Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Winning at work

If you've ever been afraid or embarrassed about crying at work and want to take it up a level, do what I did today: crying to the point of barely being able to talk as you sit and report about your job to 11 of your colleagues, including your brand new boss who you've only just met and the chairman of the board.

Everyone was very kind of course and I got lots of hugs and thanks for being honest. But possibly not my finest hour.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

BLG: Tuesday

6. sleeping in a big queen bed with no traffic noise
7. fat slices of raisin toast with melted butter
8. God using other people to remind me of the thing he wants me to remember - three different people reflected on Matthew 6:25-27 after I blogged it yesterday (but they hadn't read my blog)
9. sitting in the sun at Faulconbridge and hearing nothing but leaves rustling and birds chirping
10. long, crazy, hysterical belly laughs while playing ridiculous youth group style games with my excellent colleagues
11. old records and a young David Bowie

Monday, 28 April 2014


So after the last post I hit the road, did the Costco shop, and came up to Rachel's Retreat and spent the afternoon chatting with my colleague Des, over raisin toast and chai. People have started to arrive and soon we'll be having a farewell dinner for my ex-boss.

On the way up I started listening to One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, prompted by Ali's reminder of Kathy Keller's recommendation. It is rich and rewarding and sad and powerful and I'm enjoying it very much even though I've only listened to the first two chapters.

As I was listening I started composing a post in my head, but since getting here I've forgotten exactly what I was going to write. Trust me, it was gold.

Anyway, when I finished listening, the thing Ann was talking about was her friend daring her to write a list of a thousand things she was thankful for, a thousand gifts. It made me aware, as I was driving, of all the things I am thankful for today, even though I've been feeling anxious and a bit sad.

This also follows on from the Goodness Gracious Me lifeclass I went to a few weeks ago, focusing on how gratitude can change your life. So I thought I should start my own list. May as well start with today's things.

Bec's List of Gratitude (the BLG)

  1. My cat's enthusiastic and affectionate headbumps
  2. Ali, for reminding me of Voskamp's book
  3. The hugeness of the sky on the M4 between Parramatta and the foot of the Blue Mountains
  4. The quietness as I got out of the car at Faulconbridge
  5. People making an effort to understand me
This will continue, forever I hope. For now, I've got to head off to dinner.

Pointless worrying about the unknown quantity (aka sometimes I get tired)

Something I often get anxious about is not knowing what my energy levels will be like on any given day. If you've never experienced a bone wearying exhaustion that seems to come for no reason (ie, the tiredness comes not because you've been running a marathon, or just moved house, or been awake for 72 hours straight, but because you've just been...alive) then that worry might seem completely alien. Or you might say, "just make sure you get plenty of rest!" and think that plenty of rest would help.

Yeah, not always.

Sometimes the tiredness is so acute that I don't know if I ought to be on the road. Sometimes I have the appearance of being awake and alert but my brain is basically on screensaver and my limbs feel like lead. Sometimes I sleep and wake up even tireder than I was before I lay down. Sometimes I'm so tired, all I can do is cry.

Working against me are two things: thalassemia (which is a genetic blood disorder that basically means I don't get enough oxygen going round in my blood, so I can get tired very easily) and depression (which is an inexplicable bastard of a thing that basically could bite at any time, so I can get tired very easily). And also, to a lesser degree, having an introverted personality where I recharge by being alone rather than with groups of people. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy groups of people, it just means that my capacity for interaction is limited, and rapidly drains me rather than energising me.

But the depression is the thing that keeps me focused on the what if? instead of just taking life as it comes.

So this week I have two things which I am trying not to be anxious about. From Monday to Thursday I'll be at staff retreat in the Blue Mountains, with a fantastic group of people, eating food, looking at God's word and thinking big picture things about work. This is all good. And my colleagues are aware of my need for rest, and respect that. But just the nature of being in a house full of 10 other people, you have lots of conversations, you participate and engage, because that's the whole point, and I know that when I come home on Thursday night I'll probably just crash.

Then on the weekend, it flips and I'll go from being in a house full of people I know and who want to engage with me to being in a room full of people I don't know, having to push myself to interact. On Friday, I fly to Melbourne for the Big Hearted Business (un)conference, which I have been greatly anticipating for months. It will be two jam packed days of (hopefully) inspiring talks and activities and being around many creative people who have similar thoughts, dreams and struggles.

I'm going on my own so I'll have to talk to people I don't know. I'll have to explain who I am and what I do, because that's kind of the point. And I'll have to travel around by myself in a city I don't really know that well, so will have to be paying attention. Aside from which, I want to suck the marrow out of this (un)conference! I want to come away with renewed passion and vision for my creative work! I want to launch off into the stratosphere and...

Thud. I keep coming back to "but what if you're too tired? What if you're too tired to take in information at staff retreat? What if you're too tired to explain things? What if you're too tired to get around Melbourne and you get lost? What if you're too tired to interact with people? What if you're too tired to take anything in all week and it's all just a waste? What if..."

Silly brain! Why worry about things you don't know about?

Two of my favourite Bible passages which I feel I should tattoo on the back of my hands (it's okay, mum, I won't):
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Matthew 6:25-27
Take that, brain. I'm going to have a great week with great people. And there's nothing you can do about it.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


It's a very long post and there are swears, but I found Jes Baker's post 6 things that I understand about the fat acceptance movement very interesting. She's countering an article written by Carolyn Hall, 6 things I don't understand about the fat acceptance movement. It's interesting to see how two people from opposite sides argue their perspective.

Because I am so susceptible to suggestion, I'm wary of bandwagons. Well I try to be. Often I'll discover I'm happily sitting atop one without realising how I clambered aboard, but the whole fat acceptance movement thing is one I'm trying to be careful around, and do reading on, and not just agree with everything that is said. I think I prefer the similar but more inclusive language of 'body love movement', because, as Baker says:
IMPORTANT NOTE: It’s critical to realize before we even begin, that ignorance of, deflecting of, or outright refusal to believe in fat acceptance affects us all. This body love movement is inclusive; it's about acceptance for everyone (not limited to, but including fat bodies.)

All bodies- large, small, and everything in between pay dearly for the negativity in which fat bodies are perceived. Why? Because as long as we demonize a body shape (any body shape) there will always be a fearful comparison. And the fearful comparison will inevitably breed all forms of hatred; both internally and externally. We will never be able to embrace our bodies as a diverse society as long as negative body messages exist. So yeah, we’re going to be talking about the “social deviants” of the body world, but this discussion is applicable to us all.
Baker's blog led me to the Kickstarter for a film called Fattitude: a body positive documentary, which I also found very interesting, particularly Lindsey Averill's post on why she is making the doco. The vitriol and aggression aimed at her and others are quite staggering (I've also been reading on internet aggression towards women in gaming, women in comics...women in general lately and it's so depressing, to put it mildly. But that's a topic for another time).

Here's the trailer:

I always found the ridiculing of teenage Monica on Friends very troubling (maybe if I had issues with OCD I'd find their ridiculing of that troubling too. Hmmoo.).

I first heard the concept of 'health at any size' about a year ago. I haven't done heaps of reading on it, so I've just downloaded Linda Bacon's book, Health at every size (also mmm she's never heard that one before). I'll probably blog more about it as I read it.

But since I decided, about a year ago, to stop worrying about my weight or what I ate and actively worked on not using negatively loaded language about myself or talking about diets or "feeling fat", I have felt a lot better. I'm not obsessed with food. I look in the mirror and I like my reflection. Sometimes I still struggle with it - most often if I'm getting dressed up to go out somewhere and think people will be comparing me to other people who are thin and, so, presumably fabulous (how messed up is that?!). But on the whole the amount of brainspace it takes up has shrunk considerably, and I'm glad about that.

And you know what? In that time I haven't put on vast amounts of weight; I haven't even gone up a jeans size. I put on a little bit and then just evened out. This is what I look like and you know, I think I'm happy with that!

Monday, 21 April 2014

If I were a butterfly...

A butterfly I met at Singapore Zoo last year
I woke up this morning and lay in bed for a while, thinking about who I am and praying. A song that we use to love as kids at Mascot Christian Fellowship popped into my head - do any of you remember the Butterfly Song? (I googled it and would you believe it has its own website? Of course it does.)

It's a typically cheesy 70s kids song (I know the face Mark B would make if I sang it to him), but singing the chorus to myself I couldn't think of a better thing to pray on my birthday:
For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile
You gave me Jesus and you made me your child
And I just thank you Father for making me me
Also born today: Queen Elizabeth and Charlotte Brontë. But I'm glad God made me me, and not either of them.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014


I keep thinking I need to marshall all my thoughts and write coherent blog posts before I post anything, so then weeks go by where I don't write because I either don't have the time or haven't worked out what I want to say. But as the always inspiring Pip Lincolne reminded me with her blog post this morning, sometimes you can just blog random things and that's fine. So I'll do that.

I used to blog random things a lot more, in the part of my blog that you can't read anymore because I kind of lost it. Well I have bits of it. But it's really not worth the time it would take to fix it up and re-import it.

I remember when people started saying 'random' a lot (yes kids, there was a time when they didn't). I teased my friend Bek, who was a uni tutor at the time, because she started saying it so much as a result of being around uni students who said it all the time. "That's so random." Even when it wasn't random at all.

Very much enjoying the weather cooling down. Soon it will be cool enough to wear my Bootmakers boots again!

The camellia hedge out the front of our house has exploded in pinky white blossom. It's such a generous plant; it demands hardly any care and gives in abundance.

I find the tyranny of routine frustrating, even though the things that I have to do are great. Every week mapped out like the one before it. Get up. Get ready for work. Drive 50-60 mins to work. Work. Drive 50-60 mins home. Go to thing in the evening. Come home, want to do other things but need to go to bed so I can get up and do it all again.

I think that's why I don't like committing to courses and classes and regular things because that's your Monday night taken, that's your Tuesday night taken, etc. I like having blank days/nights that I can fill with whatever I find, depending on energy levels and how I feel. I'm not Gen Y so I won't say it's Gen Y, and it's certainly not waiting to see if something better comes's just I don't know how I'll feel on any given evening after work.

The two things I've committed to this year are growth group, which means I get to spend time with great people getting stuck into the Bible, and bellydancing, which is fun and exercise. I don't get enough exercise. I would love to box, but realistically it's not me. I'd love to be the sort of person who could just lace up her shoes and run, but that's not me. I'm not saying I can't do these things, because I can, it's just they don't hold my interest long term. But I keep coming back to bellydancing. It's gentle and fun and the women in my current class are great and I always leave with a big smile on my face. So it's worth it.

my jingly jangly bellydancing hip scarf

I will write more about why at some point but I've started studying relaxation massage with ACM, by correspondence. I've got a whole bunch of books and DVDs to work through, at my own pace, so I don't have the pressure of filling up more nights or weekends with classes, but I can just slot it in wherever. I have to do a certain number of logbook hours, practising massages, and the final task is to go in and be assessed. I gave my first two massages last week, to mum and Georgina. I'm finding the whole thing quite fascinating, and giving the massages is quite rewarding; it puts me in a peaceful, calm state of mind to focus on someone else and their wellbeing. It's also good exercise, incidentally.

she was a daytripper
My weekends have been so busy lately, and this past weekend I completely cleared so that I could have some time to rest and repair. And I ended up photographing (a whole bunch of TalulaMei stock I had made but hadn't gotten round to Etsying yet) and sewing (but not for TalulaMei, for myself). I watched lots of Freaks and Geeks and finished The Newsroom and made myself a Daytripper bag (from a Dog Under My Desk pattern). It took me a long time but I absolutely love it. I wasn't planning to add it to my regular TalulaMei repertoire, as it does take so long. But it got a very positive reaction. So maybe I will make a couple and see whether they sell.

Wow this got quite long once I got started. I really need to write more.