Thursday, June 14, 2012

Starstruck

Today, while I was waiting in line at Wellington airport I saw a New Zealand celebrity.  You have to realise that in New Zealand, celebrity is not really used in the same way as it is elsewhere.  This you will realise when you find out who it was.  I was waiting for an attendant to fetch me a wheelchair so I could bring my aunty in from her car for her flight.  The wheelchair must have been at the furthest end of the airport (or she saw a long lost friend on the way and stopped to chat) because it took aaaages for her to return.  But while I was standing there twiddling my thumbs, kicking my shoes against the counter, playing with my hair, adjusting my beanie, and looking at all the travellers at the check-in kiosks, I saw a familiar face walking toward me.  I held his gaze for a few seconds because I hadn't placed him yet, and I didn't want tobe rude to someone I obviously recognised.  Then I realised it was David Shearer - leader of the Opposition. And I quickly looked away - not because of my political views, but just because I realised that I didn't actually know  him, I just recognised his face from the News at Six.

I sort of watched him out of the corner of my eye.  It's always interesting to see how the rich and famous live.  He went up to the unattended counter next to me and helped himself to some of the red "Fragile' stickers that were sitting on the desk, plastering them all over his box of...well...I'm guessing fragile political objects.  I was thinking of making a joke along the lines of  'They got those red stickers just for you'...I was still working on the wording when I thought: You can't do a PM (Peta-Maria) joke on David Shearer! It's fortunate I didn't too - he may have interpreted it as saying that Labour is fragile, or that his postion as leader is fragile...and then he may have seen red! (Haha, I can use PM jokes on you though!)

He must have noticed that I was kind of staring at him.  I wasn't very subtle - most of my brainpower was directed at thinking about my joke.  Anyway, he also noticed that I'd been waiting for along time for this wheelchair, and so as he strode off to board his flight, he smiled at me and said "Good luck!".

Yeah.  Um.  That's my story.

Monday, June 11, 2012

ReflectionnoitcelfeR

See what I did there?  I made it up because this poem is a Reflection on my own reflections. And I thought I'd be clever and make a title where there is a reflection of "Reflection' to reflect the reflectivness of my own reflections.

My heart.

I saw that i was critical
that I pulled people apart
without love and
analysed their flaws
and worst of all, I was proud
of this.

I called it
"being honest" and
"not being naive anymore" and
"being a writer"

Then my conscience pricked me
and I thought I should
watch my mouth
to stop the criticism
rolling so smoothly
sharply
from my tongue.

But that would mean
living a lie
where ugliness is trapped
between my heart and my mouth, for
'out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks'
Produced in spades,
yet denied access to the world

so, I'm asking you, Jesus,
to change my heart

Then I noticed that I
got angry
when people misunderstood
and placed me in a tidy little box.
I got angry when I was used
and misused, and when
I felt helpless.

Far more angry than when I read
about abuse
and children being killed.
Far more than when I watched on the news
the story of a sex-slave.
Far more than when I was told
about thousands of babies
murdered in the womb.

I've got my priorites
'real mixed up'
it seems.

So, I'm asking you Jesus,
to change my heart.

I like to write
about feeling deeply
about thinking deeply
about longing for change
But it's much harder to
do something,
to say something,
to go a step further,
to share my inmost with
an unfriendly world.
People in poems are so much easier
to control.
sometimes I get scared that all my ambitions
will only go as far
as the page.

So, Jesus, while you're at it
How about changing as much as
you can?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The causes of Flirting-related anger.


It started with a friend on Facebook demanding of our blogging group;  “Give me something to read”.  And the thing to read was a post from the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC), titled SIRC guide to flirting.  Now I know what you’re thinking, so OK here’s the URL, you can go and browse to your hearts content. http://www.sirc.org/publik/flirt.html
What followed was a rather long thread of discussion on the values/relevance/hilarity/ridiculousness/accuracy of such a guide. The guide itself was, well, funny to start with.  But the further I read, and the more seriously the authors seemed to be taking themselves, the more angry I got.  Until finally I snapped at a fellow commenter and used the J word: Jeepers.  That’s pretty serious for me.

I remember being told that anger is always a sign that something isn’t right.  And so I had to think:  what exactly was it that triggered this anger in me? 
I didn’t have a problem with a bit of an analysis of the way people flirt – it can be pretty funny really to look at yourself and others and pull to pieces the funny little quirks that surface when we’re trying to gain and hold the attention of the opposite sex.
I didn’t even have a problem with a guide.  I’ve been to multiple ‘relationship sessions’ at camps and youth groups over the years where it has definitely been helpful to hear how boys think, and, you know, just to allay some of the common fears or misconceptions about flirting/dating/being friends….
I suppose that our personality types have a lot to do with how we read an article like this.  Someone commented “don’t people just make this kind of stuff up?’, while others were searching for more, in depth explanations.  And me?  I was getting angry.

I was angry because I really hate being labelled. and grouped.  and expected to fit into a certain mold.  And I don’t think I do that to my friends either.  I try to understand who my friend IS.  and to interpret the way they act based on what I know of them.  If I don’t understand, then, if they’re a friend that I’m serious about keeping, I’ll ask.
One friend might  say ‘I’m quitting my job”, and I know they’ve had a bad day so I just need to listen and let them vent.  Another friend might say the same thing and I know I need to probe a bit deeper and find out about exactly what went wrong, because they won’t spell it out, but they want me to know-  I just have to ask the right 30 questions to get there (Drives me crazy but I love ‘em).  Another friend says “I’m quitting my job” and they just want me to laugh and say “awesome, I think I’ll quit mine too.  Shall we run away to Greece together?”  because that’s all they need.
And I know this because I know my friends.  I know this because we have spent time together and because we’ve talked about many different things, seen each other on many types of days, and most of all, because I’ve made mistakes.  There are times when I’ve put my foot in it, reacted in the wrong way to the wrong person.  and I know that next time I need to react differently.  Sometimes I even have to apologise.

The thing with a guide, is that it’s just that.  A guide.  It’s not the oneandonlyvoiceofauthorityonallrelationshipsbetweenmembersoftheoppositesex.  When I was younger and made one of those lists about my ideal guy (MUCH younger, I'll have you know), one of the bulletpoints was : ‘He mustn’t make jokes about *sigh*…women!’  It was important even back then.  I’m my own person, and I’d like to be treated that way.
Two stories:  A couple of years ago, I went to a friend’s 21st at the Southern Cross bar.  I didn’t know too many others, so just sat quietly, and kind of timidly on one side of the room.  Eventually this guy with a crazy old-school pilots hat came and chatted to me.  I can’t really remember  how he opened his conversation, but we chatted for a bit and I asked him about his hat – I mean it was staring me right in the face as a conversational topic.  Later in the evening after a few more pints, he told me that he actually wore this hat as a conversation starter with girls.  I felt really cheap – because I had fallen for his ploy.  And I felt like I’d been manipulated, in a sense.  I felt like his conversation with me was planned – down to the costume – which, if I hadn’t already disregarded most of hwat he said due to his high level of intoxication, would have made me think I couldn’t trust him anyway. It made me want to not even be polite to him any more. (He was far beond the use of the word Jeepers)

A couple of days ago, I was chatting to a guy at the bus stop.  We talked about the weather.  And you know what.  NO MATTER WHO IT IS, I always respond with more than one word when they say ‘nice day isn’t it?’.  Because I feel rude if I just shut them down with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  From my perspective, I was just having a friendly conversation with a neighbour, killing time while waiting ten minutes for the bus and then 25 for the train.  I did give him my number, because he didn’t have many friends, and he told me about an event coming up that I might like to go along to.  (maybe that bit was just na├»ve, or plain stupid), but for the rest of it, I was just friendly – normal friendly, probably even a bit reserved because I had only just met him.  By lunchtime, he had already rung me to ask how my day was and to introduce me to…his MOTHER!!  (Who, by the way, is very pleased to meet me over the phone, and is looking forward to the day when we can meet face to face). ARGH!
So, after rambling in various directions for the last few paragraphs, let me come back to my point.
“I dislike thinking about relationships in such a regulated manner”.  Relationships can’t be modelled by a mathematical equation or a set of rules.  Relationships have to be governed by relationship!  They’re not going to be perfect, never.  But they’ll never even be good if you can’t be yourself.  I wrote my own guide to flirting right here.  I kind of think of this as the same as A Guide to Meeting Someone For the First Time Whom You May Want to Become Friends With As Time Goes On:

1. Be in the moment:  Don’t be worrying about where this will lead, or what you should say next.  Enjoy right now.  think about what you’re talking about right now.  Appreciate what the person is saying right now.  Friendships can’t be forced, they are built out of many ‘now’ moments.*

2. Enjoy yourself:  A friend has to be someone who you are relaxed with.  Of course, you won’t be 100% relaxed when you meet someone for the first time, but don’t try to hide away parts of your personality or try to fit yourself into a certain mold of behaving.  People respond to genuineness, not so much a standard model.  So make the jokes about what you think is funny, give your honest opinion, ask the questions you are interested in about them. 
3. Don’t beat yourself up:  Like I said, relationships are full of making mistakes (if it’s not one person, it’s the other). If someone isn’t enjoying your conversation as much as you are, it doesn’t mean you are hopeless in social situations and can’t hold a conversation for the life of you and you need remedial help.  It means – you should go and talk to someone else!  Seriously, we aren’t all going to click immediately with everyone, so cut yourself some slack.  If it’s someone who you’re already friends with, just address it directly. Or, go and talk to someone else! (and then come back later…) I HATE playing games and beating round the bush trying to guess whether someone is mad at me, or has had enough of me, or likes me.

I guess you can draw your own conclusions about how successful my guide has been J

*of course there is a time (in romantic relationships) where it makes sense to be forward-thinking.  To be in agreement as to where the relationship is actually headed.  But, I don’t think that the first few meetings, ‘flirting’ stage is the time.

There.  I think I have more to say, but that is all for now.  I might just spend the rest commenting on other people’s blogs that are about to emerge out of the woodwork.


Contentment

When I was 12, I used to think about what I would be like when I was 16: Tall, svelte,tanned, with long gorgeous hair, spending my summers at the beach surrounded by my posse of equally gorgeous compadres, and trailed by dozens of admiring buff surfy boys.  I’m not sure why I really thought this was how it would be, I didn’t even watch that much TV.

Actually, when I was 16, I was pretty short, a little bit podgy, pimply, widely liked but definitely not in the ‘popular crowd’...and possibly a bit geeky.  I used to think about what I would be like when I was 20.  Turning up to church on a cold winters morning, hair still gorgeous and long, but mostly straight and tame and pulled back softly to reveal soft pink cheeks and big brown eyes.  My brown coat would be buttoned up to my chin, and my fingers were interlaced with those of a faithful boy – loved by my family and who was probably just about to ask me to marry him, after we’d been going out for 2 years.
Actually, when I was 20, I  mainly wore trackpants and hoodies.  I turned up to church by myself – usually windswept and a little worse for wear after walking for 55 minutes to avoid a bus fare.  Calling my hair tame would have been a big fat lie.  I was a math student, I didn’t really like my degree, I had decided that I never wanted to marry and have children because I was scared that I would settle down and become complacent, and get tied up in the trivialities of every day life and forget about the big picture, and what I really wanted to do most of all was to change the world.

When I was 21, I used to think about what I would be like when Ieft uni.  How I would go to the gym, and have a coffee shop where I could order ‘the usual’.  How I would own a car, and go on roadtrips, and travel overseas.  How I would be an influential figure.  How Iwould change the shape of my workplace, my city, my nation, my world.  How everyone would love me, and applaud me and I would go down in history books as a mover and shaker.

Actually, when I left uni, I spent a year doing an internship with an international student Christian group.  I could barely afford a hot chocolate, definitely not a car.  I worked late nights and early mornings.  I said “yes” and I said “let me!”.  I felt like I gave and I spent without seeing many results.  I realised that I couldn’t change anyone.  Influence maybe, one or two.  But as for changing my city – that seemed like an impossible task, let alone changing the world.

When I was 23, I moved home.  Back to my parents, back to my old room, back to siblings and early nights and having my washing done for me.  Back to rent free accommodation and Mum’s cooking. You might not be surprised that this was where I learnt to feel content.  It does sound like a pretty good deal.

But  this wasn’t where I wanted to be – this wasn’t my plan for my life. I felt like it was back to square one.  the hopeless child who just can’t grow up and move away. I’d come home becasue I was exhausted, and teary, and overwhelmed by life, uncertain about the future and to be honest, pretty bleak about the present.  A couple of doctors visits, a few serious conversations and a lot of tears later, I was diagnosed with clinical depression.  It was a mouthful that was pretty hard to swallow.  It was a label I didn’t want to accept.

I felt like I’d failed somehow.  By letting myself get to this point. For about 6 months I couldn’t work – I was on a benefit.  I didn’t cook or clean or anything regularly, I was just blessed by my amazing family. I slept at 10 and didn’t wake up until 9.  I couldn’t handle social gatherings. To begin with I couldn't even read or paint.  I just lay on my bed and listened to the radio.  As my strength came back,   I wrote.  I read.  I watched movies. I sewed.  I walked.  I started going to the gym.  I saw a counsellor.  I prayed.  I visited my sisters.  I biked.  I sat in the sun.

The first 3 months were an incredible struggle.  I couldn’t just sit back and let my life pass me by.  I couldn’t be lazy, I couldn’t depend on others.  I had to do something.  I had to just get enough willpower together, and just pull myself together and be the person I wanted to be.  And so I fought against it.  fought against myself.

During this time, I was constantly going to God, hoping for something that would set me free to speed up my life again. And yet, all I sensed from my Father in heaven, was an overwhelming “it’s OK”.

wait, my darling
no, don’tstand up. I love to see you
unwound, letting go, forgetting the to-do list
I want to speak into your heart, breathe into
your heart.
It’s a delicate process – you have to be still
or you won’t hear the words I speak
so freely


It wasn't that he wanted me to be like this.  It was just that I had to get to a point where I relinquished my own control of the entire situation.  I think it took about 3 months before I started learning to let go.  To wait.  To enjoy right now, and to not worry about what was ahead. 

I learned that I’m not many of the things that I always dreamed I would be, when I was 12.,but that I am many things that I never imagined.  And I heard God saying “it’s OK”.  In fact, that it’s more than OK-  because this is how He has made me, and he delights in THIS.

I learnt that sometimes, I can’t do anything.  That there are things much bigger than me, and that I’m not the Messiah.  And I hear god saying “It’s OK”, because He IS the Messiah, he’s the one who is changing the world, He’s the one who will use me as part of HIS plan (and not the other way around).

I learnt that I need other people.  That I need to share my weakness as well as my strength, and I hear God saying “It’s OK”.  It’s OK to be vulnerable, and  to rely on others sometimes.  It’s OK.

I learnt that I don’t have a lot of the answers.  There were things I thought I knew.  Especially about God and life, and now I don’t have the words to articulate them because I’ve realised that they’re bigger and gray-er and more complex.  And I hear God’s voice saying “it’sOK”, because He does have perfect answers, and one day I will understand, but in the meantime I can trust Him and know that he is good and loving, even though I don’t have the answers myself.

I learnt that  I can trust God even in uncertainty.  So as I look ahead to my future, although I have dreams and hopes, I don’t really know exactly what it will look like, I hear God saying “it’s OK”



I don’t dream of what I will be like in 10 years and think that I’ll be prettier and popular-er and more having-it-all-together, like I did when I was 12.  Because I think I’ve finally come to peace with where I am now.  

 Contentment isn’t complacency.  It’s not lack of dreaming, or hoping, or desiring more.  It’s not giving up and resting on your laurels saying, this is good enough.  It is seeing those things.  Seeing pain and distress.  Seeing potential and opportunity.  Seeing the people around you, the people beyond you.  Seeing yourself.  And hearing God say “it’s OK”.  It’s being ready so that when He tells you the next step, and shows you the door to push, you can do it.  You can feel the fear, the uncertainty and you can know “It’s OK”.  It’s realising that God is God, and there is no other.  That there is a time and season for everything under heaven, and that God will make everything beautiful in his time.  It’s OK.  He’s got this