Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I'm doing Lent this year. Observing Lent isn't common in the LDS religion, so it's not something I've done often in the past, but I was talking to Notredame (my soon to be ex-boarder) about it and I'm attracted to the idea. I like that its purpose it to get closer to God. I like that it precedes a celebration of renewal and redemption. I also like that it happens over forty days. It's a Goldilocks amount of time ~ not too long or too short, but just right. :)
The three traditional practices of Lent were prayer, fasting and almsgiving, and these represented justice to god, self and one's neighbour. The modern interpretation of those is to give up some vice, adopt some good practice that brings you closer to God and to spend time or money giving to others.
So what am I giving up? It was tempting to choose housework, but I've decided on television. In the absence of that major and largely mindless distraction I think concentrating on some deeper issues will be easier. I also get more sleep when I watch less TV and use my time better as a result. If I want this to be a serious project, then I'll need both the time and the energy.
For my added task I've decided to reread a book a friend lent me several years ago that I later bought. I think it will be a useful exercise. It's about Christianity, but very focussed in on simplifying the living of it. I've lived the complicated version - the one that fills your schedule, but doesn't always develop you as a person. It's surprising how effectively you can crowd out real spirituality with 'good' activities. I think reading this book over the forty days and considering its questions and challenges will give me a vehicle to focus on this area of my life.
Last year could have been one of introspection over activity, but it wasn't. I even thought I was going through the process of examining my beliefs, but at some point that process wound down into nothingness without me even noticing. In hindsight I think I needed to take a break spiritually ~ to pull away from any kind of religion/religious practice or belief before I could approach them again with new eyes and decide with more objectivity what it means to me now.
The last challenge is almsgiving. I wanted to think of something really cool to do for that. Finally I remembered a project I was involved in a long time ago in Adelaide to create the packs they give to women when they first go to a women's shelter. Often when someone is escaping domestic violence, they don't have time to plan for it. A crisis occurs and they just have to run. They also may have very little money to start over. These packs provide basic toiletries: soap, shampoo, toothbrush, comb, that sort of thing. I like the idea of giving something so immediately useful to the woman receiving it.
So there's my plan. I'll let you know how it goes. Anyone else celebrating Lent? If so, what did you choose to do or give up for forty days?
Sunday, February 22, 2009
But if the camera hadn't been left in the car, it could have been. Pretty cool, huh? (Follow the title link for the source and more pictures.)
This is the beach I visited on Saturday (Pebbly Beach on the Southern coast of New South Wales). The kangaroos are very comfortable with humans and happy to be patted as long as you don't startle them.
We actually stayed further South at Narooma, which was also beautiful. It was just an overnight trip, but I had a great time.
Monday, February 16, 2009
I like being an artist (and by artist I mean writer). The process of creation is intricate and satisfying. It's great to get an inspiration, an idea, and then try to work out how that can be developed into a story or poem, and finally to make that happen. I don't fancy myself as a brilliant writer, but there have been times when I've reread something I wrote several months later and been a little surprised that I wrote it. Those are very cool moments.
Still, sometimes I secretly wish I could be someone's muse instead. :)
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I stopped by my friend's house today. They have six-week-old kittens just now and they are so sweet.
Kittens are easy to read. If they don't feel like being on your lap they squirm and send a small letter of protest to you typed with tiny little needle claws. When they want to be close to you they climb boldly into your lap and set up camp and fall asleep anywhere they like. Like small children they show affection without any awkwardness or agenda. There are no shades of meaning to interpret. Or to incorrectly interpret. Everything is what it is.
I may need more kitten therapy tomorrow.
And on a sort-of-but-not-really-related note, kittens, inspired by kittens:
anything other than me
Watching a lot of One Tree Hill lately. Don't worry ~ I'm not planning to blog on it, though I may borrow a few of Lucas' literary quotes. There are some great ones. I've also been struck by Gavin McGraw's lyrics each time the theme plays:
"I don't want to be anything other than what I've been trying to be lately
All I have to do is think of me and I have peace of mind
I'm tired of looking 'round rooms
Wondering what I've got to do
Or who I'm supposed to be
I don't want to be anything other than me."
Which is true. Sometimes I want to be a better me, but I do like myself, for the most part. This doesn't stop me wondering sometimes if 'me' is enough. Enough for what? Good question. And I'm not sure I have a good answer. It's easy to feel like you fall short when you're not sure what you're measuring yourself against.
I hope this doesn't come across like I'm down. I'm not. Just thinking.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
thoughts on relationships
Just been watching this week's Trannystar Galactica episode from Diana. Such a sweet person. (In case you're not familiar with TG and are confused, she presents male for work and on that vlog, but the name indicates to me I should use female pronouns, so that's how I'm rolling with it.)
The topic was Valentine's Day and relationships in general. She brought up her (previous) three rules for a relationship: no lies, no violence, no disrespect. At some point that seemed too negative, so she changed it to love, honesty, respect. It seemed like an interesting question to raise.
If you had to sum up your philosophy on relationships in three pithy dot points, what would they be?
For me (and I'm writing this on the fly, so it might not be definitive):
~ no mind games (emotional manipulation = dealbreaker)
~ friends as well as lovers (friends are more accepting and in the end it's a stronger bond. Love based on friendship can weather much bigger storms and makes the smooth sailing more beautiful)
~ don't fear baggage, but don't be owned by it either (we all have it; it makes us real people. Just remember we retain the ability to choose, no matter what)
Adding explanation made those a bit less pithy, but at least you know what I mean now.
I've been reasonably lucky in my life with relationships. For the most part they've been good and ended amicably. It's been a long time since I was in love, but I choose to be hopeful about that. Most days. :)
By the way, in case you watch Diana's video, this is the Indigo Girls song she mentions. It's great.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
helping the bushfire victims
There have been several appeals in the last couple of days for goods (clothes, toiletries, toys for kids, etc) to help the bushfire victims and the massive response has been heartening. A local radio station here organised some trucks to head to Victoria and they received so many donations they couldn't fit them all in. A couple of emergency centres in Victoria have similarly had to request that people stop bring donations of goods and instead focus on blood and money donations to the Red Cross.
Nothing is going to make this a good situation, but it's still amazing to see the immediate and compassionate response. I'm not usually one to put in a good word for big business (only $1 donated from each Big Mac on McHappy Day, McD's? And how much profit do you make out of the remainder of the price as a result?) however I want to applaud Coles supermarkets. Coles is not only providing water, food and other necessities, but this Friday ALL of their profits for the day are being donated to the Bushfire Appeal. They are not only giving up the day's profit, but of course will also lose some sales from other days that week because people are waiting to shop on the Friday. Yeah, it's just one day, but they didn't have to do it and it's a LOT of money.
If you're in Australia I hope you can find a way to contribute. I'm donating to the Red Cross. I also need to find out where the blood bus is today and hopefully donate blood, too. The last couple of times I had the chance to donate blood I was taking antibiotics and couldn't, but luckily this time I'm not even on hayfever medication. Good timing.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
every time I say things are good out loud...
the universe laughs.
Once again I need a new homestay student. Before I start sounding all self-pitying, I'll interject that there's actually a good chance I can get one organised pretty quickly. But tonight I'm all uncertainty and frustration. Just once I wish I could sort out my budget and have it stick. I'm trying so hard to get money together to buy my friend's car in May (and it's an awesome deal, trust me) and I'm happy to work my butt off to make it happen. I just need a chance to do that.
Once everything's back on an even keel...I'm going to keep my mouth shut and try to slip under the universe's radar.
Monday, February 09, 2009
As of this morning there were 31 bushfires raging across the state of Victoria. People in our Melbourne office have lost friends amongst the climbing death toll, currently sitting at 126 and expected to double as fire crews locate more of the dead who failed to escape ahead of the firefront. An estimated 750 homes have already been lost with entire townships burned to ruins.
Bushfire is a constant of the Australian summer. When I went to the coast recently we had to check the morning we left that the highway had not been closed due to the fires burning near that area. On the way back we saw smoke/visibility warnings, but the road was still open. The weather channel has a regular bushfire update. Two days ago there were five fires on the map and that seemed normal.
But every few years things get worse. The last big bushfire disaster was in 2003 when around 500 homes in Canberra were destroyed (one of the major causes why rent is artificially high here). However, just four people died. Significant for their families and friends of course, but statistically a very small number compared to the number of residential homes lost - obviously people evacuated successfully. That isn't what's happening right now. The fires are spread out over a wide area and some people are waiting too long to put their fire plan into action.
Worst still, and the thing I just cannot get my head around, is that not only have several of these fires been deliberately lit, but there are people in some areas going into devastated areas and relighting fires. What the hell could be going through their minds? This is not simple carelessness, or a prank gone wrong. This is people who already know the death toll deliberately trying to widen the field of disaster.
There are just some things that people living in a hot, dry land should never do and wasting water and lighting scrub fires are on the top of the list. Causing death via arson carries a maximum 25-year jail term, and I hope they catch every last one of them.
To end on a brighter note, I heard a story of a shiftworker sleeping through the day who was saved by his cat. The cat jumped on the bed and scratched his hand until he woke up. Then the man heard the commotion outside. He realised what was happening, grabbed the cat, ran outside to jump onto an evacuation vehicle and they both survived the fire. He lost his house, but that's still a happy ending in my book.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Heather of GFY said about this outfit:
"It's like her Faberge egg hatched and she's getting ready to breast-feed its spawn."
Click the pic to zoom in and see just how appalling those enormous, bejewelled, faux nipples are.
Officially my favourite observation on that blog ever.
Friday, February 06, 2009
Monday, February 02, 2009
Here's my entry for the latest 2 Things Challenge. My interpretation of many/few is made up of two photos from the Tegan and Sara concert I went to a few weeks ago.
The FEW on the stage
and the MANY watching.
Every concert is about this, and it's one reason I love live music as opposed to just listening to the CD. When a live show is going well, everything seems to align in the moment and there's a real connection between the artist/s and the fans.
I got another idea for this theme on Sunday night, but had no time to execute it. Very frustrating. If I can find the necessary setting to take the photos I have in mind I will post them later in the week.