This ___________ life is….

This Work Life…
Work continues to be great. The people are fun, I love chatting with parents and teachers who come to the reception desk, and the kids are generally lovely. There are a couple of kids who are so super-cute and articulate and funny that I have thought about kidnapping them. Last week one of them arrived at school late after an appointment. I saw him coming with his mum (he’s in Grade 4) so I started writing out the late pass as they walked in the door. His mum said, “Wow, you know his name? You don’t know ALL the students, do you?” I assured her I don’t; her son comes to the office every afternoon to pick up the notices for his class. What I didn’t say was, “Plus, I think he’s totally adorable and am considering kidnapping him…” I’m thinking that probably would have crossed a line.

I have just arranged to change my contract to include school holidays. It means my annual salary drops by about $50pw after tax. (Our salaries are averaged out over the year so that even though there are six weeks of unpaid leave, we’re still paid the same amount fortnightly – which means it doesn’t feel like unpaid leave at all.) This drop is totally doable, and definitely worth it for 10 weeks of holidays every year. I’m very excited, and very conscious of how fortunate I am.

This Reading Life…
Book group continues to meet monthly and it’s lots of fun. Sometimes, like last month, there is more discussion about other books than the one we’re reading, but that’s okay. We’re a pretty laid back group. We recently read Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Brandon. It’s kind of a sensationalist psychological thriller – but Victorian, so they’re all terribly polite to one another. Possibly I’m thick, but I didn’t solve the main mystery until well into the book, and even then there were twists and turns I didn’t expect. It was a lot of fun, and the discussion about it was lively, to say the least. We followed that with The Gift by Cecelia Ahern. It’s a combination of chick lit and fantasy – a light read, but enjoyable.

Apart from book group I’ve also just finished re-reading one of my favourite series of books, the Mapp and Lucia series by E.F. Benson. They were written between 1920 and 1939 and are set in two fictional little English villages. They’re satire, and so funny and delightful. I love them… and in looking for them on Kindle I discovered that Tom Holt, in 1985 & 1986, wrote two more books in the series. They are amazing. If you’d handed them to me without the cover I would never have guessed they were written by a different author. Finding them was a truly wonderful discovery. Hippomanic Jen, you would love them.

Right now I’m reading Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett. I have tried to get into Pratchett several times, but I kept starting with the first book in the Discworld series… and hating it. This bothered me, since several people I respect are huge fans of Terry Pratchett and I wanted to see what they saw. They kept telling me I’d love the books, and I didn’t. Finally, a smart friend said, “No, don’t start with the first book. Start with Mort. You’ll enjoy it.” She was right. What’s not to love about a book starring Death’s apprentice? I followed that with The Wee Free Men and then Thief of Time (featuring Ronnie, the fifth Horseman of the Apocolypse, who left before they became famous). I’ve definitely enjoyed the books I’ve read so far. Plus, I’m reading them out of order. That’s personal growth right there, people.

This Wintery Life…
For most of last week, it was BELOW ZERO when I started work at 8.00am. Eventually it reached 13°, but by the time I left work it was back down to 9°. Yeah. Imagine my joy. How many sleeps until Spring?

This Crafty Life…
I recently taught a 9 year old friend to knit. Well, really I re-taught her – she’d learned before but had forgotten. She’s enjoying it, and seeing her enjoyment makes me think I should drag my knitting out again and finish one of my many UFOs. Usually the feeling passes and I have a nap instead.

This Eating Life…
My relationship with food, and my body, continues to be up and down, and occasionally fraught with anxiety. Right now it’s pretty good. I’ve decided to enjoy that. Also, does it make me a total bogan if my favourite dessert is raspberry jelly with vanilla ice cream? It’s soooo unclassy, but I love it. Closely followed by vanilla ice cream with Milo, which is even more classy. Hey, at least I use a clean, dry spoon for the Milo. I have standards.

This Faithful Life…
Despite my own doubts, despite His people who act in ways that sadden Him, despite my laziness and distraction, despite sin, despite opposition, despite failure, despite everything… God is good. God is loving. God is compassionate. God is in control. I need constant reminding of all these truths, but happily, God is also patient.

 

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Decisions

One of my friends has recently become unemployed. As she’s never been unemployed before we’ve been joking that she hasn’t yet learned how to live the (stereotypical) life of the Unemployed Bogan.

Me: You should probably get a tattoo.

Friend: Yes. On my ankle, obviously.

Me: Yeah, of course. I’m thinking perhaps a dolphin?

Friend: No, a unicorn.

Me: Mmm… maybe. I’m not sure it screams ‘bogan’ the way a dolphin would.

Friend: *looks thoughtful* … I know! I’ll combine the two and get a narwhal.

And this is why I love my friends.

(Image from here.)

(Image from here.)

Mirror Mirror

Once upon a time, I had another blog. I wrote there for several years and then, for various reasons, I closed it down entirely and moved over here. Which is fine, but it means that many of my favourite posts are no longer public.

I’m trying to get back into the habit of writing. I used to write every day. These days I can barely be bothered writing a shopping list. I need some inspiration, so I’ve decided to recycle a few old posts. To those readers who followed my previous blog, I apologise in advance, and thank you for your patience. 🙂

This is a little story I wrote when I was thinking about my eating disorder and the way my relationship with mirrors changed over time.

Mirror Mirror

The first mirror was ordinary. The Girl was tiny, so tiny that she didn’t even know mirrors could have magic. She sang happily as she gazed at the mirror-Girl and combed baby-soft blonde hair. She wasn’t afraid of mirrors then. A long time later the Mother told the story of the Girl and the mirror. She laughed at the memory of it and the Girl laughed too, not even feeling the scar as a little piece of the mirror scratched her heart.

The second mirror was definitely magic. The Girl would sit in front of it, holding the Dog and looking at the reflection of her dolls and toys. She didn’t see herself at all, because it wasn’t that kind of mirror. Its magic transported all of them to places of adventure and wonder and danger. Isn’t that what magic mirrors are for? When the mirror broke, shattered by a whisper, a laugh, a glance, the Girl quietly swept up the pieces and packed them away. She kept the mirror, what was left of it, but she never looked at it again.

The Girl didn’t see herself in the third mirror either. The magic of this mirror was that it only showed parts – her hand, her eye, her hair. Never the whole Girl. She sat and stared into the mirror, trying to make sense of the disjointed parts, then looked at the pictures she’d taped around it. Those girls were whole. Complete. Real. Their mirrors must have held a different magic.

The fourth mirror glowed so bright with its magic that the Girl was afraid of what it would show. She stood naked in front of it, stripped bare in body and soul, and cried because she didn’t recognise the mirror-Girl at all. She saw flesh and pain and sorrow and weakness and failure. She stood there for a long time, waiting for the real Girl to appear.

The Girl never saw what the last mirror showed, because she covered it up and pretended it wasn’t there. Unfortunately, the magic of this mirror was not in what it showed but what it said. Every time the Girl came near it she heard the whispers. Fat. Ugly. Greedy. Disgusting. Wrong.

Not all magic is good magic.

Family

I don’t have family here in Melbourne. All my family are interstate – or I suppose I’m the one who’s interstate, since I moved here and they stayed put – and we all have busy lives so we don’t keep in contact all that much. A phone call every month or so is about it.

For the most part I’ve been fine with this. I’m an introvert and tend to get stressed if I have to be around people too much. I have had a habit of pulling out of parties and dinner invitations at the last minute, largely because crowds make me anxious and I never know what to say or do at parties so I end up standing in a corner sipping a plastic cup of lukewarm Fanta and trying to look comfortable. There was a time when I used to invite people around to my house for dinner but the eating disorder put an end to that, at least for the moment.

So it’s safe to say I’ve been a bit of a loner. Sometimes that’s been lonely, but mostly I’ve been okay with having a safe little routine of coming home, making dinner, watching a DVD, playing around on Facebook for a while, and reading blogs or chatting online with friends. It was working for me. It was boring, but familiar.

Then, about a year ago, I was chatting (online) with a friend and she told me about something that had happened in her life. Something bad. Something that meant she needed friendship and support. We’d been friends anyway, but after this we started hanging out a bit more in person. That was a pretty radical step for me – to interact with someone in the real world, without my computer keyboard.

Things are a lot better for my friend now, but as a result of her crisis – and a few of mine – our friendship has changed. The greatest part of the change, at least for me, is that she and her children have welcomed me into their family. I go around there a few times a week and just hang out. We eat dinner, we watch Horrible Histories, we play card games, we talk.

And I’ve realised… I love that. I thought I was happy with my loner lifestyle – and I was – but this is better. This is family. Or at least a glimpse of family. Being able to spend time with a family, and to feel like I belong even though I don’t live there and we’re not actually related… it’s just amazing. It helps to fill a hole in my life that I barely knew was there. So let me encourage you – if you are part of a family, try inviting around one of your loner friends. Not for a dinner party; just for dinner. Or lunch. Or a trip to the park or the zoo. Invite them on leftover night or macaroni night or make-your-own-pizza night. Invite them to your kid’s birthday party even though they don’t have kids of their own, because that’s an invitation they probably never get. Invite them to simply come and be part of the family for a night. It might not mean much to you, but chances are it will mean a lot to them. Probably more than you realise.

Well, I’d write more but I have to go. I’m off to eat corned beef, play card games and share in some family time…