Friday, July 20, 2012

Call me maybe

If you can overlook the name of the site, pretty much, this is the best thing ever. Pop songs turned into cat songs. Here's Carly Rae Jepsen's 'Call Me Maybe'.

I'm not even a cat person, and I think they're just plain awesome.

All alone and loving it

I recently took a week of forced solitude in the beautiful wine region of Heathcote, where a dear widow friend of mine lives.

After catching up with my boss and finding myself in tears, he suggested I go offline for a little while, spend some time alone with God, and with ample time to read, pray, think and reflect.

I've not been a retreat type of person in the past. My thinking has been, it's kind scary going away by yourself and what if you freak yourself out, and can't you just keep going and just hang on for a bit longer?

But I can't tell you how good a week of no email, and no phone was for my soul. I didn't realise what a burden communication was until I wasn't carrying that weight any more. Interestingly, the things I missed most were google and a few friends who I speak to regularly. But other than that, not having to respond to anyone or anything was AMAZING.

I also understood the value of solitude for the first time. I'm an introvert, but an introvert who forces herself to be up the front and engaging with people a lot, and one who even when she's 'alone' is still connected. I find it hard these days to curl up with a book for longer than 10 minutes.

But when I went away, I found myself devouring books in front of the fire. Suddenly, with no interruptions and no option to interrupt myself (hello facebook, twitter, email, sms...), I couldn't stop reading. It was the best!

And I had time, real, proper, extended, time to be in God's presence. To just be. And to take all the stuff going on to him in a way that didn't feel like it was a task on a list to be completed.

So, I'm a bit of a convert to the retreat. I'm going to try and have a no technology day at least once a month (hoping to make it more regular than that, but you know, baby steps), and have a retreat once a year.

I want to foster a more healthy spiritual life, beginning with solitude, rest and being in God's presence.

Have you done a retreat before? Did you find it amazing or totally frustrating?

I've spoken to a few friends who've loved it or hated it. I'm curious about you!

Photo: the room I spent much of my time in.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

lifesize art

How awesome is this street art in Malaysia?

Artist, Ernest Zacharevic, is behind it. It's really cool to see on his facebook page the way people are interacting with the art.

We're lucky in Melbourne to have lots of street art, but I don't think I've seen any quite this interactive. Like.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Wedding Poem


My brother was married to the beautiful Emma a few weeks ago. He asked me to pen them a poem for the occassion and read it on the day - a daunting task!

It took me a long time to come up with a suitable idea and even longer still to write the silly thing. But I got there in the end.

I was an absolute plate of jelly on the day, shaking with nerves and feeling very vulnerable. Writing poetry is one thing, reading it at your brother's wedding is another.

Anyway, I thought I'd share what I wrote with you. The only thing to know is that my brother is a science major, and obsessed with wine, especially pinot noir. In fact, he's currently in France on his honeymoon drinking gallons of the stuff.

To Know and Be Known

What does this thing, this eddying,
falling, swaying thing- love - look like?

Have you seen the right ventral
tegmental region of the brain
throwing dopamine around like confetti?

The pre-frontal cortex pulling data
into patterns, building pathways and
monitoring progress towards something
mystical and praiseworthy
until those chemicals shift
like holograms, slowing
to a kind of mercurial calm;
a love that lasts the decades.

Or perhaps it's less like brain science
and more like a climate – yours
that of a pinot grape, demanding
warm days and cool evenings,
chalky clay, and air crisp like freshly
laundered sheets to produce
a limited, but complex palette.

That place where your love began,
that fertile ground where two curling
vines were grafted into a matrix
altogether more robust-
that must've been something to behold.

And only you can tell of the
careful pruning which took place
in quieter moments, leading
to bud bursts, shoots, leaves and
fruit hanging ripe from the vine,
sugar just below the surface
with enough piquancy to satisfy
a thirsty tongue.

What a vintage, this promise - to know and be known.

Alexi Murdoch

Isn't sharing stuff the best? I love sharing music and books 'specially.

Recently, T (who you will probably become more familiar with on this here blog), introduced me to Alexi Murdoch. He's a UK artist who plays beautiful folk music that makes you feel nice and warm inside.

I feel I'm a little late to the party on this one, but maybe you are too. Let's be late to the party together! He has a new album out called Towards the Sun and it's pretty swell.

Here is one of his older songs that is rather lovely. Enjoy.

Why hello there

Oh my. Down in Melbourne-town it's a bit cold, grey and drizzly at the moment. Our house doesn't have heating, which is a bit of a killer during this deathly winter period, so we've taken to leaving the oven on and open to at least warm the kitchen area up. Bit naughty, but efficient. Some use blankets; we use ovens. How is it your neck of the woods these days?

But I'm happy to say today is all blue skies and sunshine, which is quite the metaphor for life at the moment, really. I've finally come through the fog of my first bible college exam, my brother's wedding, national staff conference and end of semester shenanigans. I feel like I can breathe again *inhales*.

And so, here I am, back at the keyboard, wanting to say OHAI and that I haven't forgotten you despite the silence of the last two months.

So expect a few more posts very, very, soon.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

On Prayer

You ask me how to pray and I say, you tell me.

tell me how it's water boiling over pot's edge a squeaking
floorboard hit upon each morning tell me about the full stop
nursing tiny secrets the spaces between words the listless
dreaming the to-do lists rustling loudly in the back
ground how the images dance and settle trees planted
by streams growing tall their leaves turning blonde in
the light of the alpha and omega the one that is and is to come

Tell me how to pray, you ask. And I say, you tell me.

Adventures over the last few months

1. With Rosey in Adelaide 2. Feist in Adelaide 3. Staff retreat at Flinders back beach 4. Sunflower fields at Meredith 5. Golden Plains 6. Scrabble at GP 7. Horsies in Meredith 8. Old school mechanic 9. Chai 10. MamaBaba with my Uncle 11. The city at dusk 12. My local cafe

Back in February I had the pleasure of a few days in Adelaide to see Feist. A friend had a free ticket to Feist and asked if I wanted to come along... a pretty good deal, especially as I have a few buddies in Adelaide.

Obviously my life isn't always as exciting and glamorous as these photos suggest. But it's nice to look back on some of the fun times that have been and gone. Did anyone else notice it's April? Goodness me!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Field Trip

Love this design work by Melbourne wonder, Beci Orpin. Love. Love. I mean, smiley stationery - what's not to like? I don't think I can afford the conference, but it sounds awesome too. via Beci's blog.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The night I realised there won't be animal costumes in heaven

My animal friends at Golden Plains

I recently spent a long weekend camping at a music festival in the Victorian countryside, lapping up noone's-heard-of-them-bands in between bouts of sunshine and cider. It was pretty great, I have to say.

Over the weekend, it occurred to me it's been a while since I'd done this, you know, been to a music festival. Possibly because I started so young (Manly Youth Fest, age 14), I outgrew the drunken, sweaty, standing all day thing not long after I left school. Even now I still prefer to see bands play headline shows to fans who know every chord change and can sing every lyric.

But I'd heard Golden Plains was different, refusing to take on commercial sponsors and proudly boasting a (their words, not mine) “No Dickhead Policy”. So I went along.

As expected, the place was crawling with inner city hipsters, their heads crowned with flowers, bare feet stomping in the dust, hands gripping every boutique beer known to man; everyone was too happy to cause any trouble.

What I didn't expect, however, was the volume of novelty costumes among festival-goers. There were penguins, pandas and kangaroo, giraffes and lions, while others donned feather headdresses, capes and (unfortunately), neon, sparkly lycra. It made for quite the spectacle.

I started to wonder: why? It's not like you'd get away with wearing this gear anywhere else, let alone want to, so what is going on?

I couldn't really figure it out until the last night, when I became one of them.

We were about to leave our camp site to watch some bands when I noticed the flashing solar-powered fairy lights hanging from our tent. In a moment of abandon that I can't really explain, I decided to take them down and wrap them around me.

As we danced our way down to hear Charles Bradley, a funk/soul performer in the style of James Brown, people kept stopping me.

“Hey, you're on fire!”, one girl yelled. “Happy Christmas!” said another.

Down in the amphitheatre, a man in penguin suit stopped to high-five me like we were kindred spirits. I suddenly realised I was in a secret club: the costume-wearing gang.

But the thing which surprised me most was not my newfound entry into this previously secret club, but just how liberated I felt. Wrapped in the fairy lights, I danced like no one was watching. I was a flailing, flashing weirdo, and I didn't care. I felt invincible.

I wanted to share the experience, so I took the lights off and gave them to my friend. He started dancing wildly, while I tried to keep up the energy, minus my super powers. But without the lights, I felt exposed.

I commented to my friend how wearing the lights made me lose all my inhibitions.

“It's like a kind of mask,” he said.

It was. People stared at me, but I had no fear. It was like I'd crossed some threshold I didn't even know existed.

Suddenly I realised why the army make soldiers wear a uniform, and why police have hats and women wear make-up.

Costumes give you pre-constructed persona to assume, they hem you in, force your personality to conform to an expectation. It feels safe and easy. You're just what people are expecting, so you can let go.

“Oh, she's the crazy girl wearing the lights,” people are thinking, so you give yourself permission to be the crazy girl wearing the lights.

It got me thinking: Imagine if we stopped needing masks and costumes to give ourselves permission to be who we actually are?

Obviously there are negative side effects to uniform, with the potential for a dehumanisation and loss of inhibitions leading to irrational, dangerous and in the worst case, fatal behaviour.

But the effect of animal costumes and lycra is much more positive: people feel confident, they embrace the weird and let go of the fear.

The bible tells us it turns out that all of us are paralysed by the fear of man. And we look for these little ways to escape, to be free the little voice in our heads which says “you're not worthy”.

That night at the festival, wrapped in lights just made me long for the time when all our masks and insecurities will be wiped away, the day when there will be no hiding, no shame and no fear. And that was the night I realised, there probably won't be animal costumes in heaven.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Life as a dance toward God

What does the Christian life look like? Don Miller has some thoughts:
I was raised to believe that the quality of a man’s life would greatly increase, not with the gain of status or success, not by his heart’s knowing romance or by prosperity in industry or academia, but by his nearness to God. It confuses me that Christian living is not more simple. The gospel, the very good news, is simple, but this is a gate; the trailhead. Ironing out faithless creases is toilsom labor. God bestows three blessings on man: to feed him like the birds, dress him like the flowers, and befriend him as a confidant. Too many take the first two and neglect the last. Most believers on the path have found that life is constructed specifically and brilliantly to squeeze a man into association with the owner heaven. It is a struggle, with labor pains and thorny landscape, bloody hands and sweaty brow, head in hands, moments of severe loneliness and questioning, moments of ache and desire. All this leads to God. God is not merely the reason behind existence, nor the curer of ills and confusion. Matter and thought are a canvas on which God paints; a painting with tragedy and delivery, with sin and redemption. Life is a dance toward God. And the dance is not so graceful as we might think. For a while we glide and swing our practiced sway, God crowds our feet, bumps our toes, and scuffs our shoes. He lowers His head, whispers soft and confident, “You will dance to the beat of ‘Amazing Grace’ or you will not dance at all.” So we learn to dance with the One who made us. And it is a taxing dance to learn.
But once learned, don’t we glide. And don’t we sway. And don’t we bury our head in His chest. And don’t we love to dance.
From his book, Through Painted Deserts, recently posted on his blog.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The other side of the microphone

I'm blushing just now, because Soph R over at The Fountainside (a super awesome blog about everyday issues) has given The Spoken Project a bit of a write-up and asked me a few questions on her blog today.

Shucks. Thanks Soph.

I have to say, it was a bit odd being asked the questions. I think it's only the second or third time I've been interviewed by a journalist/blogger. Weird. But perhaps good for my empathy skills!

In between procrastinating and reading G.K Chesterton, I've been beavering away on the next episode of The Spoken Project. If you want to get a notification when it's out, you can sign up to the newsletter here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A farrago of thoughts and freebies

Well hello, mid-February. Where did you go, January? Oh hi, O-week, Semester One and the juggernaut that is 2012.

This year is going a wee bit fast for my liking, but what is one to do, other than keep up?

So here is a mash-up of things, in no particular order:

An interesting discussion about who we should marry and why - a reflection on Tim Keller's new book on marriage, specifically, C.S Lewis' idea of the "secret thread" over at my good friend's blog Along Addison's Walk.

The ever-amazing Dan on why we drink coffee.

Go tell Apple you don't want them exploiting Chinese workers by signing this petition. Actually, first listen to this investigation into the factories recently aired on This American Life.

Get a few chapters free from marketing guru Seth Godin's book Permission Marketing and learn why people hate being spammed and how ideas spread. A good read for anyone wanting to get their ideas/book/message out there.

Download this amazing album free from The Lighthouse and the Whaler on Noisetrade.

What have you been reading/listening to? Give me some links, guys!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New episode of The Spoken Project

In case you missed it, there's a new episode of my radio documentary series, The Spoken Project. Pete's a wonderful person with a great sense of humour. You will love hearing his story, I promise.

Mississippi John Hurt

So much respect for this guy. Mississippi John Hurt, singing You Gotta Walk That Lonesome Valley. Perfect if you need a bit of pep to get you through a tough time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The same long evenings, songs, dirty plates, and last pink skies.

A Quiet Stream (Heidelberg) c1888-90 by Tom Roberts

“Give me one summer again, with yourself and Streeton, the same long evenings, songs, dirty plates, and last pink skies. But these things don’t happen, do they? And what’s gone is over." - Charles Condor to Tom Roberts, remembering their painting days at Heidelberg and Box Hill.