May your news be fearmongering news, and good night

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Friday, 29 February 2008

This will probably sound like Australia is some kinda crazy giant country town, a throwback to 50 years ago, to some of you Northern Americans when I tell you what the radio reports as news here. We routinely have reports of people who have been murdered, which probably would strike those of you who live in cities where there are too many murders to mention quite strange. And whenever I hear something like that reported, it doesn't fearmonger me but reminds me of how peaceful and safe this country is (at least, down on the eastern seaboard).

But today's news was bizarre even according to Australian standards. Granted, I was listening to a Geelong radio station. Geelong is the second largest city in Victoria, my state, with around 200,000 living in the urban centre of the city. But still, the fifth or so news story today was a report about a man who injured himself in a work-related injury. It was something as ludicrous as stabbing himself with a nail-gun or something. The end of the story was an admonishment from the talking head from the government department, WorkSafe, that even though the injury was relatively minor, care should be taken because even minor injuries can cause long-term misery. Why is that news? I don't need to be admonished like a child to be careful. I'm tired of being admonished to be careful. We're all so full of care that we're boring ourselves to death.

What constitutes the news? Sheesh, guys, talk about science or something. Or about how relatively peaceful we are that crap like this gets reported. You're a regional area. Tell me how the cows are going. Tell me something to spin me out for the next few minutes. Tell me about what's going on in the Northern Territory, where Aboriginal communities are falling apart and have been for years. But don't tell me about the bloke with the nailgun being a dick. 'Cause that's just not news. That's just stuff.

If you look out to your left ...

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Thursday, 28 February 2008

Last night I get the earlier train, the one where you are stuck with your nose in someone's armpit. As I get on, I notice that towards the middle of the carriage there is some space, and if everyone moved up then I would avoid the slight irritation of the train doors closing and squashing my body in the centre of them. (I wonder if I would pop?)

So I call out before the doors close, "Could you people please move up a bit so we can all fit on?" My inner shy person (yes, she exists) wets her pants and cringes, and says weakly, "It's so hard for me living in your body" before curling up in a self-protective ball. She then spends the next few minutes looking furtively at the other passengers to see if they are staring at me thinking, "What a rude person!" But of course, no one is, because I hadn't, after all, been rude. So there you go, inner shy person, you're a paranoid freak and no wonder I don't want to listen to you.

So anyway, we lurch along. The man standing in front of me is a Connex worker. Gee, they make them wear ugly ties, to work at Connex. (While I'm here, what's the deal? A long strip of fabric pointing to your nether regions. What is that all about? And why does wearing said strip of fabric signify professionalism? Whatever floats your boat, but it don't make much sense to me).

So the train stops then and we sit there for 10 seconds not going anywhere. I'm not all that concerned because 10 seconds isn't going to totally ruin my evening. Anyway, I have my nose stuck in a book so it's inconsequential. But then the train driver comes on over the PA.

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We apologise for the delay, but the problem is that there's a V-Line train to Bendigo up ahead which has broken down. We will have to sit here and wait for 10 seconds or so. I'm sorry about that, but it's peak hour and there's lots of other trains having to make detours as well. So to get you to Footscray Station, I am going to have to detour past South Kensington Station. But I won't be stopping there, we're just gonna continue straight through."

The Connex guy in front of me smiles. I don't know if he knows the train driver or not, but it's nice to have a bit of friendliness pierce the air of a public space.

The train starts moving forward.

"If you look out your window to your left, you'll be able to see the V-Line train," the driver says.

I love train driver who are also tour guides :)
Christine writes today about our shadow sides. When teeing up a date with my new art therapist on the phone the other day, she told me she does lots of dreamwork, using Jungian archetypes, which is what I have been hanging out for. I am delighted to get to follow this path.

Christine featured this quote by Jung:

The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves.


This has the ring of truth for me. What do you think of it? I also wonder if works the other way, too - our integrated, conscious selves project our wholeness outwards into the world?

Which sounds a bit spooky. But this idea keeps flitting around in my mind like a butterfly, that what is going on inside manifests itself outside, somehow. Of course, if you go too far down this road you get tied up in all the positive confessions hoopla, which Barb has been wrestling with lately.

Oh dear. I can't seem to keep myself from thinking naughty heretical things :) I think I'm part of the great end-times falling away (must be from being led astray by people like Rob Horton. He is the biggest heretic of them all).

I'm sure I would have been burnt at the stake if I lived in the Middle Ages (along with Rob Horton). I would have (hopefully) been the chick making up all the herbal potions to give to people and the powers that be would have called me a witch (the Church at that time was a bit unbalanced in its male/female stuff. Anything vaguely female was demonised and called a witch because the poor little men were scared of the big bad women :) I would have been chucked in the river to see if I floated. If I did, I would have been a witch, and would have been burnt at the stake. If I sank, then that would have proven that I wasn't a witch. The logic was quite wonderful, wasn't it? :)
I was reading some blogs in my travels yesterday, comments from my blog friends talking about the freedom we have in God and how great the blogiverse is as a forum to be able to communicate with each other and share our journeys. Many of us seem to be going through the same sorts of growth spurts and freedom discoveries.

I have certainly had a great deal of growth over the last year or so. I am aware of the paradoxes occurring in my life - the battles within myself, and yet a greater and greater grounding and centering in God and a peace - growing creativity, with more and more realisation of how scared I am of my own creativity - growing awareness of the vastness of God's Body on earth and what it is doing behind the scenes, and yet a frustration that we don't seem to be doing much at all.

So many paradoxes. There are so many times I am tempted to delete posts I have written here because what I have said in one post is directly contradicting how I am feeling right now (and it works both ways, both in negative and positive things written). But surely this is what growth is? It's not some linear projection, ever onwards and upwards, beginning with a shiny happy person and culminating in an even shinier happier person, that can be forecast in a spreadsheet? It's life, birth, in all its mess.

And so even though I feel rather vulnerable at times with this blog thang, despite not being able to see any of you, I don't want to delete anything. I don't want to silence and sugar-coat my journey (I have tendencies towards wanting to display that anyway). I have silenced parts of myself for a long time (which for those who know me in real life must be rather a humourous comment seeing I'm such a loudmouth but still - another paradox :) I have felt for so long like a second-class Christian because I am dealing with this thing and that thing and the other thing - but there is no class of Christian in God's hierarchy, as far as I can see. There are different classes of maturity and wisdom, sure - but even then I veer wildly across the spectrum.

So freedom. The real freedom is in Christ, in the Body, in all its permutations, both visible and invisible, here and now and stretching across the ages. The paradox is that it looks much more messier than the reality TV version of life playing outside our windows, but it's real. We're real. We're allowed to be. In all our mess.

Even me :)

Play, Dammit!! Now!!

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Tuesday, 26 February 2008

I began writing an essay a week or two ago. Not sure where it's heading. But it's up to, like, eight pages of longhand. I began it not knowing it's shape, trusting that it would make itself apparent as it went. It felt like play. Hard work kind of play, but still - play.

I got up the next day and wrote more of the essay. More little vignetty bits came out. There seems to be some inherent structure that my conscious mind doesn't know. It was exciting. It felt like play.

And now I haven't written anymore of it since. I looked at it, I think, and saw that it was eight pages, and suddenly realised that I was Writing Something That Was Eight Pages Long. And so now, apparently, it's not allowed to be play anymore. Now it's become work. Which is serious and not fun.

I'm not gonna let it go off into the drawer, half written, never to be seen again ... nope-ity nope.. I'm sitting on something creatively these days which resembles more of a rocklike consistency. It's quite miraculous, really. But still, here I sit, with a half formed piece, and it's already starting to assume the status of work in my head. What does this essay mean. What's it trying to say? Where shall I market it? All things that are not anything to do with this portion of its journey.

Perhaps this is just another version of trying to block myself. Good old Trying To Block Myself - that lovely little god I have worshipped for so long, is surely a Hindu god because it's got, like, 4000 different incarnations. Perhaps this is just another one of them.

Sometimes I write on recycled paper. One of the little ways that I try to stop myself from freaking out too much and getting all serious about what I'm doing, and start trying to work out where to market it when I haven't even FINISHED WRITING THE DAMN THING YET!

At what age does control become a better option than play?

*Sigh* And grrr. And other sundry groanings.
No one is to be called an enemy, all are your benefactors, and no one does you harm.
You have no enemy except yourselves.

St Francis of Assisi


Sometimes I think I'm gonna collapse under the weight of how GODDAMN BORING IT IS LIVING IN THIS TIME AND PLACE! WE ALL LOOK THE SAME! WE ALL LOOK THE SAME!

Sometimes I think living 100 years ago would have been more exciting. Sure, it would have been harder work (and my privileged position even surmising about this would probably have all the women who lived in 1908 shaking their heads at my ridiculous patheticism, sitting here with the luxury to blog on with my own blatheriness every day cos when I do a load of washing it's done in 10 minutes instead of standing at the mangle for 3 hours). But at least along with the sweat there was a bit of colour, a bit of vibrancy, a bit of texture, of shading. At least people got together in their communities and did stuff unrelated to the bottom line. They used to get together and dance and stuff! I know - how weird! (And it wasn't music you had to have taken ecstasy to access, but perhaps I'm just getting all old and ornery).

Wow, Western civilisation, take a bow. Surely you are at your glowing illustrious pinnacle. You have become a society in which nobody feels welcome in, everyone feels like a failure in, we all look exactly the same, and everyone is too scared to have an original thought. This while our leaders extol our democratic freedom. Freedom for what? Freedom to what? Goodness, we are all so damn terrified of ourselves and each other, we're gonna spontaneously combust at our own shadows. What kinda freedom? Freedom to hate each other's guts, and to hate ourselves just as much.

Surely the Body should be different. Shouldn't we, a called-out people, be demonstrating on occasions the wide vistas that are ours, the real reality of God, a reality with spiritual diamonds dripping off the trees, a reality of silver linings, where "they all lived happily ever after" is something we anticipate?

No, we just look like everyone else, and it's not even like there's a whole stack that we are losing out on anymore by buying into the patheticisms of this society. But we're hooked on the high carb, empty sugar, television vacuity that stops us from feeling our own pain. Isn't that what it comes down to? We don't want to feel our own pain. We don't see any redemption in pain. We forget the Man we follow.

We don't really believe that God is going to do what s/he says. Not really. We expect everyone else to believe it but we don't really believe it ourselves. If we did, it would change everything. If we did, we would open ourselves and him/her up to our pain because we would know that God drips redemption from every pore. If we did, we would live our lives like we have some kind of vision at all. But instead we perish along with everybody else.

Of course, my irritation this evening is almost certainly just transference outward of the irritation I feel inward. I have started really noticing how it is that when I feel irritation or anger at other people, invariably it comes back to the areas of myself I am trying to ignore or minimise. That sucks. But it is true - I can only love others to the extent that I have first loved myself. This includes most especially the parts that are the ugliest. The ugliest ugliest, leprous parts of ourselves. The parts we want to hang our heads in shame over. Get stoned over. Watch television over, get a quick lay over. Whatever your drug of choice is. The bits we want to run away from. Those are the bits we need to learn to love. Because it's not until we can learn to love those bits in ourselves that we will not shrink away in horror when we see them in ourselves and in other people. It is our strength. Our strength in weakness. It's how we get to love the world. And the world is bound up in Christ on the cross, saying, "I thirst."

And it's all totally impossible. And it's all totally possible. All things are possible if God says so.

Love yourself. Even though it opens up wounds. Love yourself. You're worth it. Loreal says so. Sure, you're full of foul smelling pigswill. So are we all. But wait - there's more. There's cool stuff under that stinking mess. Love yourself. You'll be amazed at how good you get at it. Then you can love other people. And then maybe they will learn to love themselves.

And we will all live happily ever after.

No, I am not a liberation theologist. I just sound like one this evening. I also sound grouchy, but I'm actually quite snazzy, thanks for asking :) I was, however, planning on not blogging for a few days, give myself a break. But instead I've just rehashed something I've already said 100 times before :)

Art Therapy

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Monday, 25 February 2008

I start art therapy classes next Monday, with Maggie, who lives in the Dandenong Ranges. Going to the Dandenong Ranges is uplifting enough in itself for me. Going to see someone who is going to guide me on soul work, counselling with a difference, without the intellect to get in the way, is obviously something I should do because ooh ooh ooh ooh I'm a bit excited.

I am making a mandala next Monday. We are going to explore my dreams (within a Jungian framework). I am going to start a visual journal. I don't know what else we are going to do. It remains to be seen. I can't tell you how excited I am about this :)

I feel like I'm about 20 years old :)

The sun is shining ...

6 comments

Sunday, 24 February 2008

When you think your life is shattered
and there's no way to be fixed again
Love heals your heart

At a time you least expect it
you're alive like you have never been
Love heals your heart

Third Day

There is nothing like having enlarged horizons to give hope and joy to your heart. My health is slowly getting back on track, and to have renewed energy makes all the difference in the world. I have begun taking a concotion of 28% sodium chlorite, mixed with citric acid and water, in a 1:1:4 ratio, each morning. If I took 50 drops of it, it would kill me, but in counterintuitive homeopathic fashion, a few drops of it each day, building up to 15, kills off whatever unidentified pathogens are keeping my body ill. Indeed, there is a man who regularly takes this stuff into the jungles of Africa and gives it to people with malaria - and it fixes them up. A hospital in Malawi used it on its malaria patients and cleared out the hospital. Of course, this sounds like rubbish to us Westerners who have been taught to believe that the only things which fix anything are those that come out of the laboratories of Roche or GlaxoSmithKline.

Anyway, whatever the truth of the matter, this stuff is fixing me up. I can feel it. It works in my body for an hour. The residue it leaves is a tiny indistinguishable trace of salt and then it's gone.

I wrote in my morning pages this morning: "I'm looking forward to cleaning up this house, cleaning windows is one of the things on my list to do. Not particularly enamoured, but they're pretty grubby. And just being able to physically do that kind of stuff feels so wonderful. It just opens up my world so much. What a nightmare the last year has been. Seriously. When I come out of those times and look back, they always seem worse than when I was in them. When I'm in them, I'm always worrying that I'm making mountains out of molehills. Weird, huh?" I guess it's not so weird because of the "I'm lazy" tape that still sometimes plays in my head.

Today, the sun is shining. Last night, I watched my football team win a preseason game with gusto. Despite all the political ramifications surrounding big business football, which do impinge onto the field itself, and despite the fact that I think too deeply about things to never think, "What is the point of sport?", and despite the fact that it is an artificial environment where the playing field has been levelled so that every team gets their shot at stardom and as many punters as possible are kept happy so they keep buying the product, the poetry of the game still comes through - it's always been the poetry that has drawn me, a group of men (muscles glistening, but I digress) working together as a team. And when Hodge slots that ball straight onto the chest of Buddy Franklin, who (hopefully) slots the ball through the goals (much better chance if he's more than 50 metres out), then that reinforces to me Why I Love Football ;) Despite the Empire trappings.

So I watched a game of football. Then I took myself off to my still-unnamed writing room and lit some candles and did some more stuff from The Artist's Way. Listened to some more Third Day and cried again to God (in a good way). And this morning I have woken up and put on a load of washing, anticipate doing an hour or so of writing. Then I am catching up with a friend in the afternoon and friends this evening for some playing of games. One of those friends is my ex-husband, and I shall be eternally grateful that he is of the forgiving variety, forgiving me for hurting him and rejecting him, and we are able to keep our friendship, a good, strong friendship.

I feel so grateful for everything. The sun is shining and everything has that lovely tinge of gilt edging about it.

Life is beautiful. Because God is in it. And God is so beautiful that to see him in his beauty would make me spontaneously combust.

There's a giant ferris wheel being constructed at Docklands, about 15 minutes down the road from me. They say when you ride on it you'll be able to see Geelong. It's enormous. The thought of riding it scares the shit out of me. I'm gonna ride it :)

Happy Sunday, bloggers :)

Working for the Weekend

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Friday, 22 February 2008

I'm working tomorrow, Saturday. Bummer! But I decided to do it because I want to start art therapy sessions (in the Dandenong Ranges) once a month. And I also want to get away, back to Rosebank Retreat for a few days, that cool place I went to several months ago and subjected you to 300 photos about.

Both of those are two things that feel important me to do creatively. It feels worth giving up a Saturday for. Six months ago, I don't know if i would have been able to translate my feeling that looking after myself creatively is necessary and important out into the real world quite so readily. Suddenly, I can. I can't tell you how good that feels. I'm starting to take myself seriously, and the part of me that has put up with not being able to trust me for years is unfolding and I almost want to cry just thinking about it.

Small decisions. Making the right choices. I can see a path a bit clearer now.

Last May, I was at the tail end of my Children's Texts subject at uni. In class one day, we began to write a children's story which we were to read out in class. As usual, I had no idea what I was going to write and felt like I was absolutely going to end up with a blank page and embarrassed red cheeks. And then a phrase occurred to me which seemed like it might not be too crap, and so I started writing. And then suddenly it all started coming out, and I kept writing because I didn't have time to stop and write something else, even though there was this thought in the back of my head that it was going to be a bit naff or something.

So my turn came, and I read what I'd written out to the class. Felt as I was reading it that it actually sounded alright, the "voice" was pretty good, this 10 year old girl. Liked the way it flowed. After I read it out, my teacher, a published writer himself, leant back in his chair and was silent for a bit (which was weird for him, because he's got a pretty big mouth). And then he said a few lovely things like, "That is fucking excellent! I really don't think there is anything I would change about that. Fantastic." And my cheeks reddened, but it wasn't in the way that I thought they might have been.

(I loved this teacher. He was just so damn politically incorrect, and it was great. I could see half the students were kinda spun out by him because they're used to their teachers not saying much that's controversial at all, and this guy was just totally opinionated. I really liked him, as grating as he was at times - like when he used Christ as a swear word. Nails on blackboard when people do that.)

So anyway, I got embarrassed sitting there in the class, feeling so pleased, feeling so like I was thirsty, like I'd been getting around in the desert for 400 years and someone was giving me a glass of the best water you've ever tasted. I was thirsty for this validation that I could write. It's a different thing to hear it from people outside of yourself. You suspect that maybe your stuff is okay - but how do you know? Maybe you're just kidding yourself, want it too much. You need someone else to say it. And to hear him say that ... well, I floated home after that class and that wonderful feedback.

Several weeks later, I sat down and in the space of a few hours wrote a short story, a 1000 word piece that just fell out almost whole (I have no idea where it came from). I was pretty pleased with that too, pleased enough to send it out in the hopes of getting my first piece of fiction published (I'm still waiting, even though I got a great rejection letter).

So May was quite heady for me creatively. Woo-hoo! Finally, after all these years, I was starting to write stuff and it was all starting to happen and hey! - maybe I really could do this, even if it felt so completely out of anything I'd known, a pipe dream too good to be true. But who knows? Other people wrote stuff. Why not me?

And then Winter hit and I got a bit seasonally depressed, to add to my post-marriage-breakup depression. Then I met someone I really liked, and so I got a bit obsessed over him, even though I was in absolutely no fit state to get involved in anything romantic. Then I got sick. Ramped up my dope smoking so that I was smoking a few tokes every day - nothing big, but just enough to take the edge off, you know? A bad habit I'd reintroduced myself to since becoming well again, and one which I wanted to ditch but couldn't muster up the energy. I went on carb fests - ate some toast, or whatever (even though my body doesn't like wheat very much, or any grains, really), and then got that fuzzy headed feeling going on, that lethargy which made me forget why it was that sitting down to write was a good thing, and that lying on the couch instead watching TV was a much better way to go.

And so after having a cool May, I blocked myself. And stayed that way for months, using a bloke and drugs and food to keep me from writing because as wonderful as it was, it was SCARY. It was so scary that I developed complex and intricate webs of ways to stop myself from doing it. It was a pretty unconscious thing at the time, but looking back, it is suddenly patently obvious what I was doing.

And so finally, it has become blinding to me that writing really is easier than not writing. I always knew this to be true intellectually. What I couldn't see, not quite as starkly and fluorescently as I do now, is the kind of person I am when I am blocked, and how unsafe I am to be around myself, you know? When I'm blocking myself, I'm inclined when pushed to self-crazymaking, a bit of a drug addict, a bit of a love addict, a bit of an anything-at-all-really-as-long-as-it-can-stop-me-from-writing addict (yes, Dream, I can feel you nodding from here :) Oh, this is rather painful to write but it's true.

And so I can finally see clearly the price I pay for being blocked, how exhausting it is to live that way. And so as terrifying as writing feels, I can finally - finally, like a big dill that needs to be smacked over the head to see the obvious - see that writing is easier than running to keep away from it is.

My goodness. Paradox. It makes me laugh. I guess I am in some sort of recovery. Feels kinda sacred.

_____

Edit: I originally wrote here that I was a crazymaker (a Julia Cameron description) but realised this morning that this was being way too harsh. I am not a crazymaker to other people, and only to myself when I've got myself creatively cornered and none of the other blocks are working ... or, at least, it was so in the past. The times seem to be a'changing.

I'm sorry I've blathered on so much in such self-indulgent fashion lately about writing and stuff. I'm pretty excited about it all, as you can see, but I'm conscious that I don't need to tell you guys every single thing about it :) Maybe I do need to set up another blog ...

Restoration

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"The Christian ideal changed and reversed everything so that, as the gospel puts it, 'That which was exalted among men has become an abomination in the sight of God.' The ideal is no longer the greatness of Pharaoh or of a Roman emperor, not the beauty of a Greek nor the wealth of Phoenicia, but humility, purity, compassion, love. The hero is no longer Dives, but Lazarus the beggar; not Mary Magdalene in the day of her beauty, but the day of her repentance."

~ Leo Tolstoy


There's room for all of us. There's room for all of me, for my wounds and all the chinks in the chain, the deeply held shames that redden my face at the thought of their revealing - not that there's a great many of those left these days! What an egalitarian God! And yet we cast him as one who would be king, a giant man on a giant power trip. But he was the one who told his people he didn't want them to have a king, that to do so would bring unintended consequences. But, like the amazing parent he is, he let them go, to suffer and learn the lesson themselves, the way he does with us. God doesn't fear the way we do, does he? He lets us go into the great beyond, into the terror, to learn what we need to learn because God isn't all that into puppets.

We - we grab everything we can and categorise it. We can't handle the freedom. The wide, wide, agoraphobia of living this life and making our own choices, knowing that we are blind.

(But maybe each choice gets bathed in grace anyway, somehow, in the future. Maybe every choice we make, no matter how wrong or how dire the consequences, will be made into a thing of beauty somehow, somewhere ... somewhere not here, anyway, or at least not with the eyes that we have now. Maybe someday God will turn the tapestry around, and we'll see that we've been looking at the back of it all these years).

Name that Room

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Thursday, 21 February 2008

I'm a bit restless this foine evening. A bit chairwoman of the bored (oh dear, that phrase dredges up images of Iggy Pop badly miming that song on Countdown one night somewhere around 1978. The dear man was absolutely off his dial, and he was hi-hi-hilarious. You know, if I was the casting agent for the movie of The Faraway Tree, I reckon I would try to get Iggy to audition for the role of the Saucepan Man - he'd be perfect).

Whenever I'm feeling non-restless, being restless always seems like such a ridiculous situation to get myself into. There's, like, 3 million things I could do or think about or read and yet I'm sitting there whining about how restless I am (actually, being bored/restless is a kinda cool indicator for me because it means I have some vague level of health going on. When I'm wearing my golf ball neck, I'm always just a bit below par to get to the point of feeling like that. So it's kind of a good thing. I feel good today! No golf ball neck for Susie Q - rock on!)

Whenever I'm not bored, I always think, "Hey, next time you're bored, think about nature, or science - that'll spin you out and then you won't be bored anymore." But sometimes that doesn't work, 'cause I'm bored and uninspired, and so instead of thinking about black holes, I think of the periodic table. Which bores the shit out of me.

Sometimes, being bored or restless isn't a failure of imagination, it's a failure of overimagination. Tonight, coming home at 8pm, I wanted to walk into a house full of fire eaters, a cool old dude telling stories in the corner, a dancing bear, a naked man and a joint ... no, don't worry 'bout me. I'm not hoppin' back on that little drug waggon again - me knows what that little baby does to my creativity and I've just managed to get that little honey back; I'm not wasting that on nothin'

(I just noticed I've started talking like a black Southern American woman. I do that a lot, the whole launching into other accents thing. But I wonder - how many southern Americans do you think there are who are inserting portions of Strine into the middle of their blog posts? Not many, I would imagine :)

So anyway, this manic post and these dreams of coming home to a circus - I know what these are. These are just procrastination with a funny hat on that's got a flower sticking out the top, trying to fool me into thinking I'm entertaining myself when really ... I'm just procrastinating :) It's just my inner block artist trying to do it's usual thing. I have used so many things in the past to block myself - daydreaming (generally involving a member of the male species), food, drugs. Shiny things to distract myself from writing, like a magpie with a piece of chocolate bar wrapper. It's amazing what sneakinesses we develop to try to keep ourselves away from doing whatever it is that scares us, isn't it? We're wily, sneaky little beasties.

So, I'm going off to do this self-nurturing thing again that I've become so enamoured with - off to my writing room to light me some candles and do some Susie loving. My inner writer just loves all this self-nurturing stuff. She's gearing up to spring a few shit hot ideas on me 'cause she's starting to trust me now, see, 'cause I'm being all nice to her and cosseting her and letting her draw and colour-in and not going off half-cocked over men or food or drugs or nothin'. Uh-huh, *nods head sagely* If I knew this old self-nurture trick worked so well, and that it doesn't make me go blind the way they said it would if I gave myself some lovin', and if I'd known how much this 3 year old inner writer needs it, I would have done it years ago.

So I am about to drag myself off to my ... what do you call the room where you write? I don't want to call it "the office" for obvious reasons, and "the spare room" sounds too unimportant but "studio" sounds too over-important. I am having trouble finding the right name for my writing room.

Hey, maybe it needs a people name! I've named my laptop (Samantha), and my car (Olive) , so why not my writing room? A writing room called Neville - what do you think?

Google Surf-Ins

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I love looking at my site and seeing what people surf in from via Google. Strangely, the most common surf-in is "hippie armpits". Go figure. There are also a few "The Shack heresy" queries. But the one that scared me the most came today: "Politics in the book of revelation". Finding your politics in the book of Revelation is probably one of the more dire and disastrous places to look, seeing I don't think it's a manual for good governance. Scary :)

Writing Community

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Tonight was my first writers' group since August. These are long, rather boozy affairs - I drank water this time - that go on for between three to four hours :) Heavy duty stuff. I read the last piece of fiction I wrote all the way back in May and was tickled pink with the reception I got. It's amazing how much creative people need validation that what they're doing is good. It's a weird feeling, because inside I know that I am a good writer. I also don't know at all that I'm a good writer. Which makes no sense but there you have it.

Uni returns next week. I am only doing one subject again. I'm sure I could take on two, but I like the pace of only doing a subject a semester. This one is a combined Literary Studies/Professional Writing subject called Writing Selves, which "examines issues of the text as autobiography. Examples will be drawn not only from work traditionally classified as autobiography, but also from diaries, letters, 'fictional' biography, journalism and ephemera. Issues of privacy and publication, and the role of editors, will be discussed. Some contemporary theorising of the writing subject will be examined. Gender, race and ethnicity will be a continuing focus."

I have been dosing up on some new stuff that I think is helping me get my health back on track. I'm feeling more energy, feeling over the past few days that my glands aren't standing up like golf balls on the side of my neck - which has basically been their position for the last several months. It feels so good to have extra energy so that I can look with pleasure to these two outward creative things which will give me a bit of structure. I think I subscribe to the romantic idea that I should be able to entirely set my own structure with no outside interference. Which is quite ridiculous when I consider how much I get off on the interaction of being with other writers, talking about processes, critiquing others' work - I feel so inspired after being back after all this time away. Writing is a lonely enough practice; sharing it with others is a necessity for me.

It's been so long since I was last there; it felt a bit weird at the beginning. I felt kinda shy. But I soon got into it and by the time I left I had the lovely warm feeling of community, pleased that I am finally at the stage again where going isn't a pointless enterprise because (a) I'm sick or (b) I'm not writing anything anyway. I feel, suddenly, like writing a small piece of fiction isn't beyond me. It's all coming back to me. Oooh, oooh :)


I typed some strange words into Gooogle before: "fear of success". I am so much more aware of my blocks now and the things I use to try to get myself away from the scary and hard and scary and scary work of writing. I have never considered fear of success to be something I grapple with, but the possibility is slowly dawning on me that maybe it is so. I'm just reading an article that's telling me to sit for 15-30 minutes and think of all of the things that will happen and how my life will change if I achieve my goals, to try to determine what it is I am scared of ... I really don't have the foggiest idea what would be. It's amazing how many of our fears sit underneath our waters like giant icebergs, isn't it? And it's amazing how they pop their noses up when we're ready to look at them. Time to do some (more) soul-searching.

This week is the last of my Artist's Way course. It's been 12 weeks and I am so glad I have done this. I feel like I have gained a much safer place to write in. It's been a real buzz.

Much safer - but still scary ;) But hey, so is much of the good stuff.

For Tyler, who is sick and been cleaning up vomit

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

As requested.

Art that doesn't make you think too hard.

Of course that's not to say that all art has to be edgy and dark and ugly. And it's also not to say that anything that's too beautiful and lovely that isn't an intellectual exercise and a big ego trip isn't art.

:)
The lessons are coming thick and fast these days, but then so are the soft landings. Indeed, they seem to be everywhere I look now. God's reminder that he is my soft landing. Friends, certain colours, a tree, the golden light at 8pm as the sun is winding down its act. The rain softly falling this morning and the air cooler, after several days dry and hot weather - my favourite sort.

I love rainy overcast days in the middle of summer. The smell the earth yields up. We must come from dust - that smell is something kinda orgiastic to me. Earth. Reminds me of myself. I could eat it ... but it tastes so bad :)

I love rainy days in the middle of summer ... except it's not the middle of summer. It's screaming towards the end. The local football team has started up its training in the oval a street over from me. Their yells for the ball reach me in my yard. My own football team has started up their preseason, a scrappy win in a game not even a fan could love. There is no sign of any yellow or orange leaves - we still have Indian summer to go yet - but Autumn is coming. It's on the wind. I feel whispers of it, memories from years past, in the coolness of the day. My Northern American and European friends begin hopefully whispering desires for Spring.

I love Autumn. Melbourne in Autumn is a sensory delight, especially for an arboreal delighter. Colour explosions. Warmth and coolness. A return to jeans, boots. Autumn in and of itself is a delicious season.

But Autumn means Winter is next. And I dread it. I can't help it. I know that the march towards June equals disrupted days. As the light shortens, my nights lengthen. Every year the same. My summer habit of waking at 8am or 8.30am becomes something I have to strive for, accomplishable only by light therapy for an hour every day. Oh, for a correctly functioning body clock :)

But dreading the onset of Winter in February is sad even by my SAD standards. If that is the measuring stick, then why not dread bad times snap bang in the middle of euphoria? Where does it end? And what a waste that is, dreading the inevitable. I'm sitting out too high on the minutes of the day. Immersed in them, forgetful of myself, I don't think about what is coming tomorrow. Today has enough joys of its own. Worrying about tomorrow's sufferings, I miss today's joys.

Suburbia

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Tuesday, 19 February 2008



Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.

~Bill Vaughn

Painful community

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Sunday, 17 February 2008

Derek at The Rebel God says today in his post:

Old school philosophical, scientific, and religious inquiry seeks to find objective truth by observing as a neutral party from the outside. Its goal is to discover an absolute truth. However science has been discovering that we cannot be neutral observers because our observation actually changes the results. This is all the more true in relationships: you cannot truly understand another unless you enter into their lives. It is not possible to truly know another without loving them. Truth then cannot be separated from love.

Beyond this, there is also a practical problem with the old school approach of seeking to find the objective impartial truth: in relationships this approach inevitably leads to conflict because it seeks to determine which party was more correct, and thus who “wins”. Theology that is focused on determining these kinds of absolute propositional truth claims (such as systematic theology) has often fallen into this trap. Systemic theory instead seeks a relational understanding of truth. Instead of asking what the absolute right answer is, it seeks to understand how each person in a relationship perceives what is happening. Because its focus is on seeking to understand people relationally rather than determining who is "right", it leads towards reconciliation and understanding instead of towards blame and conflict.

While this is an approach that is relational, it is not relativistic per se. That is, systemic theory does not claim that truth is relative, but simply that we are. We each perceive what we do, and if we care about others, if we care about relationship, we need to care about their perceptions and feelings - about them -more than we do about our being right. You might say its the difference between being right and being righteous. righteousness is not self-focused, but cares for the other.


Rock on. What I am loving about my journey at this point is the difference I notice in my conversations with people (and this actually works better out in real life than it does online). These days, I'm not very interested at all in working out, when problems spring up in relationships, who is wrong and apportioning blame. It feels so pointless, so running around a tree, so egotistical, so power-play, so missing the point.

The human flesh, if it can narrow another person down to a category and a label, invariably demonises that other person. Have you noticed this? I notice it in myself. It is a disturbing facet of human nature, and those of us in the West should be able to recognise it, because this is the way our cultures have grown strong, by oppression and categorisation, objectification and demonisation. This way of the kingdom is the harder, better way. It cracks us open, sure. But we need cracking open. And if we're cracked open by Love ... oh, man, we have no conception of what he has prepared for each of us. And not only in the next age but now, if we will just walk where we think he is asking us to walk, as dark as it is, and as many times as our nerve fails when doing so. Walk on.

My cousin and I were talking yesterday about rejection, about how deep it goes. (We were also talking about Leo Sayer's penis, but that's how far ranging our discussions go, and I digress). It has certainly been one of the biggest wounds in my life, for reasons I've talked about here before. It has hindered my relationships with others. We all are hindered by rejection. It stops us from reaching out to others for fear of what they will do to us and say to us to add to our rejection. And then we see Jesus, familiar with rejection, a man of sorrows. I love you, Jesus, you amazing GodMan. You ask me so gently and so lovingly to keep walking forwards, it's enough to make me unravel whenever I hear Your voice. You walk me sometimes into the very thing that I most am running from, and there you bind up my wounds. This is part of what you ask of us, for each other, isn't it - to bind up each others' wounds. We want to do it in the dark by ourselves, our shame dripping from our foreheads. You want us to let others participate, to share in our shame, to help dispel it. Even as it's already been dispelled through the Cross, if only our hearts can understand that.

Your love for me is the sweetest thing, and i forget it so quickly. But you remind me so quickly, whenever I have ears to hear and eyes to see, of a better way, a way so foreign that it takes us all our lives to begin to see even a quarter of it. I don't understand you very well, but what draws me to you is the humble smile in your eyes, you, King of Kings, lord of a thousand cattle on a thousand hills. Those kinds of lush power signifiers don't make me melt the way your gentleness does. Nothing ever could. I am yours and you are mine. Thank you.

No Child Brides in God's Kingdom

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Saturday, 16 February 2008

Tyler said some great stuff here about how we need to be kids of God first before we get to be the Bride. This is good crunchy nutritious food for thought.

Looking Within

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Let your love flow outward through the universe,
To its height, its depth, its broad extent,
A limitless love, without hatred or enmity
Then as you stand or walk,
Sit or lie down,
As long as you are awake,
Strive for this with a one-pointed mind.
Your life will bring heaven to earth.

Sutta Nipata


It's comforting to be reminded that the aim of God in the end is to make us as vessels ever-growing receivers of his love - to allow love into ourselves - from others, too, but especially from God - and to swim in it, and learn to love ourselves - and then to spread that outwards. How painful it is to be in the process of that growth and to see the weeds within ourselves that hinder that. It's hard to underestimate the pain. We all understand this pain because we all must experience it.

How lovely it is to stop and take the time to look at our progress. It's easy to look at our cracks and faults and miss the healing going on at the edges, the puckerings that are beginning ever so slowly to signal the onset of healing.

It seems the lessons are never-ending for me lately, and I welcome them, coming thick and fast as they are. As painful as they are, the delight of new discovery within myself is a joy that never diminishes even if it is a discovery of a new weed. Discovering the terrain of my garden is always a place of safety, no matter how much I wish to flinch away from the hocks and thistles.

Yesterday reminded me of my propensity towards defensiveness, my rejection issues. I appreciate those willing to be honest with me. It is a difficult thing to be honest with another, to point out the things causing them to stumble. Hearing those words are painful. And our initial responses are always interesting to observe.

I watched myself do that yesterday, when I received an email from someone who I hope to one day be friends with. His words to me were honest and helpful, but it was interesting to see how differently I read them after a few hours to my first reading. My first response was defensive - they seemed accusatory. After I came home from work and reread them, with my defenses down and after prayer, they seemed honest and only slightly accusatory ;) (j/k)

Sigh. When do we ever really *see* reality? None of us do, not in its entirety. We are always filtering everything through our own wounds, or our own freedoms. That is both an encouragement and a warning.

I'm so tired of some of my wounds. I suspect they are in the process of being dismantled. That's the reason for the scaffolding. In other ways, that scaffolding is nothing other than my own crustiness, childhood constructions to attempt to protect. We all bring to the table what we can, and it amazes me that children are able to construct things to guard themselves which work so well (what amazingly adaptable creatures we are, like weeds growing out of footpath cracks).

Observing those still-standing-but-crumbling twin towers of rejection and defensiveness in myself alerts me to the residues of shame that still linger, like shallow pools of water on the rocks after the tide has gone out. I don't want those twin towers there anymore. They blight my landscape. They hold me back and they cause me to treat people much more harshly than I ever wish or intend to. They did their job, after a fashion, but now it is time for them to leave. They serve no purpose anymore, not now that I have got God to hide in instead of childhood cardboard constructs.

It is an encouragement and comfort to look to God after observing my biggest wounds. My self-nurturing thang isn't so well developed that it's an automatic response. But looking to God is self-nurture. It's like going off and having a nice bath. Looking to God is like looking in the mirror, only better, because looking to God reflects back his love to us and also reflects back our true natures to ourselves in some mystical not-yet-here-but-nevertheless-operational way.

God's creations are much prettier than my own. My twin towers housed stuff, and were practical. But they don't fit into the landscape being created in me, the new trees springing up and casting new shade, the delicate new mosses that are beginning to grow in that shade. The twin towers cast their own shade, sure, but it was too harsh for a lot to grow in its wake. The shade cast by self-nurturing allows all sorts of wonderful things to grow, hellebores and violets and ferns. Now it's just to learn how to tend them :)

Seriously, I mean it - happy Saturday, bloggers
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap must have been playing on Countdown on regular rotation when I was 5 years old. I don't imagine conservative 1976 Australia would have been playing it on the radio, and my parents didn't have this album, so I must have been hearing it from somewhere. I loved this song. And Countdown was our regular Sunday night fare for as long as I can remember, from 6 to 7pm on a Sunday night, with Molly Meldrum exhorting us to do ourselves a favour every week and get ourselves one of those giant massive album things (don't LP records look just enormous nowadays? :)

The song took on a rather different lustre in my five-year-old mind than it does now. I just overrode the things I knew nothing about - murder via concrete boots, ways to kill off your husband and get a bonus quickie on the side. None of those things meant anything to me.

chickNo, I thought it was called Dirty Deeds and the Dunder Cheep. This was a two character play. On one side you had Dirty Deeds. I don't know what he/she/it was. Dirty Deeds may have been the character mentioned first, but they were just a sidekick to the real star of the show, the Dunder Cheep, which looked something like this on a giant scale :)

See, you can throw your kids in amongst songs about concrete booting your enemies and it's alright - that kiddy innocence is the most effective filter there is :)

Happy Saturday, bloggers :)

Train romancing

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Friday, 15 February 2008

On the train on the way home tonight, standing in my customary space in the doorway, reading customary book. A middle-aged bloke with a can of Jim Beam and Coke comes walking towards the doorway and slouches in the door. I don't think it's his first can of the day. Eyes the young guys standing in front of him with their bikes.

"BMX bandit," he says to the guy with the shock of red hair. "Hey, Blue, what you up to tonight? Going home to get stoned?"

Blue shrugged. "No, not tonight."

"Man, I am," Jim says. "Going home to get wasted." Then he glances at me.

"That's bad," he grins to me. "Are you a social worker or something?"

What the hell does a social worker look like? I'm wearing a skirt, sandals, a sleeveless top. Half my hair up. What does a social worker look like?

"Nah," I said, thinking, what does a social worker look like? Someone who doesn't take drugs? My inner 15 yar old rankles at that.

"Trying to kick that naughtiness," I say noncholantly. "But gee, I could go one right now." I grinned back at him.

"Oh!" he roars, his categorisation shattered. "She's not a social worker then! She's a bad girl! Probably as big a drug addict as the rest of us!"

"Well, I guess we're all drug addicts in some way, huh?" I surmised. "If it's not drugs, it's work, or whatever."

He gestured with his can towards the rest of the carriage. "Still, I'd rather be a druggo than like any of these boring bastards." Mr Categories returns.

North Melbourne Station pulls up outside and he moves off towards the door.

"Have a good one," he says over his shoulder.

"You too," I said. "Have one for me."

"I'll give you one too, " he slurs, as the doors close.

Australian men. Missed charm school :)

Skewel Daze

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At the age of four, a child I knew drew extraordinarily vibrant, imaginative trees. Crayon, chalk, colored pens, and silly putty were all useful. These trees were remarkable in how clearly they showed the bulbous lobes and branchy veins of individual leaves in a kind of cubist, all-the-way-around view that would have delighted Picasso. Meticulous observation of real trees, and a certain daring that is characteristic of four-year-olds, combined to produce these striking artworks.

By the age of six, this child had gone through a year of first grade and had begun drawing lollipop trees just like the other kids. Lollipop trees consist of a single blob of green, representing the general mass of leaves with details obliterated, stuck up on top of a brown stick, representing the tree trunk. Not the sort of place real frogs would live.

Another child, age eight, comlained of the day her third-grade teacher pretended that negative numbers don't exist. While the class was doing subtraction tables, a boy asked, "What's 3 take-away 5?" and the teacher insisted that there is no such thing.l The girl objected, "But everyone knows it's minus 2!" The schoolteacher said, "This is the third grade and you're not supposed to know about those things!"

I later asked this girl, "What does a minus number mean to you?" She said without hesitating, "It's like looking at your reflection in a pool of water. It goes as far down as you go up." This is original mind in action, the purest form of Zen.

Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art - Stephen Nachmanovitch

Postmodern lifesick blues

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Thursday, 14 February 2008

I feel like I have this hard shell covering over my heart. The thought of opening it up to another, although I so want to do so, it feels impossible. If feels like if I forced it open just a crack, it would snap shut like a crocodile's jaws. The echo would sound for miles around.

I envy those who sit with their hearts in their hands, eager and willing to give to another. How do they do that?

Maybe my heart is always going to be broken up and defective. I feel defective. I feel like I can't feel and I feel like I feel too much and I feel like the shell is going to seep into the edges of my heart until one day I try to pry it open and it's all fused together like plastic too close to the fire. Until I become a shell myself, attached to a broadband cord. Attached to other people attached to broadband cords.

I feel like my heart is an open wound. I feel like it's made of stone. I feel like I have this hard shell covering over my heart.

I feel like nobody is ever going to care enough to try to crack the code. Love is not loved. Love is not loved.

I feel like I have this hard shell covering over my heart.

But maybe it's just scaffolding.
As if I wasn't feeling ugly and undesirable enough today, along comes Hallmark to shove the boot in. To remind all of those people who aren't in a relationship what pathetic losers they are (not that I really want to be in one anyway, but the part of me that does feels really irritated about being reminded that it's not. That part is also feeling rather annoyed and curious and threatened by the part of me that doesn't, because it's worried that the part of me that doesn't is going to fall in love with self-empowerment and send me off to become the next Germaine Greer and live in the country with a menagerie and hate men forever and maybe become a middle-aged lesbian. But I digress ...)

I hate Valentine's Day because the only people that feel good about it are the ones who are all mushy in love, and they seem to be feeling good enough about everything without needing another excuse to go buy each other stuff, in a world that's already groaning under the weight of too much stuff.

So Valentine's Day, just bite me.

Damn. Now I've annoyed the part of me that doesn't want romance by posting this. This is the problem, living in a body with so many different personalities - I'm always ticking off one of them :)

Weapons of war, symptoms of madness.

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Wednesday, 13 February 2008

I've been thinking a bit this afternoon, while trying wildly to fight off the onset of this flu thing, about the human propensity to violence and how anything can be used as a weapon. It's something that's been on my mind over the past several months as I had cause to battle the childish waves of jealousy and rivalry. Two quite disgusting habits of the human flesh. Two that I would give just about anything to be rid of.

So there's the more obvious weapons: our fists, guns, the closest chair, sex, words. I've removed two blog posts this week because upon reflection I didn't like the timbre of the words (or photos, as the case may be :) I was using and my intuitive-ometer was buzzing, suggesting that I have offended. And so I deleted them. Not without a fight, I might say :) I don't like feeling like I have to limit myself on my own blog, but then again, I don't think a blog post is worth more than the feelings of other people. It's not going to cause me to lose track of myself if I delete a blog post. Once upon a time, I would have felt that way. These days, it's a little bit easier, somehow. It still rankles, though :)

So yes, weapons of violence. Those are the more obvious ones we use. Then there's the less obvious ones. Silence. That's a big weapon. It was practiced against me as a child by my father for years and I can say that silence most certainly can be a very violent weapon. It just doesn't show marks on the skin. Withdrawal. There's another effective weapon. I enjoy using both of those weapons myself and they are the ones that cause me the most pain when used against me. Sins of the fathers and all that stuff. Oooh, that hurts to write that. Yessir it does. But there's nothing quite so negatively enjoyable as removing yourself from someone or a conversation to punish them and yourself or to gain the upper hand. Don't that feel good? It feels destructive but it feels so damn good! My ex often accused me of doing that. Turn the world to blank and the game is done. A bad trick. Terribly unfair.

Playing people off against each other, demonising people as the "bad guy", categorising each other, saying underhanded things to inspire jealousy in others, rivalry, bell curve marking, passive aggression. They can all be used as weapons of violence as well. They just seem like things that aren't such a big deal to us, 'cause we've grown up with them and they're subtle.

We learn them so early, don't we? We all carry a big arsenal of weapons to use against each other. Most of the time I would say we are unwitting users of them. I don't think everyone is walking around trying to harm as many people as they can just because. More often than not it's the unintentional violence we cause, that comes from our wounds or our carelessness. Ouch. It's hard knowing you're the instigator of violence, isn't it? But we all are.

It's easier being the victim, after all, in some ways. If we are wronged, we can rail and cry and bemoan and hide and throw tantrums and feel validated doing so. I've done all of those things this afternoon :) They feel good. But they are so pointless, really. I am so tired of having pity parties. Mine was like a wild lashing storm. It blew in out of nowhere and then blew over in an hour. In the middle of it, I felt like I was going to die. I felt like I was about four years old. At one point, I even sat and looked at myself in the mirror while I was crying, the way I used to when I was a kid. I resisted eating my own snot though, this time. My palate has grown up, at least :)

I don't like all of this do unto others, love others as yourself, swords into plowshares stuff that God is shoving in my face lately. Nosiree, I don't like it at all :) Makes me feel like a snail without it's shell.
Can I just say that I am feeling pretty sorry for myself today? It's my wedding anniversary. I have my period. I am fighting off a flu or some sort of a bug, just for something diferrent. I swear, if I don't get my health back on track sometime soon I'm gonna pull all my hair out.

So I'm going back to bed and pulling the covers over my head and sleeping. I feel so sorry for myself.

Meanwhile there's this amazing thing that's happened here today which feels like a big spiritual milestone overcome for this country. But I'm too focussed on myself to be paying that much attention.
He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."

____________________________________


I know that yeast is most often a symbol for sin and corruption and stuff. I think that verse above speaks to that. I've heard it said that the three measures of flour is symbolic of something else, too. It makes me wonder, though - why would the kingdom of heaven be likened to something bad? I don't understand this verse very well.

There are more than one type of yeast, after all. The stuff that we are subjected to in the standard Western diet is the variety that has no nutritional benefit. How about that? Who would have thought? In the great dietary conference in the sky, everyone from history will look aghast at those Westerners who were so rich, and who, in the name of greater agricultural and financial yields, ate foods so many of which had been stripped of any benefit at all.

I take brewer's yeast, the kind you find in beer. It's actually good for you. It contains saccyromycees bacteria, and they're of the good variety that like living in your gut and killing off the more unfriendly forms. So not all yeast is bad.

But whatever Jesus was intending to say here, I am pretty sure that the kingdom spreads like a virus. My latest email update from Paul Young, author of The Shack, says that his book is approaching the 200,000 sales mark. This is from a spend on marketing and promotion of 200-300 bucks. Astounding. Unheard of. Completely and utterly the kind of thing that I imagine is going on all the time around the world. Kingdom stuff.

Not equating The Shack into the realm of the Word of God spoken (although I absolutely think that God speaks and has spoken through that book). I mention the book because it's an indication of how I think the kingdom works. It doesn't need money and power to do its job. We think it does, but that's just man's version which isn't nearly as free and pretty as the King's version.

God's kingdom spreads through the most everyday of people, blotchy people with unresolved sin issues. A grace-filled kingdom where we share in the spoils of the King he just loves us that much. A kingdom of us, where he is growing us into people who are safer and safer to be around each other

Just imagine that.
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Monday, 11 February 2008

Apparently my arboreal fancies have gone too far. Earlier tonight my dog mistook me for a tree. At the dog park, I sat on the ground, while Lester went about his doggy business. Then he came and sat next to me, him and another couple of dogs. And then my trusty canine companion lifted his hind leg and began urinating on my knee.

He stopped when I began squealing in protest.

Perhaps it was a momentary glitch in the doggy mind matrix. He was interacting with another dog at the time ... well, as far as Lester interacts with other dogs; social interaction for him really is all about domination. But perhaps he was so caught up in what he was doing that, mindful of needing to do wee number 47, he forgot for a second that he wasn't standing next to the gum tree further over in the park, but was in fact standing next to the person who is supposed to be higher up in the doggy pack than he is but who is thinking maybe she ought to start doing a bit more pack hierarchy reinforcing.


Perhaps he was doggishly staking his claim - this is my mum, leave her alone (he is rather jealous, I have to say. He doesn't like me talking to other dogs. He comes rushing over when he sees me indulging in such treason, so I have to get my cuddles surreptitiously).

Five minutes later, after the laughter had stopped and I was busy being kissed by Oscar the Husky with the sexy blue eyes (he's rather the ladies' man), I felt another warm trickle on my leg. This time it was the Golden Retriever, expelling his hot, smelly waste on top of Lester's previous efforts.

Totally disgusted, and tired of playing a fire hydrant, I stood up to receive the profuse apologies of the Golden Retriever's two-legged pet who rushed over, regretting this never-before-displayed bad behaviour of his canine. I assured him that his dog was only following suit from my own. We then turned to watch my dog trying to hump his dog any which way he could, despite growls and raised hackles.

The Golden Retriever's pet remarked that Lester was rather like a footballer in his behaviour. I'm inclined to agree with him. He hasn't lived up to his Mr Naughty moniker for years, always such a beautifully well-behaved boy, except for displays of testosterone to other dogs. Not since the first few days when we rescued him from the pound, and he went crazy in his exuberant release from prison - ripping up a pillow and flinging its innards all over the yard until it looked like it had been snowing. Eating Mark's dinner. Chewing up his shoe. Pooing inside. Ever since those early days of doggy badness, he's been a lovely boy. Tonight, he somewhat redressed the balance :)
After posting about humility yesterday, I went away and wrote for an hour, part A of an essay that has been swimming around in my head all week. It was such a productive hour that it kind of took me by surprise. I had been a bit anxious about what this was going to be about, tempted to try to pull the whole thing up into my intellect even before I'd started to write it, instead of just letting it swim around in my gut and seeing what came out when I sat down to write. I was kinda surprised by what did come out. I don't think writing will ever lose its element of surprise for me.

This may not sound like much of a breakthrough, considering the amount that I blog, but I have been so blocked ever since Winter and illness, and now, with the help of the wunderbar Julia Cameron, I feel like I am starting to come out of it. And oh, oh, it feels like honey and it feels like trees :)

I am starting to feel a stability I haven't felt for so long. It's there even when I'm not writing. Like roots that are starting to grow down and anchor me to the earth. Make me feel safe enough to write. Safe enough to go visiting dark places. When I sat down yesterday to start writing, it was after walking through a fog of anxiety to get there. And so man, it feels so good to conquer that, even for a day. It feels so damn good :) Now, all there is, is to do it again today. That's how it works. And I feel confident about doing it again today because I feel like there's this foundation that's been built up over the past several months of introspection and learning to give myself permission and development and new insights and stuff. Yay. Thanks Julia, wherever you are. I'm terribly grateful.

I love days of small beginnings.

Christian Music

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Sunday, 10 February 2008

About two years after I became a Christian, a guy was having a garage sale down my street. I was overjoyed to find him selling some Christian music tapes - thus betraying the fact that I have been a Christian for a little while, but also that technology moves fast :) He was getting rid of them because he'd upgraded to CDs (see, it wasn't, like, centuries ago. CDs had been invented. But the internet had just been born, email and blogging weren't even thought of, and Jeff Buckley had just drowned). My car had a tape deck so I was rapt. This was Christian music, stuff I'd never heard before. Petra and some other stuff I don't even remember now.

So I took it home with great joy, feeling like I'd just hit pay dirt. Ten new bands to discover, all for ten bucks. Beauty. Problem was, I was a music lover, and much as I tried to pretend for a couple of days that this stuff was good, it was just ... well, crap. Bland, schmaltzy stuff with a few Jesus references thrown in. Apologies to any Petra fans out there, or any CCM fans, but the whole bag really makes me blanch.

A few years ago my dearest of dear cousins, Ms Andrea, asked me to go with her to see a Christian band called Third Day play. I was a bit reticent, them being a Christian band and the location being - shudder - the Richmond AOG. But go along I did. Now, some people would probably argue that Third Day are no less Christian contemporary than Petra, and they might be right, but I don't know what it is about this band, but these guys were kinda alright, you know? Okay, so they sit somewhere near the middle of the road, not too far away from The Eagles, but that's alright, even for a musical Nazi like myself. They could play, they had melody, the lead singer had the most beautiful voice, and I found myself worshipping God. At the Richmond AOG.

And I don't usually get right into bands I haven't heard before but I really got off on this. So much so that when they came out a couple of years later there we were again. And I now have three of their CDs.

I have to be in the right kind of mood to listen to them. If I'm not, they can sometimes bore me. They're no Over the Rhine, who for me are just good music no matter how close to God I'm feeling. But Third Day - when I'm in the mood, it's like a light floods on. I cry to God via their songs. I've stood there, with tears running down my face, in the middle of my lounge room, doing that outstretched arm thing, to their songs before (but no flag waving. I stop at flag waving, even by myself. I'd just feel kinda - dirty, you know? ;)

So I am an opinionated musical Nazi. I'm sorry.

Humility

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Some days you just crawl forward an inch on your hands and knees.

But humility is a good thing. Once you work out for yourself, over the months or years that it takes, that God is okay with crawling forward inch by inch, that he isn't, in fact, our culture or our own flesh writ large, but is wholly different from us, then you can begin to relax into your humility.

Humility is a vulnerable place to be for us humans. We prefer the positions at the head of the table. That way we know that we've made it. It must mean we're alright if we're at the head of the table. It assuages those whispers that scream at 3am that we're not alright. But assuaging the feelings by power-plays and comparisons is never going to fix the heart of the problem. Which is the human flesh. That's the heart of the problem.

And so humility is a good thing for us. Not because God is a big bastard who deems self-flagellation is the way to go - I can understand why people fall into that side ditch, but it so betrays the heart of Love and beating ourselves up, whether physically or psychologically, never did nothin'. Humility is a good thing because it forces me to shut up and stop looking at my own stinking, boring stuff and look at God for a change.

There's an idea :)

Humility softens us. It oils the edges of the cracks so that Love can pour in. It slows us down, forces us to focus on the task at hand, instead of looking to the future to create our own mini empires.

Humility means that I keep walking forward toward greater creativity, even though I keep falling down and even though I feel like quite the dick (even though no one's watching). It exposes the lies my ego tells me - that everything I create has to be a masterpiece. That's just my ego and my fear colluding into trying to stop me creating anything at all. I don't want to listen to that crap anymore. It's boring and it's hamstrung me for so long and I'm not listening, I'm not listening, I'm not listening. I'm sticking my fingers in my ears and saying, "La la la la" so that I don't have to listen to those boring paper tigers and their incessant chatter about why it is that I should stay exactly where I am and not even consider dipping my toe into the waters, let alone flinging all my gear off and diving in.

Well, bugger you, paper tigers. I understand your concern - really, I do. Creativity is a dangerous business. Even sitting on the couch and writing stuff feels dangerous. It's no coincidence that so many of its practitioners try to turn down the heat and the fear with alcohol, dope, coke, sex, whatever. I understand your reticence to fling me into that kind of danger. But one thing I do know, dear paper tigers - you tried to fool me into thinking that your whispers to not go forward were about humility - who was I to think I could indulge in such grandiosity? - when really, that was just false humility trying to disguise the fact that it's just good old everyday garden variety fear.

Humility opens us up to each other.

Some days

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Some days, you have to give yourself permission over and over. It takes a while to sink in :)


I gave myself permission to go outside and sit on the grass and do centering prayer (was nice).

I give myself permission to sit on the couch all afternoon and do collages and write.

I give myself permission to watch two hours of TV this evening (ABC and SBS of course - the only stations that feed me in any way. Tonight's fare includes a show called Creative Disorders, this evening dealing with a man who had a career as a pianist which was cut short by Tourette's Syndrome, followed by Compass, one of my faves, which tonight is screening a doco filmed by a young woman documenting her 16 year old sister's visit to volunteer at Mother Theresa's in Calcutta. Maybe not mindless entertainment, but I'd prefer this version anyway :)

I give myself permission to do shit creative stuff. I was tempted to take those collage pics down this morning. They are meaningful to me but they're not, like, the calibre of Lucy's ones or anything ;) But I give myself permission to do crap collages, just like I give myself permission to write crap stories. I give myself permission to not have the faintest clue about the essay I am thinking of writing, and I give myself permission to have fun exploring that instead of thinking that it is my intellect that determines the shape of a piece.

And maybe, hopefully, sometime soon I will give myself permission to do crap drawings. But not yet.

Some days, you just crawl forward an inch on your hands and knees.
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Saturday, 9 February 2008

"Religion has a hard time loving what it doesn't condone"

Wayne J said today on the latest God Journey podcast


Ain't that the truth :) And that kind of paradigm is sorta easy to spot these days for me. It's a spirit-to-spirit thing that being out in the wilderness for years has honed in me. I will always be grateful for being in the wilderness even just for that.

It means that sometimes I feel more comfortable with a non-Christian than a Christian, with a person who hasn't learned to see through this stinking paradigm. In that way, the non-Christian is closer to Christ than the Christian who has put on the glasses of institutionalised forms of life, the Christian who hasn't yet come to see that this is the very thing that Jesus came to destroy.

Jesus finds it easy to love that which he doesn't condone. He oftentimes doesn't condone a great deal of what I do, but I know he loves me anyway. I know this. It's the place I think he is bringing us all to, the place of freedom, the place that smells like mountain air, feels like silk, heals like sinking into a warm bed.

Rumi said, "Sell your certainty and buy bewilderment."

The person with a religious mindset would dismiss that above quote out of hand for two reasons. Firstly, because it's spoken by a non-Christian, and therefore is out of the mouth of Satan. Secondly, it doesn't make any sense to a person whose main objective is to set up around themselves the safety of rules, regulations, paradigms and principles, so that they can continue on in their little world of "us versus them".

They're the ones who Jesus reserved the harshest words for. But he still loved them. Jesus finds it easy to love that which he doesn't condone.

Happy Saturday again, bloggers :)

These are a few of my favourite things

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Friday, 8 February 2008

Lester the Jungle Doggy
(or,
Hey, Nigel,
mow the damn lawn
before the snakes and giant venomous
spiders come in and kill us all
in our sleep - this is the plight of the
suburban Australian, Jennifer, so think twice
before venturing over :)
















Clouds should really
only be attempted
when you have an amazing camera
but I can't help myself
anyway

I
love
clouds


















Confucius say, buy flowers from supermarket
at 10pm on a Sunday night
- then they're, like, 2 bucks a bunch
and you can buy 2 bunches
and feel rich all week




I was gonna wait till I got my scanner to post some pics of my collages but here's one anyway. This is my present and my future. That's me, out on a limb.












This is a crap photo but anyway. You probably can't even really see it. This one is about my creativity. That there up top right-hand-side is a picture of the Eiffel Tower, in honour of Lucy, who shall be Paris-ing in a few weeks, and myself, who hopes to be Paris-ing sometime before I die (France and Italy, thanks very much)

Written on that cheeky chick's cheek is "Let yourself go".

And up the top I wrote, "Paper tigers do paper roars".

I put the tiger in, then realised afterwards it's made out of paper - a paper tiger :)




And me. Wearing sexy dressing gown. And computer glasses. Hmm. I'm one of my favourite things. There's a long list of things I'd like to change but still, for all that, I'm still one of my own favourite things (and I love what Barbara has to say here about being imperfect vessels).

It feels funny being one of my favourite things. It sounds like I've got tickets on myself. But it's not like that at all. I don't reckon there ends up being that much wrong about loving yourself.

Happy almost Saturday, bloggers :0)








When the Rabbi Zusya lay dying on his deathbed, a beloved and kind man, he was agitated about dying. One of his students asked him why he feared death, seeing he was a righteous man. Zusya answered, "My son, I am not worried that God will ask me, Zusya, why weren't you more like Moses? Because I am not Moses. I am worried that God will ask, Zusya, why weren't you more like Zusya?"

Comparisons are oderous at the best of times. If I compare myself to another and I am better than them, it feeds my ego. If I compare myself to another and I am worse than them ... it feeds my ego. It is enough for me to discover what it is to be Sue and take my identity from Jesus rather than from other people. It is enough for others to do the same. It is enough for me to go about the business of becoming more Sue, and owning whatever that entails, without wasting excessive energy on what other people think of me. If I compare myself with others, it takes the focus off my journey and what God is wanting to teach me; it will make me want to jump ahead from where I actually am. It will mean that all the things that are right here right now in this life, I will try to skip over. And these are the things that are for my learning.

That's what I be thinking this morning, anyway :)
Okay. So I'm feeling a bit bummed out. It's February, and here I am in a dressing gown (albeit barefoot). Outside, it's dreary. Sure, it's less dreary than it is when the sun is sitting further diagonally north and lower in the sky, but it's still dreary. Overcast. Raining. The glands on the side of my head are standing up to attention.

It's made me realise anew why I hate Winter, and given me renewed appreciation for those of you who are suffering through it right now who hate it (hi, Erin).

So it's not cold cold cold. Tonight's forecast is 12 degrees (53). But it's summer, goddammit! This is meant to be the time when I soak in all that lovely dry heat. The kind of weather that energises me the most. But no. This summer, whilst we've had a couple of small heatwaves (and 40 degrees is going too much the other way), mostly the hot weather we've had has been the energy sapping ultra humid variety. It's not meant to be like this in February!

This little return to weather that is more common in April or May has reminded me and given me a giddy-up about what it is I know I need to be doing next for my health - eating as much raw foods as I can. I was talking to God a couple of mornings ago about making changes in my diet, picking up where I left off a year or so ago. I was bemoaning how complex and challenging it feels in our society to change my diet - and I wouldn't even consider I'm like the standard Western diet. But elements of it have certainly been creeping back in, like eating wheat, for example. It's a sad fact that the less energy I have, the more stuff I eat that's processed and out of boxes. And then the spiral continues.

And so, after praying about making diet changes that morning, that evening I had my online friend Brandi instant message me. Brandi is never around at that time of night (she lives in Hawaii, so it's a four hour time difference, and it was, like, past midnight there for her). Brandi is a raw foods advocate, has a whole stack of information about it, feels passionate about it. And she answered some of the biggest concerns I had. And much as I would want to think not, I really feel like God was saying, go this way, go this way. Damn. Don't you hate that, when you ask him something and he answers? ;)

I have taken on a lot of "whacky" health things over the years of getting well, so I feel like I'm kinda halfway to the raw food thing anyway. But boy, what a challenging concept it is. Eating mainly raw foods? But wouldn't I be hungry all the time? What kind of comfort is there in eating raw stuff? Yuk. Nevertheless, it's been one of those gut feeling things on my mind for quite a few years now. My old next door neighbour, he had a terminal cancer diagnosis years ago, and radically changed his diet - you know, radically to the point where you just think, "Whoah! No way! I couldn't go there!" Thing was, this guy had not only beat his cancer but he was fighting fit and I could just see the health blooming out of his eyes. And I see it all the time with people who have a mostly raw foods diet. It's like they've woken up, and they're eating sunlight for breakfast. And I have been really resistant to the idea for years and years ... and I think now, finally, I am going to listen to God on this one. I have felt a lot of little nudges and proddings from him over the years in terms of my health ... go left instead of right, here. I think health is a very intuitive thing, like learning to listen to the music of your body.

Agh! I don't want to make dietary changes that are going to basically mean I'm unfit for human society! I don't want to be the kind of people that others look at as some kind of freak - oh, there goes that macrobiotic chick who just eats chickpeas, you know? I don't want to be the kind of person who people don't want to invite for dinner because they know all I eat is lima beans and witchety grubs. But I also don't want to be the kind of person who goes through the rest of my life with my body telling me that it doesn't want to be eating the stuff I put in it. So what's a girl to do?

I'm sick of feeling my glands standing up like golf balls on the side of my head. I'm sick of feeling like it's taking forever to get over the tracheitis I had five months ago. I'm sick of being back in this low-level fatigueland which sucks such a big one it takes up my entire vision, it's that big :) Low-level fatigueland is just blerty blerty blerty, and it reminds me of it's big sister, chronic fatigue syndromeland, and that is one land that was at the top of the Faraway Tree for way too long. And it's getting in the way of my creativity. And I'm hoping that Writing Lots Land is the next one to swing to the top of the Tree, so I feel like this is the physical component of that.

So, it's tentative steps towards getting more raw foods into my diet. Which feels terribly unpalatable. But you know what they say about eating elephants. Small steps.

Do not despise the day of small beginnings :)

Because if I take baby steps now towards better health, by the time the hell of Winter rolls back around to the Southern Hemisphere, maybe it won't be so hard to cope with if I'm feeling healthy. Bring it on, Papa.