Thursday, 28 August 2014

Giving, getting, volunteering and the system.

Hello world.

I wrote a post about no make up selfies a while ago, but with this ALS ice bucket challenge being the biggest topic on my social media feed, I thought maybe I should share some of my own thoughts about charities, giving and getting.

You can read lots of great articles for and against the ALS ice bucket challenge. I'll link some when I'm not typing on my iPad. I don't feel I need to discuss the merits or lack thereof because it's been done.

What this brings up is a really important point, and that is how we are lending a hand to a charity, cause or organisation and how we can do so in an ethical way. Everyone knows Brownies lend a hand, and seeing as I am a Guide, I'm posting my thoughts on this.

Social media lends itself readily to public demonstrations, to awareness campaigns and ways to donate without finding your local Guide Dog collection container. This is not a bad thing. I really like social media because it reaches a broad range of people who may not connect with the world around them in broad ways. The are a few things I don't like about social media, such as watching You Tube clips on a breakfast news show (why?!) and the overwhelming sponsored content and spammy articles. All in all, it's a great option away from television and newspapers.

I really like awareness campaigns, but to be honest, few are done well. In light of the ice bucket challenge, it has brought some awareness of ALS. The light pink colour is readily associated with breast cancer (there's some gender equality issues with this though). Posting messages like 'repost of you are against child abuse' is not an awareness campaign. No one is for such things. The best thing an awareness campaign can do is inform and end the "othering" that comes with illness. How can we detect a certain disease or type of cancer? These are the kinds of things awareness campaigns should be doing, and plenty fall short when the branding is seen as the awareness, not the actual cause itself.

Now, let's talk about donations.
You can read about my tale of child sponsorship, but as far as I am aware, such cases are pretty rare and I really got a bad hand (no pun intended) when trying to deal with the situation. One of the criticisms about the ice bucket challenge has been about where the donation is going, with a statement I read today suggesting that about eight percent (not eighty, no typo) is going to research. In my opinion, if the organisation is about supporting families in times of need (and to be honest. I am not really sure of what the organisation is standing for, and it doesn't matter because I'm not donating to it), then that is where your money goes. All charities are going to have administration costs and overheads to meet. A good charity will have branding so that you can easily recognise it. These things cost money, and who is to say that just because it's for a good cause, it doesn't mean someone should work for free. It's also important to know that some organisations have other causes and purposes other than research,mor whatever your personal interest in the organisation is. 

Before giving and making a serious commitment (for me twenty dollars is a serious commitment), researching the charity is really important. A good charity will be forthcoming with their financial statements, these are easy to look at online. My advice would be to read blogs and articles about the organisation to decide whether you really want to give to them.

I think the other thing to remember in this is that crowd sourcing or giving directly to a person is also a good option. 

My second piece of advice is to give in two ways, regularly or as part of a campaign. 

Regular giving
The reason I believe in this is because a charitable organisation needs to rely on ongoing support. Some might exploit this by asking your too often to increase your givingor at least inform you of good opportunities such as giving a sponsor child money for Christmas which will feel his family for six months. You might think that a charity welcomes all money all the time. Of course they do, but they need something to count on. It's like pocket money. I would rather have five dollars a week rather than twenty dollars whenever my parents had some left over lolly, which could be highly irregular. 

Supporting campaigns
Lots of Not for Profits and NGOs run campaigns throughout the year. Often these have a theme, and behind that theme and branding will be a target for fundraising, whether they make this known or not. Supporting annual or once off campaigns is a good alternative to regular giving, as it happens enough that they can count on the support. Also, campaigns often have a theme or purpose, so you have a good understanding of where your money is going.

Finally, and I hope to wrote a much more informed article shortly, is the idea of volunteering. I recently saw a call for volunteers at a children's home and lots of people wrote things like 'this will be good for uni/teaching experience/work'. We need to start embracing the fact that rarely volunteering is a selfless act. Yes, sacrifices are being made, but we can always gain something from experiences. It bothers me when people say otherwise, because they are not identifying that the organisation they are serving is giving them an experience they wouldn't have otherwise have had. While I was in India we had a visit from the amazing Dr Mune, who runs the Green Tara Foundation. Dr Mune said that there is no othering (in not so many words) because both the girls and the volunteers appreciate that the volunteers get just as much out of their experience, if not more than those they are helping.

I don't want to say that throwing a bucket of ice or water on your head is a bad idea, because in terms of an awareness campaign it's done really well. And I don't think every one needs to run off and volunteer overseas either. I guess what I really wanted to say is to think carefully through before you over commit to lending a hand, or lending a dollar, and more importantly, to think it through before strongly (or otherwise) urging others to do the same.

Lend a hand, don't be a lemming.

Monday, 25 August 2014

GOLD Update: One month to go!

I haven't done this for a while because there hasn't been a lot to update until now!

Fundraising efforts
I'm all for self funding trips, but over the weekend I held a stall at Round She Goes to cover a little of my expenses. Last time I did a g-sale as well, but with the craziness that is Term 3 Guides this time, I don't think it will be happening. I'm in the process of applying to travel funds to help support the trip, so hopefully we make some progress there.

Tasmania weekend!
I head off to Launceston to meet the Aussie half of the GOLD team and meet the NZ girls via Skype. I'm keen as beans! I've made little swap bags of goodies for the other girls because I'm crazy mad about badges. I may have also spent this morning straightening up badges on my camp blanket and using spray adhesive to keep them in place. I'm not pro glue + fabric, but everyone else seems to do it and doesn't suffer from Wonky Badge Disease (as I unfortunately do).

Just overwhelming support
To be honest, a lot of people in my little world are excited for me - Cook Islands doesn't sound half as scary as India, even though what I will be doing there will be a lot more hands on than my workshop week in Sangam. I think this is part of the reason I have a lot of support this time - some of the things I did while I was away were seemingly crazy enough not to even tell my parents until I got home (like being stranded at the airport for one thing). And although Cook Islands and India are both part of the Asia Pacific region, it seems a lot closer to home for us.

Last night at Guides Annie asked what they (as in my Unit) can send with me for the trip. The answer was wait and see! I'm hoping to be able to take a lot of odds and ends with me, and like Sangam, I'm expecting some seemingly odd requests. On a side note, I did take taco mix and ranch dressing to Sangam, it was on their most wanted list.

I'll start putting out the word soon enough.

Jamie and Penny have been smuggled out AGAIN.
Jamie the koala and Penny the platypus have been smuggled out from the Guide Hall in darkness to attend my visit to Launceston this weekend. I'm sure my friends from Sangam would love to see these two crazy critters (cue Amanti yelling 'JAAAAAAAAMIE!' from across the room) again. They are way too big for cabin luggage (yes, I do need two books, an ipad, a notebook, moneys and whole heap of other things that go in my cabin bag), but hopefully they can pose for some photos along the way.

In other Guiding news:
  • We have had some super happy and excited Girl Guides this week, but have also made a sad Guide a little happier, even for a brief amount of time. There may have been some disappointment when three girls were refused a whole bag of marshmallows, but seeing as they got half a bag and a block of chocolate, I think they did well.
  • I'm so close to finishing my Leadership Qualification and have been spending lots of time doing risk assessment for Unit meetings. You have to think of everything, and then what you think of isn't always to do with what you think you're thinking about. BLURGH!
  • Region leaders retreat is coming up next month, woohoo. It's at Halbury (yuck), but it will be grand to be with some fab ladies.
  • I've had a few people ask about what will happen when I go back to Adelaide, and honestly, it depends where we live and if I'm close to a unit that really needs leaders. I hope to be part of a Unit no matter where I am, but I also want to go somewhere that really needs me too.
  • I've been thinking about volunteerism a lot lately and I'll get to a blog about it soon enough.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

The old blockeroo (or - it's not me, it's you.)

Today I had a very one sided break up.

We had been down this path before.

It's a path I had chosen to forget, one in which my parents had words with a principal who then sat down with myself and the girl in question and stated firmly (but kindly) that we couldn't be friends anymore. In short, she had isolated me from other people without even intending to. Eventually we became friends again, but by then she had her own people to be with and so did I so it didn't seem to matter so much.

We had been friends since we were thirteen. We don't have a lot in common, other than we were both misfits, we both shared the same friends (eventually), we liked each other's company enough to hang out until I moved away for uni. We have seen each other a few times, we have been Facebook friends on and off, but I wouldn't say we are truly friends in the same way that I am friends with other people from school. We don't do in jokes, we don't do memory rehashes.

I am going to try not to justify this, but honesty, it's really hard not to do so.

It's easy to do the old blockeroo on someone who has hurt you or needs space for their own wellbeing. My block list is incredibly short and only features people who has weirdly stalked me (and made up fake accounts after the fact) or lashed out one two many times at my rather well rounded views that I'm not entitled to have (oh, I can't support gay marriage because I'm not gay, but you are? PLEASE. We're fighting the same cause here).

In this case though, it's not me, it's you.

This has been a long running joke, and I have often said it in reverse, and not always meant it. I'm not easy to drive insane, but the problem, as I see it comes like this:

Person A wants something.
Lisa doesn't want the same thing.

Person A wants things Lisa doesn't, isn't interested in or wants to over share about their life.
Lisa doesn't want a part in this.

and, the boiling point:
Person A starts making weird value statements about Lisa's life, which she (Person A) is not actively part of).
Lisa gets beyond pissed.

The two points before boiling point are reasonably easy to deal with. Because compromise is a good thing. Scratch my back and I'll do likewise. That's what friendship is really. Lots of give and take.

The second point makes this messy. I don't mind oversharing, but my Facebook wall or status updates or inbox is not the place to do so.

The boiling point: I hate unsolicited advice. I wrote blogs and updates and all sorts about how this bothers me.

There is a difference though, and here is it is: if you are part of someone's life, like actively part of it and not someone you see three times a year, then you get to help out.
(which she isn't.)

Or, if you have known that person since forever but actually stayed in touch with them and cared about them.
(which she isn't.)

Or if you are actually a nice, mostly sane and mentally healthy person who isn't trying to force weird crap on you like drinking smoothies and bizarre methods of prayer and trippy ways to trip out your brain to make it undepressed.
(again, which she isn't.)

Sometimes in life there isn't anything wrong with someone saying to you 'You know, you actually have an issue here.' But to randomly make up crap, that's really not okay.

So, today, it isn't me, it's you.

And I'm really sorry, because I actually care about you enough to feel bad about the whole blocking thing.

But, well, not sorry because this was actually really impacting on how I felt about my own personal space, and sure, it's virtual space, but Facebook is still space in which I need some breathing room, away from you.

PS- if this sounds like a girl crush thing, it really isn't meant to. 

28 Fun Facts about Frizz

Been meaning to do this for awhile. Here's what to do: write down as many facts about you up to including how many years old you are. Fun times ahead.

I've tried very hard to make these actual new gems of information. Which is great if you have known me for awhile and kind of dumb if you actually don't know me.

1. Hello. My name is Lisa. I'm also known an Lis, Lissy and Frizz. You can find me under variations of FreeVerse and PopFunk (with random numbers at the end) because I love screen names. My students at MNCC still call me Miss Holbrook. I don't mind.

2. I am highly superstitious and look for 'signs' far too often. I treat other people who do the same with contempt, go figure.

3. I have a lucky shirt and have done since I was 15. I've only ever had good days in it.

4. I am incredibly loyal.

5. If there is a vanilla slice on offer anywhere I will eat it. Vanilla slice + Chittick's nibble pies... om nom nom.

6. Cookie Monster is my favourite character from Sesame Street.

7. I have 5 Kate Hill bags for travelling, because a) I travel a bit and b) I like to collect things.

8. Middle Island/Stingray Bay in my hometown of Warrnambool is my favouite place in the whole world.

9. As a child I would often read 6-10 books, mostly Baby Sitters Club ones, over a weekend.

10. I can't catch anything you throw at me. Don't worry,I'm not totally uncoordinated, I just have terrible eyes that can't estimate distance.

11. I hated uni, but I loved having a student lifestyle. I can't really explain why I didn't enjoy it, but part of it was because Tabor treated their students like they were three and then I went to UniSA which was much more academically rigorous,  but hard to make friends when you're doing a range of subjects with groups of students from all different stages of the course.

12. I pretty much only ever drink moscato, unless I'm at some work do and white wine is the only other choice.

13. Every few months I write out a list of my favourite people, not because I have unfavourited people, just because I like to remind myself how lucky and blessed I am to have such incredible friends.

14. I would walk 500 miles and another 500 more just to eat at Burger Theory.

15. My most embarrassing moment was sitting on a bag of nibblie pies outside Chittick's. I had put them on my seat because I didn't want to leave them on the roof and drive off with them on there. Squashed pies aren't as gross as they sound.

16. I have a cat, but I am really a dog person.

17. I hate walking! If there is an option to drive, bike or be piggy backed I will take it.

18. My most favourite year of my life was 2010. It was filled with lots of gym, lots of friends, Sunday breakfasts, beach walks and incredibly fun jobs.

19. I find it incredibly difficult to sleep in. While the sun is out, a person should be also.

20. Gift giving is one of my most favourite things to do. I don't always get it right, but few things excite me more than wrapping up presents.

21. I have a lot of trouble buying jeans. I tend to find ones I really like that never get made again.

22. If there was such a thing as a Frequent Coacher, I would have worked up tens of thousands of bus mileage points by now.

23. My favourite airline is Virgin Australia.

24. I am petrified of snakes.  I am always hyper alert about them on any warm and sunny day, in any rural setting and outside my house.  I cannot even be in a room with a picture of a snake without getting rid of it somehow.

25. I don't always know if I want to be a teacher because I feel that the career is less about educating and more about jumping through hoops and embracing the latest new whizz-bang idea they have to help kids learn. Keep it simple please.

26. I have green eyes, but for a really long time I wished I had electric blue ones. I still don't, but I like my eyes more now, because, well, you can't change them, except with contacts and contacts scare me senseless.

27. I'm one of those people who don't believe that a phone should also be a camera. But, if you feel that's the way to go, please black up photos somewhere because to lose 'sentimental photos' on your lost phone drives me slightly bananas.

28. I could quite happy do with no more nights out on the town for a really long time. I'm just a bit past it, and to be honest I'd rather stay home, drink moscato and watch MASH with my husband.

Closure, doors and windows.

Today has been a great Kadina day.

Kadina Days used to be any day in which I was in Kadina, but not living there, which was the case when I was living in Balak and Pirie. I always had a half-packed bag ready to go and treats to bribe the cat during the brief (but too long for her) journey. At the end of my time in Pirie, which was just before we were married, I kept saying 'I just want ONE WEEK in ONE PLACE' over and over again. There were far too many trips to Adelaide and to Kadina and to Whyalla in Term 4 and I was just beyond tired of driving.

Once I was here (in Kadina that is), everything changed. Stephen's house had really been my home-away-from-home since Australia Day 2011, so moving in was just like, well, not moving, except we had an entire spare room of boxes. Evenrually our house started looking like a home and more of a blend of Lisa-and-Stephen-ness rather than two houses that vomited over some carpet.

Another thing I have said often is 'THIS is NOT the plan!' I use capitals a lot (I am a bit of a yeller). It is true, but my plan was very flawed, and in reality I have exceeded some of my my own goals and dreams while being here. The plan probably didn't include getting married at 26 and living on the Upper YP and missing friends and family more than I care to admit. But, well, the plan never included my Adelaide life either. The plan was fatally flawed to begin with.

Despite some serious hurdles and road blocks and depression and generally restlessness, I have to say I'm sad to know I'm leaving Kadina at the end of the year. All in all, it has been one of the few constants in my teaching career and lifestyle. I like our friends and our house and our difficult-to-manage garden. I like time to do things. Today we spent all day in the backyard, weeding and pulling down a tree and having a camp fire. We have done these things for four years, ad next year our garden won't be ours, but will be left for another teacher to look after. Those daisies and the natives and bulbs, all those things I have planted and tended and care about. My heart, which breaks easily, breaks a little over this. In times when life has been beyond crappy, I've looked out the kitchen window so many times and rested my eyes on something lush and green and full of the love that is God's creation.

Doors are closing now too. There is no turning back. We can't stay.

For me, closure is usually swift. Boom, that's it. That's the way it always has been with my contracts and moving. Quite literally I was living in Pirie, having my final Friday night drinks and opening wedding presents at school and the next my entire contents of my house was being put onto a truck. This is not a bad thing, but I have rarely had time to be so melancholic and reflective on closure.

And the other thing is that I so desperately want to be home. I want to do my favourite things like eat in the Chinatown food court, walk the Henley/Grange track, drive into town just to pick someone up from an obscure location at random hours, shop at 'my Coles', drink wine in winter on a freezing Friday night, call my friends and have coffee (okay, have hot chocolate), and fall asleep after midnight, only to wake up at 7am and do it all over again. And for a long time I have been doing those things, throwing myself at the mercy of my family and friends who put up with my ungracious house guest ways, with the notable exclusions of beach walks, because, well, I just haven't been able to bring myself to do it until I come back home.

 Back home.

At this point we don't have what we really need to get home. We don't have jobs, we don't have a house, we have a lot of stuff. But closure is fast approaching.

My favourite musical, Sound of Music, includes the line 'When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window'. I'm going to keep hanging onto that, along with my inherited optimism.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

A Facebook note about two articles about sex in the context of Christianity and purity pledges. (Yes. It's supposed to be a mouthful.)

I really didn't want to put this on my blog. I mean, it's a blog which gets a heap of traffic from Offbeat Bride. You can Google my blog. So it's kind of public. And this blog, well, when I went to write it, Ithought it would be kind of personal. So, well, I put it on Facebook. Dumb move. I have already prepared my responses to the 'concerned' PMs which may flood my inbox sometime soon.

So I thought this blog would be about me. It actually isn't. I have said enough about my own life and views on this topic to last me a lifetime, so the contents of such a blog only reflect my personal point of view and not my own experience. In short, this is not really about sex. Actually, it's about letting people make up their own mind.

 Anyway, in it's unedited form, here is my note:

Today I read two articles. Both of them are similar views all the same. Both were written by wives who waited until after they were married. But one was written by a woman who had little choice over her choice and was basically forced to pledge her virginity at age 10. The other was written by a woman who pledged her virginity to God, not to her church, family or future husband.

Part of me wants to say they are both right and wrong.

BUT. We are talking about a personal choice here. Who is to say one is wrong and the other isn't? What the first article on XO Jane is about is actually about a little girl who was spiritually abused by those around her.

You can read it here:

The second blog is written by a woman who made an informed choice in a setting which was open and honest, and in which sex was not a taboo topic. The only issue I have with this is that, in my opinion, the author of this article doesn't recognize that the author from XO Jane was actually manipulated, unsupported and psychologically damaged as a result of making a purity pledge at 10.

You can read that here:

I want to say this in response to such a debate:

Make your own choices.

Just because it was right for you, doesn't mean it is right for anyone else.

You, believe it or not, don't get to have a say about anyone else's choices regarding their sexuality, or over choices they never had the opportunity to make.

God loves you. Really. Cliched yes. True, for sure.

Monday, 18 August 2014

The worst day, or when tomorrow still isn't any better than the day before.

Another blog and one I promised myself I would right in the late hours of last night.

I wrote a little while ago about how the worst days of my life were followed by some of the best, amd how I wouldn't change them.

That's mostly true, and really I have only ever had two terrible days after the bad day, in a way that was funked and not funky.

The thing is that if I have had a really really bad day, and I have had plenty of them, I always tell myself that in the morning it will be better.

Most of the time that's true. Even after someone has died or I have suffered some kind of break up or fight with one of friends or whatever. Those days you can switch on auto pilot and concentrate on doing things like writing a eulogy or deleting ever email ever sent or getting a haircut. (Mostly I just get haircuts.) And on days like those you always have people around you, even when you don't want to, not just because misery loves company, but because friends like to invade your life when you need it most. And life, despite the really crappy situation around you, beats on all the same, and eventually you find yourself in a place that isn't necessarily a happy one, but one you're okay about being sad in.

And then there are the worst days ever.

My two worst days. One was midway through year 12, and the other was the end of Term 3 in 2011. I can be really vague about both of these days. Both of these days of high angst and general desperation where kind of caused by me, but really, made worse because of how I dealt with them. After the first worst day I thought I had learned the hard way to guard my heart, but it seems that even now that second bad day is still the worst of all.

So, without oversharing, here is what happened.
Both nights I went to sleep and turned off my phone. I never do this except if I'm hoping for some kind of surprise text which never comes anyway.
And then I woke up and there was no text, or maybe there was and there was nothing to give me hope. And I went about my daily routine which is about eating toast and well, drinking Milo, and going to school (both times, seeing as I used to go to school and now I work in a school), and the day just being horrible.
Both days it rained, and at the end of Term 3, I came home and frantically pulled up marshmellow like a crazy woman and then had a hot shower, but didn't care because I was so unbelivably numb that I couldn't care less whether I was cold or not, and then I sat on the couch and watched Harry Potter on repeat and tried to sleep and couldn't, and may have spent an hour on the phone crying my eyes out with the cat trying to give me cat comfort by putting her paw on my hand ever now and then.
And in Year 12, I basically did the same thing, and sat with my Mum at a lookout - maybe up near the tower - and ate fish and chips and cried and felt like nothing could ever be right again and I couldn't even say what was bothering me properly because it was all just too much.

And then the next day was just as bad.
And the next, and before you know it, your life is like some kind of Twilight novel.

Thoughts that I had on that day a few years ago, and thoughts I had eleven years ago are still the same thoughts. Even now I think them, because, well, they are thoughts you can only ask yourself when everything goes horribly wrong and you can't fix it or talk your way out of it.

Why write about this now?
Today is not a bad day after all. And neither was yesterday.

But even so. I still have a lump in my throat thinking about those two worst days. I think about them often enough and the pain isn't so raw now, except that I know that the last day day involved too many good songs about break ups and Katy Perry female empowerment tunes that I cared to think about.

When everything goes wrong, and it seems to now more than ever, I think how those days couldn't possibly be as bad as those two worse days. And my heart hurts a little less. And if I can get out of bed and eat toast and think about something other than the craziness of my responses to life's disappointments, well, I'm not doing too badly at all.

What snapped me out of those worst days?
I wrote the other week in my journal about Year 12.  I hated that year so entirely that I may have destroyed most of my scrapbooking pages about it. What got me through was sheer grit and determination. Not optimism. Not wishful thinking. Just because I had to get through to prove it to myself that I deserved to finish high school, even if everything else around me was crazy stupid and beyond anything I could really process. And, on the bright side, I had friends who I couldn't really talk to, but who had my back anyway, when I didn't deserve it.

The last worst day I spent a weekend in Renmark with Narelle and managed to stay really sane by not thinking about anything other than that very present moment. And then I drove home to Balak and listened to Nick Skitz and decided it was okay that I missed out on hearing Meatloaf at the Grand Final seeing as he did a terrible job anyway (sorry Meat). And my cat was waiting for me, and I was flying home the next day, come what may. And in the end, it all worked out okay, even after some general confusion and weirdness.

I can't say anything snapped me out of those worst days, other than time healing wounds (or whatever) But if all wounds were healed, well, why be so sad about it now? Because, well, I know what it was like to be sitting on the couch waiting for a call that never came. And if I could I'd like to tell my past self that my future self coped okay despite whatever silly idea past self was concocting in her mind about how terrible life was.

I wrote this blog because once I've said it I won't have to think about it again. And that makes me happy
I choose not to be defeated. But also, I choose me, because, if I had my time again I would do it all the same. Really.
Well, except for the Katy Perry song.

There's something about Harry Potter. (I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.)

Before I get started, I want to talk about some plots of Harry Potter that span over the entire series. So, if you haven't read them all and you intend to at some stage, PLEASE don't read this blog post.

My HP Story
I have to say Harry and I flirted a bit in my teenage years. It wasn't serious. I don't like fantasy, I don't like magic, supernatural themes literally make my head hurt and tingle (check in with Stephen if you don't believe me). I couldn't decide if HP and his gang were leading the way for witchcraft and satanism to become cool and mainstream. I ate a lot of Chocolate Frogs though. Om nom nom frogs.

Just before I finished uni my brother Matt told me I had to read HP if I was going to teach children. He had some convincing arguments and so I took the first few books home and read them like a crazy mad woman until I finished the last book. I knew about the epilogue 19 Years Later, so I knew that a few of my faves would make it. Then I bought all the movies. Then I read all the books AGAIN. Then I married Hars, AKA Harry AKA Stephen. I'm not sure how he looks like Harry, but whatever, I can roll with that. I am the Urban Dictionary certified Potterhead.

Here's some of my thoughts about HP. Question or comments, hit me up.

I ship Harry and Hermione 
Yes, I am one of those Harmony people and have been since 2002. Why? They just make more sense. But if you take 19 years later as canon (which, IMHO it is), everyone becomes one big family. Which they are already.

I really like the Dursleys
This was always my favourite chapter in the book. The Dursleys are such fun characters to read about and as it is pointed out the the book, the character building that comes from living with these people really makes Harry a better person. As the books develop, Harry becomes frustrating, shouty and arrogant. If he had been brought up in the wizarding world we would expect a lot more of that.

Cho Chang, you break my heart
Oh Cho.
There's a lot of heartache in these books, but to me Cho is one of the saddest characters Rowling writes of. You want to like her, but you just feel to gosh darn sad to be able to do anything with her other than feel... well, sad.

I solemnly swear I am up to no good
Everyone loves the Weasley twins and as a literary device they work well. Not only are they smart and humourous, but they only give away information at a time when it is completely necessary.

The Weasley twins are also encouraging as so often we hear about adults in the Wizarding World doing something, but we are told step-by-step how the boys make it in the world. Carrot wands - so fun!

I don't know how cliched Snape's character is, but I think the whole story line is so complex that you couldn't accuse JK of this.

There are so many things I love about Snape. I love that Ron blames everything on Snape at every possible moment. I love that Snape is still upset with his tormentors from school. I love that Snape still loves Lily even tough it was perfectly clear she did not love him back. I love that Snape makes

Harry look into his eyes while he's dying because Harry and Lily have the same eyes. *tear*
There are things to hate about Snape. He is nasty. He cannot move past his memories to show any kindness to Harry. He really only loves Lily and begs for her, and begrudgingly her family, to stay alive.

What I like most about Snape though is that he is incredibly clever. He works both sides incredibly
well and that we never really know whether Snape belonged to us or the Death Eaters until the very end.

Dumbledore is one of my favourite people.

I like him because he is flawed, he is old and wise and because he comes up with great quips. Dumbledore brings great hope. When he cries about not making Harry a prefect, you really want to give him a cuddle, while, at the same time, being so very angry that Harry's been led like a lamb to the slaughter.

Dumbledore knew what to say and how to say it.

Not my daughter, you bitch!
This is one of my favourite lines ever.
Because Mrs Weasley is a lot of things. She's cranky, two faced, kind and thoughtlessly thoughtful. She gives Harry presents at Christmas.

But, if anything, Mrs Weasley is a Momma Bear above all else. She is feisty and loving in a time when the world is literally crumbling around her. This scene encapsulates all that is good about Mrs Weasley.

Mrs Weasley is also over protective of Harry. She is the mother figure in his life and treats Harry like one of her sons (but, well, she is much nicer to him than her boys, let's me honest). Without Mrs Weasley, Harry would probably still be standing at King's Cross Station, wondering how to get on the Hogwarts Express.

Sirius is such a tortured soul. JK's characters are mostly made up of people with a flaw or two. What I love most about Sirius is that he would do anything for his godson. He is the best godfather ever. My favourite line about Sirius is from the Deathly Hallows: [Harry] seemed set on course to become just as reckless a godfather to Teddy Lupin as Sirius Black had been to him.

Of all the deaths in HP, and there are a lot of them, my heart broke most when Sirius had passed. I was okay until Harry discovered the special magic mirror, which he could have used at any time to talk with Sirius, but now it was too late.

The saddest scene, excluding Snape
Although it covers this in the book, the very hardest scene for me to watch in the film was when Hermione has to erase herself from her parents memories. We can only assume she went back to rescue her parents from the charms cast on them to make them happy living as dentists in Australia.

The 'sappy' (sad but happy) scene that always makes me cry
Although Hagrid is one of my favourite characters, the thing he does in the first book captures my heart some completely that he can never top it, no matter how kind he is in future books. Hagrid writes to James and Lily's friends to create a family photo album for Harry to have a way to remember his parents. I find all of this incredible and moving beyond words.

Dumbledore's Army
I think the creation of the DA is one of the best plot devices ever. It's even better than an Enid Blyton midnight feast.

Neville used to drive me batty. But if I am like anyone in HP, I'd probably be a Neville, except I wouldn't have a toad as a pet. Neville tries so hard and in the end he is the strongest character in the book. HP fans (or Potterheads as we liked to be called) often point to the fact that Neville and Harry could have both been the boy mentioned in the prophesy, though there is enough evidence suggesting it really could have only been Harry.

Neville's family is even more interesting than the Weasleys, and that says a lot. His Gran is fierce and rarely proud of Neville, except for when he really deserves it. When Neville pockets his gum wrapper present from his Mum, my heart breaks just a little more each time. But, Neville is also lucky that his Gran is so supportive of his passion for the cause.

A world you can't help but enter
I say this from the point of view of someone who never moved beyond the Magic Faraway Tree in terms of reading fantasy: I really like the Wizarding World created in the Harry Potter books. I like that we are introduced to it at the same time as Harry. That it's okay that we know the same amount about this world as our hero, Harry, and that as he learns, so do we. I like that it is a book series that grows with you and makes you think. I even like the prickly characters. I like Harry. A lot.

Harry Potter has made me laugh, but more importantly, made me cry. It's a series which is really based on love and death. There is a lot of fan art out there about things people have learnt from reading Harry Potter, but mostly, what I have learnt is that every book contains a world, and HP is one of those few worlds where you are invited in and expected to stay until the very end.

All was well.

No cheese and no ice cream. And, also, oversharing.

I have suddenly become one of Those People. It's a feared term in my Urban Family, as Those People are often people who are frustratingly annoying in the way they do things. However, I was one of "those youth leaders" who fall in love with the other youth leader, so you could say that sometimes things work out well for me.

I used to work with some of Those People Who Thought Gluten Free Diets Worked and Would Cure All Their Issues. No, that just made them look like complete morons. Then, when I got sick, they were telling me I should go GF. That's gluten free, not girlfriend, as that could be awkward to say the least. I ignored them, subsequently got sacked/resigned and started drinking lots of Milo.

Now, to be completely honest, I really like food. I'm not a foodie, but I freaking love gourmet hamburgers and food trucks and Greek food and really nice pizza (hello Evida). So, realising that I can't eat from a long list of my Favourite Foods EVER really sucks.

But, well, how did I know I was sick?
I had (have? it depends on what I've eaten) the worst pain on my right hand side I have ever experienced. It seems I have a beautiful appendix that I can keep, and also a gorgeous liver (thank you Doctor Awesome Sauce). I could feel nauseous after brekky and lunch. I just didn't feel well. I run on intuition a lot, so if I'm actually unwell, I do know... well most of the time. 

Long story short: I started feeling pretty unwell after I came home from India. I have been tested for almost everything under the sun for things I think are probably pretty unrelated to feeling queasy. For a while everyone thought I was pregnant (yay) but I wasn't (disappointing, all things considered). My doctor kept prescribing tasty concoctions people generally take before colonoscopies over a three week period, so not only did I feel really sick, I literally had no fuel to exist and may have spent a very miserable weekend on the couch not being able to do anything. Then I sent myself to the hospital where they prescribed more stuff. I was death warmed up for a few days. There may have been some tears. (Okay, there were plenty of tears.)

So then my Doctor Awesome Sauce cleared out of Kadina without telling me, so I had to go see some crazy old doctor guy who said I had IBS (no testing, just assumed that's what I had) and needed to have an ultra expensive CT scan, which is only available some Thursdays here on the Copper Coast at Wallaroo Hospital. So, screw him, I thought and cleared out to see my actual doctor in Adelaide who sent me off to a specialist who said my stomach pains are probably stress related. And bulk billed me! Trips to our local and private hospital had cost me an arm and a leg and with massive gap payments at the doctors, my sad little bank account was rapidly declining.

But, and this is the frustrating part, after my death warmed up four day weekend in which I could have quite happily traded in my life for something better than watching Stephen eat 'fun food' like chips and chocolate, I started to realise that maybe it was milk that was making me feel unwell. So I eliminated cheese and milk (but not chocolate), and see to only be getting The Worst Pain Ever after I ate the things on my favourite foods list.

Here's all my dairy favourite foods:
-milk. milk shakes. milo. akta-vite. thickshakes.
-any type of icecream ever invented
-cheese. cheddar mostly. 
-cream! and sour cream.
-those yo-gos you can get with chocolate chips in them. om nom nom.

So, all things considered, I am living a somewhat dairy free life. It seems I can have small amounts of milk in my tea, but that's about it. With all the GF rubbish and a strong distaste for BBQ chicken from Woolworths (read: HATE) I was eating a lot of yoghurt at work for lunch, and coupled with my three times a day Milo consumption, I was a woman keeping the dairy industry in business. Once I was home during the day I had a lot more choice about what I ate and the yoghurts haven't made a reappearance since.  

You'd think I would be happy with figuring out what was causing all my crazy pain. Well, yes, but there is a problem with this. Well, several:
1. I keep forgetting that there are certain things which I can't have. I had a caramel/chocolate sundae the other day and felt incredibly unwell. It was only later that I realised I can't have icecream. Blurgh!
2. It means changing up my staple menu items. No more pasta or Mexican or baked potatoes, except without sour cream and cheese. And this makes me feel sad because cheese and sour cream makes it better.
3. I don't mind boundaries. Okay, well, I do if they are long term things about Stuff You Cannot Say, Think or Do. But then I get the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life and think 'yeah, that really wasn't worth it'.

I wrote this blog because lots of the gal pals keep checking up on me. So here it is ladies. I'm not unwell, I just don't need to buy a cow to keep my Milo drinking habits in line with the cheque book*.

I haven't been tested for lactose or dairy intolerance yet (that will come after seeing my specialist again), so at this stage I'm still like annoying GF girls at work. Nothing like self diagnosing. But, well, I think I may have cured myself. And that's a good thing.

*I have a cheque book. It makes me feel old.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Saving scarves and other noble things.

I am going to say this once: I'm not great at making change. I'm not an activist. I care about the world and the organisations I am part of. I'm happy to put forward my ideas and opinions, but at the end of the day, I'm one person who holds one person's ideas and opinions. And that is where the problem lie.

There are a few reason why the good ones burn out, and I have thought about this a lot lately. Is it because they care too much? Most of the time I'd suggest yes, that's the problem. But I'm talking about good ones here, and most of us are, well, kind of ordinary, and that's where the problems start.

So, I guess I can talk about this, and if not, I'll come back and change this blog. 

I'm part of a Facebook group who is calling for a change to Guide uniform policy. But, well, and I mean this in the nicest way, it's not going the way the page creators hope.

Expectations: a public forum in which members from the organisation could discuss and campaign how to bring back a Guiding tradition - scarves.

Reality: it's a social media page which surveys members using Facebook polls and encourages debate, but Affirmative and Negative really don't see eye to eye.

*le sigh

For the record, I love the idea of scarves. They look cute and awesome, but also they make a lot of sense. But I really don't know if a Facebook page is the best way to go about it. Firstly, it's Facebook. FB is just one social media platform. It's a very popular one and a lot of our members use it regularly, so it is probably a great choice to encourage discussion. However, no one is going to comment on such a page if they are declaring something public on behalf of the organization. It's not that there aren't State and National Facebook profiles, but they are very much about publicity and encouraging people to use social media to promote Guiding.

Secondly, a number of people who 'like' a page and random surveys of people (such as 'I asked 20 people if they knew who Girl Guides was still around, and they said no because they don't have scarves') is not a way to bring change to an organization. That's interesting data, but not incredibly useful, or credible.

Thirdly, and most importantly, it isn't the way to create change. Change can come from such things, that's true. It is a good starting or reference point, but if we aren't writing to  people who help implement change, what good are we doing? Change doesn't happen because of idle talk, it happens because we influence the influencers.

I said something about the good ones. The good ones are often the people who engage in conversations such as this one and say things like 'bring this up in a forum that's appropriate'. And I'd love to say that I came up with this idea myself, but I didn't. In the last 20 months I have heard so many similar conversations and one of my mentors said of a similar discussion 'nothing's going to change if you don't approach someone and discuss it with them'. It was then that I realised that my problem I have had all this time has little to do with the topics being discussed and a lot with the way the discussion is run. And so, I say - I like scarves a lot. And I'll be happy to stand with someone to campaign for them back. But I don't think I can handle being a broken record (or being on repeat for that matter.)

Sunday, 10 August 2014

The art of generally being a nice person. (Or: can we all just get along? PLEASE?!)

To be one hundred percent honest, I am a little bit biased towards the gender of my friends. And here's why: I generally think girls are mean. Well, I used to, until a few months ago.

Anyone who has known me for some time can tell you how I feel about girls. I am picky. I have wonderful girlfriends, but I also manage to avoid a lot of ladies too. And there's a good reason, I also don't get girls.

It starts like this: my best friend since kinder was a boy. Which is fine. My best friend in high school was a boy. My seemingly endless streams of favourite people are almost all guys, with a few exceptional exceptions. Why? It's not just because I have been described as boy crazy. It's just that men in general make sense.

When girls don't like you, they don't tend to tell you. They wait months or years for you to finally get the hint. When a guy doesn't like you, they tell you in no uncertain terms.

When girls get upset with you, they are really mean. They tell their friends stories or ignore you or start being catty and plain rude. When a guy is upset with you he tells you and gets over it.

When girls see you succeed in something, they try to cut you down or one-up you. When a guy sees you succeed in something they congratulate you or don't really care less and say nothing.

For the only person who knows all about this.

I am a girl, and not all girls have the traits of bitchy girls. I can, and have sometimes, but mostly I try really really really hard to be nice to the majority of people all of the time. Why? I don't like being nasty, it makes me nervous and anxious. I hate being the one receiving the big rejection or being left out or being excluded because I'm different.

Because I'm different.
As if.
I love it when I'm compared to someone. It's always the haves and the have nots, and I'm always the have nots.

Am I really different?
Well, yes, because we all are. But what makes me different? The fact that I can skate and refuse to play tennis? That I like making things instead of sitting around having endless coffees? (I hate coffee.) That I don't wear the same freaking thing as every other person in this tiny little corner of the world? No. None of that makes me different. But, when looking for reasons as to why I don't fit in, it's always about being different somehow. Being different isn't an excuse for girls to be nasty.

I digress.
All in all, and with a few exceptions, I probably have THE BEST friends in the world. And I won't lie, we get annoyed at each other and fight sometimes and invariably Jon will try to keep the peace by saying things like "Lisa, you did that. That wasn't nice. You need to say sorry."

Does that make my circle of friends un-nice? Probably not. Honesty hurts but it isn't always cruel. What's cruel is people pretending that you're friends when you're actually not. (High school, welcome back.)

The last few months though my theory about not liking girls because they're girls has been completely disproved. It turns out that some people are just really nasty, regardless of gender, and most girls I want to be friends with are like me. Down-to-earth and a little bit kooky with a wicked sense of humour. This, of course, has been the case my entire life, but I've never really given my own gender enough credit to prove themselves. Girls of the world, I apologise.

Tonight I read through a long series of nasty comments on a Facebook post by people who are my future colleagues. (In a world as big and as small as teaching, we are all colleagues.) It was mostly just one guy ranting and raving about how unfair an extension was for job applications for Round 2. In short, the server had crashed and the deadline today meant that everyone was logging on at the same time, and then the server went into meltdown mode. This guy was saying it wasn't fair that there was an extension and everyone else was lazy for leaving it so late (well, more or less). I know that men can often be described as arrogant (while women are often just plain bitches), but this guy really took the cake. And, I think, I finally got it. Sometimes people do and say things that aren't nice. But, well, at least they're honest, which is much better than your so-called best friend pretending to like you when actually she doesn't invite you to her birthday party ever again.

I said the last few months had changed everything. It has. I have the privilege of serving in an organisation for the girls and by the girls. And I love my girls, from my own little Girl Guides right up to my incredibly wonderful District Leader who can use more Word functions than most university graduates. Girls, who like me, have always been a bit out there or bossy or interested in something outside the box. Or not. I don't know what makes this Guiding Sisterhood thing work. But it has certainly restored my faith in my own gender, and for that I am incredibly grateful.

I called this entry 'The art of generally being a nice person', and here is the art: just be kind to one another, and not because you should; but because you can.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Questions you should shouldn't ask and something to do with blood tests.

I really hate blood tests.

No real reason, I have great veins, I don't have a low pain tolerance, I don't even mind hospitals. I've had a lot of them, a few years of my childhood were spent having them at six week intervals. The nurses tried to make it better. They gave me a sticker, sometimes two. Once they didn't have stickers and the nurse drew a cat on my band-aid, even though I didn't really like cats then. I only remember having lollies instead when I was a bit older, and the last time I had a snake, two even, was when I was 21 and actually reasonably unwell.

I have noticed this fad that the nurses seem to have. Most of the time they jab you on the count of three, but a few of them do it on two. The element of surprise. It's the element of surprise that upsets me most these days.

On the drive home from footy today I asked myself a question - how many more times will I do this trip? This was the last game of the season I'll get to watch, but the road has been well travelled seeing as it is on the way to Stephen's work and Snowtown, where I was working last year. Bad question.

This is the kind of thing I try to prevent other people from doing. Why does it matter? You'll only make yourself more sad. You're overthinking it. My brain went into advice giving overdrive and it didn't work, apart from making me go ten k's over the speed limit.

A few months ago I asked told a friend I'd been thinking about the what ifs. What if I had never left Adelaide? What if I had just stayed? He almost yelled, saying, "No, don't even think about it!" Why? Because you can't change the past, and anyway the regrets I have are minimal. The what ifs and if onlys don't scare me. But the count down does.

The count down. The count down is the worst thing ever about moving. I've worked out I have moved ten times since I was 19. TEN! Okay, half of those moves have been traipsing across Adelaide. It's not settling though. Being the creature of habit I am, it doesn't change too much. But the adjustment that comes from forming meaningful relationships does unsettle me. I even calculated how many times my Girl Guides and I would sing 'Taps' together (approximately 15 times if you're interested). I'd like to say that things don't change when you move, that friendship is forever and all that, but I'm not convinced that is always true.

The count down changes dramatically, you think you have longer than what you do, and then WHAM, your going to farewell parties and setting up a new house all within the same weekend.

I recently read that if a friendship lasts seven years, you're likely to be friends for life. That's not bad, but considering the amount of moves and towns, etc, it doesn't matter how close you are to someone at the time, friends can be fleeting. Or something.

When I got home I sat in the car and cried for a bit. I am a big crier, and being over emotional is something I do well. It makes me more creative, or at least angsty. What was I crying for though? I was sad about the Taps thing. I was sad about leaving this life that has been mine for almost four years now. But mostly I was sad because it's Saturday afternoon and I'm not harassing staff in Cotton On for something to wear out tonight. And I think I used to really like Saturday afternoons, and list all the much better things in my head I have done with them, other than sitting in my driveway having a big sook.

When I eventually made sense of it, I didn't really miss shopping or working a lunch shift or getting ready for a night in by making cookies. I just miss having a choice. Then again, this is my choice, to be here, I mean. And it continues to be a choice.

So many people have really kindly offered to be there for me if I need to talk, and what I realise is the only thing I need to talk about is anyone else but me. I miss having friends to go out for lunch with and go on mad shopping hunts with. And the problems I have, well, they are small. I can work them out on my own. Solve them on my own even. And that's why I'm angsty. Because I have the answers already.

I used to think 'what if' and 'if only' were the same. But really, 'what if' is about choices, before and after the fact. 'If only' comes only after the choice has been made and there's nothing you can do about it, except be full of regret.

I haven't asked 'if only'. And that is a very, very good sign.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

GOLD 2014: Weekly Update 1

So it's been a week since I found out I was accepted to be part of the GOLD Cook Islands 2014 team, and it's time for a weekly update.

My current GOLD timeline is looking like this:

On 23rd August I have my major fundraiser for my International Trip. I'm selling again at Round She Goes, a vintage and pre-loved designer market in Adelaide. As a thrifter from way back, I have been adding furiously to my stash of goodies to sell. Last year I had an incredible time and sold enough to paid for my transport to and from Mumbai to Pune with some spending money left over. This time I hope to do the same.

The weekend after I fly into Launceston for a training weekend with the Aussie GOLD Team. We are linking up with the NZ girls via the amazing invention called The Internet. I am excited about this for three reasons - a long enough stop over at Melbourne Airport to get my Victorian fix (mostly just chocolate flavoured Big Ms), and my first trip to Tasmania. I can't wait, that's another thing to tick off the bucket list. The thing I am most excited about is meeting the other ladies and getting to know them before we head off. Joan, the International Manager, is booking a home stay for me. I haven't been billeted since I was 15 but I'm looking forward to it.

GOLD itself starts on the 28th of September and runs until the next Sunday. At this stage I'll spend a few days with Stephen's family in Port Elliot before flying out. I'm still waiting to hear what this journey is going too look like - I think we will fly from Sydney at this stage - but still, it's exciting.

As you can tell, I don't have a lot more information than travel details. Just as well I love travel details and rules and planes. I'm sure I'll know a lot more after our training weekend and be able to be a bit more useful in terms of archiving this kind of information.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Sunrise, sunset. (homecoming and the fault in our stars.)

Augustus and I stayed up to look out the window for awhile. It was a clear day and although we couldn't see the sun setting, we could see the sky's response.

"God, that is beautiful," I said mostly to myself.

"'The risen sun too bright in her losing eyes,'" he said, a line from An Imperial Affliction.

"It it's not rising," I said.

"It's rising somewhere," he answered.

- The Fault in our Stars - John Green

This makes my heart burst so much.

What it remind me of is flying into Kuala Lumpur on my four hour flight from Mumbai. I'd slept most of the way until the sun had apparently rose. It was pink and orange and pretty. I don't think I'll ever forget that sky. It was the start of a really long and somewhat dopey day of exploring a little bit of the city and getting the world's greatest massage. But what I really wanted to do was go home to my own bed, with my own doona and sleep for about three days. And find somewhere to charge my phone.

There is always something magical about waking up somewhere else, but I still think the very best thing about travel is coming home. I'm not too prone to homesickness or cabin fever, but the moment the plane dips over Adelaide, or the train comes through the tunnel just before Warrnambool Station or those haunting pine trees line the highway, I am home and everything is okay in my world, even when it really isn't.


Monday, 4 August 2014

How to keep a journal 101.

So you would think keeping a journal is easy, right?


I'm here to share my thoughts on journalling and also want to attempt to share the things I have found true thus far.

I've been keeping a journal since I was eight. Sometimes I've just had one book, especially now, but I've often had a journal and a book for poetry. I keep travel journals as well. Why? Here is our first lesson.

1. Journals are about archiving.
A journal is the best way to have a snapshot into a day in the life. But it also helps capture and recapture memories and that's especially important when you're doing something exciting, fun or memorable.

2. Journals need to contain what you want to remember.
Rereading my old journals remind me that it's important to use your creative and thoughtful energy for what you want to remember, not what you should. I have huge chunks of journal entries about me being mad with people and situations that are completely irrelevant to my life now, and a few weeks after I wrote them. I've even recording down exact words people have spoken into my life - no one needs to know what you so called best friend in year nine called you one lunchtime, especially not you.

3. Don't lie to yourself.
I found that sometimes I would want something so badly that I'd lie about it - I don't care, I don't like him, I wish I was thin (okay, the last one is true). But nonetheless, journals are great places to lie to yourself and they shouldn't be.

4. Choose your audience - but mostly just write for you.
I had a journal 'Blah book baby' (or just Blah for short) that was an open journal that I let my friends read. It was fun for awhile until I realised I needed somewhere just to write for myself. Travel journals are great to share, but when it comes to what you think and feel, well there's not a lot of people you should be sharing that with. It leads to censoring yourself and that is a very bad thing to do!

5. Just write.
Seriously, don't overthink it and don't reread your previous entries before writing something down. Just do it! What's the worst that could happen?

6. You don't have to write everyday.
Unlike reading, which I strongly recommend doing every single day, writing doesn't always HAVE to happen. I've tried this with my blog and my journals and a lot of the time it would end up as 'Today at work blah blah blah*insert some boring story about a cranky customer here*'. No one wants to read that, even you.

7. Date your journal entries.
So many times I have reread something and wished I had recorded the date! Even if it just says 'August sometime', that's better than nothing.

So now I've set up some ground rules, at least rules I keep for myself, here are some of the ways you might like to journal.

I keep a Quotable Quotes list as well as putting in quotes from movies and tv shows alongside (before or after) a journal entry. I adore quotes and love to keep track of things that capture my heart in an often unintentional way.

Record experiences and conversation
In my opinion, most of your journal should be about this. Having said that, it's often really hard to decide what to put in there and whatb you might tear our a few years later. Hindsight suggests the following questions. If you answer yes to at last one of them, record the moment:
-is it about a family member or close friend?
-was it remarkable in some way?
-did it capture your heart, soul or mind?
-was it hilariously funny?
-would you look back at that moment in five years time and thing 'that sure was awesome?'

I have said before that it's important to choose wisely what you record, but if something negative helps get rid of it for you, don't be scared to write it down, and possibly censor it after. I always feel a million times better after writing or talking an issue out.

Lists and goals
As you probably know by now, I love lists. I also love goals.  I have lists about why I love things. Lists, prayers, goals, dreams, that's all journalling.

Bad poetry
I write so much bad poetry I could win a prize on (assuming that thing is still up and running.)  Poetry belongs in journals and it's often a lot easier than writing things out sentence by sentence.

I hate when someone gives me the reflective task of writing a letter you myself. It seems crazy stupid, but it kind of works. I have never done this in my own journal, but I do write letters to people because they are the types of letters you could never really send, especially if that person isn't around anymore. Letters made up a lot of my journals as a teenager, and it's nice to reread them now.

I have a splitting headache and I need Panadol. I'm out of here, but my final advice is to keep writing. Everyone has a story to tell. Cliche and true. Just like a journal entry.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Changing it up: some quick thoughts on church life.

There is a great clip from 500 Days of Summer, in which Tom's expectations vs reality are played out simultaneously. I love it for so many reasons, mostly because you see that Tom is flawed and overthinks way too much.

This brings me to a completely different topic: the ever emerging church.

Whole sermons have been preached about the idea that the church is only one generation from extinction. Meetings are held about it, discussion papers written and pleading older people state the case that we get to get with it.

A teaching text book of mine refers to 'withit-ness' - being in the loop enough to be considered 'with it' by your students. What is with it? It reminds me of one of my friends from primary school saying 'get with the program' about twenty gazillion times. You need to catch up Church. Or... well... do you?

My generation, and the one before that make big distinctions between Christianity and religion. Oh no, Christianity can't possible be a religion. Wrong wrong wrong. Despite what we think we say we do, we are religious. Church on Sundays. Upholding the Law. Treating one another with grace. All these things make us religious. Saying we aren't religious is crazy and pretentious. And we can't be *stage whisper* traditional. Traditional implies religion. Religion implies being a slave to a by works-we-will-be-saved notion. Tradition implies we care more about our history and rituals than God. Also, well, not really true.

I could go on about all the things other people think the Church (Christian church as a whole) needs to change to get with it, but I don't have all day.

Here's some things I both think and know.

The Christian community as a whole know they need to change.
Here is a discussion paper by the Uniting Church of South Australia entitled Changing Landscapes. Yes, this may be a shameless plug for the UC, but it's one such instance where a church as a whole body has looked at themselves and their future and has suggested that maybe there are things we need to discuss as a whole. How can we ensure that the church stays around? How can we be more with it?

I question whether some denominations or mega churches go through such journeys. If not, good for them to not be in a position where they have be overly and overtly concerned about where they are going. That's okay, their withitness is not in question. For now anyway.

The Christian community is in for change anyway.
A while ago stories about churches held in pubs were great national headlines. Now it's a case of 'oh, so you meet in a pub, cafe, community hall, school... that's great!' I think that with access to social media a lot more information about the way church works is out there. People just seem to know about what churches around them offer.

What should we be aiming for?
I love that churches run community organisations. Anglicare, for example, run a Tenancy Information and Advocacy Service which got me through really difficult lease. I was on their books for almost a year and they looked after me so incredibly well. I've been offered different types of help through places I had never considered turning to. Places 'secular' organisations would point to and say 'here, they will help you out'. This, my friends, is how church should be. You will always have the poor with you.

I can't just leave it there, so this is what I think:

People will always leave churches over sore heads and bruised egos. They will find somewhere else to attend until they get over their issue, and then they come back. That's not finding the lost, that's just reshuffling the sheep.

There are lots of fringe kids out there. I talk about this a bit because I'm a fringe kid. We're the ones who love Jesus, who have a strong faith, but we don't have a regular church and or we don't attend out home church regularly. We're good at making the best of bad situations, attending church Friday night dinners and being part of the crowd without having a place to crowd into. We don't get recorded on the National Church Life Survey. But, hey, we can live with that. I predict that fringe kids will have more homes in the future, or at least, be accepted by their more religious, every Sunday peers, more readily.

Churches will be more like communities. My home church is very much a community. I have never felt more loved and accepted by a big group of people ever. What's drawn me to my church where no one there is with it, the only instrument is a guitar and they meet in a funeral home? The people. Church is the people. No, none of those people are with it. Yes, they might question my judgement sometimes and we may not always agree and theology. But there is love, and where there is love, there is always a spirit of community.

And, what I hope churches are like - I hope that we continue to improve the way we meet the needs of others. I have had extraordinary tales of people who have been helped through church ministries, and have heard stories of the complete opposite. I wish this didn't happen so frequently, but it is truth. We need to look after one another more.

Taking my place in the line of People Hurt by The Church

Hello world.

I have unsettled conflict in my life. This time of year is never good for me because I'm the sort of person who should sleep from mid may until mid August. The skies are clearing though and I've decide to approach a few topics on my blog - this one, about getting over hurt and another about making change... which I'll get to later.

I know a lot of people who have been hurt by the Christian community. Usually we just call in The Church (caps because Church=the entire Christian church), and usually The Church has done something to wrong us.

The Church's list of nasty things it has messed up and around for me is long. I've worked for one Christian organisation or another since I was nineteen. I have been part of one church or another (no caps, its just church in general) since forever. Let's look at some truths here.

1. We are all saints and sinners. 
This is part of redemption. Now, I could go into Grace and Law and a whole heap of wonderful theology here, but I won't.  The fact that we are both good and bad makes the situation really sticky. We have two expectations - 1) we will know them by their fruits and 2) we're all children of God. I love the Gospels though because Jesus, bless His heart, is always helping his disciples see the error in their ways without being a jerk about it.

The sticky situation often comes about because we are a jerk about it. Planks and splinters, or something like that. Too often we forget our own role of saint is only because Jesus redeemed us to be in relationship with God, through grace. We want to help people see the error of their ways without being real about our own issues. That leads to a crushed spirit, and for me, Miss Tender-hearted, a crushed spirit is where I am hurt the most.

2. Church is a challenging environment.
Stand up, sit down, listen to the preacher, say 'amen' or 'preach it' but not anywhere too traditional, it might go for forty five minutes to an hour, sometimes we have worship flags/banners/drums/dancing/communion/we even hold hands and make a circle.

Churches are strange to walk into, sometimes difficult to adapt to and often hard to navigate. I'm prone to getting in trouble for talking, I bring my Bible when it is for some reason unnecessary, I stopped dressing up for church in cool clothes a long time ago.

Church is not one size fits all, despite everything they attempt. Be prepared to be unprepared for church.

How church is makes it difficult for us to appreciate it at times. In the best of times, church is community who celebrate and cry and sing together. At the worst of times, church makes you feel almost trapped and sometimes a bit used up. There are rosters. There are things you're asked to do which take away your time from your loved ones.

Having said that, there are plenty of other places like church. You can get over and under committed in just about any organization. The difference tends to be motivation. For example, working with a theatre group you are working to have a stage production completed in a certain amount of time - good for everyone. Church wise - you're bettering the kingdom of God by being on the offering duty every week. And if that doesn't sit well with you, please see point number one, Saint/Sinner.

3. Church life connects people from all walks of life. And that's weird too.
The story of Christ and the hope and peace the message brings to us attracts people from everywhere. We are all broken in one form or another, even if we don't admit (or know) it. Church should break down class and stereotypes, but it doesn't always.

Theology and philosophy is different from person to person. What you believe will be different to another, and also, what you believe now may change dramatically. The things we hold near and dear to our hearts bring the most pleasure and pain.

What I decided on my longish drive home today is that the hurt I have isn't entirely to do with The Church or even a church. Here's what it boils down to:

About a quarter of my hurt, or prickles as I like to call them, is actually about Christian organisations. This is do do with their structure, their ethics and behaviour as an organisation as a whole. People have time and again tried to infiltrate their system to no avail. Bearing that in mind, I'll put it down to a bad experience and poor judgement.

The rest of my hurt has do so with the first point I made - saints and sinners. As I am so often told 'if you've been hurt by the church, get in line'. The problem with this is some of the hurt has to do with things that happened a long time ago, some is more recent and all of it - yes, all - has to do with people who are not part of my life and haven't been for a long time and don't even speak it. In fact, some of the people declined my Facebook invitations. Take that, the double rejection. Ahh, the pain.

I've used 'long time' a bit now'. I think I have seen where the problems lie - planks and splinters, but also, good intentions. It's often good intentions that crush spirits, right when they don't need to.

What am I to do though? Biblically, check it out:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17).

I think sometimes I have got through that process and failed at a point and never retried again. But I'm now at a point where the only hurt I'm carrying is my own.

The last line of that passage talks about treating the person as if he/she were a Gentile and a tax collector. I had always thought this meant that the offending party were to be ignored and treated with contempt. Of course though, Jesus loved Gentiles and tax collectors and a whole bunch of questionable characters. This leads me to believe, with some gentle guidance, that if the resolution process doesn't work, treat them the way Jesus would - with love.

Frustrating, yes; Biblical, I hope so.

So what will I do about it? I need to acknowledge it, forgive the person and move on. Clearly the people moved on after they said it, and I'm still carrying around the hurt with me like a teddy bear with prickles. Next time, and there will be a next time, there always is, I will be more discerning and discard it once I've dealt with it.

This makes me feel so much better. No, really, it did.

I only have one question of you, dear reader. Don't be so callous to remind people that they're not the only one who feels pain. Sometimes, most of the time, they don't need reminding.