Tuesday, 30 September 2008

not an entrepreneur

Okay before I start, I acknowledge the irony inherent in complaining about the internet on the internet. But I'm not going to stand outside my house with a megaphone telling everyone about it, because, well, I'd probably get beaten up by my neighbours.

I'm not sure whether I've just had information overload, or whether it's a symptom of depression, or what, but I'm finding my addiction to the internet troublesome at the moment. There is so much information out there, so much you can do, so many people doing so many things (with varying degrees of quality), so many ways of finding out information about people, and so many ways for people to find out information about you...sometimes it gets a bit too much. A step back and a deep breath is advisable.

For the most part, I control the information I put out there. I write this blog, and I choose what I will and won't write about (and if you're a regular reader you know I write about just about anything, so that doesn't bother me so much). I post photos to my Flickr page. I post random snippets of my day to Twitter. I poke people on Facebook. I've signed up with all sorts of sites that collect my information, from the books in my library to the songs I'm listening to right now. I love the confluence and the immediacy of information, but then occasionally it gets overwhelming.

I think the tipping point was setting up an Etsy store. Etsy's a great website full of handmade stuff, and there are some beautiful things featured for sale. It seemed like the perfect marriage between my love of the internet and my love of making things. I had a little scheme for selling the bits and pieces of craft that I make, and maybe even helping Karen sell some of her superb knitting. I set it all up, took photos, wrote some copy and excitedly put a couple of Karen's hats and a shawl up for sale last night. So rather than just putting bits of trivia out there, I was putting something tangible and saleable online and hoping that people would find it appealing.

I woke up this morning to a disgruntled note from the designer of one of the hats, telling me we'd breached copyright by posting her design (I don't know - was she waiting there, refreshing her browser every five minutes to see whether anyone was selling her designs?). I immediately apologised and took the items down. Karen did a bit of research and now we're much better informed, but can't sell the knitting (it all seems a bit ridiculous to me, but if that's the way it is you have to respect it - read Karen's post for the full details).

It just left me feeling so flat and disillusioned (although the designer probably felt that way too and thought we were ripping her off), and it's made me doubt whether I ought to be stepping into this pond of internet selling at all. To add to it, I was trawling through Etsy and then started down that whole spiral of 'why bother adding anything to the already crowded marketplace', which then led to 'why bother doing anything?' (Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!) It's hard to go out on a limb; to get knocked down before you've even started makes you feel like giving up - and I haven't even gone through the torture of putting my own craft things up for sale!

I don't think I'll give up. I'll just try something different. But maybe not for a while.


I hate it when everything seems too difficult. This often happens after a burst of creativity or activity, and seems worse somehow because I had a glimmer of my old self, a little peek into a stable emotional life, so that when I start feeling grey again it seems even greyer than before.

I never know what to do when I feel like this, and I keep trying different things. I've tried pushing on through. I've tried having a nap. I've tried going for a walk in the sun. Sometimes the greyness just won't be budged.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

I don't know what's been happening with my blog lately. My apologies that it's been down. I think I may have inadvertently created some sort of wormhole and the blog was eating itself. Hopefully that shouldn't be happening anymore...

Thursday, 25 September 2008

black dog socks

This is one of my favourite illustrations from Matthew and Ainsley Johnstone's book Living with a Black Dog.


I don't know what's going on with my domain name, but the blog's been down all morning. My apologies.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

comfort reading

I was in need of extreme comfort reading last night, so I turned back to one of my favourite childhood books: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. My copy is dog-eared and the pages yellowed, but it still has my name written in my mother's handwriting on the front page. The front cover, sadly, has fallen off.

I didn't want to stop reading it last night. I do love it so. I love the character of Sara, her combination of seriousness and whimsy, her kindness and her generosity to those who are overlooked by the self-important people; I love the descriptions of her little garrett room when it's transformed into a beautiful room by the lascar; I love Hodgson Burnett's scorn and her scathing character assessment of the more unpleasant members of society, like Miss Minchin and Lavinia. I guess when I was a child I identified with Sara being a third culture kid, growing up in an 'exotic' country and being sent back to Anglo society and being expected to conform and fit into it, but finding it all a bit strange. When I get home I'll try and find some favourite bits to post.

What are your favourite comfort reads and why?

Tuesday, 23 September 2008


It's so frustrating when you have creative impulses but you're not in the position to act upon them. Like, fragments of song lyrics suddenly jumping into my mind, or the desire to write all day, or a sudden urge to draw. I'm at work, and so must work, and know that by the time I get home the energy and enthusiasm for getting stuck into something creative will have waned. I try to jot things down so I don't forget them, but still...

Does this happen to you? How do you deal with it?

Sunday, 21 September 2008


Had a wonderful day yesterday, driving down to Bundanoon with mum to see the Tonkses. So good to catch up with them! We ate delicious food and drank delicious wine of course, then we went for a walk/bike ride in the National Park (Bethany and I took turns riding her bike down the dirt road with Nathaniel). We just sort of wandered, and it was beautiful and quiet and just felt so refreshing.

As we're walking along this dirt road, in the middle of the bush/forest, a car pulls up beside us and a voice calls out, "Bec!" And there, grinning and waving at me, are Ben and Karen! How funny. It wasn't completely serendipitous, as we knew that we were both going to be somewhere in the Southern Highlands on the weekend, but it seemed so amusing and strangely surreal.

The rest of the day and evening passed with me lying on the couch, playing with the guinea pig Nathaniel's minding, eating more wonderful food, watching a video of Leonard Cohen singing a song with U2 as his backing band, and and showing Jeremy and Bethany some Bill Bailey on youtube. Mum said, "You look more relaxed than you have for a long time!" - and I felt it, too.

Then Jeremy checked under our car for wombats, and after getting the all clear, it was time to head home. I shall be going back; hopefully soon.

Friday, 19 September 2008

do not worry

My lovely friend J sent me a message this week, containing an article about stress. I'm not sure what the original source was, but I liked this:
There are many ways to reduce stress. One is knowing that worry is like winking at someone across a pitch-dark room – you’re the only one who knows you’re doing it, and it doesn’t get you anywhere.
Also makes me think of Jesus' words in Matthew:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34

I think all of us need to remember that more often!

Monday, 15 September 2008


Although I was unwell today, Em and I had tickets to see Bill Bailey at the State Theatre that I'd bought ages ago. I was glad that by the evening I was feeling up to going! We ate dinner at Wagamama, had a good chat and laughed ourselves silly. If you ever have the chance to catch Bailey live, don't pass it up. He's manic, musical, highly intelligent and really, really funny.

My favourite bit was his critique of Australian news theme songs. On the channel 9 news theme: "That theme song is only appropriate if Godzilla is attacking the studio!" Think about it next time you hear it - he's right. He also did an interpretive dance to the ABC news theme and almost broke a leg tripping over his keyboards and theremin in the process.

blue green

At her stress talk, Helen Rienits talked about colours being important tools to relieve stress. Blue and green are soothing colours, so if you're highly stressed it's a good idea to surround yourself with those colours rather than, say, red or yellow, which are stimulating colours. That's why it feels so good to go and look at the ocean, or to be surrounded by rolling green hills. As an aside for the Christians, she said, "so isn't it great that God made the world predominantly blue and green?"

I'm at home, sick, lying on the couch in my pyjamas staring at a perfect, cloudless blue sky. It is very soothing indeed.

Thursday, 11 September 2008


Today's little happiness comes from drinking pipingly hot black coffee from a travel mug that I designed (which arrived today). Yay!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008


I hate the voice. The voice that tells me things. The voice that tells me that I am useless, ungainly, unlovable. The voice that tells me I can't do anything. The voice that tells me I'm letting people down. The voice that asks what the point is. The voice that keeps harping on, a ceaseless drone underpinning everything.

Why can't I listen to the good, bright voices? Why are they so much harder to hear? The voices that tell me I'm loved and valuable, that this patch will pass, that the only one I have to please is God? The voices that tell me of all the wonderful things I have, the people I have, the joys that can be found every day?

I need to learn to listen.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

managing stress

I went to a Wild St event last Friday, one of the Delightful Nights that they run once a quarter. This one was a little different than usual; rather than being an event with an activity and an evangelistic talk, we had supper together and heard a talk on managing stress from GP Dr Helen Rienits. I was pretty wiped out but had a really good time sitting with my mum and my godmother Freda, and chatting to Sammi while we ate cupcakes and Lindt balls. Lots of things Helen said resonated with many of us, and we all exchanged glances every so often when she would describe symptoms and situations that were so like our own.

One thing that I've been thinking about a lot is the sustained, cumulative effect of stress and living in a permanent state of stress overload. Your stressors can be made up of many things, little and big. Most of us tend to think of stressors as only being big things like problems at work, major illnesses, car accidents, things like that. But you can easily reach the point of stress overload with a lot of little things that add up - even something like constant, loud ambient noise can push you over the edge (like building noise, or traffic noise). Obviously it's unhealthy to live at this level of stress all the time; your body is depleting its stores of endorphins and running on adrenalin and cortisol, and this wears down the immune system and leads to all sorts of other major health issues.

I think about all the things that have happened to me over the last few years, and more recently, and I shouldn't be surprised that I struggle with stress! It manifests itself in my depression and in a kind of paralysis; it's like I just grind to a halt and feel like I'm unable to do anything. My counsellor and I talked about how I had essentially been living in survival mode for years after certain traumas and sadnesses, and you can get used to living like that, but you physically and emotionally cannot sustain it. So I'm at breaking point a lot quicker than most people simply because I'm always living close to it.

Yet even though I know this consciously, and I try to take steps to reduce my stressors, I can find it subconsciously quite hard to cut myself some slack. I'm the sort of person that takes guilt on even when there's none to be had. I pre-empt imagined negative responses to things I have or haven't done, I worry about letting people down, etc, etc. There is a fairly constant stream of negative self-talk that, when pointed out to me, is ludicrous, but is insidious when it's allowed to prattle on, unchecked. This all, of course, just makes managing stress harder.

Helen suggested identifying your stressors and trying to deal with the smaller ones if you can; you may not be able to fix the major stressor, but if you get rid of some of the little ones, you'll be more able to deal with the big one/s. She had lots of other suggestions to help us manage stress, such as doing something creative regularly, getting exercise, gardening, eating healthily, getting 7-8 hours sleep a night. She also suggested some quick fixes in stress overload times, and I liked that one was "laugh, cry or sing as loud and as hard as possible", as all three of those actions release endorphins that help you to calm down. I knew there was a reason that singing at the top of my lungs while driving feels so good!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

a brief memeapology

Okay, okay, I know that the meme is the blogging equivalent of the chain letter, and I apologise for tagging those who dislike them intensely. I just love random information, that's all. :D

Actually, maybe it would be more interesting if I had added some rules of my own, for example:

7. you must respond to this meme by midnight in three days or else a plague of garden gnomes will be visited upon you.

Actually, that would be quite freaky.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

spring from our garden

In case it's also rainy and cold where you are, thought I'd share with you the spring flowers from our garden. Hooray for growing things! That's a very heavy daffodil (it's dirty because it was slumped onto the ground from the weight of last night's rain), a different coloured daffodil and a little pink sweet pea poking out.


Friday, 5 September 2008

what a week

I went to work this morning and lasted an hour before the headache hit and I had to come home and lie down. I guess if you're going to be sick at home, a cold rainy day is a good one to choose!

I watched a disc of West Wing season 1 and slept under my blanket with my hot water bottle. It's been a pretty huge week and a bit. I think I'm going to give up on trying to write anything extensive about Driscoll and all the things I went to hear him at, but I'll do a summary.

Guan, Mary and I drove up to the mountains in the late afternoon last Friday. We were the first to arrive at our accommodation, The Blue House, where we got set up and ate shepherd's pie for dinner. Mary elected to stay home and have an early night, and Guan and I went to the convention centre and met up with the others.

Mark Driscoll gave four talks over the weekend, and his bombast and difficult challenges were well-tempered by Don Carson's reasonably straightforward exegetical preaching. They were a good combination - I think too much of one or the other would have been a problem.

I really enjoyed seeing Driscoll give a talk; I've listened to a few podcasts and read some of his writing, but he definitely has a 'watchable quality' (as Annabeth on the West Wing would say). But that's not to say he's all style and no substance. He packs a lot into his talks, and goes off on a lot of 'riffs', and doesn't fail to tie his theology in with living life. In fact, he dispensed with his third talk altogether to answer questions from the crowd, as he had observed that in Sydney there is a lot of good solid theological teaching but people had a hunger for practical application of what they were learning. As the questions were SMSed in, people were free to ask anything they wanted without fear of embarrassment, so there were predictably mostly questions on relationships, sex, family and things like that.

It was the end of this question time that he answered a question about why men should leave home younger than they generally do (ie, mid to late twenties). That's been one of his big themes while he's been speaking in Australia, challenging young men with the 'adultescence' mindset to grow up (sorry, I hate that term, but it fits). His thinking is that no woman is going to want to marry a man whose mom still tucks him into bed with his Star Wars sheets and footy pyjamas (when he speaks in the States, it's Star Wars pyjamas, but I guess he was tailoring the message to the audience), so guys should grow up, get a job, leave home, show they can provide for a family, get married, etc, etc.

He also talked about the responsibility fathers have towards their daughters to protect them, nurture them, encourage them to make good decisions and teach them discernment about men. He said some very good stuff here, but then it just started hammering into me that this was something sorely lacking in my relationship with my own father and how I had made some colossal mistakes and trusted some very dodgy people because I hadn't had a good model in regards to men as I grew up (not saying dad doesn't love me, or that I'm not also culpable in the decision making/wilfulness of the whole thing, but I didn't start off with a very solid foundation). It made me immensely sad, and by the time we got back to the house for lunch, I kind of lost it, cried all over my lovely friends, had to go and lie down and sleep it off for the rest of the afternoon.

But it was nice hanging out with the Beilharzes, the Un families and Elsie. By the end of the weekend, the big talks, the 2000 people and not sleeping very well, I was glad to be home and back in my own bed.

Ministry Intensive
As a National Office team, we went to this together and saw many other AFES staffworkers there. Again, it was the Driscoll and Carson double-act, with Kent and Barbara Hughes as well. Carson repeated one of his talks from Engage, which was a bit of a shame as I'm guessing a good number of people there had been at Engage (and apparently he wasn't supposed to give the same talk twice!).

In his second talk Driscoll was hard hitting and confrontational about what, as an outsider, he saw were the reasons that evangelism was being hampered in Sydney (Gordo gives a pretty thorough rundown if you're interested). I thought it was a brilliant talk, and really something only an outside observer could deliver.

I got cranky after lunch when we were separated into men and women and told which talk to go to, so I skipped Barbara Hughes' talk on Evangelism in the Home. Was too tired to go to Carson's big talk in the evening, and hadn't really perked up much by the next morning. I didn't really get much out of Kent Hughes' talk on Pastoring from the Pulpit but then I guess it wasn't really aimed at me.

Was supposed to go to the New College Lecture series on God and the Artist, but I was so completely drained by Tuesday night I didn't go. As I mentioned a couple of posts back, on Wednesday I resigned from work and hadn't recovered any more energy so didn't go to that night's lecture. And on Thursday I was unexpectedly given a ticket to Bek Caines's PhD graduation ceremony, so I went to that and missed the lectures entirely!

So it's probably no wonder that today I'm out for the count.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

random facts

The Random Facts meme has been doing the rounds and I got tagged twice (by Ali and Simone). So the rules are:
  1. Link to the person who ‘tagged’ you
  2. Post the rules on your blog
  3. List 6 random facts about yourself
  4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post
  5. Let each person know they have been tagged by commenting on their blog
  6. Let the tagger know the entry is posted on your blog
There don't seem to be any specifics about what sort of information to divulge. Okey doke.
  1. I'm left handed, and I have a birthmark on the inside of my left arm. As a child I would remember which side was left by checking for my birthmark. I quite like being left because it's different to most other people; I feel an instant camaraderie with other left handers.

  2. I can't stand cauliflower, no matter how much cheese is on it. I'm also not too fond of celery, cucumber or raw capsicum which has led some to believe I have issues with vegetables beginning with the letter 'c', but this is untrue. I'm quite partial to carrots.

  3. For my 21st birthday I had a masquerade ball in the Chinese Gardens at Darling Harbour, basically because I love dressing up and wanted an excuse to wear a gown with a corset and hoop skirt. Thankfully most of my friends at the time were theatre people who also loved an excuse to dress up and everyone got into the spirit of it.

  4. I love playing World of Warcraft with my friends on the other side of the world. My highest level character is a human rogue.

  5. I was baptised at the age of 12 at the International Baptist Church in Singapore. I wore a white robe and was fully immersed in a glass-fronted font that was at the front of the church. When the pastor dunked me, the robe ballooned up around me, and I was grateful that I was wearing jeans.

  6. I love to sing. I love love love it, and I love to sing with a strong singer who doesn't get flustered when I do harmonies. But I feel intimidated by things like auditions and professional choristers with impeccable sight reading abilities and so I have never done much with it. Though that is slowly changing.
Now. Who to tag? Karen, Guan, the Baddelim, Mark, Kathleen, Dave.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

brain drain

It's been a big, exhausting and interesting week. Engage was fantastic but I hit a few emotional speedbumps along the way and got peopled-out pretty quickly. The Ministry Intensive was also fantastic but...intense. And today I resigned from AFES (I'll be here til Christmastime). So all up it's been huge, physically, emotionally, pretty much in every way you could imagine.

I'll post some musings about the talks, etc, soon, but just thought I'd keep y'all up to date.