Wednesday, 31 December 2014

10 years ago today.

I make no apologies for writing this blog, which is mostly just about my recovery after the car accident I was involved in on New Years Day 2005.

Pretty much everyone who has known me will know the story, I was hospitalised following in a rollover. Despite my assurances I was okay, I ended up with a few cool scars and 18 months of physiotherapy, which in comparison to other accidents is okay, but when it's you that's going through that, it really isn't okay.

Then, fuel to the fire, my overactive mind got stuck on a few things which were mostly lies. In short, I really believed that the accident happened because I was being punished by God and/or because I didn't heed to my intuition which was nudging me not to go on the trip in the first place. In many ways I didn't see how blessed I was to make it out without more serious damage. Oh, I knew things could be worse, and I was so grateful to everyone who helped up on that day, but this was, according to me, something that happened For A Reason.

Now, lots of people talked me through this, and the only thing that really stuck was the fact that my friend who was driving never did it on purpose. It was just a mistake and mistakes happen. Despite everyone telling me things like 'sometimes these things just happen', I refused to buy into that.

2005 was also a bad year within my communities for road fatalities. A classmate of mine died a few months after my accident as a result of just being in the right place at the wrong time. It was, like the one I was involved, completely human error on the part of the poor soul who caused the accident. In many ways, her death impacted me in ways it didn't need to. We had a shrine set up to honour her and spent long hours in the chapel being sad. This was a safe place for her friends, but not really a safe place for me. They cancelled classes for a week and everything was put on hold for awhile, causing an unintentional divide. No one really knew what do do, and did the best they could. But it was tough. About six months later another friend caused an accident and this really impacted my world, but it also changed how I looked at things to do with making choices.

At the end of the day, all I did was make a choice to be part of a long distance trip with someone who wasn't experienced at long distances. But, before and after that, I made choices to drive with people who were intentionally making stupid choices in how they drove. And that's really when I started taking some control and started avoiding, and in some cases, telling people I didn't want to drive with them. Within my group of friends in Adelaide, lots of them had only just started driving, or couldn't drive, so I waited for a long time before I went with them.

Sometimes though, you don't always get to make choices, or have them made for you. I avoid night driving with anyone as much as I can, unless I'm in Adelaide. Not being able to see freaks me out, and I also can't drive at night in the country. You can't avoid everything though, but I've tried my best.

In terms of physical and mental recovery, I did two physio sessions a week for eighteen months with my very talent physio Olivio. My scars which are on my hands, ear and head, healed reasonably well all things considered. I found that I had a lot of back pain from standing two long and lifting which was not great for either of my retail part time jobs. I also found lots of beds really uncomfortable to sleep in.

The best way for me to manage the pain was using lots of heat packs and taking Panadol when I desperately needed to, which wasn't often - I really hate taking pain relief. I had a lot of assessments for the insurance company to determine the extent of my injuries from a long term perspective. In the end, I ended up losing between 5-10% of movement from my back - this is in layman's terms because I can't be bothered going to find all my paperwork to get the jargon/

When my pain was really bad, I would be a lot worse off mentally. I thought about what ifs, and looked for reasons and explanations. I seriously believed that I was jinxed whenever people in my life would be involved in traffic bungles. I would be sad and need to recount what had happened. To quote my dear old mum, I "become fixated on this accident", and saw my GP and a pysch assessor to determine the impact it had on me. I tried counselling which didn't work, I kept a journal which worked a lot better than counselling and I talked a lot to other people. I would become upset a news stories about road accidents and impassioned about road safety, particularly on the Dukes Highway which is an awful lot better now.

Then, seemingly overnight, my pain went away in September 2006. Part of this was to do with time being a healing factor, the other was to do with the fact I was exercising quite a lot. I still had pain every now and then, but avoiding things that aggravated it sure helped. A lot of my mental anguish and general frustration went away once the pain was more of a once-a-week thing, rather than several times a day.

So, why write this now?
10 years is a bit of a milestone for me, it's an extra bonus time as far as I am concerned. I am so grateful to everyone who had been on the journey with me, and some of those people didn't even want to be on it!

Do I still think the accident happened for a reason? It's a long answer. I think it happened, and not because accidents happen, but because of a choice I made and because of a simple mistake, whatever that was (I probably won't ever know). Did it happen to prove that everyone loved me and that I had a great group of people around me? Ummm, no. I didn't need something like that to happen to know how amazing my little world could be. Spiritually. I have learnt a lot, and not just in terms of avoiding dodgy theology. God has a plan, always, but it is really up to you to follow His will and not your own, even if your own probably makes a lot more sense. The accident didn't have to happen for that reason either, many other awesome mistakes I have made tell me otherwise.

I am a changed person because of this. I have more compassion and I have witnessed some of the best things humanity can bring. After we got out of our upside down car, there were already people there to help us. One man brought back all of our luggage to the hospital for us. An army medic happened to be there and applied first aid from the best stocked first aid kit I have ever seen. People called our parents and emergency services. Whoever those people are, I am forever grateful. I also also really grateful to amazing nursing staff, mostly at Tailem Bend Hospital. I sent them a thank you card and they sent me a huge bill.

Some things about the accident also impacted me in different ways. It started when a social worker came in with the most useless book ever about being in hospital and places my family could stay. It took awhile, but someone explained the compulsory third party insurance to us - not what it was, but what it meant for my treatment and compensation. Negotiating with the CTP provider was a huge headache as I got shuffled to different case managers and as they kept trying to get me to sign while I was still being treated. At times I felt I knew their systems better than they did.

I felt funny telling people about it, in the end I only had to tell a few people, but there were plenty of people who weren't in the loop, one girl I worked with was telling everyone it didn't even happen and I wasn't injured. Obviously she hadn't told my boss this, as he refused to let me work for two weeks due to having open wounds on my hands. I had people who weren't from my church come to visit and pray with me, which was lovely. I had a lot of visitors and cards and a lovely fuss made. Whenever I told people that I had been involved in an accident, I'd often say things like 'I wasn't driving, I didn't cause it,' and so on. Now I don't even bother qualifying it.

One last thing, and possibly one of my favourite and most vivid memories now.
My parents had to drive to Adelaide to pick me up (though at first they thought it was Tailem Bend until the doctor there said I needed to go to Flinders). They had no idea what they were in for, they thought they would just pick me up and drive back home again. My parents had only been to Adelaide a few times and luckily one of those places was the Marion Big 4. In 2000 a family friend had written directions on the back of an envelope to direct us there and for some reason we had never thrown it away. Without that they would have been a lot lost. As it was, my parents stayed in their car in the carpark and had pizza really hate at night, which Mum said reminded her of ''the good old days," and Dad said "What, when we used to sleep in the car?" and pulled funny face.

Anyway, my parents brought me home the next day and because they had left in a hurry, Matt who was 16 had to look after Trent who had just turned 9. I am pretty sure the boys only ate lollies for 24 hours. They went to the supermarket and bought me a mud cake and hung streamers everywhere. I really do have the best brothers in the world, even if I wasn't well enough to eat much of my mud cake.

I am grateful. Grateful for family and friends and good food and fun, and most of all, the chance to live and make it through another day.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Reasons, seasons, unrequited love and knowing exactly how it is.

In some ways this is a confession.

I have been a terrible friend, and have done things to intentionally hurt someone I really cared about, just because I couldn't cope with that feeling that comes with rejection. No one likes rejection and I deal with it a lot more poorly than others. It's not really a story that needs to be told, but I feel a lot better having verbalised it and then writing this blog. This, all of it, is old news, and my apologies to the people who know the rest of it or think they know who it's about. I have tried so hard not to share what isn't mine to share, and anyone who knows me should know what I mean by this. We get caught out telling other people's stories, but this one is mine.

What started as a simple search through the memory banks to find a reason for something triggered off something old and mostly forgotten in my mind. It started like this:

I was thinking about my reasons for wanting to be a chaplain and youth worker, both of which I did and enjoyed, but for me, this period of my life was just for a season. Whatever, I said I wouldn't write about vocation anymore.

Then I remembered that some of this started from attending a workshop at Planet Shakers in 2002. The workshop was on school ministry and the importance it plays in the life of young people. I have pages and pages of notes of this session and the flawed statistics presented. I made a big statement after the workshop and it went something like "If This Guy had a Christian chaplain or counsellor to talk to, well, none of this would have happened."

And Gareth, bless him, said "You can't live your life on ifs, ands or buts." Which is kind of true, but I didn't believe him. In fact, I believed wholeheartedly the problems my friend had could be solved by someone from the Christian faith helping him work through all of his issues. Which, is again, probably not very accurate.

Where do I start, and where does someone else's journey take over my own?

Simply put, I had a friend who I knew through church and we spent every day together, literally. In my typical fashion, I discarded all my 14 year old friends to spend time with this guy. Fine, cool, whatever. We did everything together, he called my mum Mum, we had all these traditions and rituals and quirky things we would say and do.

He was a few years older than me and thought he was a lot wiser. My friend was the first person I spoke to about the future - what we would do when we left school, where we would live, our interests beyond music and movies. I had good friends before, and none of them were that superficial - we had talked about important stuff - but until that time of my life I hadn't had anyone to share my thoughts with on a regular basis.

It was like being in a relationship, except we weren't. He would say things like 'oh, I don't want to lead you on', but then spend hours at my house watching movies until 4am. He made me a birthday present and did favours for me and all the things that you kind of get in a relationship, but without any hand holding. Everything seemed good... but then, well, things started to get messy, and not in a jelly and Twister kind of way.

My new friend had a lot of issues, heaps and heaps of them. It didn't seem like that at the time, but eventually it got to the point where every week there was something from the past to deal with, or something from the present that had upset him in a major way. It wasn't that I didn't have friends with some kind of problem - I have always had a bit of a saviour complex - it was just that this stuff was too much for my poor little head to deal with. And when I think about this time in my life (and I was fifteen by then, you can probably start putting pieces together if you want to), I start reminding myself that I was only a kid and there wasn't a lot I could do to help. I could, I could distract, I could be there for my friend, but that's about all I could do, and I thought it was enough. Eventually he was referred to counselling, but he wasn't overly interested in this avenue of assistance either. Instead of dealing through talking and advice seeking his activities and interests and friends changed virtually overnight. I spent the school holidays mostly cooped up inside my house waiting for him to come around, which he kept promising to do and didn't.

Then, well, I have detailed exactly what happened in a blog I wrote awhile back about The Worst Day of My Life, in which I basically went cuckcoo-bananas at him for being a lousy friend. Because I just couldn't deal anymore, even though I really wanted to. Of course, my life got a lot better at this point because I was really surrounded by a negative and difficult situation I had no control over, or ability to help heal. The worst day was totally worth it just to be back to being a better version of Vintage Lisa.

What happened after my friend changed completely was difficult to be a part of. People I knew would say really useful things like 'we never see him anymore' and 'he's totally gone off the rails' and 'he's screwing up his life'. We have all said things along these lines about people we know, but it kind of pains me now to realise that a lot of this was really just an unanswered cry for help... and no one wanted to help him. Or perhaps they did, and couldn't or didn't know how to.

I told Stephen the story, and a much less condensed version, and he reminded me of two things, and I liked them so much that the blog is about this.

A heart made of stone.
Although theologically incorrect, it's pretty impossible to plant a seed in a heart of stone. Great parables, etc etc. Our new house has a dirt on top of concrete, and of course, what grows there? Weeds. That's it. Nothing actually useful.

My friend probably wasn't in a great place to be receiving help from people who weren't in the right place to deliver it. He needed professionals. My experience in this crazy world has been that it is really hard to help people who don't want to be helped or who really just want to deal with an issue their way. That's totally their right and it should be respected. On the other hand, it wasn't fair that so many people were saying that things had gone wrong for this guy but weren't interested in continuing their friendship with him. Why do we continue to do these things to ourselves and to each other?

Because guys are different to girls. And seasons.
"And then what happened?" said Stephen.
The long story short is that we weren't ever really friends again. Okay, so we saw each other a couple of times a year, but every single time it was like he was a Brand New and Improved Person with totally different goals and interests. It got tiresome and I wasn't loving it at all. It couldn't continue the way it was though because we were going off in two different directions and he wanted his new friends and to do cool and rebellious things.

After some discussion with my resident Boys Expert (yeah, that's Stephen), I learnt something new, or a least a new theory, that guys are different to girls in how they relate to other people in friendships. He said it's totally normal just to have a friend for a season, even a really intense friendship, and then move on. But, he also said that girls aren't like that at all. Yay, go girls!

The hard thing about this friendship was that I was the one who did most of the work, even after the intense stage was over and done with. It's okay to be chasing people... at least sometimes, but you want to know that they enjoy spending time with you too. And, also, you want someone to have your back. I have people I would drop everything for if they needed me. At one point, he was that person. Now, we haven't spoken for a really long time, and to be honest, he probably never had my back at all.

Now, back to the original topic, which was looking for a reason behind my career choices. I think a lot of what I believed during that stage of my life was driven and sometimes manipulated by emotions. Emotions I felt, other people felt and things some people I saw as leaders and mentors would suggest should be a guiding force behind my vocational search. I wish I taken a little bit more notice of what Gareth said that night though, or at least talked in out with other people to get a second opinion. What did happen, of course, is that I saw plenty of other events unfold during my youth, many of which had dire consequences. And, at some of those times, I was that person who said "So-and-so is doing the wrong thing, they have changed, they are screwing up their lives," when actually i could have been a much better friend by not saying these things. Hindsight, is, of course, a beautiful thing. Do I think a Christian influence could have changed the course my friend took? In my professional opinion.... probably not.

For a really long time I have been holding onto these months of my life. It was the beginning of young adulthood - I started working, I started doing SACE subjects and I was in the process of creating some really important spiritual connections. I had great friends who I quickly abandoned to spend time with this guy - who welcomed me back with open arms when it all went horribly wrong.
I can't say it is a time I miss, but one I am very glad I have experienced.

All the same, experience shouldn't come with a cost. I inadvertently hurt a lot of people through this journey of mine, and I have probably painted a really good picture of myself, when actually I was just a crazy kid who liked a boy a lot and tried all sorts of crazy ways to get him to like me, get jealous, get mad or realise that he had hurt me. Because, your first broken heart hurts the most, even when the person doing the breaking never loved you (or liked you in a romantic sense) in the first place. For a few months after this time a few of my friends from school did give him a hard time, but this probably wasn't just due to my influence. That makes me a bully, I guess. That word is used too often, but it all makes a lot of sense now.

For the four or five months we weren't friends, after our break up that wasn't, I had a journal which I used to use as an open journal. My friends would read it and write notes to me in it. Soon though, things got too much for me. Something big happened in my life and at the same time, the person this blog is about was going through some major changes. And so, I closed my journal to the world, so that only I could read it and be allowed to be honest.

When I was honest though, I found that I had a whole less amount of angst, and had fallen out of "love" with the person in question. Although I was still mad, I was a whole lot kinder to everyone else, especially myself in the process. In some ways, closing my journal was a sign that it was time to close down my innner-thoughts to other people, and to choose carefully who I shared them with. It was really hard to be honest with myself because I kept thinking that I should feel more than what I did, that his life and all the problems that came with it, should weigh more heavily than someone else's seemingly wonderful life.

My mum often says that the story should be a fictional novel as it's pretty darn good. And, these are just the bones of what happened. But it's a story I have tried many times to capture, and I can't. I just don't have the passion, and I know that the story ends badly, especially considering we aren't even friends anymore.

I am glad I made some of the career choices I did, and allowed myself to be inspired by the work and ideas of others. Do I think my path may have prevented more stories like this from being told?

No way.

We live in a fallen world, and people need to make their own choices. As soon as I started making my own, everything fell into place a little better. I regret how I treated people on the path to self-discovery, nor would I wish someone the same journey, but it's a story that will be told time and time again, because unrequited love deserves to be shared and felt by others who know exactly how it is.

Friday, 12 December 2014

The Night Before Fresh Meat testing!

I'm not freaking out too much, but tomorrow is crunch time. Do or don't I become a roller girl? I want to know the future already! Usually I would be seeking guidance but this really isn't a decision to make, it's simply a test of my current skills. 

The test!
* 4 point fall 
* Baseball slides
* Transitions – Turning clockwise and counter clockwise
*360 degree turns
* Tomahawks – from one direction only (you don’t have to do it clockwise and counterclockwise)

* Hopping over noodles – One on top of the other, taking off with both feet
* Positional Blocking and Leaning – Frontal blocking aka booty blocking (holding someone back with your butt)
* Pushes across the room – Giving and receiving
* Arm Whips (giving and receiving)
* Hip (giving and receiving)
* Hip and Body Checking/Hitting – Giving and receiving hits
* Pace line pacing – Adjust to increased and decreased speed without falling, overtaking and while using your plough stops and keeping arms length distance from the person in front of you.
* Pace line weaving – Weave through the pace line
* Pack Work – While in a pack, can you: fall small, knee tap, touch wheels, call out numbers, hit on whistle, avoid suicide trainers, snow plough, weave around others (move from the back to the front and vice versa), and be generally safe
*Backwards skating – 1 lap
* Speed – 1 lap in 13 seconds

*Endurance – 27 laps in 5 minutes

If my journey ends, or comes to a brief pause, I thought now would be a better time for reflection rather than when I'm feeling mopey. So, here is what I have learnt through raw and fresh meat training.

1. I am stronger than you know.
Not only an excellent lyric, but I think this time has given me a lot of strength, especially in the way I deal with things - falling over and a commitment to training. It would have been so much easier if I didn't go through these last six weeks while moving from Kadina to Adelaide and setting it up and tying up heaps of loose ends. BUT I have been to every single training session, as well as the fitness sessions. Discipline doesn't always come easy to me (actually, who does it come easy to) and this has been a great break through in how I use my time.

2. Fitness should lead to some desired goal.
I have always known this, but all this year I have been banging on about losing weight, and surprise surprise, I weigh exactly the same as what I did this time last year. I want to lose weight (again, who doesn't?) but I don't want to be guilt tripped into it. I want to be a better skater and do fitness activities that will help me on this course. So my fitness goal isn't just to be fit and thin, it's to be able to be the best skater I can be.

3. Get back up again
I am no longer scared of falling as I have done it a lot and will continue to - there are more spills and thrills when Fresh Meat move into their next roles as newies, and then mouldies. I am fast at falling down and much better at not crying when things don't go my way.

4. I can do this. (or, 'you got this!')
If it isn't tomorrow, it will be January, and if it isn't January it will be this time next year. It is possible, do-able and what I want in my life. And I want it, a lot. It's going to happen and that's all there is to it.

Fingers and toes crossed!


Thursday, 4 December 2014

MCRG Raw/Fresh Meat Intake Update Week 5

Just because I haven't posted much, doesn't mean I didn't pass Raw Meat. I did, just. I also have a LOT of work to do. I need to work at cross overs, t-stops and, worst of all, skating on my left leg (1 foot glide). I also need to get my endurance up and over 21 laps.

So we are now at the midway point of Fresh Meat. or Fresh Eggplant if you are veggie. (That's not a lame joke I made up by the way, we chanted "Fresh Eggplant" at the end of training yesterday to make the vegans happy).We are learning more advanced skills, especially in terms of making contact  which is mostly taking and giving hits as well as whips. There are new things as well, such as carving, backwards skating, transitions and tomahawks which are all really new skills to me.

These last 10 or so days since I passed the test have been so busy for me. I have been moving into our new house and cleaning both the old and new one. I haven't got half the amount of practice in outside of sessions that I expected and really need to do. Starting tomorrow I intend on correcting this and ay have to plead with the gym again to let me go for an el-skateo.

I am also really crappy at jumping.

I have a lot of bruises today, and I really do feel that I am improving. I can give and take hits and whips okayish, I'm much better at stepping and being in control on my wheels. Pack skating and pace lines are becoming a lot easier too.

I have had a wheel upgrade to Heartless in a push/pull combo. I don't remember the exact set up terminology but I'll post it another day.

I'm not going to think too much about if I don't make it. My ultimate goal is to be a roller girl, and my second best option is to become a ref for a year while I gain more confidence on my skates.

Honestly, this is probably one of the best things I have ever done, along with getting married, Guides, going to Tabor and travel. I feel like I am constantly pushing my own limits and learning to be tough and not compare myself with others. I have had a lot of pain in my right foot, and I'm working through that as well to help me get through training.

For the first time ever I feel like all the stuff I have ever been told about training and conditioning has a purpose. A few years ago when I lost a lot of weight really quickly, my only goal was to lose weight. Right now I am not stressing about that, I would rather be doing exercise to strength my legs and make me a much better skater. Yes, losing weight will make me a lot more agile, but it will come in time and isn't my ultimate goal anymore.

That's it for now. Over and out.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Losing the art of sentimentality

Two moments last week changed me. Juts a little change, but enough undent my soul just a little.

The first was seeing a friend from high school. I knew she couldn't really place me, but I knew exactly who she was and we said hi... but that was it. Mum had spotted her as well, and asked me if we had a chat, and I said 'Nah, I could tell she knew she knew me, but didn't know who I was'.

That, right there, is what it is all about. 

I loved my high school friends. I had spent the last four years of primary school not really fitting in, then hating my way through the first three terms of high school. And then I met my beautiful group of friends, and we were really just that group of kids who were a group because they hadn't found anywhere else to be. The sweetest day was leaving my school diary on a desk outside my home group room, only to come back and find all my new friends had written their names, addresses and phone numbers in the back of it. 

Most of my friendships didn't stick after school ended. Everyone says that they will always be friends, but really I only know one bunch of girls who have made it work. I still have people I stay in touch with, and a kindred spirit (that's Lorraine by the way). I went to work, and then moved away, and that was kind of it.

I had similar moments throughout the weekend - people I knew really well at one stage and I just didn't want to talk to or speak with. Because, what do you say to someone you don't know anymore?

Then, moment two.

For a long time I had really sentimental rituals. There is a spot outside my parents house where I used to stand at night and think about my first boyfriend, who passed away while I was finishing school. And I used to reach down and touch the spot where we broke up, which is just around the corner from our house. I don't know when I grew out of this habit, but I hadn't done this for ages... maybe even before I started teaching. There were other favourite places I used to have, and things that used to mean something, and they don't. At all. After visiting old stomping grounds and accepting change, I can finally claim I have lost the fine art of sentimentality.

Have I though?

In some ways, I have lost the connectedness I used to feel about my adopted home town.The only place I really like to be when I'm there is at my parents' house, because that is really my home and has been for twenty years now. But, I know that my real home town, Warrnambool, holds for me everything that makes me who I am. And I don't mean memories or weird rituals for someone I didn't even love, let alone really like very much. The things I love most about where I am from is not being, but doing. Scrambling around cliff tops, scourging for sea glass, pies from Chittick's and walks to Thunder Point, and my grandparents' church and bowling and making wishes that don't come true. My heart could burst with all the love I have for that place and everything it will always hold for me. 

In school I was always trying to cling to some memory. I took lots of photos because no one else did. I made scrapbooks with photos of people who don't remember my name. I wrote about them in a journal I hope no one ever reads. If you go to so many lengths to keep a memory, it isn't really worth it.

Where I belong isn't so much about location. It is about who I belong to. And I belong to Stephen and my family and my friends (actual friends, not people I haven't seen since I was 17) and my cat. That's what it is really all about. And if I need to take photos or keep menus from bad Mexican cafes, I have lost the point. Because, it's about being in the moment. All of me, right here. That's where I am.