Sorry about that.

It seems there are many intellectual people in the world, but great wisdom makes truth available to all.

Failure: I still pretty much only read the Guardian.
Thank you: to Brendan Hill for taking an interest and being fun

2. Learn to enjoy work without music

My colleagues would laugh at me for saying this, but I think this has gotten better. Although I still love to have headphones on for a healthy portion of the day, I enjoy times of silence when the radio is off and have been actually talking to other humans. I do feel ‘lighter on my feet’.
Thank you: to the Fiasco crew for having the radio off

3. Get stronger and healthier

I cheated because I can carry Hannah already, but this was such a failure. The exercise I was enjoying last year got replaced by much more boring things. Multiple punctures got me out of the cycling routine.
Thank you: to Hannah for not mentioning it

4. Order finances

M’lady sorted me out. An unholy amount of money sitting around in a current account, is now in an ISA. Yep, all the boring, sensible stuff done. Everything is now online, decluttered and self-sorting.
Thank you: to Hannah for dealing so efficiently with an econophobe.

5. Throw a remarkable party

Nope. Not quite. I think the pope beat me to it. It’s funny, in a year where this was my aim, I was the one who had the best party thrown for him: a football and bacon night followed by a surprise me-themed poetry party with wildly spiced korma, and wildly spiced friendship.
Thank you: to Tom Bond for showing interest and being so cool although I was too late. And for everyone who wrote down their love for me and showed up (despite new-born babies).

6. Write something radical

I’ve started a publication of short sermons called Salt, and my first piece is about faith. I’m still working out the best way to write about lust in order to be honest and helpful for people at any stage of their journey.
I wrote several blessings for friends across the year at birthdays and weddings and house moves, but I have not been writing any poetry myself.
Thank you: to Kara Anne-Marie Smith for inspiring me to start Salt

7. Find a mentor

If they can find time for us and it’s right, then we have some legends lined up.
Thank you: the mystery couple

8. Be available for friendship and discipleship

I helped run the kids club Christmas activity day at Waterbrook, enjoyed babysitting, and met lots of students to invite to Waterbrook. But despite small things this year I ended up spending less time with friends as I was maybe a bit productivity focused and was fighting a tide of busyness. I’d like next year’s aims to be more relationship-based to balance it out, because that’s the stuff that makes your soul sing.
Thank you: to me for being a good friend

9. Adventure together

Canoeing in Cornwall. Not-sleeping under the pouring rain. Archery and fun at Centre Parcs. Mudfights. Cycling to stag fights. Hammocking and meeting Park Rangers for fireside fish. I found out what it feels like to put a limpet on your nipple. I dropped my iPhone in a lake, played with those giant zorb balls and discovered mini-golf on the roof of a manor house through a sliding panel door. Does that count?
Thank you: to Stef for staying wild, to Dan for getting married, to the Caulfields for being child-like, to Hannah for being cliche with me and to the groundskeeper of the manor house who showed us the roof.

10. Take communion/worship regularly

After a weak start, the end of the year has left me missing out. I’m hungry again to worship God — to do everything with an awareness of God, to pray through the ordinary, to join with others and learn from their journey, in singing and dancing, to meditate on His ways and receive that radical okayness that flows from no other source. Sometimes I find that I enjoy being right more than I enjoy the truth and knowing God.
These are things that never get finished, but this year I failed to even get started compared to last year.
Thank you: to those who encourage me to stay close to God and all at Waterbrook for communion-ing (communing/dining/unionizing) with me.

11. Enjoy silence

I’ve spent most of this year saying “no” to requests in order to establish what my essentials are and reject busyness. I’m pleased to say that I am a busy person no more, but have failed to really get rooted in disciplines that create a calm person. The odd successes, but no routines of silence yet.
Saying that, many of you have been really supportive of me and there have been times of great clarity and perspective and healing just from braving a short amount of silence, leveling with myself and praying. Also, my car has become something of a temple now, even though from the outside it is very much treasure in a jar of clay.
I should look into more biblical routines of rest: Sabbath, feasts and jubilees. Those Israelites knew how to party!
Thank you: to Freya for the mindfulness book and productivity tips

12. Express thankfulness and honour creatively

At Dan Caulfield’s birthday we had a 28 party popper compliment salute punctuated with praises like: “his beard is so good it raises money for cancer”. And then at Dan Nichol’s stag do, we threw bangers into the fire after each proclamation of the counter-cultural ways he was a true man to his wife-to-be Becky. I wrote a poem for my nan with the line “you’re the hedgehog’s huff and the cat’s miaow” and read it aloud in Pizza Express.
It’s been great. I can’t wait to get better. Scientists say that it’s the act of actually expressing thankfulness that makes us feel good.
Thank you: duh.

13. Waste less time on the haters

Nailed it.
Thank you: to friends like Dan Staley who show how to disagree with me so gracefully

14. Find ways to pro-testify

I went to several spoken word events, which stiiiirrrrred my soul. If you’ve never been to one, you definitely should. We can go together. But I definitely overshot with this aim: becoming the kind of person who speaks up for the voiceless and disturbs those who are comfortable is a whole lifestyle kind of thing that will carry on for many years.

Some wise strangers prayed for me at David’s Tent and gave me confidence that I am being led into this place in future. Both scary and cool. Roar. Those of you who know me can ask for more detail about this.
Thank you: to Him who knows me and directs me in all things

15. Help tell the stories of Waterbrook Church

I have been collecting Polaroids of all the gems in our community at Waterbrook, young and old, for a Facebook Family Album; and I’ve made a large poster declaring our family values about having a spirit of unity, valuing people as uniquely made, and focusing on who Jesus is.
Next stop, making books and interviews.
Thank you: to Jon Drew for inspiring me with his holiday club videos

And thank you, for growing with me, encouraging me and reading with me. Next year’s aims will be here soon.

The reason why I share all this with you is because I really would love to hear your thoughts, feelings and creative criticism about any of this. Have you been going through similar things? Any ideas for next year’s aims? Discuss…

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