Life Event: Single in your 30s ish cont’d

A couple of weeks ago we heard from two people who are single in the 30s.

Here’s another interview.

Agnes B
What is a book or tv show you enjoyed in primary school? Why did you like it?
A hard question, too many to choose from! But one that links the two – when I was in grade 7 I was flicking the channels one Sunday evening and stumbled across a show about a feisty & witty woman with 4 sisters living in the beautiful English countryside. Yes, you’ve probably guessed it, it was the (now) classic BBC 1995 Pride & Prejudice TV adaptation. I was sucked in from that moment, and when I found out it was based on a book I knew I had to read it…and so began my love affair with Jane Austen & classic English literature.

I think with the TV show I was attracted by the whole package – the costumes, the scenery, the country houses (who doesn’t fall in love with Pemberley?) but especially the storyline, the characters & the dialogue. It picked up well what I then discovered in the book – Jane Austen is a master in the study of people in all their follies & foibles. And I must admit, I am a bit of a romantic!

Give us a quick overview of the details in your life event?
I’ve been single since the day of birth to my current 33rd year. I’ve never been married, been engaged or had a boyfriend. You could say I’m an expert in singleness, lol.

What’s it like?
I think most of the time it’s pretty good – I’m busy with work that I enjoy, I’ve got friends and family to love and be loved by, my time is mostly my own to choose how I will spend it. Sometimes though it’s hard – I have always desired to get married and have children, and there are times when I’m really sad that that hasn’t happened. Weddings, the birth of babies, Mothers Day – I rejoice in these with friends and family, they are wonderful, but they’re always tinged with a little sadness. But probably the hardest thing with being single is the underlying sense that I’m just that: single. Alone. When I go to church, I go alone.  At gatherings of family or friends sometimes I’m the only single, so all those couples can reinforce that I’m alone. When I have to make decisions, in the end they’re up to me.

What was a helpful thing someone did at that time?
Friends who have invited me over to their normal family dinner & evening hangout in front of the TV.  Friends who invited me to their daughter’s end of year dance concert. The guys I work with coming over one day to clean my gutters and do a few other house maintenance things.

What was an unhelpful thing someone did at that time?
Friends who began dating, or got engaged or married, who suddenly no longer talk to you or include you in their social events. Being asked, “So why aren’t you married?” Church language where family nearly always = nuclear family rather than the body of Christ. Women’s events that are nearly always about being a wife or mother.

What would you want the people around you to know?
Firstly, singleness isn’t something to be rescued from. It’s not a disease to be cured of. Jesus was single and the most fully & truly human ever. Marriage doesn’t make you an adult. Secondly, as with anyone in a different life situation to your own, it’s just about being mindful of the single people around you. Notice them and include them. Older singles can especially fall through the cracks in churches, when most people at that age are in the life situation of marriage and children.

What ways could we love you in your present season?
Say hi to me at church and invite me to sit with you. Ask me if there are things I need help with. Invite me over. Tell me when are good times I can invite you over. Include me in normal family activities.  Don’t let me wallow in self-pity! Remind me that God is always sovereignly good and I am never truly alone.

Triple Treat: Podcasts

College has started. I’m tired.
But so far I’m keeping up with readings, lectures and assessment.

Increased public transport time has included more podcasts.

  1. The Popcast with Jamie and Knox
    Highly entertaining conversations about pop culture.
    I’ve only listened to a few so far but those ones have been frivolous and enjoyable.
  2. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
    National biography entries read aloud.
    I find people’s lives are so interesting.
    Recent highlights: A A Milne, Ada Lovelace and Audrey Hepburn
  3. 5 Minutes in Church History
    Quick insights into various moments in the history of the church.
    I enjoy the material, but the theme music is very annoying.

BONUS
A book I enjoy, combining biography, church history and great illustrations.

The Church History ABCs: Augustine and 25 other heroes of the faith

Review: There is no good card for this

There is no good card for this: what to say and do when life is scary, awful and unfair to the people you love
Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell
2017

Books and articles on caring abound. This is the best I have ever read.

It feels like sharing a cup of tea with Kelsey and Emily, hearing their wisdom whilst looking at Emily’s Empathy cards.
Except it’s written, illustrated and professionally referenced.

They start from the expectation our first response is “uhh…wow. Let me know if there’s anything I can do?”
That we want to help but are not sure of the next step. Because we fear messing it up or it being a burden.

Both authors have extensive experience in messy life happening to them and their friends. Kelsey has an academic and clinical social work background and Emily launched her Empathy Cards after the isolation of her cancer experience.

Like all good persuasive writing it has three parts.

1. Laying some groundwork
what are you like
background unpacking of your motivations
learning postures of empathy

2. The three touchstones of showing up
your want to help equips you to help
the importance of listening
small things have big impact

3. Just help me not be a disaster
practical and clear case studies
the do’s and don’ts

What I loved:
– Kelsey and Emily’s work in unpacking the concept of compassion.
Compassion is to notice, feel and respond.
They discuss how to grow in compassion and how to act in compassion.

step by step conversation and action points (especially for when I’m feeling socially awkward)

no guilt. About the bad job you may have done in the past

no superhumans need apply. Their suggestions are actionable by everyone and do not require vast commitments of energy.

There is no good card for this:
gives clarity on motivation
develops empathy and compassion
and provides concrete actions.

Every person who cares about another person should read this book – that’s everyone!

Please borrow my copy, or buy your own.

Triple Treat: Theatre

I love going to the theatre and concerts!

Recent attendance:
1. Blue, Queenie van der Zandt Powerhouse – June
Queenie as Joni Mitchell tore our hearts apart and up,  then put them back together in joy and wonder at the art and beauty of her music.

2. King & I, Rodgers & Hammerstein Savoyards – June
Obviously our niece and nephew stole the show as some of the King’s children. Though the last scenes of the musical caused me lots of frustration – I struggled with the representation of both cultures.

3. Ruddigore,  Gilbert & Sullivan QOpera – July
We found $25 tickets for the balcony. So much fun.
We both grew up listening to Gilbert & Sullivan with our families.

Past favourites:
1. The Magic Flute,  Mozart QPAC 2000
School trip: I slipped in with the Music and Drama students.
My first ‘big’ show.

2. Much Ado About Nothing, ShakespeareGlobe Theatre 2011
Stephen and I were in London… so good.

3. Women in Voice, QPAC/Judith Wright multiple years
Dad likes to use our birthdays to encourage us with strong women.
Mum receives biographies, I receive tickets to WiV!

If you can’t afford tickets…
– ask for them as gifts
– enter competitions  (most venues mailing list or lifestyle sites e.g. The Judith Wright Centre, The Weekend Edition)
– check out free events
– look for discounts
– watch some university performances (QUT/Griffith/UQ all give free or low cost performances)

Why be another online voice?

Not every day, but every few days I wonder why I blog.
Most of what I say other people know, most of what I say is said elsewhere (probably more coherently).

But then I hear of situations like this:

Felicity was speaking with a small group of women, women she’d been chatting with for a few months.

In conversation she said
” I was just so depressed, it’s got to get better than this.”
Cue pause.
Cue long pause.
Then they changed the subject.
Poor Felicity!

Here are three things you could have said:
1. Yes, it’s hard to see out of the deep.
2.Do you want to talk about it?
3. What support do you have?

Three reasons you might be silent.
1. You have no experience and no idea what to say.
2. You worry about being lumped with a large emotional burden.
3. You are also in the deep and have no capacity.

Three reasons to speak to Felicity.
1. The moment of being heard is incredibly valuable to Felicity.
2. You could spark the next steps for her to receive encouragement and support (you don’t need to be this encouragement and support).
3. You will/have felt this way, being able to mention the struggle in conversation is beneficial for the whole group.

So I’ll keep writing.
Because we are all still learning how to love people deeply.
What to do or say.
Where to put the boundaries.
When to care for ourselves.

A pair of sunglasses for mental health

 

Keeping your sunglasses on during conversation.

Asking to move the conversation into the shade.

Changing position to keep you out of direct sun.

 

Each of these actions may be considered rude in other contexts but they are all accepted tweaks for the comfort of others.
We know that Brisbane summer is bright and hot, so we are generous with one another.
We know that Brisbane winter is bright and hot, so we are generous with one another.
We let people move around at a table, we tolerate squinting and sweating, we give them water and shade when they ask for it.

But when it comes to mental health, we are uncomfortable or forgetful. We are not gracious with one another. We often don’t ask for help, and this is partly because our requests are often treated as surprising or unreasonable.
Try thinking about mental illness like sunlight: it comes and goes, sometimes it’s worse than others, and it’s not under our control. It can be scorching. If someone with mental illness manages to ask for help: please be supportive and make it a safe place. Recovery is hard and we need your support.

Here are some examples from Felicity and Jonathan:

I find it hard to judge how formal my clothing needs to be at parties.
You can detail the dress code in advance.

I find that vase of dice unsettling because it is not ordered.
You can let them order it.

I find salad and stir fry hard because I feel compelled to eat vegetables in order.
You can prepare the food so that vegetables are clumped.

It’s uncomfortable and scary to ask for help. Instead, we can think about people in advance so they don’t even need to ask for help. And when someone does express a need or preference, please be gracious.

Balancing forces of instability

It’s been three months. It must be time for another health update.

I’ve been longing to achieve a place of stability, where everything is calm and settled. But these last months I’m slowly coming to terms with the reality that my life is really about balancing forces of instability.

The last two years of medication, therapy, changes to environment, wise choices, and support from family and friends, have stopped the extremes of my condition – there is less see-sawing.
I’ve levelled out a great deal, but I’m still constantly seeking balance. It’s about noticing the things that may cause me to wobble, noticing when the wobble has started and acting to restore my emotional balance.

Study
I’ve enrolled to study one subject – John’s gospel. I’m quite nervous having not had any academic thoughts for over 12 months. In preparation, I am trying to read some related topics. The aim has been to read 40 mins a day. I don’t always make it and I’m exhausted afterward. Next week I start classes – three hours in a row (with a 20 minute morning tea break).

People
I continue to be overwhelmed easily. But I am also feeling a little isolated.
I know friends have been gracious in stepping back and giving me space to recover, but now the gap has been long.
I wonder if we are still friends.
I wonder how they will respond if I reach out.
I wonder if I have the energy to take initiative to contact them.
I wonder if I have the energy to lead conversations the way I have in the past.

Indulgent
It’s been 12 months of no work, no study. Just recovery, re-learning, relaxing.
Am I just being indulgent?
I’m financially supported by others, I’m free of responsibility.
Should I just ‘get over it’?

Keeping my balance is hard work!

Please support me:
contact me – text messages are my jam guys
allow for my exhaustion in social contexts (my brain is working hard)
remind me that my value is not dependent on my capacity

Triple Treat: board games on high rotation

Yes, we are board game geeks.

Late high school and early uni, Stephen had two group of friends regularly gathering to play Risk. Which is essentially a dice rolling game that goes forever… and forever… and is mostly luck.

Once we started dating I tried to curb the late nights of dice rolling. But this established group of friends wanted to keep playing games – their preference of social interaction over dinner or movies or conversation or walks.

Thus began my investigation into other board games. Mostly fuelled early on by Board Game Geek.
Over the past decade our collection has grown from early beginnings of Carcassonne and Risk 2210 A.D. (the best version, it includes strategy) to become a hobby  Stephen and I enjoy together, and share with friends and family.

These three games are on high rotation at our place. They are easy to teach and learn, provide fun for both the newcomer and experienced gamer.

  1. Concept
    The aim is to use provided icons to produce clues for other players to guess what you are describing. Think Pictionary with added fun and drawing ability eliminated. We always play this collaboratively – though there is a team scoring mechanic.
    It’s great with kids and adults; it’s great with new gamers; it’s great for people who prefer to watch.
  2. Carcassonne
    Tile laying game seeking to complete city features to gain points and win the game. The rules are quick to explain and understand. The game is enjoyable for most people. Different temperaments can play together – the deep strategist, the nimble tactician, the companionable disinterested.
  3. Qwirkle
    Mild spatial awareness game, placing tiles in lines of matching colour or shape of symbols. Quick to learn and easy to play, it allows for both deep and light concentration.

I like games because

  • FUN
  • mind stretching
  • low key social interaction
  • personalities’ expressed

Apart from my own house, Netherworld is my current favourite gaming location.

Board games can be expensive it’s great to check a game before you buy it. There a bunch of local games stores in Brisbane now, but I still use Australian Board Game Shopper to look for sales.

Recent food wins

Since our many Charlie’s orders I have continued to seek thoughtful and healthy food plans.
Here are some of my recent wins.

  1. Roasted Cauliflower
    Two Sunday nights I roasted cauliflower. Those weeks it became my default snack.
    It is fairly healthy and difficult to binge.
    It relieves a moment of boredom, but does not provide any emotional comfort.
  2. Push the bowl away
    I’ve been doing a better jobs of recognising moments of hunger and times of fullness.A) When I feel hungry I try to: wait 20mins, drink a glass of water or sip tea. Mostly giving my brain some time to figure out if I really am hungry or if hunger is merely in front of a different feeling.B) When I feel full, I stop eating. Revolutionary. Rather than keep eating the delicious thing or finishing all the food on my plate, I’ve been trying to listen to my body and stop.
  3. Meal planning
    The side of our fridge now has a plan for a week’s dinner meals (and occasionally details if we are hosting lunch). I know, I know. Many of my friends have been doing this for years. But now I’m on the band wagon.Stephen and I are eating a wider range of food and usually we have planned meal prep time into our day/week.
    It has also made inviting people over better because we vaguely know all the food easily ready to eat.
  4. Tofu
    “Teach me Tofu” I asked.
    Kamina answered with a two hour session where she taught me about tofu – we shopped and talked and cooked. And deliciousness was achieved. Seriously guys: quiche, chocolate mousse, pad thai!
    Kamina of ninakardia and wewriteyou internet presence has launched a new venture lifelongvegan.Stephen and I are pleased to be learning from her and enjoying food and meal prep more and more. Oh and improving our diet and nutrition.

Five Things: to love about Black Sheep

I’m a frequent customer at Black Sheep Coffee Woolloongabba.
Our creative writers’ group meets there weekly and I often venture there alone.

Here’s five things I love there.

  1. Walking distance from my house
  2. Great coffee (and beans to take home)
  3. Lovely staff
  4. Communal table & free wifi
  5. Best cafe toilet in Brisbane – as pronounced by Brisbane freelancers wewriteyou

    BONUS
    Treats by Alphabet Cafe