Sunday, 22 December 2013

Standing firm

Today at church I was encouraged by the sermon from Ephesians 6. It was about  standing firm in the truth that we know, and putting on the armour of God so that we can withstand whatever Satan throws at us. 

I was just as moved by the songs we sang (great choices JG), which reflected the point of the teaching perfectly. They are songs we've sung zillions of times and are almost overfamiliar. But I think some time of not being on the music team and being able to just turn up to church, sit and listen, has meant that I am being refreshed, and re-learning things that perhaps I was taking for granted. 

Through many dangers, toils and snares
 I have already come 
 Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, 
 and grace will lead me home.

Amazing Grace, John Newton

The only way I can stand with any confidence in life is because of God's grace. The only way I will get to the end and still be standing firm is because of God's grace. There is no way I could do this on my own, to try to live a godly life. I am weak willed and too easily swayed and my instinct is to run or crumble at the first sign of trouble. It's all grace, changing my desires, pointing me back to God, showing me what he has already brought me through and helping me trust that he will continue to bring me through the dangers, toils and snares. 

There in the ground his body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave he rose again
And as he stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am his, and he is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ. 

In Christ alone, Stuart Townend and Keith Getty

Sin's curse has lost its grip on me! It's not going to win! Not because of anything I do, but because of what Jesus has done. As the next verse triumphantly proclaims: "No guilt in life, no fear in death - this is the power of Christ in me." I can't adequately describe what comfort these words bring!

We're always going to stuff up, until the day we die. None of us can do enough to be right with God. Nothing we do takes God by surprise. How incredible then that despite all that he sent Jesus to make it right! How incredible that I can be confident that nothing will separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:39)

To paraphrase Newton: "I am a great sinner and Christ is a great saviour". Understanding that makes all the difference. 

Friday, 20 December 2013

ruminations on, yeah, singleness

This article popped up a couple of times on my Facebook feed this morning and it was wonderful, so I reposted it: 6 ways to love single women in your church.

I think it's also worth highlighting the Driscoll post that prompted Lindsey to write her article - 6 options for godly single women wanting to marry. I thought it showed an insightful understanding of the complexities and difficulties of being an older single Christian woman, which are often don't seem to be understood by the people trying to minister to us.

Being a woman in this situation, I've at least considered all of Driscoll's options at some point:

  • Sin: I have made less than stellar decisions while trying to take matters into my own hands. "But at least I'll have fun!"*
  • Surrender: closed myself off to anyone and everyone and subconsciously tried to make myself less attractive just in case someone got the wrong idea (as if). "But at least I won't get hurt!"*
  • Settle: I haven't gone down this path, but let's just say at any rate it's not like there's a smorgasbord of choice, so I can see how it could be a temptation.
  • Suffer: yep. So easy to indulge in this.
  • Strive: My counsellor suggested if being in a relationship was so important for me, I ought to go where the guys are, and go to events and blah blah blah. She said I should get onto online dating sites, which made me want to run for the hills (it works for some, but it's really not me).
  • Solace: this is ultimately where I end up, even when I waver through those other options, and I'm so grateful that I ultimately get back here. But it can be an elusive state if you don't keep it as your focus (ie, by being steeped in the Bible and godly fellowship). 
*not true

As I said on my Facebook post, I am blessed to live with my lovely mum, sharing the household as flatmates would, but with the benefit of a deeper mother-daughter relationship. I know what a blessing it is to have someone to talk to at the end of the day, to have someone I can ask "does this look okay?" before I leave the house, to have someone to hug when I just need a hug.

But we still have to navigate the world as single Christian women, turning up to things alone, starting at a new church alone (in mum's case), making big decisions about life as individuals, not as part of a couple. We each, in our own ways, have to deal with the question of "why are you living with your mother/daughter?" as though there is something wrong with us - me, for not striking out into the world and being an Independent Woman (which I did do for a while, btw); mum, for having to depend on her daughter. I know she feels guilty about the perception (wholly unfounded) that she's somehow holding me back.

Lately mum has been grappling with all the stuff that happens when you turn a certain age and become eligible for the pension and have to think about retirement and all of that. I am completely at a loss to know how to help her; it's not a stage of life I have had to consider yet. If she was married, her husband would presumably be able to talk all this stuff over with her and they could make decisions together. But as an older single woman, I can see how hard it is to have to think about all this stuff on your own. All I can do is listen and give her hugs when needed! (I'm good at hugs)

I don't really have a point with this post. Other than to say, if you are a praying person, please pray for me and any other single women you know, that we would remain in and strive for the solace that only God can provide.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

you're beautiful

I read this yesterday and it made me smile and want to cheer - Things no one will tell fat girls... so I will (fair warning for frank talk about sex stuff, but I think you can handle it). Jes's body positive talk is so positive, I love it.
When people say "you're gorgeous," believe them. I tend not to, and it's a crying shame. When people genuinely compliment you, it's because they really see it. Try to not dismiss their perspective as wrong and assume that you know better. They see all of you. We see our flaws. Believe them.

I was thinking about how much better I feel about myself since I decided earlier this year to put aside all the fat talk, all the "I need to lose weight", all the "I'll be so much happier if I get down to a size 12" (which, dear reader, is still considered fat). An ad for The Biggest Loser came on TV last night and mum remarked, "the problem with shows like this is that there's this unspoken implication that all the person's problems will be solved when they're thin. But there's usually another underlying reason why they put on that much weight in the first place."

Now of course I still have problems and am not blissfully happy, whether I'm dieting or not! But I have to say, I do not feel the slightest bit guilty, nor do I miss that part of my brain that was always calculating food, worrying about numbers, stressing about when I could next eat. I put on a little bit of weight, but it didn't balloon by any means, and it seems to have now plateaued (I'm only guessing based on how my clothes fit - and they fit fine!). I love being able to share in tasty food at work with my colleague Tiff, who gets very excited about food. I love being able to cook wonderful things and enjoy them.

We were also watching Nigella last night (Tuesday seemed to be the night for all the celebrity chefs wheeling out their Christmas shows). I absolutely love Nigella, for her delight in food, her campy sensuality, her sense of fun. Part of her appeal (as has been noted in just about everything you've ever read about her) is her curviness. How different she would be if she was rail thin and all muscles, like say, Madonna (edit to add: I used Madonna as an example, because she and Nigella are of a similar age).

I guess that's why articles like Jes's and her photo project (there's a link in the article), and people like Nigella are important. It's that thing of seeing yourself reflected in the media that is around you, so you can go "oh. I'm not an abnormal freak. There are plenty of people like me out there...I love how they look...maybe I look okay too! I don't need to change to be an acceptable human being." (That goes for anyone who has any type of 'difference', whether it's race or gender or whatever)

Obviously, it would be an ideal world if we didn't have to worry about appearance at all. But that's not the world we live in. I'll quote Jes again:
You're not stunning despite your body. You're stunning because of your body. There is a distinct difference. I grew up in a culture that would deem "unattractive" women as "special spirits". A degrading categorisation that implied that the only thing worthwhile was whatever was inside. Well, yeah. We are all much much more than our bodies, but our bodies are a beautiful part of us too. Beauty comes from the inside AND the outside.  I am of the firm belief that every person is beautiful, and so this leaves the inside to be the part that is the most telling when it comes to true "beauty".

Monday, 16 December 2013

Modified Haru

I know it seems a funny time to be crocheting with the temperatures being what they are, but I wanted to finish this little jacket. It's basically Doris Chan's Haru, but modified to be a shorter cropped bolero instead of a long cardie. It's good for balancing out the air conditioning at work.


I do like the long version, but basically I ran out of yarn. I bought this yarn last year in Berry when I was visiting missions over the Christmas break. I had crocheted a top but it turned out to be very unflattering, unfortunately something I couldn't predict until I saw where the stripe in the yarn ended up.


It's a pain, really, because you spend a long time on making something and when it doesn't work you feel like it's been a waste. But I love the colours in this yarn, and there was nothing wrong with the yarn itself, so I decided to repurpose it. Unfortunately, either the type of yarn or my stitches meant it was really hard to unravel. So I pulled as much of it apart as I could, but ultimately I didn't have enough to make the longer Haru.


The pattern was pleasing, as with most of Chan's patterns. The shell pattern is a lot more forgiving than a straight single crochet. The stripe is still a little weird - well, the really bright red one, it's the only one that's really obvious. But I actually don't mind the offset nature of it. I think when it gets a bit cooler I might make another Haru in the longer style.



Sorry about the lighting in the pics too...I meant to do it while there was still daylight but was so mashed after work I had to have a lie down instead.

Pattern: Haru by Doris Chan
Yarn: Riot DK by King Cole (colour 406)

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Waiting for the Lord

Struggling at the moment. Still not that well with the virus, though I did make it to the office today for the first time this week. Have been feeling really melancholy this week; probably post-big-event comedown as much as anything, which enhances sad feelings and general feeling-sorry-for-myselfness.

When like this, I tend to feel just so tired. Not a lack of sleep tired, but a bone weariness, finding it hard to continue on the path I've chosen, just wanting to give up and lie down in the dirt and not to care what happens next. 


My dear, dear friend (and partner in marketing) Sammi came over and brought me flowers, had a cuppa and prayed with me yesterday.

(Side note: I really can't explain how wonderful a gift unexpected flowers are. Don't ever think the recipient won't appreciate them. Unless they're allergic, in which case...I can't help you there.)

She wrote Isaiah 40:11 on the card with the flowers, which prompted me to go and read the whole chapter. It was nourishing for mind and soul. I was especially comforted by God's bigness and his patient, tender love for me, who is such a small and rebellious thing. 

At this end of a difficult year, I rejoice that God is the one who gives me the strength to continue walking forward on his path...because I know I just couldn't do it on my own. And I give thanks for the people he puts around me to spur me on. 

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. 
Isaiah 40:28-31

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Our first Spire Market!



So the first Spire Market happened! It was lots of fun. The other stallholders were lovely and had some beautiful things for sale. Everyone set up their stalls in a professional, attractive way...it went pretty much as well as we could have hoped for a first go with only a month's notice.

Well, it would have been nice to have lots more people through. We didn't have a crowd at any point, but a steady trickle of people. We'll have lots more time before the next one (in late March) so we'll be able to publicise it better and hopefully get lots more people in.


I sold a fair amount of stuff and saw lots of lovely friends - some who came from quite a distance. I got so much pleasure out of creating things and thinking up ideas for future products. So I think all round it was a good venture!



By the way: I have a few things left for sale, in case you didn't make it on Saturday. I'll be setting up my Etsy shop too for stuff that I make in between markets, but I'll keep you posted about that.

Unfortunately, since Saturday night I've been completely out of commission. I got the virus that poor mum was knocked out by, so once my body knew it didn't have to do anything else, it completely gave up. I was in bed, mostly asleep, for the next 48 hours, and am only just starting to feel human again. The fever has gone but I'm only able to function for about half an hour at a time before I have to lie down again.

Oddly enough, while I'm lying in bed, all I can think about are the next things I want to sew...

Monday, 2 December 2013

busy bee

Well I've been busy, sewing purses and bags and making bath salts and things in jars for the market. I really hope lots of people come and it all goes well - we only have eight stalls, as that's what we got insurance for, but I'm confident that the quality of what is on all the stalls will mean there is plenty for people to buy and enjoy. Also the hall can't really fit more tables than that, so if we expand we will have to go outside and into the adjoining room.

Anyway. Baby steps.

Sewing has been so great. My room is an absolute bomb site, with bits of thread and offcuts all over the floor and piles of fabric on the cutting table, but it's the mess of creativity so I don't really mind it. I guess it's my studio really, with a bed in it.

The good thing about sewing is that it keeps my mind on hold, and keeps my hands busy. I'm dealing with some stuff at the moment that is painful and sad, and although I'm feeding my brain good stuff when I read my Bible or listen to people like Tim Keller speak, sometimes my brain needs to just rest. But if I'm not doing something, unhelpful thoughts just whirl around and get me nowhere.

So sewing it is. And Psych. It's silly and mildly amusing and I don't have to devote much attention to it, so can just have it on in the background.

My current favourite verses are Lamentations 3:22-25:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Announcing: the Spire Market



You know how I love a project, right? And you know how I'm prone to impulsive and crazy ideas, yeah? Well here's one for you - I'm setting up a market with Sammi. In less than a month.

Thankfully we know some amazingly talented and crafty folk who have wonderful things to sell. I'm going to have bags and purses for sale, as well as other gifty things (like the bath salts I mixed up tonight - let me tell you my skin feels amazing after a soak with them!). Sammi will definitely have her beautiful handmade cards and paper crafty things, and might also have some of her delightful dolls for sale.

I'm also excited about a few of the other stall holders who are coming on board. I'll tell you more about them when they're all confirmed. But I will say that there will be lots of delicious treats and lovely things to buy for Christmas presents.

So make sure you put it in your diary and tell everyone you know about it! It's going to be great!

The Spire Market
Wild Street Church Hall - cnr Wild and Hinkler Sts, Maroubra
Saturday 7 December
10am - 4pm

Monday, 4 November 2013

It's okay to be a single woman and own a cat

I helped out at youth group on Friday night, and talk was all about relationships. I helped Anna with the year 8 girls and we all had a really good, open, frank chat. There was a lot of silliness and noise and giggling of course, but some good questions in there too. And they actually wanted to hear from us about what we thought and what the Bible said about relationships. I don’t know if they were ready to accept what we told them, but they were curious all the same. That's a start.

They were horrified by the thought that it was possible they might not ever get married though. The whole ‘how far can you go before marriage’ with sex thing was of course a big topic, but the idea that 'you might never get married and that’s okay' was really revolutionary to them. “But I’d be so lonely!” “But I don’t want to end up a crazy cat lady!” (honestly, how does that idea keep getting perpetuated? Anna and I both said at the same time “Hey - cats are awesome!”) “But…but that’s horrible!”

They hadn’t realised I was single and their eyes grew wide when I revealed this fact. So it was probably helpful having Anna (who is married) and me (who isn’t) answering their questions, because we could talk about it from both perspectives. I tried to make it clear that it was sometimes a struggle, but that when you love God the most and you are trying to live his way, you trust that he has the best in mind for you. So you trust that if he says ‘no’ or just doesn’t bring anyone suitable along, even though it hurts, that it must be the best for you at that point in time. He knows much more than we do, and he knows the plan for our lives. 

[I remember being that age and just assuming that marriage was in my future, so I’m not surprised they think the same way. I had no theology of relationships; there wasn't any discussion about that sort of thing that I can recall at our church. The only examples I had were my parents' dissolving marriage and the movies and TV I voraciously consumed. I think as a teenager my plan for my life was that I'd just have fun for a while, then when I was ready, somehow the perfect guy would just turn up in my life, we'd get married, and probably live in a vast but tastefully decorated loft apartment in New York, where I would write best selling novels and he would, I don't know, be amazing or something. Clearly God is using a different map than I am.]

So we talked about the lies in pop culture that tell them that there is such a thing as a soul mate, that we need to keep looking for that one perfect person, that you need to ‘try before you buy’, that you are somehow less of a human if you haven’t had sex, that you can only be happy in life if you have satisfied your every sexual desire - and how it’s really difficult to have a different mindset to that. Rom coms are deceptively convincing sometimes. But really if you do relationships God’s way, then it doesn’t matter if you haven’t had sex before you get married to see whether you have the best sex in the world with that person; your spouse becomes your ‘best’, your spouse becomes your paragon. And you're not comparing him or her to someone else, or worrying that you don't measure up to their previous partners.

Don’t think that we made it out to be all wine and roses. I did emphasise that just because the people involved are Christians doesn’t guarantee a relationship’s success. Plenty of non Christians have happy, lifelong marriages, and plenty of Christians have damaged, unhealthy marriages that sadly end in divorce (and vice versa of course). We are all broken, sinful humans, and if you put two broken, sinful humans together there are going to be problems no matter how high you aim. 

But if you both go into a relationship looking to God for guidance and looking at his blueprint for relationships to guide you, then you are more likely to honour him and each other, than if you’re going into a relationship purely to satisfy yourself. (Today George linked to a helpful blog post that articulates this really well: Marriage isn't for you)

I’ve been reflecting on that evening's conversation over the weekend and hoping the girls don’t think we’ve got it all together (though they probably do, if I recall how I thought of teachers as a teenager). Because although I believe everything I told them, and I really want to live that way, sometimes I stuff up monumentally. I make poor choices. I want things that God doesn’t want me to have. I’m upset that relationships don’t work out the way I want. And yet, it’s true, I do trust him. I guess that’s the point; if I ultimately come back to seeing his way as right and letting him guide me, that’s what matters.

And life's not over yet.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Adventures in crochet: Eve's rib tunic

It worked!

I tried again after my misadventure with Galena. I sized up and followed the pattern correctly and I was amazed at how much easier it was to whiz through this pattern the second time around. Now I think I've got the hang of the way the patterns are written in this book (Everyday Crochet) I reckon the other patterns will be a breeze.


The Eve's Rib Tunic is based on Galena (which was the first top I attempted), only she is longer, has a bit of hip shaping and ribbed arm cuffs. There is also an optional cowl collar, which looks lovely on the model, but Chan says in the pattern notes, "if your figure can carry the added volume, make the optional collar", and I decided I didn't need any extra froofery in that area, so I left it off.


It is so comfortable. It fits really well after blocking, and is the perfect weight/warmth for spring. And I love it over jeans. Hurrah!

PS - the colour in the pics isn't accurate, obviously. It's not as dark as the top pic, not as light as the bottom pic. I couldn't be bothered editing the pics :)

Pattern: Eve's Rib Tunic by Doris Chan, from Everyday Crochet
Yarn: Morris Woollahra 10 ply (85% Australian wool, 10% silk, 5% cashmere) in Persian Purple

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Little thing


These aren't among the world's beautiful birds, but it really lifted my mood today to help this baby (or perhaps teen) bird up off the concrete where it had fallen in our car park. Actually, when i pulled into the car park it kind of fell on my car and was clinging to the door jamb with an expression that seemed to say, "help!". Well it would have said that if it was an anthropomorphised bird in a cartoon. Or maybe just, "eep!".

I left it there but when I came out later on, it was on the concrete next to my colleague's car, making a piteous racket. Two of its siblings and its nearby anxious parent looked on; I guess it must be learning to fly day. Its body was hot and bony in my hand, and so frail. I picked it up and popped it onto the mulch in the garden, where it looked at me and squeaked. 

I don't know why it made my heart surge, but I sorely needed it. Thanks, ugly little bird. 

Monday, 21 October 2013

Ta-ra! Ta-ra! New Jelssievision!

Took me a couple of weeks to get the time to edit, but there's a new Jelssievision ep!


The thing that interested me in the process this time was that on the day, none of us felt like there had been anything especially outstanding in the conversation. But when I started putting it together, I really enjoyed the giggly positive vibe of the thing. Also, when you compress over an hour down to 11 minutes, any conversation can sound witty and flowing.

Had to do some fiddling with sound levels as I forgot the mic stand and it wasn't in the ideal location (so Elsie was really loud and Jess was fairly quiet). But that's okay, and gave me some practice at that; I think the balance ended up reasonably even.

Bonus feature: after the initial viewing, you can watch again but this time keep track of the other customers in the background and me as I pop in and out of frame in the window! Rookie mistake. Don't film in front of reflective surfaces.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Just standing around

I'm fascinated by the idea of standing desks, but they are very expensive. Articles pop up fairly frequently advocating standing for longer during the day, rather than just sitting (Lifehacker is a particular fan of this mode of working). And even though work bought me an amazing chair, my posture is usually terrible and I am so aware of how much I sit during the day, just because...well, I work at a computer.

I liked the look of the Varidesk as a non-permanent, adjustable solution but it's $300+, and that's a lot of money to spend on something when you don't know if it'll suit your way of working.

I'm the only one in the office today so I've decided while nobody else is here and I don't have to explain what I'm doing, I'd set up the simplest version of a standing desk and try it out for the day. We have a set of Ikea nesting tables out in the common area and the smallest one is the perfect height for my monitor. The other good thing I thought is that because I have a laptop/monitor set up rather than a desktop computer, when I want to sit down I can just flip up the laptop screen and work off that.


Our floors are carpeted and are very comfortable in bare feet. I've only been standing here for 11 minutes so far so maybe I won't be feeling so excited about it after a few hours. But we'll see.

The only dodgy thing so far is working out the keyboard/mouse arrangement. I've got the keyboard stacked up on a couple of file boxes so it's at the right height, but it looks a bit silly. But if it works for me today, then I might investigate a more elegant solution.

Hurrah for experiments! Have you worked at a standing desk? Any tips? Did you love it or hate it?

Friday, 11 October 2013

misadventures in crochet

I was going to write a blog post about the crocheted top I excitedly finished this week but I got so disheartened by the photos I tried to take of myself in it. I find it really hard to take good photos of myself with an SLR because it's so static - you have to set the camera, then press the timer, then go and pose, rather than just taking a bunch of photos of someone moving around. But then I don't like posing for full length photos anyway; I never know what to do with my arms (reminds me of the great Ani diFranco lyric from Evolve, "I don't take good pictures cos I have the kind of beauty that moves"). I should find a pose that works, like Lili of Frocks and Frou Frou, and just stand like that every time.

I was so disappointed when I looked at the full length photos. The stitches are lovely, the fabric is pretty, the colour is fresh...but on me the top just makes me look like a sack of oranges. 

It's a Doris Chan pattern called Galena. I really enjoyed making it, but Chan's patterns take a little getting used to and are quite wordy because she is trying to give you all sorts of options for sizing. I read through the pattern carefully, marking bits I needed to take particular note of. And I made a couple of adjustments to suit myself here and there (eg in the sleeves and length).

But I missed one vital thing. Instead of turning at the end of each row I just kept going in rounds. And I didn't realise it until I got to the very end. Facepalm.


So the top is much snugger than it ought to be. Even though I tried it on as I went, I knew it was close fitting, but thought it would stretch a little more with blocking. I think it would work on my body shape with a bit more ease. So really the problem is I have made a perfectly acceptable garment, but it's just in too small a size. Grr.


I don't know how to write about it in a decorous way so I'll just say it - I felt like it made my bust look like I had two giant water balloons stuffed down my top. And I know that everyone is aware of my bust because it's just out there, and of course I'm aware of it too, but I don't look at myself all the time to have to SEE it.


It's kind of frustrating when you crochet something that seems to be fitting then finish it, block it, and put it on, and it just doesn't work. Mum thought it looked nice, and perhaps it might have just been the photos I took were especially unflattering with the light coming from above. It might have been less of a problem if I had used a reflector. But now if I wear the top I'll be feeling self conscious, which means I probably won't wear it.


So the solution will be to find someone who it fits and who likes it and give it to them. And not to get discouraged, but to try again and pay more attention to the pattern! I wonder if I will ever crochet anything that ends up looking like it's supposed to?

Double sigh.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Greenish thumb

I love being out in the garden! I don't always have success with growing things but the willingness is there. At the moment our garden is exploding with gorgeous growth, and sitting outside just drinking in the green and the sunlight is quite delicious.

I didn't really have my act together last spring to plant vegies. Well, I planted some tomatoes and basil but nothing else really. This year I'm a bit more organised. I joined the Diggers Club a while ago, which has marvellous and interesting heirloom plants, seeds and trees, and lots of advice. It took me a while to actually decide what I wanted to order from them, because I could spend an absolute fortune on setting up a garden, quite happily.

I tried to raise seedlings from seed and that hasn't really gone so well; I think the initial spot I had my seedling trays was too hot and the seed raising mix dried out too quickly. A shady spot on the ground next to the laundry door seems to be working well. I'm also trying to propagate some French lavender from our happy lavender bush. Apparently it's easy...but easy to some is not always easy to everyone! There are also some daisy plants that our lovely next door neighbour propagated and gave to me (most of them died but three have survived!).

Seeds and cuttings, passionfruit, lime tree
I planted some Diggers potatoes in one of the empty half wine barrels the previous owners left, and they're taking off. Our citrus trees seem pretty happy too, and the cripps pink and granny smith apple trees I also got from Diggers are finally starting to look like more than twigs in dirt.

Cripps Pink apple tree, tub o' zucchini, minty gardenia type thing that I've forgotten the name of

Yesterday I bought a bunch more seedlings (from Bunnings...though I was delighted to find they stock Diggers tomato seedlings) to kick start the vegie growing. So I'm doing zucchini, four kinds of tomato, spinach and basil. There are carrot and capsicum seeds attempting to sprout; hopefully they do!

Herb barrel, potato barrel, cat grass (no barrel)
There's also a passionfruit vine and a grape vine that will hopefully bear some delicious bounty. Though apparently the local possums have thwarted our neighbour's attempts to get his passionfruit going.

The cat is not especially interested in any of it except for her cat grass, which she picks over and nibbles like a true connoisseur.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Plodding upwards

I had a positive counselling session today, but it was still exhausting! Trying to marshall your brain into thinking clearly about yourself can be difficult. The last couple of sessions I had were heavily emotional and I had to admit that I wasn't coping well and think about what that meant.

But in the last month I have been steadily plodding upwards from the very deep pit that I found myself in several weeks ago, and it was great to be able to go over that with my counsellor.

It was also helpful to reinforce that just because my plodding is going quite well, I'm not up to flying stage yet. This is the problem with recovery from anything. Once I start to feel better, I think "okay I can do all those things I wasn't able to before!", invariably I overdo it and topple back over into the hole again.

This is why charting my progress by tracking my mood and playing SuperBetter has been so good. I can see the progress I am making when I get sick of the plodding - I can see that although it feels like I'm standing still, I am actually moving forwards.

I explained the whole SuperBetter thing to my counsellor and she was fascinated and asked me to send her the links. She was intrigued by the concept and thought it could appeal to some of her other clients, especially younger ones.

Here's a graphic from the site showing how it works:

how SuperBetter works


It's a little small, but click to embiggen it and explore.

My counsellor and I agreed that one of the things about 'conventional' mental health tools/exercises is that they often seem overly dry and homework-like. But the thing about SuperBetter is because it's conceived as a game, it's creative, it breaks everything down into bite-sized, achievable chunks, and it puts a big emphasis on the journey you're taking to get to your Epic Win. You can customise your power-ups, quests and bad guys to be things that are more meaningful to you, but the 'power packs' the team has devised based on various goals (eg, 'the power to quit anything', 'stress buster', 'emotional resilience') are fun and really well thought out.

Playing doesn't take much time (I check in most days). I'm also finding when I start to feel my mood dipping, instead of dwelling on the dip, I log onto SuperBetter and do a power up or a quest, and it's usually enough to put me back on track.

Of course it might not appeal to everyone, but I'm pretty excited to have found something that works for me.

So yay for forward/upward momentum, no matter the pace! Yay for games! Yay for five or six days of consistent mood (no spikes either up or down)!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

sadly not grand

I've been listening to, and loving, Billy Crystal's memoir Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys. On the drive home tonight he was talking about the joys of being a grandfather.

I know this will sound weird, but I think it makes me sad that my mum is not a grandmother more than it makes me sad that I'm not a mother. She'd be a great mama.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Instant friends

That last post was a little disingenuous. Although it feels like all I've been doing is being sick and going to work, I have done some things. Just not small talky things.

One thing I did was that I went to Brisbane and visited the amazing Baddeley family! I got to see their house and their rambling garden and romp about with a five and three year old while their exhausted mother cooked and their industrious father planted vegetables. This is the driveway up to their house - every time we left we saw wallabies but I didn't manage to get any of them on camera:


I got to go to church with them and participate in family prayer and Bible time. I got to read lots of Enid Blyton aloud (complete with funny accents) and watch Colin in concert and get a thorough Octonauts induction. I gave the boys the crocheted cats I'd made, which were a hit, and apparently I was also a hit - long after I'd left. The last time I saw JD he was a baby in Oxford. And I'd never met SC! But we were instant friends. Very glad.



It wasn't all kid time; I had some lovely catch up chats with the adults too. I love being with the Bs. They just get me and even though it's been almost five years since we hung out together in the flesh, it was like no time had passed at all. Those are the best kind of friends.

small talk

[crickets chirping]

It's been awful quiet here lately.

I've been trying to write blog posts in my head, but there hasn't been anything especially interesting to write about. Oh - except that was kind of one of my posts. You know when you see someone that you haven't seen in a while and they say, "So what's been happening?" what do you say? Invariably I say something completely boring like, "Not much. Working. That's about it."

Of course that's not entirely true. But if you have no major standout events in your life, like "I got a new car!", "I won a million dollars!", "I sold a novel to a major publisher!", what sort of things ought you to say?

I could say, "well I've had a cold for a couple of weeks", but it's not exactly a gold mine of a conversation topic. Or "I've been working on my depression a bit", but I don't think that's what they mean when they ask what's been happening. Or "I've enjoyed watching Netflix and crocheting", but, well that's as about exciting as it gets.

Friday, 13 September 2013

broken



Amongst all the books/articles on Christian relationships, I haven't found a whole heap out there talking in much detail about being a Christian dealing with a 'dating' relationship break up (man I hate the word 'dating'…I especially don't think it applies to a long term relationship - dating seems to me to be the sort of thing you do once or twice as you get to know someone. But anyway, I digress). But this one came in from Desiring God today and it's gold.


I guess there isn't heaps written about it because, as the author of the article says, “Relationships and love may be celebrated more in the church than anywhere else because we (rightly) love marriage so much. Unfortunately, these same convictions often make breakups an uncomfortable conversation — at best embarrassing and at worst scandalous or humiliating.” There's an awful lot more written about how to be as a single person or how to be as a married person. Or how to prepare to be a married person. Articles on dating don't talk about what happens when it all goes sour. Broken relationships are referred to in more general terms as suffering. But the thing I appreciated about the article is how honest it is about how break ups feel, and how complicated they are.


Break ups suck, plain and simple. But they happen. And there is a lot of comfort to be had if you can wade through the sadness and keep your eyes fixed on God. I'm just hanging out for heaven - no dating, no marriage, no break ups, no divorce, but perfect fulfilment and joy for all God's children.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

on retreat


Twice a year our staff team comes together from all over the state and hangs out for a few days. This time we are at a huge, well-equipped house in Faulconbridge that belongs to a board member/volunteer and I like the sprawling, homey, comfortable nature of it.

Things I have thought over the past few days at staff retreat:
  • I work with a great bunch of people from a huge variety of backgrounds, with a lot of life experience, united by the love of God
  • I am the only single person in a team of 12 people. It doesn't make me feel bad, it just struck me.
  • Lying on a deck in the sun under a bright blue sky is pretty great and I love being in the Blue Mountains
  • I can't cope with multiple conversations happening at once or people with exceptionally loud voices getting excited
  • I really need to be alone a lot of the time, but being alone is not always a good idea
  • Crocheting cats is quite easy and brings quite a lot of joy to people when they see the finished product - especially to the little bub who's along for the retreat :) (I made him a kitten)
  • Sleeping in a queen size bed is really wonderful when you're usually in a single
  • Having your own room when you're away with a big group of people is luxury (and so kind)
  • I am still always tired
  • My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God cannot do (it's true!)
  • Taking time to just be still with God is so rewarding and yet something I find so hard to do on normal days
  • I'm sick of always talking about having depression and yet talking about it is really important
  • Weird things (like toothpaste...?!) make me miss people unexpectedly
  • Some people have seemingly unlimited amounts of energy and it's hard not to be jealous of that

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

A rant about sizes

Last night, I was idly looking at some online boutiques, and although I appreciate how the internet has opened up a world of clothing options for those of us who aren't in the narrow size range of most mall boutiques, I've noticed something annoying.

(Yes! Rebecca's annoyed about something! Shock!)

This may happen on many other websites, but I noticed it particularly on The Iconic and Asos. They both have a great selection of larger sized clothing, which is praise worthy, but...it's in a category all its own. Why is it so? Why do the euphemistically-named curvy and plus size clothes need to be segregated into their own area, as if they will contaminate the other dresses, jeans, coats and pants that aren't curvy?



Fat is catching, people. Watch out.

Though really, that's very churlish of me - it's great that these giant online emporiums have such extensive ranges in all sizes. But clothes are just clothes. Why can't they all be together? This way of cataloguing them implies that non-curvy people are allowed to choose items of clothing, but curvy people have to just...go over there and think about how big they are.

Other things to note: while sometimes there are unique styles in the curvy sections, often the clothes are the same styles as in the 'regular' section, just in larger sizes (so why do they need to be in their own category?). Also, the men's sections aren't broken up in this way (eg, a large and tall section). 

I've been reading Mel Campbell's Out of Shape, and it's been helpful in my quest to not let myself be defined so much by numbers (weight, size, etc). I like what she has to say.
Many women and men actively identify with the numbers on their clothing labels: 'I'm a size 10', 'I'm an extra large', 'I'm a 38', and so on. It's hard to figure out which came first: this self-identification, or the orthovestic* media coverage that frames weight gain and loss in similar terms - 'Drop three dress sizes by summer'; 'Nicole has ballooned to a size 18!'; 'Nine out of ten men prefer size 14 women to size 10 women!'
Here's what your size says about you: absolutely nothing. Feeling good about yourself cannot be measured against an arbitrary scale. When we make size shorthand for a personal relationship with clothing, it feels true because it's imposed externally, in ways that seem objective because they are quantitative. Retail spaces are organised by size - sometimes very visibly, using signage and colour-coded hangers, forcing shoppers to sort themselves into a category - and sometimes less visibly, requiring a sales assistant as gatekeeeper ('Are you right for sizes?'). Levi's jeans even display their size on the outside label.
Size, therefore, becomes a public, social interaction - a space for pride or shame. Shoppers feel pleased by the idea of fitting a smaller size, and upset by the idea of a garment in a larger size, even if the tag is hidden or removed so nobody else can know.
(hmm...how do you reference page numbers in a Kindle book?)
Mel Campbell, Out of Shape: Debunking Myths about Fashion and Fit, Location 283-285, Kindle edition, 2013 (my emphasis)


* Campbell has coined this term, 'orthovestia':
Much of our angst about size and fit springs from the notion that to be socially successful, we need to constantly tend to and revise our appearance. I call this philosophy 'orthovestia', after the Latin words for 'correct' and 'clothing'. You can see orthovestia in action in everything from personal training gurus and 'body shape calculators' to makeover TV shows and the oft-cited statistic that '80 per cent of women are wearing the wrong size bra.' 
Orthovestia doesn't solve the practical problem of finding well-fitting clothes. Instead, it fools us into believing that if your clothes don't fit, it's our fault for not understanding, training or disguising our bodies properly.  (Location 128-129)

I don't think that this is ever going to be 'solved'. Anyone who doesn't fit within the narrow bounds of a 'normal' shape is always going to feel wrong in the mainstream, somehow, whether they struggle to find clothes that are big enough or small enough. I think it's important, though, to just be aware of how manufacturers and marketers manipulate our insecurities, and to not be suckered in by it. Clothes are just clothes. No matter how frustrated or tearful they might make us feel when they don't do what we want them to, they don't tell us who we are. Clothes do not really make the man.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Politics is bad for my health

I'm really rather glad the election will be over by the weekend. Aside from the normal irritations with paid political advertising, it seems that every second person on Facebook and Twitter is a political genius or posing some huge moral question and demanding an answer. 

I agree it is important to know about and be involved in the democratic process. I agree that there are issues where people need to speak up and protest and campaign and all of that. I'm not saying that it's good that so many of us are apathetic and confused about politics. 

I tried to watch and read up on things initially and be more engaged than I have in past elections, but I was getting more and more disillusioned and frustrated and disappointed. I started thinking, "okay this year I'll Make My Vote Count and vote below the line" but then looking at the ballot paper, how could I put numbers beside names without knowing a thing about them? That started to stress me out.

Then I realised that it was okay to stop worrying (and love the bomb? Sorry, ancient reference). I've realised that trying to take an interest in politics is no good for my mental health.

I've been using the Moodkit app to track my mood over the last few weeks, and it has a section called 'thought checker', which basically takes you through a cognitive behavioural therapy exercise. You write down a thought you're having, how it's making you feel, you identify what thought distortions might be making you feel that way, and try to formulate a different/better way of thinking. 

Just looking through the list of thought distortions ... so many of them seem to be what the political parties are using as campaign strategies:

- all-or-nothing thinking
- catastrophising
- downplaying positives
- emotional reasoning
- fortune telling
- intolerance of uncertainty
- labelling
- negative filtering
- overgeneralising
- 'should' and 'must' thinking

Wow. That's almost all the things on the thought distortions list. These are things that are identified as being extremely unhelpful ways of thinking, as distortions. It's no wonder I feel anxious and confused and stressed every time anyone talks about the election. It's hard enough for those who have robust mental health, let alone those of us who are already prone to that kind of thinking!

Wall to wall media (whether the traditional or social kind) is really not that helpful. The fate of Australia does not rest on whether I, personally, vote above or below the line. My worth as a human being does not have anything to do with the numbers I put in the boxes. I can leave the complex numbering and preference concerns to those who are better informed and able to get into the fray. And that's okay.

The only thing that comforts me in the midst of all of this is that God is still in control. No matter which party is elected and no matter who becomes Prime Minister, God is still God. And that brings me a mighty amount of peace.




PS: if you think this post is a little hyperbolic, I refer you to the above thought distortion list by way of explanation.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Spiritual reinforcements

Photo by Kayaker1204 on Flickr

So after that last sad post, I cried, and probably grieved my poor mum who is the one who sees me like this most often, and she hugged me and listened to my blubbering and gently reminded me to look to God.

So I went to my email and read today's WordLive notes on Isaiah 48:12-22.
God wants us to know about him, about his plans, his promises, his character. He wants us to know about life and how to live it well (v 17). Every day we face the question: ‘Will I look to God to learn how to live my life today?’ When we stop listening to God we shut ourselves out from his peace (v 18).
And just as I was writing this post, my first daily devotion from Mars Hill Church came in (I only signed up to it yesterday) with some absolute gold from Charles Spurgeon, reflecting on 1 Peter 5:10:
Seek, O believer, that every good thing you have may be an abiding thing. May your character not be a writing upon the sand, but an inscription upon the rock! May your faith be no “baseless fabric of a vision,” but may it be built of material able to endure that awful fire which shall consume the wood, hay, and stubble of the hypocrite. May you be rooted and grounded in love. May your convictions be deep, your love real, your desires earnest. May your whole life be so settled and established, that all the blasts of hell, and all the storms of earth shall never be able to remove you.

But notice how this blessing of being established in the faith is gained. The apostle’s words point us to suffering as the means employed—“After you have suffered a little while.” It is of no use to hope that we shall be well rooted if no rough winds pass over us. Those old gnarlings on the root of the oak tree, those strange twistings of the branches—all tell of the many storms that have swept over it, and they are also indicators of the depth into which the roots have forced their way. So the Christian is made strong, and firmly rooted by all the trials and storms of life.

Shrink not then from the tempestuous winds of trial, but take comfort, believing that by their rough discipline God is fulfilling this benediction to you.
This is why I heartily recommend subscribing to things like WordLive, Mars Hill and the Bible Society's Daily Bible that send you Bible verses and notes (there are others out there too, but those are the ones I use). Getting spiritual reinforcements throughout the day to help you battle those dark forces is just such a gift - sadly I often neglect to go there when I'm in the bottom of the pit, even though I know that's where to find peace. It's good to have a constant stream of truth coming at me, even when I'm not seeking it.

Edit to add:
Also have had plenty of spiritual reinforcement from wonderful friends who read that last post and prayed for me. Thank you dear ones! What a blessing to be part of such a family.

where I'm at

It's been a really hard week. I'm fighting ghosts in my own head. All I've wanted to do is sleep. I look at myself in the mirror and look mostly normal, and it doesn't seem to match up with how I feel inside.

It takes a lot of energy to focus and keep things in perspective. If I don't concentrate, everything is too hard; if anyone asks me to do anything it makes me feel like they're asking me to climb Everest and I feel stressed and upset about it. Unfortunately, when you've been on holidays for a week, your email inbox is basically nothing but people asking you to do things, lots of little things that just pile up and up. If I was well, none of these things would be problematic. I would just add them to the list and get them done. But because I'm not well at the moment, I just feel this rising tide of panic. Bad timing to have a low mood with a long list of things to do.

Last night I made it to growth group. It was a rich blessing to be with my brothers and sisters in Christ and to be prayed for and to study God's word. It was like walking through waist high mud to get there though.

Today I went to a cafe to work and I answered emails. I went to the bank, went to Medicare. That's been about the total of all I can manage.

I hate feeling weak. But it's just how it is right now.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

SuperBetter

Had a marathon hour of counselling today. It was exhausting; many tears, accepting truths I already knew, hearing hard things. At the end, Josie said, "You'll feel like a worn out rag. Be careful." She was right, I did.

Anyway, I have felt a lot more peaceful since I got home, thanks to mum's wonderful cooking and some rest time. I was then thinking I need to start exercising more as well, and while reading various things to think about how I can get more movement in my day, I stumbled onto SuperBetter

It's a wellness game developed by the amazing Jane McGonigal. It is extremely simple and sets tiny little achieveable quests, aimed at helping you get to your Epic Win, whatever you choose that to be. You need to recruit allies, fight bad guys and get power ups and...oh, if you've got 20 minutes check out Jane's TED talk, which explains it all - and will give you an extra 7.5 minutes of life! How can you resist?


It might be too big a thing to tackle all at once, but 'depression' was top of the drop down list of things you could choose to get superbetter from. You can also make your own custom thing if your goal isn't in the list, but that's pretty much the biggest block in my life right now!

So now I am Bec, the black dog banisher. I'm having trouble defining my Epic Win - it's kind of easier if you want to get fit or something, because you have a tangible goal, such as "run 5 kilometres". If you can think of an appropriate Epic Win, let me know.

And if you're keen to be one of my allies, or play SuperBetter yourself to get superbetter from whatever your thing is, that would be awesome!

Hopefully I stick with this. I think it's going to be fun.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Jelssievision S1E3

In other news, there's a new Jelssievision! I had almost finished a rough cut on the same day we shot it (over a week ago) and then ran out of time to finish it. But I got it done last night. Jess says nice things about me in her blog post. I love these girls; it really is a match made in heaven.


And I'm going to Melbourne with Elsie next week! I feel like it will be 'Adventures with half of Jelssie'.

A God who weeps

Detail of Mary Magdalene, Entombment of Christ, 1672, in Saint-Martin Church in Arc-en-Barrois (Haute-Marne, France)
Working at home today. Feeling sad. Wondering why things happen the way they do. Wondering why God has made me to have this weight of sadness that I carry around everywhere. Wondering why I make certain foolish decisions and then am upset with the outcome and consequences.

And my WordLive daily Bible email always seems to arrive just at the right time. Do read it, today's is really good.

It's about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, but focusing on Jesus' response to the suffering that grieved his friends and his God. Jesus wept (side note: John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible. I wonder if those two words were given their own verse number to highlight this very point about Jesus' empathy and love and the very perfect blend of humanity and divinity in that response? I don't know anything about how the verses were allocated though, so maybe not).

The biggest encouragement and perhaps answer to my feelings in the first paragraph come at the end of the study:
...we realise that somehow the pathway through terrible sorrow is necessary, so that God may finally be glorified by our deliverance. And Jesus weeps with us on that way, until the moment when ‘the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live’ (John 5:25)! 
Jesus’ action with Lazarus – and Lazarus’ action in response! – mirrors that promise in John 5. What a glorious hope to have! In the meantime, we cannot do better than Mary, whose customary posture, it seems, is at Jesus’ feet (v 32). See how she is described in Luke 10:39 and in John 12:3, as well as here (and possibly also in Luke 7:38). Here she brings to his feet her great sorrow, stored up and then poured out with honesty.
That's where I should be looking for solace. And tears are okay. He understands.

[image source]

Friday, 2 August 2013

You gotta have friends

Sometimes I get into that conversation with people where they grumble about being involved in church, and don't see why gathering together as Christians is important. Or they trot out that old chestnut - "My faith is private. I don't need to go to a building and be told what to think by some guy in a dress."

A little like an ogre who wants to be left alone.


(Am I saying Christians are like Donkey? Hm. Let's not stretch that analogy too far.)

Church is way more than just going to a building and being talked at (and our pastors don't wear dresses...at least not in the service that I go to!). Being part of a community of people who love and serve one another is amazing, when it works. And the only way we have the desire to serve one another (instead of seeing church as another facet of our culture that we can consume, that is there to serve me) is because the Holy Spirit gives us that desire. If we walk in step with him, we start to want what he wants (Galatians 5:16-26).

I was listening to Mark Driscoll speak on Acts this morning on the way to work. Acts is a great picture of the early church, and how gathering together was so important for growing in the faith. I was reminded of the truth that we need to gather together in church, in small groups, as Christian friends, not just for our own edification, but mainly for the other people. We encourage one another, lift each other up when we're down, keep speaking the truth to one another - and it's important to do the relational groundwork before you get into crisis mode.

Oh I'll just quote what Driscoll said, because he put it so well.
Peter and John get out of prison. They run to their friends. And here’s the truth: it was a good thing they had their friends before their tragedy struck. And their tragedy was they just got out of jail. Might I encourage you to have Christian friends before your tragedy comes, before your trial comes, before your troubles come.
What I find at Mars Hill is oftentimes people will ignore Christian community, they won’t get involved in a Community Group, they won’t pursue church membership, they won’t get in relational connection with God’s people, and then something happens. It could be something good. “Hey, we’re getting married. We need premarital counseling,” you know? It could be something bad. “I got cancer.” “We’re getting divorced,” or whatever. “I lost my job.” And then people run into the church, and they want to microwave relationships. “Give me, just, close friends whom I can totally trust and lean on, and they can do the same for me, and I’d like them all today.”
I would just beg you, because I love you and I want good for you, to pursue Christian friendship before it’s seemingly an urgent need. And the question is not just, “Who can you lean on?” but “Who can lean on you?” Who are you a friend to? Who are you inviting, saying, “You know, if you need me, call me. I’m checking in. I’m praying. I love you. I’m concerned for you. I want to be here for you. I’m part of your life. You can depend on me.” And when we think of community, what we often think of is people I can use to make my life better. That’s not the Christian concept. The Christian concept is people I can serve and love because Jesus loves them.
Mark Driscoll, Empowered by the Spirit to pray - Mars Hill Church, July 21 2013
I have benefited greatly from some strong Christian friendships in recent months, and I hope that when my friends need love and support I will be there for them too (I intend to be!). It can be hard work to put in the time when you feel like hiding away and not engaging with people. But it is really worth it. And that's what it means to be part of God's people.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Stop the crazy talk!

Since I decided that dieting regimes were unhelpful for my mental state, and just decided to aim for 'health at any size', eating when I am hungry, enjoying food and just being realistic about my body shape, for the most part I have been reasonably content in that department (notwithstanding the occasional hormonal negative thoughts). I decided not to weigh myself anymore or measure myself (unless I needed measurements to order clothes or shoes online), and to only be concerned if my current size of clothes no longer fits. I have no idea what my weight is at the moment. Believe me, this is pretty damn liberating after years of agonising over 500g fluctuations.

However, occasionally a rogue thought creeps in and takes hold. Yesterday I was feeling pretty good about myself. I'd been feeling a bit grey, so I dressed comfortably but stylishly, put makeup on, and spent the afternoon with lovely girls shooting video. And I love this photo of us - we all look so happy and appealing! (Elsie said she kind of wanted to post it on Facebook and say "And we're all eligible!!!")

Then today I started editing the footage; towards the end I get on camera and join in the chat. From that point on, I couldn't focus on anyone else. "I had no idea my hands looked like that...they just stick out of my sleeves like blobs!" "Oh no...my jawline is disappearing into my neck!" "Okay so I knew my chest was large, but far out, I really do look like the prow of a ship!" etc, etc, etc. Which, by the time I got into the shower this morning, had fully descended into, "it's no wonder you can't have a boyfriend...who would want to be with you when you're so fleshy? Clearly you only deserve to be loved if you are thin."

Thankfully, this thought was immediately followed by, "WHAT THE HECK?! Where did that come from?!!!"

So I worked on scaling back that crazy talk, and when I got back to my computer, I saw a timely tweet from George quoting an article from Psychology Today: "You are almost certainly hotter than you think." The article says, 
A person who finds you likeable will probably never notice your imperfections—besides, no one is as interested in your bald head or fleshy thighs as you are. Demarais and White tell of a client who suffered from the "spotlight illusion"—he imagined that people were homing in on his crooked teeth, which were his least favorite feature. Realizing that other people didn't really care about his teeth was freeing. "He experimented with smiling broadly when he met new people," they write. "When no one reacted in horror, and in fact responded positively, he began to feel at ease with his smile. When he seemed more comfortable in his own skin, he became more appealing to others."
Most of us have had the mysterious experience of watching a loved one become increasingly beautiful with time, as the relationship grows deeper. Imagine that generous gaze is upon you all the time, and you'll soon see a better reflection in others' eyes. You may not be able to turn off your inner hot-or-not meter, but you can spend less time fretting in the mirror and more time engaging with the world.
Thanks George! You didn't know when you posted it, but that was just what I needed to read.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Don't believe what you see


Excellent post by Indy Ink, the woman behind my favourite Pinterest board, Don't compare yourself to celebrities. It is true what she says about it being hard to take flattering photos of people, and it occurring to you that even once you have an excellent camera, there is a lot more to the images we see all around us than just pressing the shutter release.

I especially like her conclusion:
Here is the truth: If you simply refuse to believe everything advertising claims is wrong with you — and remember, the people behind the campaigns have studied you, but never met you — you will have more money, more peace, and more confidence in every single area of life, all of which will makes you a sexy beast of very attractive proportions. (Not that you owe beauty to anyone. You don’t.)
Another enjoyable insight into what it takes to be in a magazine photoshoot is in Tina Fey's Bossypants, in a chapter titled Amazing, gorgeous, not like that. I can't decide which bit to quote because the whole thing is funny...just buy the book. Though she doesn't mind Photoshop so much:
Photoshop is just like makeup. When it's done well it looks great, and when it's overdone you look like a crazy asshole. Unfortunately, most people don't do it well. I find, the fancier the fashion magazine is, the worse the Photoshop. It's as if they are already so disgusted that a human has to be in the clothes, they can't stop erasing human features.

Definitions: ponte

It took a while, but I finally got curious/sick enough of seeing 'ponte' everywhere in shops to look up what it actually is. I mean, I knew it was a stretchy fabric, but why call it 'ponte' specifically?

Turns out ponte is actually short for 'ponte di Roma', which means 'Roman bridge':
A fabric made in a double knit construction, usually produced in one color rather than color patterns. This plain fabric has an elastic quality with a slight horizontal line. The fabric looks the same on both sides.
Weft knitted, interlock based, double jersey structure. Means 'roman bridge' which is suggested by the arrangement of loops. The fabric looks the same on both sides.
Source
I guess fashion terminology always tries to find a shorthand for things, but Ponte di Roma sounds much nicer than just ponte. When 'ponte pants' started turning up a couple of years ago I thought they sounded like a feminine hygiene product.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Pals

I really loved listening to Mindy Kaling's book, Is everyone hanging out without me (and other concerns). It was light and frothy and very funny, but with some great insights and moments of poignancy too. I especially liked this part when she was talking about peoples' marriages she admired, specifically her parents'. She likes the fact that they are pals - "note: they are pals, not best friends." She also mentions Amy Poehler and Will Arnett's marriage as one she admires, which is a little sad as they have since separated. But anyway.

I like Kaling's take on it all:
I guess I think happiness can come in a bunch of forms and maybe a marriage with tons of work makes people feel happy. But a part of me still thinks, is it really so hard to make it work? What happened to being pals? I'm not complaining about romance being dead; I've just described a happy marriage as based on talking about plants and a cancelled Ray Romano show and drinking milkshakes. Not exactly rose petals and gazing into each others' eyes at the top of the Empire State Building or whatever. I'm pretty sure my parents have gazed into each others' eyes maybe once, and that was so my mom could put some eyedrops into my dad's eyes. And I'm not saying that marriage should always be easy, but we seem to get so gloomily worked up about it these days. 
In Shakespearean comedies, the wedding is the end and there isn't much indication of what happily ever after will look like day to day. In real life, shouldn't a wedding be an awesome party you throw with your great pal in the presence of a bunch of your other friends? A great day, for sure, but not the beginning and certainly not the end of your friendship with the person you can't wait to talk about gardening with for the next 40 years. Maybe the point is that any marriage is work, but you may as well pick work that you like.
Is everyone hanging out without me (and other concerns), Mindy Kaling, Chapter 50 (audiobook)

Does it mean you're getting older if you think that a life of hanging out with your pal sounds preferable to torrid romance? Actually no, I don't think so...I don't think I've ever wanted torrid romance. At least not long-term. Sure, romantic gestures are wonderful and make you feel special and all that. But I'd much rather have 40 years of loving companionship with a sprinkling of romance than a roller coaster of passion but not much comfort. Who has the energy for that? Wouldn't you rather have someone who would look after you when you're feeling crappy, than someone who you had to "keep the mystery alive" for?

I know it's completely unoriginal, but I reckon just hanging out with Mindy Kaling and Amy Poehler would be so great. I wonder what it says about me that I don't fantasise about getting together with male celebrities, I imagine how great it would be to be BFFs with the chicks. Hmm.