Thursday, 30 October 2014

on the edge of something

So tomorrow I fly to Bali for the Big Hearted Business Creative Retreat.

I'm excited and nervous. I started watching videos and listening to interviews from the Big Hearted Business members' site, as I sit here at work stuffing envelopes. Talks about plugging away at creative work, about taking risks, about tipping points and the importance of letting creativity out. It's revived all those feelings of being on the edge of possibility that came up when I went to the Big Hearted Business conference.

This one in particular is great. If you have a spare 50 minutes, or you need something to listen to while you're doing something else, watch this talk from Darren Rowse (of dPS and Problogger fame). It's inspiring and funny and practical, if you want to work out how to get dreams out of your head and into reality.

Dream big. Take a step towards realising them every day, no matter how small. I imagine my coming week is going to be filled with moments like these.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

today's gratitude

It's worth writing a gratitude list on days when it feels too hard to move forward. I'm frustrated with myself for wanting to do things but not being able to. But there is still plenty to be grateful for.
  • this long couch to lie on, sun filtered through the blinds, nothing but the companionable hum of the fridge and distant shushing of passing cars that could be the sound of waves if I don't think about it too much.
  • swinging in my hammock chair in the morning, warm breeze ruffling the virginia creeper on the fence so that the leaves danced.
  • doing yoga, making my recalcitrant body bend, stretch and move, feeling like my joints have been re-oiled.
  • crunchy nut cornflakes
  • William Goldman's writing
  • reading tweets and FB comments from fellow creative-retreaters getting excited about the upcoming trip; so grateful to be a part of this.
  • that God loves me no matter how tired I am. His love is such a simple yet complex yet simple truth.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

slight momentum

It's been one of those weeks where it feels like I'm wading through wet cement just to get through. But I figure any forward movement is good, right? Also thinking about the things that make me smile. These include:

  • Seeing apple blossoms come out on the skinny apple tree trunks that didn't really do anything last year - they're alive!
  • Listening to Cary Elwes's book, As you wish: inconceivable tales from the making of The Princess Bride. I find myself grinning at some of the stories and the fondness the cast all had/have for one another. It's a lovely tribute and makes me want to watch the movie again. For the zillionth time.
  • Remembering that I'll be going to Bali for the creative retreat in a week! And we'll all be making music (I'm going to buy a ukelele in Ubud!) and doing yoga and generally being creative and silly and fun. There is a little flutter of nervousness at the idea of going on a retreat with 25 or so people who I don't know, but some of us have been chatting on the group's FB page and I think we'll all get along fine.
  • Walking into my studio, even though it's still not all set up, and feeling that this is my lovely space and how lucky I am to have it. (LB commented on FB: "Exciting. Although "cabin" sounds like inevitable murder. Perhaps "studio" is safer." She's right.)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


I just want to clear something up about that last post: I wasn't having a go at people getting married and saying they ought to invite everyone in the world to their wedding. I certainly wasn't upset with anyone in particular! I was thinking through how I, as a single woman, react to the life events of others and maybe did it a bit clumsily. It's just my opinion, not a complaint.

I'm really sorry if I offended anyone with the post.

Being a SWoaCA and other peoples' weddings

I started writing this in response to this article, and thinking about how single women feel about other peoples' weddings, but the more I re-read it, the more smug I found it, so I'm not actually going to talk about the article at all. But I'll still ramble about the topic because, well, it's my blog.

Weddings and all that goes with them are one of those things that, as a Single Woman of a Certain Age (I'll call us SWoaCAs), you can be happy about and also dread at the same time. It's not just about being single; the 'of a Certain Age' thing is a definite factor in how you feel. You pass the stage when your peers are getting married, and you enter the phase where everyone younger (sometimes much younger) than you seems to be getting married. And your peers are now having children. Lots of children. I suppose later on, you get to the stage of 'all your peers are becoming grandparents and you're not' (which can also be a painful thing even if you did get married and have children, but your own children didn't (sorry mum and dad)). So you're at this weird place of being a grown up who hasn't experienced the milestones that many other grown ups just take as part of life, and watching as others celebrate...and celebrate...and celebrate again.

It isn't that you will always feel sad about a wedding or you will always feel ambivalent or whatever. Like any other human, as a SWoaCA, your reaction to the news of another engagement or upcoming wedding isn't so much about the couple themselves, it's about your own situation and how you feel at the time. Sometimes you might be feeling quite robust about being a SWoaCA and you are excited for them and wish the couple well. Other times you might have had a week of feeling sad about being single and the news just tips you over into the depths of despondency and people look at you like you've sprouted another head when you get upset because it has nothing to do with you and how much of a grinch are you that you can't be happy about someone getting married?

Weddings amongst your church family can be especially awkward, because the couple can't invite everyone to everything, and they're not the same level of close to everyone so invariably people are going to be left out. But it isn't the same as not inviting someone you were friends with at uni, or a distant cousin; you're seeing all these people every week (sometimes multiple times a week). Unfortunately it creates that situation of everyone covertly trying to work out who has been invited to Part A of the day (the ceremony and an afternoon tea in the church hall perhaps) and who has made it onto the list for Part B (the reception) without looking like a total paranoid weirdo or insensitive git, and then you get wary of talking about it at all. Or just assuming someone's been invited and then finding out they weren't and...oh so much awkward.

I've had conversations about wedding functions at Bible study a few times in the past year, with a fellow who isn't adept at picking up social cues (for one reason or another). He's just trying to make conversation about happy events and doesn't understand that it might be just highlighting more awkwardness. For example, last night he said,
"Hey Bec, were you at xx and xx's engagement party on the weekend?" 
"No, I wasn't. I did see photos on Facebook though, everyone looked lovely." I tried to end the conversation there, but he continued.
"Why weren't you there? Oh you weren't invited," he said, in his booming voice that seemed to cut across the whole room (even though it probably didn't). "It was really good." 
I paused. "Hey, if you were there, why did you ask if I was there too?"
"I forgot."

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this. Is it disingenuous to bring all my ramblings back to, "ultimately, we need to be more like Jesus" or "ultimately, in the new creation, none of this will matter"? It feels like that's the slightly more grown up way of saying every answer to every Sunday school question is "Jesus" or "the Bible". But that doesn't make it any less true!

When trying to work out how to respond to things that come up in life, the best thing is to go back to the Bible, right? The more we do that, the more we can train ourselves to avoid our knee-jerk responses of self pity or jealousy or anger or [insert emotion here] when we hear of someone having something wonderful happen in their life that we haven't shared, and instead:
When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad. Be friendly with everyone.
Romans 12:15-16 (CEV) 
That's the aim, even if I still fall short sometimes (okay, a lot of the time!).

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


I'm limited. Just look at me. I'm limited. And just look at you, you can do all I couldn't do...Glinda...
I'm lying here singing that to myself, except I'm not Elphaba from Wicked and I don't know anyone called Glinda, so that's a bit weird.

Just reflecting on how much it sucks being limited by my body. I am not well today, but I can't tell if it's because I've been doing too much or because I'm a little bit sick with something. Whatever it is, I just feel like my body is filled with lead, and like if I thought about it a bit I might throw up.

I'm very proud of myself because I finally conquered the floating floor in the cabin and got it down on Saturday. I knew that would take it out of me, but on Sunday all I did was rest at home until 4:30, go to church and go out for dinner for mum's birthday. Yesterday I had a full day of work from 10 and then a post-work meeting which meant I didn't get home til about 9:45.

I mean, yes, those are tiring things, but they're not...unreasonable, are they? Lots of people have meetings after work and they might yawn a bit but they're fine. Lots of people do DIY jobs on the weekend and they're fine. Tonight I have Bible study, and tomorrow night I have bellydancing, should be able to do those things after work and not feel like it's too much, shouldn't you?

I want to wail "it's not fair!" but of course it's not. It's just part of living in this world, in deteriorating bodies.

I have done a little bit of work today, but I'm not really with it. I think it will have to be a sick day and I'll just go back to bed.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

grateful, then not, then grateful again

Comparison really is the thief of joy.

It's funny that often when I've been thinking about a particular area of spiritual development, it gets put to the test. On the weekend we were thinking about contentment and gratitude. I also started listening to Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts again.

I was just doing some writing last night about the things in my life I was grateful for. This morning, scanning Facebook, that source of all discontentment, I saw a post from a childhood friend. I guess I'd have to call her an acquaintance these days, even though we were very close back at school, because I know very little about her life now.

I went and had a look at her profile. The more I scrolled through her page I put a version of a life together that may or may not be reality - she looks lovely and happy, she has a gorgeous husband and beautiful baby, they seem to be living a creative, inner city existence that is, well, exactly what I pictured my life being when I was younger. I missed her. But as I closed the browser, I wondered at the slightly melancholy note that had crept into my thoughts.

Then I remembered the things that I wrote down last night that I am grateful for. My friends. My home. My family. My little cabin! My creativity. My desire and capacity to learn. So many other things, chief of which is my salvation in Christ.

What I really know is that I am blessed with the life I've been given, rough bits and smooth. I don't need to compare my life to anyone else's or wish it was different or regret anything. It's amazing! I have been given so much!

I don't know what my friend's life is really like, I only know what she's chosen to show to the world. I don't know whether she worries about money, or feels unfulfilled, or tears her hair out when she's up in the middle of the night with the baby, or...but I'm glad she has the wonderful things she has and I know that there's more depth to a life than a few photos online.

I think that's why I like to blog and choose to perhaps overshare sometimes. I want to be real online and off. I want to share the happy snaps of me mucking around with excellent friends, but I also want to share something of my struggles and the reality of my life. Because that's how I bear witness to the goodness of God, isn't it? Showing how he is faithful through my failures and stumbles. Showing how I can cling to him through the mess. Showing how he keeps lifting me up, time and again, and setting my feet on a rock when I insist on slipping off into the mire. And showing how generous he is, and how the only response to that is to say thank you!

Monday, 6 October 2014

friend weekend

I don't often go anywhere on a long weekend, but this past weekend I went up to the Betbeders' holiday house at Marks Point with Anna and Sammi for a bit of girl time.

Drove up with mum and went to the Olive Tree Market first, meeting up with Jess, Elsie and Lee. It's a lovely market, with great food and some interesting stalls. Mum thinks my bags are better than the ones that were selling there, though I did point out some were leather and hand printed and all of that. That's why they cost more; with handmade you pay more because it's handmade, but if it's also made of expensive materials or involves some unique artistic endeavour, then you pay for that too (which is as it should be).

I really liked the laser cut leather jewellery by Doury, and bought one of the smaller necklaces. I would quite like one of the amazing collar necklaces (like this) to wear with a black dress or something, but generally because of my short neck and large bosom those sorts of necklaces can be a bit too much. But they looked really nice on the woman at the stall.

We went back to the lake house, and mum and Guy headed back to Sydney. We rested and put Anna's new cake stand together just so we could have our own high tea (with nougat and doughnuts from Doughheads I'd bought at the markets).

Sammi made a delicious beef salad for dinner and we painted our nails while watching Suddenly 30. I experimented with the marbled water application effect thing but I think it takes a bit of practice to do without it looking like a weird mess. Anyway, it was fun to play with colours. Then we introduced Sammi to Community.

On Sunday we sat around in our pyjamas, soaking up the brilliant blue of the water view and watching birds. We read the WordLive reading on Philippians 4:10-23, had a good chat about contentment and gratitude and prayed together. I did a little desire map writing.

We went out for a yummy lunch at Cafe Macquarie, bought supplies for dinner and headed back for more laying around, looking at the view and some al fresco massages on the deck. It was actually so nice for me, as the masseur, because I had the view to look at while I worked.

We ambled down the steep stairs to the lake edge and went for a short wander as the sun set. I played with the impressive macro feature on the Camera+ app (the camera on my new phone helps too, I suspect).

I made a tomatoey chicken gluten free pasta thing for dinner, we watched more Community and then Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey which was a lot worse than any of us remembered (we laughed a lot though). 

This morning Anna treated us to a delicious cooked breakfast. We did more bird watching (so many rainbow lorikeets!) and then finished off the girly treatment with some Jurlique face masks Elsie had given us, which of course was the perfect photo opportunity:

I headed home not long after and, of course, fell straight asleep as soon as I got home. Man, all this relaxing is exhausting! 

I am so grateful for these lovely women, so glad to have them to laugh and be silly with, but also to share the hard times in life when they happen. I'm also grateful for holidays and for living in such a beautiful part of the world!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Cabin - the paint

The electrician popped in to put in power points and connect the LED lights that we installed during the cabin build. I went off to Bunnings to buy paint, and the guy asked, "well how new is the wood? It might have a silicon coating that needs to wear off in the sun." I had no idea. He said to spray the wood with water and if it beaded, then it was still too new and needed to settle in for 4-6 weeks. If the water absorbed, then it was okay to paint. It...seemed to absorb? Well it partly absorbed and partly ran off. I decided water, schmorta, I'd paint the inside now and do the outside in a few weeks. After all, I want to get my stuff in there!

I really wanted to use Porter's Paints because I love their colours, quality and style, but when I worked it out, the cost was far more than Dulux from Bunnings. Sadly the budget was the deciding factor, and also as I was only painting in white it didn't seem worth the extra cost. Maybe if I repaint one day in fancy colours I'll use them. The colour of the walls is 'Lexicon', which is basically white with the slightest touch of blue grey in it. Seriously, you can go insane comparing paint chips but you do start to see the tiniest differences between shades of white.

I finally got new workboots too. They don't look that shiny anymore.
Gin was on school holidays so came over with all her painting gear to help. We spent a long day putting on the primer; because the walls are tongue and groove construction, it took ages to get the paint in between all the gaps. A quick roll over wouldn't do. But that was okay, we chatted and listened to music and got the whole primer coat done. It took us longer to do the primer coat than it took the guys to put the whole thing up!

I snatched time here and there over the last week to do more painting. With my awfully sore hand and aching shoulders from the first coat, I bought a cheap paint spray gun and tried that; it worked really well except for the fact that my overlapping lines weren't so great. It would have been better if I'd been using a colour over the primer rather than white because then I'd be able to see where I'd not quite covered the wall. Anyway, for the second coat I rolled, but because all the gaps were filled in it was much easier and gave a good smooth finish.

Of course, left to my own devices I managed to knock the paint can over when it was half full. After scraping up the excess, I drew a peacock and called it art.

I stained the door frame and window frames with Cabot's stain in coco black. I did the surrounds in a Taubman's purplish gloss called rooti tooti (who comes up with these names?!). The taping I did around the windows wasn't so successful; the paint bled a bit so the edge isn't crisp and neat. I went around with a small brush trying to touch it up but in some places I think I made it worse. Still, not too fussed. And if I do it again, I now know the tips on how to get a crisp edge. I may repaint the part I left white in a peacock blue colour. I'll wait til I put my stuff in the room to see how it looks.

Cabin - the build

So my fabulous little cabin got built a couple of weeks ago and I haven't written about it yet! Those who were following along on Facebook saw some pics, but I figured it's probably worth documenting the whole thing. You know, for posterity and stuff.

Lucas, his dad (who designs the cabins) and his offsider from Cabin Kits Galore turned up bright and early, and we'd barely blinked before they started work. The cabins have been designed to fit together quickly, the thick wood planks pre cut and labelled, locking together like a giant puzzle.

We had cleared the decks (literally) and they just built right on top of the railway sleepers.

I proved to be the world's worst tea lady, asking them if they wanted tea, proceeding to make it and then forgetting to take it out to them. Lack of hot beverage didn't slow them down, though.

By 5.30 pm, it was done! Lucas actually apologised that they hadn't finished earlier and I said, "man you just put up a cabin in a ten hours - no apology needed!"

They were lovely guys, professional and polite. I think my only gripe with the whole process is that we had to dispose of the rubbish (the packaging of all the sections of wood and a whole lot of offcuts), but out of the pile of scraps I managed to salvage quite a bit of wood that I'm going to use for something else and really compared to a regular building site there was hardly any rubbish at all. So it wasn't that much of a gripe, really.

Because now we have a cabin! Next up: everything else that needs to happen to get it habitable.