Blessed

Today was my farewell morning tea from work. Just in order to demonstrate how indispensable I am, no-one had organised any actual morning tea. I got on the phone to the staff caf for a tea trolley and Trustee Ann raced off to one of the on-site cafes for some sandwiches and slices. It was quite funny, actually.

Not many people were there but that made it intimate, and almost everybody spoke when the floor was opened about all kinds of nice things about me. I will treasure their words.

Equally, I will treasure the pounamu taonga that was given to me, gifted by the Trust and the Chaplaincy team, chosen by Ann, blessed by the Maori Chaplains and placed around my neck by the co-ordinating chaplain with whom I have worked most closely. The shape symbolises new beginnings and growth. It is a tiny koru set into a larger, unbroken circle, which to me represents that I am surrounded by people who love and support me as I start to unfurl this new branch of my life. It is highly polished and just the size of the last joint of my thumb. It is beautiful.

After it had been placed around my neck, Maori Chaplain Bella led everyone in a round of “For she’s a jolly good fellow” – the poor Pakeha version of a waiata, I guess. I wish I had followed my heart and replied with one of the few proper waiata I know, but I chickened out. So I will type it here, and if anyone who was there reads it, they can pretend I sang it for them.

Te aroha,
Te whakapono,
Me te rangimarie
Tatou tatou e.

Love, faith and peace be amongst us all.

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Word of the Day

vestigial  (vɛˈstɪdʒɪəl)
— adj
1. of, relating to, or being a vestige
2. (of certain organs or parts of organisms) having attained a simple
structure and reduced size and function during the evolution of the
species: the vestigial pelvic girdle of a snake

Putting my feet up

I was just about to text Husband Sam this afternoon to say “yay, all finished with my last ever Chaplaincy Supporters’ Christmas Service, one more thing checked off the list” when I stepped onto the footpath after crossing the road, turned my ankle and nearly fell. It’s the second time I’ve turned that same ankle this week and it hurt like billy-o. I froze and tried not to cry while the two chaps who’d crossed the road with me asked if I was okay. I said “I think so”, bravely, and made some inane comment about not trying to walk and text at once. Last time I twisted my ankle I wasn’t texting but trying to fix my brooch so it would sit right. That time I actually did fall over on my butt, which made me feel ridiculous, and bent the pin of the brooch, which was a gift from my beloved mother-in-law. (It was fine, I straightened it right out again against my desk when I got to work.)

This time, though, I wasn’t even wearing heels! I’ve often fallen off the platform jandals I was wearing last time, but today it was 2-inch block-heel nice conservative pumps for the Christmas service, so why did I fall over? Perhaps my body, realising that it’s not going to get migraines any more now that I’ve quit coffee and found a good preventive regime, has to get a bit more creative to make me stop moving and shut up for a while.

I often used to twist my ankles when I was a kid. Maybe mine are a bit weak. Maybe I walk funny. God knows. Anyway, I’m now lying on the couch with two cushions at one end and a bread-bag full of melting ice-cubes at the other, a bandaged left ankle, a plate that used to have home-made biscuits on it and a mug of orange juice. And my laptop, of course. It’s amazing what your kids will do for you if you let them see you cry.

I am very thankful right now that I cooked tea last night – a big pot of soup that Mr 9 can put on the stove while Miss 4 and Mr 7 fight over who gets to make toast. I’m quite looking forward to being looked after by my kids some more. Sam will be a bit late home. Hope I’ll survive.

Oooo, gender stereotyping!

We had boys’ night / girls’ night in our house tonight. Dad and the boys drove across town, picked up fish ‘n’ chips and took them to the park, where they ate them in the herb garden. Then Mr 9 wandered about picking herbs while Mr 7 and Dad played football, and then they all went for an explore. Miss 4 and I had pikelets and fruit salad for tea, served on a tablecloth on the living room floor with my best china – I even got the beautiful cups and saucers down from the display shelf above the sink – and then we baked biscuits, the kind where you cut out shapes.

I have no problem with some forms of gender stereotyping. Miss 4 refuses to wear trousers. (Tearfully: “Then no-one will know I’m a girl!”) The boys leap around the house roaring at each other and every game involves fighting in some form.

Here’s the question, the can of worms I like to open: Is there anything wrong with this?

Is it enough that I encourage all my kids to do whatever they want to do and treat everyone with respect? Or should I be making more of a stand against cultural norms and in favour of equality?

What does equality actually look like?

I grew up with my mum working and my dad staying at home with us, for a few years. He said to me that those days looking after my little brother were some of his happiest times. And yet, he has ended up feeling like his life has been wasted, that he is of no worth because he has never found a job that would allow him to be the provider.

How many women feel like that?

I went back to work after having children not because we needed the income, but because I hated being stuck at home with babies, who are (a) hard work and (b) boring. I was going crazy. I still feel a little guilty about this sometimes, though less than when I regularly faced Facebook posts and links from my homeschooling friends. I don’t like my kids enough to want to spend all my time with them. I suspect the feeling is mutual. Does that make me a worse person than the homeschoolers?

How many men feel like that?

(By the way, I don’t actually think I like anyone well enough to want to be with them 24/7. Sorry dear.)

What do you think?

A shining moment

I sang in a concert today. It was lovely. I made two mistakes, one small one in my great big solo, and one quite big one, which was not as big as the one the tenors made which meant we had to abandon a piece halfway through. We finished the concert bang on time.

I got a $45 parking ticket.

That’s all the concerts over. My boys did well in their school shows – well enough, anyway – and my girl was happy enough in her ballet show and did not end up covered in lipstick this year. She’s not taking ballet next year, but will be going to gym with her brothers. I need to decide whether to keep the $50 ballet shoes for dress-ups or sell them for $15.

Now we have two more kindy friend birthday parties, the choir’s end-of-year drinks, DH’s birthday, the end-of-year service at work that I’m now playing piano for since the organists are unavailable, and my farewell morning tea at work. Plus whatever music I get rostered on for at church. Plus the kids’ service that Mr 9 is doing some kind of filming stuff for. Plus my niece’s birthday. (She’s in a different city so I’m not too stressed about that – plus I already have her present.) Have I missed anything?

Probably.

I hate this time of year. The stress and running around is making me dizzy again, just a little. Sometimes it helps to remember that the Holy Family were at least as stressed as we all are, right now, travelling while heavily pregnant for the damn census, crowded, nowhere to stay, absolutely exhausted. And then the baby arrives and there’s this crazy, shining moment in the middle of it all… and then there are people after them and they have to run away, far from home, because someone is literally trying to kill him. Their baby boy.

I mean, what the heck!

And now I’ve had my moment of meditation and reflection, it’s time to go and think about tea. We’ve eaten junk food a bit this week already so I should probably see if I can find something healthy-ish. A shining moment of vegetables in the midst of a mire of chips.

 

 

WHY are we WAITing…

We are suffoCATing!

It’s very hard waiting for things. Especially when you’re four and what you’re waiting for is your best friend’s fifth birthday party. She’s been counting sleeps since we got the invitation. Now we’re counting hours, and singing Hickory Dickory Dock, which I didn’t know was a counting song. We’re up to “the clock stroke [sic] three” for the second time now… she got a bit lost at eight and started over.

Where do we draw the line between waiting for things to happen and going out and making them happen? It gets especially complicated when we believe in following the will of God. Those of us who have learnt passivity as a life approach (because that way we avoid disapproval, and we can blame the outcome of any action on the active person we have become dependent on) have to be very careful of this.

God quite often asks of us the thing we find hardest, and asks us to give up the thing we value most. Look at Abraham and Isaac! To those people who habitually charge into things and leap into the unknown with verve and aplomb, God will often say – Wait. For those of us who are more likely to want to be told what to do and won’t do things until we’re certain we’re doing the right thing, God will sometimes say – What do you want to do? Go do it, and I’ll make it work. Or – What’s in front of you? Do it as if for Me.

I have seen God lead people into failure, where they have followed what they believed was His will, hit a brick wall and crash. I have seen people sit there on the pile of broken bricks and scrape themselves Job-like with potsherds for years. Does that mean the failure was God’s will? Perhaps it was. Perhaps God asks us to give up the success that we think we deserve, because it is the thing most precious to us.

Does that mean the potsherd-scraping is God’s will too? I don’t know. Job never got an answer to his questions, but he did get his life restored. Lucky Job. But he didn’t get the same kids back who had died.

What if Job had gotten off his pile of bricks and gone looking for labouring work? Would God still have restored his life?

What if you think you’re Job but actually you led yourself into failure (because you didn’t try, try again when you first failed) and now you’re just sulking?

How can you tell the difference?

I have posted in the past (here) about this feeling of stuck-ness and being skipped over. I have now gone ahead and made decisions about what I want to do with my life without any feeling of ‘calling’ about it, but with the belief that if God doesn’t want me to do this, he’ll stop me. Until then, I’m going to do what interests me and what I’m good at.

I still fight with my inner passivity, which I am coming to recognise as a subtle form of aggression and self-defence (though I may change my mind about that when I actually get round to doing those clinical psyc papers and am not just basing my understanding on a smattering of pop psychology, some undergraduate tangentially-related courses and three counselling sessions dealing with migraine phobia). I’ll keep you all posted.