My First True Love

Love-Technology-Style

For Valentine’s Day this year, Caleb bought the 500-piece puzzle version of the Jaws movie poster for us to do together. Firstly, good man. Secondly, it was ridiculously hard – so. much. water. And thirdly, it rekindled in me the love I had for doing puzzles when I was a tweenager. So, when COVID kicked off, I was all over those puzzles like a rash; I was buying them, borrowing them, and harassing the local shops for when they might be re-stocking, like some kind of junkie.

Seeing as taking that trip down memory lane was just so satisfying, I began to think about the other thing I adored as a 12-year old; my first true love. Was it, Jesus? You ask? Uncle Jessie from Full House? Jordan Knight from New Kids on the Block? All very good guesses, but no. It was Rollerblading.

I had a pair of ex-rental Rollerblade Zetra 303s with a fancy set of new wheels. You know, as well as I do, that I had to tell everyone that they were Rollerblade brand blades, to delineate them from the $30 Warehouse blades most of the kids were using. Which, I know, is SO annoying….but I was the kid that had major brand envy as a result of my hand-me-downs, and only ever had one Billabong long-sleeve T-shirt, which I wore at every mufti-day and anywhere I was likely to be seen by anyone ‘cool’. (It was then, as you can imagine, a day of many tears and much dismay when I tripped over on the railroad tracks and ripped a hole in it. It also shouldn’t surprise you by now, that I still kept wearing it, hole and all.)

My rollerblades gave me life. I loved the fact that I felt like I was flying. I could put my Walkman on, leave the house by myself, and head off on my own little adventure. So, I did a little research, discovered you could still purchase Zetra blades (huzzah!), and I now spend several afternoons each week whizzing around my local park. I. love. it.

Although rollerblading, is, admittedly pretty (very) nerdy, and my husband has basically disowned me (‘Babe, the neighbours will see you!’), something about reconnecting with what I loved at a time in my life where I didn’t love who I was, has been really healing.

In trauma therapy, the goal of counselling is to help people integrate their trauma into their whole person. And although my adolescent years weren’t ‘traumatic’ as such, there are still parts of my younger self within me that I’m tempted to disown. She wasn’t very cool. She was really desperate for acceptance and affection and inclusion. She would sell her soul for a bag of lollies. But she was me. And what she needs from me more than anything, is the love, acceptance and affirmation that she always needed.

The amazing thing about getting a bit of perspective and self-awareness, is that we have the ability to re-parent our inner awkward younger-selves.  We can introduce such a beautiful wholeness into our present lives if we will just sit down and eat lunch with our inner lonely kid. Or buy them an ice-cream. Or join in their Mariah Carey glo-stick party. Because no matter how nerdy, you’re the only one who truly knows how rad you really were.

Love you friends!

Deb xx

PS. A couple of insider tips if you’re thinking about getting Rollerblades:
1. Don’t FaceTime your parents and Rollerblade at the same time.
2. Watch out for children on bicycles – not only does it hurt SO bad to crash at high speed at the age of 37, from the haunted look on that kid’s face when I grabbed him before going down, this is going to be one of his traumatic memories in the years to come.

COVID Ramblings…

Scraps of paper

Before the world went nutso grando, I was all set to embark on the next glorious phase of my life; Mason was enrolled in daycare three mornings a week, I had taken on 17 hours a week of writing for Thinkladder (which BTW is excellent, and free, and you should probs download ASAP), Judah was at school every day, and I was enjoying working at my local Starbucks several mornings a week, sipping my coffee and being child-free and all profesh.

Now, my dreams of freedom have imploded on themselves, and I have not one, but TWO little boys at home, and I have to try and navigate 17 hours of writing while forcing my reticent-Reginald to do his schoolwork. All that to say, you can see why it’s been a hot minute since I wrote anything…

But here we are, and while I’ve had a few thoughts over the past six weeks, there are none that I can be bothered putting into one cohesive blog, so let me treat you to my COVID ramblings – a mishmash of the infancy of several of my musings of late:

I really don’t like online church. Please hear me out – I am fully committed to always being a part of the church, I used to work for the church and would like to again one day, but one thing that I have had significant struggle with is the performance aspect of church; that haunting feeling that we’re putting on a show to appease aspects of people’s spirituality, without asking them to engage in a way pushes them toward discomfort and spiritual growth. Online church feels like the epitome of performance church. I know pastors are just trying to do their best, and do what they can at this time – this is in no way a criticism of these beautiful people that are just doing their best – it is, however, a series of questions for the church as a whole…what is the church really meant to look like? When we remove the queen from the chessboard (Sunday Services), how does the game get played in a functional and healthy way? How are we reaching, engaging and discipling people in an authentic and meaningful way outside of Sunday? Has Sunday become a giant crutch, bearing more of the load than it was ever meant to carry?

Another of my COVID musings is to do with facemasks…or rather the way they smell. Or perhaps, more correctly, the way my breathe smells in one. It took me about three weeks of shopping in a face mask to discover that the funny (not bad, just a bit odd) smell in my face mask wasn’t the mask, or even my breath…it was my NOSE! Did you know your nose has a smell? I can’t think about it too much or it makes me queasy. And if it’s made you queasy too, my humble apologies.

And along with thoughts on sinus scents and the church as a gathering, I’ve been giving some thought to my personal faith journey also. I have been on a journey of deconstruction of my faith for around 10 or more years. It was a necessary journey, but funnily enough, I’ve almost come full circle in my conclusions of so many things regarding faith, but I kind of needed to unpack everything to understand properly how it goes back together. When the pandemic started getting serious, it really struck me that in times of crisis, it really forces you to face the pointy end of your faith. Questions like, ‘Where am I going when I die?’, and ‘Do I really trust God with my life?’ are shoved in one’s face, and there remains in that moment not much room for ethereal armchair theologising. I have, along with my love of puzzles and desire to rollerblade, discovered the more simple, anchoring faith of my childhood that puts my hand in the hand of Jesus.

So there you go friends, there’s some thoughts for ya. Caleb always tells me that my mind is a scary place, so I hope you enjoyed a few minutes holiday in Debsville (since you can’t go anywhere else right now). I genuinely hope that you’re doing okay, and please feel free to message me if you’d like someone to pray for you.

Love you friends,

Deb xx

Pandemic Panic

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Frankly, being in the middle of a pandemic is really bizarre. I vacillate between, ‘It’s totally fine, it’s just the flu, we’re all going to be fine,” to envisioning life in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I begin chastising myself that we didn’t buy a 5-acre self-sustaining plot instead of this suburban dwelling where, if we had to live off the land, we’d probably survive three days on dead grass and the scraps of decaying afternoon snacks left behind by the boys.

I haven’t succumbed to the bunker mentality…yet, but I must admit, while I haven’t stockpiled the loo paper, I would be lying if I said I didn’t add a few extra cans of beans and some hand sanitiser to this week’s shopping list (if we do end up having to live off what’s in our cupboards, let’s just say the meals are going to get less and less yummy by the day).

I experience a level of generalised anxiety on a day-to-day basis, due to varying factors, and this situation has definitely turned the volume up, as I’m sure it has for many of you. And while I can remind myself that this is unlikely to take my family out, and we’ll survive the economic fallout as we have before, the reality is that a worse case scenario is always a possibility.

What amazes me in situations like this, is how it highlights where my trust truly lies. It first came to my attention five years ago when we first moved to the States; I was thrown off-balance by realising that my safety-net of a familiar government that would take care of me if I was in hospital or we lost our income, was no longer underneath me. I was forced to intentionally put my days in the hands of God – a place where I had previously thought they were.

Once again, I find myself feeling off-balance. The comfort of relying on the conveniences and necessities that I do everyday suddenly seems less certain. The assumption that all is well, is, well, not so well.

I like to picture it like sonar – I go through life sending out pings and getting my equilibrium from hearing the reassuring returning sounds from the places I expect things to be. When all is as I expect it to be, I swim through life with a sense of safety and certainty. But in times this like, it becomes all too clear that my requirement for peace relies heavily on external things – the certainty of health, ready access to food and utilities, a guaranteed paycheck.

I hear an invitation in the midst of all this uncertainty. It’s an invitation to surrender. An invitation to relinquish control – the control which feels so important for my survival, but in reality, is only an illusion. An invitation to remember that a certain quality or length of life on earth has never been promised. An invitation to remember that my hope lies in eternity. An invitation to remember that Jesus sits right beside me as I type this, and his love and presence is as close as it ever was. An invitation to accept the unknown.

So, if you’re cool-as-a-cucumber and feeling not a worry, good for you. But if you’re a red-hot mess quivering in your apocalypse shelter, maybe, just maybe, something really beautiful can come out of this for you. Maybe this is the start of a peace you never knew was possible. So why not join me as I pray, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Love you friends,

Deb x

Dreams, Dreams, Dreams

Dreams

(Originally posted on Sheology.co)

If I’m to be honest, I have an ambivalent relationship with dreams. Second only to my dream of being the sixth, only female (and spectacularly mulleted) member of New Kids on the Block, my very greatest childhood dream was to be locked in the local Foodtown Supermarket overnight. While other kiddos were counting sheep, I would lie in bed at night and plot my route from the choccy biscuits, chips, pick’n’mix, fizzy drinks and chocolate bars. Needless to say, neither of these dreams was ever realised, and my childish dreams gave way to the more realistic dreams that maturity brings.

The most heartfelt dream I ever possessed was that of being married. My mum got married at 20, and for some reason I had my heart set on also getting married at 20 (Spoiler alert – I did meet the love of my life and got married one month shy of my 29th birthday). I remember a preacher once saying that the gap between expectation and reality is tension – and each year that passed my ideal age of marriage, the tension and sadness within me grew.

The problem was that my dream had turned from the proverbial dangling carrot – something providing hope and motivation, to a whip that taunted me with reminders of my inadequacies, failures, and inability to control factors which were outside of my control. I got my priorities out of order, and gave my dream the power to make or break me. In many ways, my dream became an idol and sat in the place in my heart reserved for Jesus.

We live in a cultural climate where oftentimes our hopes and dreams are given the same sort of gravity as the quest for the Holy Grail. In some circumstances it is even considered noble to sacrifice everything – our relationships, obligations and moral code, in the pursuit of our aspirations. Yet, when we allow the pursuit of our dreams to surpass our pursuit of Jesus, they become the breeding ground for dissatisfaction and blind us to the joys of the present. I could kick myself now for allowing myself to waste so many of my child-free, care-free, responsibility-light, and time-rich years wallowing in the misery of my singleness.

Taking a moment to get a little curious about what is driving the pursuit of our dreams is an excellent way to ensure they stay in healthy perspective. The answer to the following question can bring us huge insight: “When this dream has finally been realised, I will feel ____________.” Because when it comes down to it, a lot of the time that we are chasing ‘dreams’, we’re actually chasing a feeling. We want to feel accomplished, vindicated, satisfied, secure, loved, smart, acknowledged, happy, settled, or any combination of a million different feelings. It’s not bad to want these feelings, heck, I certainly do! We just run into trouble when we look for any of these feelings from a source other than the complete love and contentment that is offered to us in Jesus.

The feelings that come to us when a dream is fulfilled are lovely, but ultimately temporary. When we see a dream realised, we enjoy the feelings for a while, but the underlying need in our soul is only temporarily satiated, and it gets hungry again – so off we go in search of a differing feeling/dream in the hope that we will find a more permanent satisfaction.

The beauty of putting our quest for Jesus above our quest for anything else is that He has the resources, ability and desire to meet our deepest needs. When Jesus is meeting the cry of our heart, our dreams are free to become a life-giving, motivating, colourful and enchanting part of our story.

And in fact, I have discovered that when I am chasing first Jesus and His Kingdom, he provides me with the fulfilment of dreams that I never even knew that I had. One beautiful example of this is my job writing for a counselling app – not only would I never have dreamed that a job like that even existed, I also get to work from home, helping people from my kitchen table, while earning enough to pay for lovely little luxuries (like holidays to New Zealand) for my wee family. Jesus, in his kindness, knows better than I do what will feed my soul and light up my life.

It’s best to remember that our dreams are there to serve us, not enslave us. So, friends, let’s put our dreams in the correct place in our priorities, and allow them to put the icing on the cake of our lives of pursuit of Jesus. Because he will never leave us empty, or dissatisfied – He will fill us with the contentment, satisfaction and joy that we are seeking.

Love you friends,

Deb xx

The Importance of being Important

(Originally published on Sheology.co)

Important blog

From as early as I can remember, I have wanted to be important – like celebrity grade important. The best way to achieve this, of course, was to become a popstar; and what better way to understand the inner workings of the popstar world than being the president of your very own New Kids on the Block fan club? (Full disclosure, there were only two of us in the club, and yes, I took the attendance register each meeting).

I know that being famous is probably every second kid’s dream, but for me it signified something deeper and more painful. I really did think that I needed to do something to achieve significance. Despite my parents doing the very best that they could, I never felt very important in my childhood years, and this led me to believe that if I could only minimise any negative feedback by being as good as possible, and maximise any positive feedback by doing what I thought others would praise, then finally I would feel like I was noteworthy.

The desire to be important became a major driver in so much of what I ended up doing. As a teenager and in my early-20s I had a group of friends that were like family, and we spent years together doing youth ministry. Every six months or so, a new hobby would take a hold of the group, and a bunch of people would suddenly be into touch-rugby, tennis, Settlers of Catan, 500, etc. In an effort to tick all the right boxes I ended up doing things that, upon reflection, were just desperate attempts to feel significant; things like, running, for example. Marathon running had become the flavour of the day, and despite my janky knees and near-death feelings when I run, I started training for a race (I made it to 10ks before sanity finally took hold). I also bought a half-set of ladies’ golf clubs and starting ‘playing’ golf, purchased a tennis racket despite my obvious lack of talent in this area, joined a gym and became an aerobics instructor, feigned an interest in music that I really didn’t like, and no matter how awkward, I also tried to wrangle invites to social events, because being seen as significant mattered that much to me.

On top of this, I became a pro at recognising what spiritual attributes would be most lauded in the church I was part of. Read the bible in year? Sure, I’ll read it four years in a row. Go to the early morning prayer meeting (at an hour so ungodly I don’t think even Jesus was up yet)? I’ll be there smiling and radiant. Attend church morning and night? I wouldn’t skip it for anything (except perhaps a ‘both ends went in the night’ situation).

As I left school, my drive for significance followed me everywhere I went. When I was at bible college, I had a part-time job in the office at our church preschool. It was the perfect job for me. I loved every minute of it; my cosy corner office, the best boss in the whole world, admin tasks that filled my love of order, treasured co-workers, and the glorious background noise of playing children, made even better by the fact I was not responsible for a single one of them or their poopy nappies. But when I finished bible college and was asked to be the Worship Pastor, I decided that it really would be best if I went full-time at the church, despite the fact I could easily have filled the role in three days per week. Because it was surely more important to be in full-time ministry. I have thought about that job and regretted that decision so much more than I can convey.

Fast-forward through a wedding, a counselling degree, and a change of cities, I found myself pregnant, and determined that I would work from home once the baby arrived. Except he arrived with health difficulties and literally couldn’t nap without being bounced…which meant that my hands were only ever free for long enough to stuff some food in my face, or push the pram for endless hours around the streets of Christchurch.

Then, once we had emigrated to the States, I developed chronic migraine during my second pregnancy, which continues to this day, and it meant that I spent the better part of two years in bed, yelling at my kids, using the TV as a babysitter, and trying somehow to convey to my friends that if I went out for an evening, I would pay for it by spending the next two weeks bedridden.

It was over this five-year period that my drive for significance began to unravel. It’s really difficult to prove your worth when your hands are constantly occupied by a screaming infant, or when you’re a useless lump of pain languishing in a dark room with an ice pack strapped to your head. It’s not easy to use your body to signify to the world at large that you’re disciplined with food and exercise, when you take a drug that gives you the gift of an extra 20lbs that doesn’t budge.

I will never forget one night, lying in my bed in between sessions of throwing up and howling at the moon, racked with pain and feeling desperately low, when I suddenly became aware of the unmistakable presence of love in the room. I was, by all objective measures, the most useless I’d ever been since I was a toddler, but the richness of love, the colour of scarlet, filled my room, and for the first time, I began to understand that my value is not based on my performance.

It took some really, really hard life circumstances for me to begin to understand this message. And I wish I could say that it’s a fait accompli, lesson learned, doneskies. But I can bet you that I’ll be 95, living in a rest-home, and finding a way to let Ethel and Bob know that I can still make it onto the loo by myself. The deepest and longest held beliefs are the most likely to be lifelong lessons, but I am so relieved to find myself somewhat freed from this strife for importance. My current job, for example, is writing for a counselling app, where every day, thousands of people read the words I have written, but nobody knows it’s me that wrote them – and it brings me so much joy!

I am slowly learning that my innate value cannot be judged, or measured, or earned, or rewarded. My worth was a gift that was sown into the fabric of my being when I was created.

Love you friends,

Deb x

PS. The irony of writing a published blog about wanting to be important is not lost on me, so you know, feel free to comment, or share, or wait…..no, maybe not….

An Ode to my Favourite Feeling

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I once heard some wise person talking about the best feeling in the world – and before I knew what it was, my guesses would have included love, mirth, joy, hope, satisfaction, fulfilment, or that tantalising anticipation of being starving/hangry at your favourite restaurant, but knowing you have just minutes to wait before you get to eat something delicious. But it was none of these things.

The best feeling in the world, according to this person (who obviously left a deep impression, because I can’t for the life of me remember who it was), is relief. Relief! Really? But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. And since that time, it has become my favourite feeling in the whole world – so let me take you on a little tiki tour of the world’s greatest emotion in my life.

When I was around 14 years of age, an awkward stage at the best of times, I was having hideously painful cramps, so needed an ultrasound to rule out any nasties. To add insult to injury, the ultrasound tech was a young and studly male. The first time they tried to get an image, my bladder wasn’t full enough, so I was sent to the waiting room to let the water I had imbibed earlier make its merry way down. I was feeling a little sheepish that even though I said I’d had the requisite amount of water, if I was being completely honest with myself, I hadn’t. So, I stopped at the drinking fountain in the hallway and downed a gallon to make up for it. That was before I realised that they were also sending out the world’s largest tankard of water with the receptionist…which I couldn’t refuse, because then they would know about the drinking fountain, and make the connection to my earlier deception. Needless to say, my bladder was plenty full for the second scan (it was a blessed mercy I didn’t explode). Then, as I was leaving the room, the tech told me that the bathroom was just down the hallway, and I, at the age where needing to pee was an embarrassment in and of itself, just airily said, “Oh, no thanks, I’m fine,” and sauntered out of there like I wasn’t dying of pain in my lower mid-section. The car ride home in dad’s bumpy little Barina was about the most tortuous experience of my life – I literally ended up having to hoist my butt off the seat with my arms. But, when I got home, oh, THE RELIEF!!

Many of you will be aware that my husband Caleb got impaled on a job site in 2013 (that’s a whole five-part blog series in itself). When I made it to the hospital, I didn’t get to see him before he went in for surgery, so I was stuck waiting in this cell-like windowless room, with my dear friend and her then 5 month-old baby. I made a number of calls to various people to tell them what had happened, and one of those calls was to a friend of mine who was a nurse, so I could ask her questions about what to expect. She told me that I should expect surgery to take a minimum of six hours. After an hour-and-a-half, the surgeon came into the waiting room – I thought that it was either terrible news, or he just had an update for me. (In fact, I didn’t want to shake his hand, because in my frazzled state, I knew he had to go back and keep operating on my Caleb, and he shouldn’t touch my germs). But, the news was glorious! The surgery was done, Caleb was going to recover, and in the words of a man who looked like the person least given to hyperbole that I have ever met, “He is very, VERY lucky.” I think that this was the most overwhelming relief I have ever experienced…I laughed, and cried, and almost hugged the very cardboard man (but his vibe was most-definitely of the ‘no touchy’ variety). As we left the hospital to get some food (McD’s – the ieal food for a crisis), I jumped, I ran, and I even danced! (The only spontaneous dance I think I have EVER done). I can still feel that relief to this day – and that day goes down as the worst, then best day of my life.

I have a million other stories of blessed relief – too many migraines that finally responded to the pain medication, babies that eventually made their arrivals, and those same babies that finally slept through the night, kiddos that out-grew illnesses, assignments, practicums and degrees completed, medical tests and scans returned benign, necessary big-ticket items purchased, job interviews done and dusted, and first dates out of the way.

I am SO glad that the landscape of my life, with all its hills and valleys, is peppered with the airy, refreshing breath of relief. And do you know what the coolest thing is? I reckon that heaven is gonna feel a lot like blessed relief for a really long time.

Love you friends,

Deb x

What if Freedom isn’t all it’s Cracked up to be?

Product-ConstraintsI have been eating up the work of John Mark Comer and Mark Sayers lately. They have a Podcast called, ‘This Cultural Moment’ (I HIGHLY recommend) in which they look at what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus in our current cultural climate. In the episode I listened to this morning (at 6.00am while hiking up our local mountain – which has to be mentioned, because I forgot to take a selfie) they mention that for human flourishing, three ‘tanks’ need to be full; freedom – as in freedom of choice, individuality, expression etc., meaning, and community. I’m sure one could argue for other tanks, like food for example, but at the risk of indulging my contrarian nature, I shall digress.

They go on to say that in our current Western climate, the freedom ‘tank’ is full to overflowing, and as a result, the ‘meaning’ and ‘community’ tanks are suffering. This got me thinking about how true I have found this to be in my own life. Parenting is a prime example; it is, as I often say, the very worst and the very best. In this framework, you could say that this is because while the freedom ‘tank’ is totally plundered by my tiny baboons, the loss is well made-up by the massive deposit in the ‘meaning’ tank…but you can’t have the meaning, without the loss of freedom.

Another example of this is prayer; I have found a liturgy of prayer to be extremely meaningful and peace-making in my life, however I feel the restraint of sticking with it and am legit tempted to grab my phone at regular intervals. My free time is, by my own choice, being used towards a discipline from which I reap substantial benefits, but it takes the loss of small freedoms in order to achieve the reward of meaning.

The point that I take away from all of this, is the reminder that the constraints we face in life can actually be for our benefit. I know that sounds like some form of heresy given the world in which we live – a world in which unlimited personal freedom is Mecca. The problem is that we so often can’t enjoy the beauty and simplicity that God has provided for in this life, unless we have something with which to contrast it. I have never enjoyed sitting in my back yard, breathing the clean air and watching the trees so much as since I have battled with chronic illness. The restraint of physical symptoms has allowed me to find meaning and beauty in things I once took for granted.

Creativity is another such area which flourishes under constraints. We have a buddy that wrote and produced one of the most creative, intricate and peaceful albums I have ever heard using just his voice and one old electric guitar. The limitation of instrumentation brought his creativity to a remarkable place. Similarly (although not comparing my cooking to the aforementioned album), the elimination of grains, sugar and carbs from my diet due to health, has caused me to get really creative with inventing meals that are within the confines of my diet, but still taste delicious…(well, I think they’re delicious, however getting Caleb to try one of my keto ‘treats’ is like pulling teeth – and I gave Judah some of my keto ice-cream once, to which he responded, “Mum…is this an actual treat?”)

So, let’s be encouraged today friends, that whatever constraints and limitations we find around our lives, it’s possible, just possible, that our lives wouldn’t actually be as meaningful without them.

Love you,

Deb x

They Never Tell You…

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There have been several occasions over the past five and a half years that Caleb and I have started a conversation about some aspect of parenting beginning with, “They never tell you that…” Exactly who the nebulous “they” are is unclear, but assumedly there is a gaggle of experienced parents out there whose job it should be to prepare the newer parents for every surprising eventuality. Having been a parent for five and half years now, I can only surmise that by the time these parents have recovered from the rigors of parenting, they are approximately 98 years old, and have trouble using communication devices, like computers, to share their wisdom.

They never tell you, for example, that you will develop an entirely new vocabulary dedicated solely to the description of poop. Real life examples in our family include, but are not limited to, “nugget”, “squidgy”, and the horrifying, “code orange”. They also never tell you that you will spend an unholy amount of time researching and baking your kid’s second birthday cake from scratch, in the shape of an American school bus, and using an entire bottle of yellow food dye, only to have it turn out looking like one of those really odd, flat one-person fertilising trucks. But, you allow yourself a secret smile and a self-deprecating Facebook post, because you just know this little guy is going to think it’s the coolest bus in the world…except all you get is, “What is it?” followed by a refusal to even eat the damn bus.

They never tell you that you’ll get to the end of your rope, then discover that you have to hang there by the skin of your teeth while trying to remain coherent and patient and nice. But they also never tell you that the desperation for the kiddos to go to sleep at the end of the day, is surpassed only by the swell of your heart when you hear your two year old stumbling into the lounge like a tiny drunken sailor in the morning.

They never tell you that while you feel pretty chuffed that you let the five year old stir the pancake batter once, and there was also that one time in a moment of parenting awesome-sauce that you set up a giant piece of paper with some crayons, that there are actually parents who do finger painting (AT HOME!!) and woollen pom-pom making, and who love school holidays because they get to do all the fun activities, and their kids only watch an hour of TV a month, and they make muffins comprised of 8 different kinds of antioxidant ancient superfoods that kids somehow magically love.

They never tell you that your kids are gonna have strange and unusual quirks that you most definitely did not teach them…like putting their brother’s stinky gross socks on their hands and wiping their face with them, or having a Chernobyl size meltdown because you won’t let them leave the house with undies on their head.

They never tell you that the moment your kids enter the world, the range on the volume knob on life gets immediately expanded; the lows are so much lower, the highs so much higher. Or of the horror you will experience losing your kid at the museum, or of the uncanny ability you now possess to pick your progeny out of a large crowd simply by the shape of his head.

And they never tell you that somehow, as you feel yourself being stretched beyond recognition, somewhere between the new wrinkles, and peptic ulcers, and sudden disconcerting penchant for repeating old-timey phrases that your mum used to say, somewhere in all of that, there is a sense of rightness. A sense that, even though you would never willingly sign-up for half of what you experience on a regular basis, a life lived in the servitude of others (even tiny belligerent dictators) is really good for your soul.

Love you friends (and may the force be with you).

Deb xx

That Attitude of Gratitude

Peanut butter

I’ve been thinking about gratitude lately. It used to be one of those buzz words that annoyed me. I felt like it was the sort of word that people would throw out there to minimise people’s pain and use as a kind of silver-bullet-cure-all for any ailment from depression to the hot runs. I found it to be the domain of the Pollyanna types that lived in a Technicolor world that seemed so far removed from real life. And maybe it’s because in the church I have had many experiences where the message I received was that I should be grateful for areas of my life where things didn’t seem fair. Which kind of felt like someone leading their dayglo tambourine parade past my wheelchair and telling me to get up and dance – invalidating, and insensitive, and patronising.

But I’m seeing things differently these days. The really beautiful thing I’ve discovered is that gratitude has started creeping up on me. Instead of wielding a stick and trying to force gratitude, it’s been tapping me on the shoulder and delighting me with an infectious smile and a warm hug. I don’t think it’s just a spontaneous lucky break that it’s started happening, but as a result of engaging in practices that have taught my mind and spirit to look for the lovely. For the past several months I have been regularly meditating, practicing mindfulness, and becoming more present in my body. As a result of this I’m seeing joy in the small things I once took for granted.

I was putting the groceries away after a trip to the super a while back, and as I was putting food in the cupboard, I was overwhelmed by such immense gratitude that there was plentiful, healthy and delicious food to feed my wee family. I found myself holding the peanut butter in both hands, close to my chest and with tears in my eyes, whispering, “Thank you peanut butter.” (And it winked at me and whispered back, “You’re welcome Ma’am.”). Then I began thanking each item of food before it got stored away. Me of five years ago would be reaching for the barf bag about now, like, seriously, how cheesy can you get? But it wasn’t cheesy, because it wasn’t rehearsed or forced or staged, it was a genuine expression flowing from heart, and it just felt like the right way to respond at that moment.

The more we allow gratitude to win our attention, the more we will become aware of how much there is in our lives to be grateful for. Our brains are super cool – we have a thing called a Reticulated Activating System (RAS) that acts as a filter for the innumerable amount of data that we receive. The RAS is attuned to whatever we deem important, and it will filter out other data, and present to our attention the things that we have trained it to present. A perfect example of this is how when you buy a White Ford Explorer, it suddenly seems that every second car you see is a White Ford Explorer – your RAS has been taught that this particular car is now important, so it filters out all the other cars on the road, and zooms in on the pertinent vehicle. As we become more grateful, we will train our minds that this is important to us, and it ends up becoming an ever-increasing cycle of goodness that adds colour and music to our lives.

Allowing gratitude to become an active part of my life has genuinely brought me so much joy. Genuine gratitude doesn’t try and keep the lid on my grumpy-groozleness, or ignore the despair I feel when my head starts hurting again, but it contrasts those moments with such rich and fragrant and fresh and life-giving joy. I feel like I’m coming alive.

 

Love you friends,

Deb xx

An Ode to Little Deb

Little Deb

I’ve been thinking a bit about my inner child lately as a part of a personal/spiritual growth course I’m taking at the moment. I’ve come to realise that there are parts of Little Deb that I have abandoned or rejected because she experienced these very feelings and I don’t want those feelings to be a part of my now life. The problem with that, is Little Deb won’t experience the healing needed until I extend my Big Deb love and kindness to her – so, let me introduce you to one of the quirkiest, coolest, most loveable little girls you’ll ever meet.

Little Deb rocks the mullet like no-one else rocks the mullet. No-one believed her when she got older and she told them that she had sported the most worthy fe-mullet for ten years of her life. That was, until, they saw the pics and were completely awe-struck. One of the funniest moments of her adult-life was finding a photo at her BFF’s house of said BFF with an almost identical childhood mullet – only to discover that they had shared the same uber-lovely, but not-so-gifted, mobile hairdresser.

Little Deb’s sense of fashion pretty well matches her amazing haircut. She occasionally has a moment where she thinks about being cool or trendy and risks mortal peril by stealing an item of her sister’s clothing in order to experiment with fashion. But for the most part, Little Deb is a total creature of comfort. Her favourite outfit consists of a threadbare black corduroy black A-line skirt and a pair of jelly shoes that are broken at the heels. Her mum tried throwing the skirt out once, but thankfully her sister told her about it, so she was able to rescue her most treasured item out of the rubbish sack before it could be permanently ripped from her life.

Most kids are quirky to some degree, but Little Deb really takes the cake. She loves to swim and would spend all day in the water if she could. The only problem is that sometimes the water gets up her nose, and it really hurts. But it’s ok – she’s discovered that if she bobs up and down breathing out on the bob-down, it soothes her wee sinuses and it feels really good. She kind of knows that people are looking and laughing when she’s on her bob-round the pool, but she really doesn’t care. In fact, she kind of feels sorry for them that they’re missing out. And she cannot for the love of Pete figure out why her mum won’t let her ‘mail’ leaves and stones in the neighbour’s letterboxes when she’s playing ‘postie’. So unfair.

Little Deb has an incredible imagination. She has managed to convince some of her friends that if they wrap certain dead flowers in their leftover morning tea glad wrap and leave them in a certain bush for a few days, they will turn into real gold. She’s also started a lunchtime game called ‘The Handicapped Four Eyed Geeky Express’ (she’s not terribly PC). Her very favourite game of all-time is the Bee Clinic…all you have to do is stand on a bee until the white stuff squishes out, then you ‘operate’ on it with a stick until it’s all better. It’s a miracle she hasn’t been stung by any of her patients yet…although to be fair, they’re not terribly active once she’s finished with them.

Little Deb has two great life ambitions. The first is to become a famous singer (however, believe it or not, she’s not that good a singer), and the second is to be locked in the Foodtown supermarket overnight by herself. She lies awake at night figuring out which aisle she’d go down first, and which treats she’d consume, in what order. Needless to say, she’ll do almost anything for a bag of lollies.

If you’re looking for a fun, imaginative, loyal friend, you need look no further than Little Deb – plus as an added bonus, she’ll almost certainly make you look more fashionable. She’s such a cool wee girl, and I love her to pieces.

Until next time,

(Big) Deb xx