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


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,'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.
( 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.