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Posts from the ‘Reflection’ Category

faith or fiction

faithI was having a conversation with a friend of mine last week about her faith, or lack there of, and I was struck by how many people in my life have chosen a life devoid of faith.

Now, when I say faith I mean it in the traditional sense… a belief in God, or whoever you perceive your higher power to be and whatever name he or she takes.

I grew up under the banner of many religions… Catholic, Baptist, Mormon… and I haven’t attended church regularly since I was a child, but my faith has always been a source of comfort and guidance for me, even though I never had one denomination to call home.

People are usually surprised by my strong belief in God and Jesus, and the bible. I don’t live a particularly “Christian” life and I am certainly not condemning people around me who don’t agree with my beliefs. I support gay marriage, freedom of choice and religions that differ with my own. I drink, listen to R’n’B music (the filthier the better) and did not save myself for marriage (although I wish I had!). I also cuss like a sailor. But throughout my entire life, which was tumultuous at times, there was always one constant, an unwavering faith that a higher power was watching over me who I could go to for guidance and compassion.

Now, by that I don’t mean that I believe there is a man on white throne up in the sky who has a scroll with my name at the top and everything I am to achieve in life is already decided for me. Quite the opposite. I believe in an energy, a power that shows me roads I might take, and even though at times it would like to push me down the right one, is simply a hand on my shoulder as I decide my own journey… and who every now and then gives me a tap to remind me there are other roads to take when we hit a dead end.

At this point people will usually ask me… so do you actually believe that there was a man called Jesus who came from heaven and performed all these crazy miracles? My short answer… Yes. But let me explain how I interpret the Bible.

Do I believe God created the earth in seven days… No. But an energy in the universe created earth and life from nothing. Give that whichever name you wish.

Do I believe in Adam & Eve… No. It’s a nice story though.

Do I believe a virgin gave birth to the son of God… No. Do I believe a woman who was young and innocent gave birth to a special child who would change the world, yes. I believe people are born every day who have a special mission on this earth, Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela… Kanye 😉

“So you believe that Jesus could walk on water?”. No. But I believe sometimes we meet people in our lives who make us feel like we could do anything, who inspire us and lift us up until we feel like we could achieve the impossible.

“And what about bringing people back from the dead?”. No. But I believe that someones we meet people who wake us up and make us feel more alive than we ever have.

“Giving sight to the blind?”. No. But haven’t you ever met someone or heard a story that opened your eyes to something you never saw before? Who changed your perception about something and made you look at something in a different way?

“Turning water in to wine?”. No. But we all know people who are so intoxicating that being with them makes you giddy and excited, as though you are drunk.

“Filled empty baskets with fish and bread”. No. But people who sustain us in so many other ways that our soul and heart are full.

“Rose from the dead”. Unfortunately, no. But anyone who has ever lost someone dear to them knows the feeling of carrying them with them after they have passed. Of feeling their presence throughout their day to day lives long after they are dust in the ground.

I think one of the biggest mistakes of the church is that they teach the bible too literally.

Here is what I believe. Really good people are born everyday, people who will selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to help others. I believe there was man called Jesus who was that kind of person. He changed the way people thought, showed love and compassion to society’s undesirables and challenged the establishment in a time when it meant death. Can you really say you have never known or at the very least, read or heard about this type of person?

The bible to me is the (extremely) dramatised version of a simple man’s life. A good man. A man who happily took on the sins of his brothers and died for them.

So when people ask me am I Christian, I say yes. Any by that I mean, I believe in GOOD, the good of everyday people. I also believe in the spiritual realm and in forces greater than myself at work in the world.

I believe.

hands off!

It was one of those blustery, rainy days in Sydney this morning and I was lucky to get the last seat on the bus on my way to work. It was in the middle of the very back seat. The windows were fogged up and after the next 2 stops the isle was packed with passengers. I had to take a few deep breaths to ward off the impending panic attack and claustrophobia.

About 30 minutes in to my journey I noticed the male passenger beside me was sitting uncomfortably close. It’s true, the bus was packed, but there was plenty of room on the back seat and I had intentionally made sure there was no contact with the men on either side of me when I sat down. Yet, despite numerous shuffles and rearrangements, Mr Friendly was once again sitting right against me.

It’s not the first time a male passenger has tried to cop a feel on the bus. A few years ago a young man had me pinned me against the window of the bus while he groped around my legs and up my side. He then got off at my stop and started following me home. Thank goodness I ran in to one of my husband’s friends who walked me to my front door.

After both experiences I was left humiliated and angry. Humiliated that any strange man would feel the right to treat me this way and angry that I didn’t make a scene and say something at the intrusion.

I’m not a beautiful woman, I think I am attractive enough to blend in to the crowd. Not so pretty or ugly that I attract attention, just pleasant enough to forget. So it always surprises me when these things happen. “Why me?” I think. There are much prettier and skinnier girls. Plain Jane syndrome is supposed to come with benefits!

Sitting there this morning with this strange man’s hand against me I couldn’t help but think, why is it still the woman left feeling guilty after this sort of violation? With all the education around our right to speak up and demand respect, are we still programmed to believe somehow we deserve it? With all the perks of feminism and rights in our hands, are we now just “empowered” victims?

It’s a frightening statistic but 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime. Someone you know has suffered sexual assault at some point in their lives.

I know women close to me who have been raped, physically and verbally assaulted and beaten by their partners or other men in their lives. None have been reported to police and none of the men in question have ever spent one night in prison to pay for it. In fact, over 50% of sexual assaults go unreported every year. Most of these women know their attacker but will never tell.

Mr Friendly on the bus was small fries but it’s all part of the same pie. As long as men feel entitled to treat women as objects that is what we will remain. It’s no longer about empowering women but educating and holding the men in our society accountable, ALL the men, even the rich entitled ones.

Enough teaching women how to take care of themselves on the dark walk home, it’s time to teach men to KEEP THEIR HANDS OFF and stay on their side of the damn seat!

“Here’s a hot tip… Stop telling girls how to dress and start teaching boys NOT TO F*!KING RAPE!”

white-ribbon2

high tide

the-ring-jpgIf you’ve ever seen the movie The Ring and remember the scene where Naomi Watts is at the bottom of the well and the lid slowly slides across the opening, leaving only an eerie ring of light visible in the darkness, you have some idea of what depression looks like.

Suspended in dark water, a crippling fear of what lies just beneath the surface to drag you under at any moment with only a faint light out of reach miles above you. That’s what depression feels like.

Every now and then you’ll find the strength to claw your way up the slimy walls and out of that well. But there’s always the stench of stagnant water clinging to you, your hands wrinkled from weeks in the water, your eyes clouded from their time in the dark. The fear of falling back down that well never leaves you, it never rests.

To the outside world you might appear aloof, just casually sensitive or only mildly interested in what’s going on around you. It’s just that it takes a lot of attention to fight against the constant tide of water that drains right back to that well. When the tide comes it takes all your energy to swim against it, forever looking over your shoulder as your dragged closer and closer to the pit.

For anyone who’s never experienced it, it’s easy to say, think positive, your life is good, just be happy, don’t be so negative. But until you’ve experienced depression’s icy grip you just don’t get it.

As I feel the tide rise against my chest this latest time, I wonder, do I still have the strength to swim? Will I be able to climb the walls once she takes me under again? I’ve barely had time to catch my breath. I am still so tired from last time.

But I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a life jacket, family who will never let me float out in to the abyss alone. And I have a life raft, that strong side of me that will never give up without a fight, even when the waves get so big and the rain so dark that I can’t see the horizon anymore.

Depression is my inheritance, passed down through generations of my family. It’s not something I wanted, or courted, or expected. She arrives uninvited and always overstays her welcome. She is pushy and impatient and tenacious. The older I am, the more I almost respect her. She doesn’t take no for an answer and she always comes prepared. She remembers every stupid thing I’ve ever done and will remind me over and over. She knows me better than anyone and when no one else is around, she can always convince me she’s right about me. I am weak, I am pathetic, I am nobody.

She thinks she’s protecting me, she lets me know quickly when I’m not strong enough to do something, when a situation requires more than I can handle. She keeps me locked away at home, safe. She keeps the world out so I can’t get hurt. She slides the lid of that well closed and keeps me close in the dark, where no one can find me, not even me.

If she were a person you’d tell me, cut her loose, she’s terrible, she doesn’t care about you, she’s no good. But you don’t know anything about her or about us. You see, we’re old friends she and I. My greatest moments of clarity have been down in that well. My greatest strengths have been discovered clawing my way up out of the darkness. There’s nothing like that first breath you take after being under water for too long.

So as she sails in on the next tide I step in to my gum boots and get ready to get down in the mud again. Because I thrive in a challenge and no matter how many moons it takes before she realises I’m stronger than her, I will keep fighting.

Depression, old friend, welcome back you bitch. Let’s dance.

 

If you know someone who is battling depression you can find more info on how to help here

gravity

Gravitation, or gravity, … is most commonly recognized and experienced as the agent that gives weight to physical objects, and causes physical objects to fall toward the ground when dropped from a height. (Wikipedia)

I’m due to go back to work on 1 September this year after 12 months on maternity leave. Like most new mums I am nervous to step back in to the corporate world. Will I remember how to behave around adults, does my brain still function the way it used to, what milestones and firsts am I going to miss by being away from my son more often than not?

On top of everything else there is a huge amount of uncertainty about the role I’m returning to. The fact is, at the moment there is no role! My manager was made redundant a few months ago which would normally mean I too would be offered a payout and shown the door. But no, for the second time at this company they are making a new role for me and I’ll be moved somewhere else. I suppose in a way it’s a compliment, when it would be so easy for them to just let me go they are trying to find a role for me. But on the other hand, once again I will be forced to work with a new boss, a new team and it will be a big step down in terms of my place in the business. Part of me wishes that they would just take the decision out of my hands and let me go.

The other reason for not wanting to go back is that my 2 best girlfriends will be gone. One of them will be off on maternity leave by the time I return and the other has resigned from her role this week and will be gone long before I get back. I’ve already lost my other close friends from the company through resignations and redundancies so there will only be a couple of us left from the original group. Considering the social aspect of my job was what I liked most about this role, this definitely changes how I feel about being back there.

Like most other women I know, I need to work. It’s not a case of being able to say, I don’t want to go back, I’m going to quit. I need an income. My husband and I decided a long time ago that we didn’t want to pursue high paying executive roles. We want a lifestyle where we are both present. We don’t want to work late nights, weekends and holidays. We want to be home to see our son before bed every night. We have a great lifestyle in those regards and financially we are very comfortable, but it’s not enough to live on one income, we both need to be in the workforce.John Gardner

In the last few months it’s like a light bulb has come on in my head. I know exactly what I want to be doing. I know where I want to be, how it’s going to work and how amazing it’s going to feel. I can see the sun shining on the final destination but at the moment the path to this dream is still hidden in shadows. I’m afraid if I go back to work the monotony of everyday life is going to push clouds over that sun all together.

Izmael Arkin of tiny buddah says, when we pursue a dream, we are connecting with our heart’s desires. It’s a way of telling our soul “I love you.” Izmael quit his job as a middle school science teacher to follow his childhood dream, to become a ninja!

I am the first one to build up my friends and family and tell them to chase the sun so why am I so afraid to make a call and walk the same path? Might life be a little tough to start with? Probably. Will I have to go without materialistic things and luxury holidays for a little while? Certainly. I grew up living hand to mouth so the fear of being on struggle street hangs like a big chain around my neck.

But what if I succeed, what if making that big leap in to the dark is all it will take to live a lifetime in the sunshine? Is the pressure of success now as big a chain around me as the fear of failure? How much longer will I stand on the precipice afraid of the fall?

Maybe it’s finally time to start defying gravity…

the face of reality

I’ve just had another sleepless night. Remember when being up all  night and crawling in to bed at 5:30am covered in someone else’s vomit meant you’d had a really good night (except the vomit part, but it always made a good story later)? Not… any…  more.

Darling son was up from 12:30… Hungry? No. Wet? No. Needing cuddles? No. Some nights there is just nothing I can do to placate him.

Long before he was born I decided I only wanted one child. I know my husband and family hope I will change my mind but having my gorgeous, perfect little man has only strengthened my resolve that I never want to do it again. Any of it. The pregnancy was awful, the birth was awful, the post natal was awful and the ongoing sleep deprivation is awful.

I learnt a new term today, exhaustipated… when you are just too tired to give a shit. Sitting here on the lounge at lunch time still in my PJ’s, bub with his grandparents to give me a rest, I am totally and utterly EXHAUSTIPATED!

I had lunch with my mum and sister the other day. A rare opportunity to get dressed up, straighten my hair and put on some make up. As I got ready and looked at myself in the mirror I realised I didn’t recognise the woman staring bleary eyed back at me. Who is this loose, lumpy, puffy eyed, crows feeted, lost looking person? These days when I catch a reflection of myself it’s like looking at a stranger.

Image courtesy of glamasia.com

Image courtesy of glamasia.com

I think that’s been one of the biggest shocks of motherhood for me. Not the changes to my body which I expected but the changes to my face! All I can hope is that as the sleep improves (one day) so will my looks. It seems a trivial thing to worry about but I do miss the face I knew before. I can deal with the weakened bladder, the caesarean scar, the loss of core strength and the agonising post pregnancy menstrual cramps… but please give me back my face.

Each night I put him down peacefully in his cot hoping this is the night, this will be the night he sleeps. After 7 months of telling myself this lie how am I still surprised to be up with him 2 hours later? You would think I’d be wise to that old story by now. Motherhood is full of shocks and surprises. Sleep deprivation is just the most consistent.

But what’s the biggest shock of motherhood that I realise each and every sleepless night…? I am actually good at it. To my own surprise! Even in those dark depths of exhaustipation, I know I’m doing a good job. Who would have thought it?!

BUT THE FACE!!!

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