Five things: to give

My Dad is a present person.
He loves to identify things that will delight and use them to recognise moments.
Finished a big assignment, started a new job, anniversary, just because.

Here are five things you could give someone… or give me.

  1. Vegetable bouquet
    Yes really. So pretty and then you eat it.
    Nourish Posy Co delivers around Brisbane.
  2. Meaningful card
    Your written words matter. Say something encouraging, say something true.
    Emily McDowell makes beautiful and unusual ones.
  3. Keepcup
    Useful and good for the environment – plus most coffee shops give a discount for keepcups.
    Frank Green‘s you could throw in your handbag and still drink hot coffee 30mins later.
  4. Experience
    Enjoyable time, makes a good memory, doesn’t take up any space on the shelf.
    Theatre/Film or Music for me please. Perhaps sports or activity for others…
  5. Voucher
    Sometimes the recipient knows what they need, and this feels slightly better than giving cash.
    Netherworld do gift cards. But supermarket/Bunnings are helpful for most people.

I forgive you

We were going through a stage of trite apologies in many of our interactions.
So for a month, Stephen and I tried to respond to every ‘I’m sorry’ with ‘I forgive you’.

It did a few helpful things for our relationship.

1. Our apologies weighed more.
Sincerity and need mattered. Did we mean it? Did it require apology?

2. Our forgiveness was more valued.
Our justified hurt/anger/frustration required effort to forgive, rather than just accept an apology. Our forgiveness moved to precede our apologies.

3. Our relationship was more developed.
Forgiveness points to restoration of relationship. It affirmed we were a couple who loved and forgave one another. We affirmed we would continue to do the hard work of apologising and forgiving.

Now years later – it’s still bearing fruit in our relationship.

The occasional eye roll for apologies offered at the drop of the hat.
The meaningful act of forgiveness.
The recognition of many, many little steps in loving each other.

A note on illicit drugs

So last month I wrote a few posts on alcohol. What about drugs?

DON’T take them.
Did that answer really surprise you?

Because drugs are super scary.
They have stronger and faster effects than alcohol.

People die every day because their body reacted badly
– either the drug made their body stop working properly OR
– under the influence of drugs they made life threatening choices OR
– after one taste their body changed to want that drug incessantly.

Under the illicit drugs category I include marijuana, heroin, ice etc AND unprescribed medication.

“The number of Australians currently overdosing on addictive medication is overtaking the road toll, the majority of these are accidental.” Alcohol & Drug Foundation

Prescribed medications are not illicit drugs (if they are prescribed for the person taking them and taken as prescribed). I am privileged to live in Brisbane where we have access to doctors, pharmacies and medicine.
There is interesting research happening with medical marijuana, but I’m not convinced yet.

Drugs and addiction are not things I know much about. I’ve had hallucinations, sleep paralysis, times of uncontrollable highs and stretches of deep lows as part of my messy mental health. I want to avoid inducing those symptoms or delusions even as I pursue escapism.

Casual user
IF you are trying drugs:
Think about it in advance.
Be with people you trust.
Do not mix them with alcohol.
Have someone who can call 000.

Obviously people are unlikely to follow this but I still feel it is important to say.

My series on Alcohol is also up on the blog.
How to host a cocktail party
Visible Excess
Invisible Excess

Triple Treat: Old School Music

High School
I turned up eagerly in shiny navy and bright jade.

I was looking forward to learning.
I was looking forward to friendships.
I was looking forward to distance from bullies.
I was looking forward to an environment away from my parents.
My first week of high school destroys all those aspirations – but grade 11 was a good year.

It was a good year because
– suddenly classes were smaller and focused
– relationships at school and elsewhere were established
– my faith had deepened and sharpened
– my playlist widened

This month I’ve been returning to the albums on repeat that year.

1. Moondance, Van Morrison

2. Slightly Odway, Jebediah (I’d forgotten all the swearing)

3. Take Five, Dave Brubeck

Distraction – thy name is organisation

I have a task to do. It’s not that big. It’s not that hard. But I don’t want to do it.
I need to find a piece of paper. A financial piece of paper. It is somewhere in our filing cabinet.
But the filing cabinet is more of a contained pile of paper than files.
Or it could be on one of many USBs thrown into my desk drawer.

Instead – I’ve organised everything else.

Our pantry, kitchen cupboards, wardrobes, desk, craft shelves, furniture.
My sister’s pantry.
My parents’ pantry and spice rack.
Our books and games.

Shopping lists.
Meal plans.
Birthday presents.
Study plans.
Holiday plans.
Blog plans.

All culled, sorted, cleaned and labelled.
Soon the only thing left to do… will be to open the filing pile.

Moments of hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing another.

I write a blog about loving people deeply (and letting others love you).
But I do not follow my own suggestions.

The unsent birthday card.
The unreturned text.
The abandoned draft email.
The silence of the phone.
The mask of fine.

It’s because I’m tired, I’m lazy, I’m undisciplined, I’m sick. Sorry friends.

I’ll keep trying, and you keep trying. Slowly we will love people more.

“Your family is great”.

“Your family is great”.

Yes, they are. With such a large sample size (35) you would expect a bad apple – but we don’t have one. Wait, unless it’s me.

Anyway, usually when people say your family is great, they are referring to tightness of relationship I have with my siblings. We are close and they are awesome. Hella & Lucas.

Note: Some of you have families that are horrible: abuse, neglect, bullying, stealing. Some of you have families that are awful: strong differences, disinterest, dismissive of one another. Some of your families have had or are having seasons of broken relationships. Some of you have families that are distant. Some of you have lost loved ones. I’m so sorry for your situation.
I know I’m naive about the wonder and delight of my good family situations. 

Our current living situation has my siblings and I living next door to each other. There’s a lot of intentional and unintentional contact: I wander over to receive fresh coffee grounds from Lucas, I pop downstairs to use Hella’s washing machine. But so far it’s been manageable.

Here are four solid reasons for our relationship.

1. Likeable
We are mostly likeable and share many common interests (there is some nurture in this, we were all exposed to mostly the same things – not a surprise we all love books; deconstruction; language; improving life, quotes, meaningful television).

Continue reading

Philosophy of Confidentiality

As we love people, they share and disclose themselves and their lives. How should we act in light of our received knowledge? There are three levels of consideration.

First do not share these details.

Be aware of the trust you have been given. Be reliably discrete; make it clear you will keep confidences.

Listening to someone talk is about helping them become a new person. Part of that is leaving stuff behind, or only bringing it up when it is supportive and builds maturity.

I’m part of many spheres of influence, in contact with many different people in different stages. In an average week I will have communicated in a meaningful way with twenty people. So I’ll often refer to someone broadly – by mentioning I’ve had a recent conversation on a particular topic, without identifying the person the conversation was with. It is also why I’ve chosen to use fake names here. With Felicity and Jonathan, with Agnes and Bernard we consider the broad implications of situations and how to love, rather than stick with personal details.
Continue reading

Lotus Leggings – you thwart my self control

Lotus Leggings Sale!
It’s USA summer: there are lots of reductions and sales.
My feeds are full of them.

I want to be that person.
Who rocks geeky fashion.
Who confidently pairs eye catching leggings with her blue boots.
Who looks like she’s above active wear at the gym.

But really I’m not that kind of person. I know if purchased, they would sit unworn in my cupboard.
I’m not that confident. I’m never that cold. I don’t need more clothing.
I know it.

But I still want them. They pop up in my Insta feed, on my Google searches, in conversation…
They are so pretty, so distracting. I fill my shopping cart with my favourites.
Slowly but surely I feel my control wavering. Maybe I could buy them as a present… maybe I could share an order with someone… maybe someone could buy them as a present for me…

Remember you don’t need these. Remember you don’t want these. Remember you won’t use these.
Rather I’m chasing a moment of fantasy, of distraction, of fleeting pleasure.
Close the website. Do something better.
Watching cat videos would bring infinitely more enjoyment at a lower cost and with time limit.


Snapshot: Retiree

 Last week I had tea with one of the guys from church and his wife. It was an entertaining and encouraging conversation. I also interviewed him for this month’s Snapshot.

So meet Bernard.

Best use of $100?
A couple of nice shirts – mine are getting worn out.
But if you asked back when I started work, I was saving to buy a reel to reel recorder which was £100 pounds

Current vocation?
Retiree (previously Property valuer and organ technician)

Average week’s activities?
I’m out every day to a variety of things: church, appointments, concerts, funerals.

How many people do you interact with each week? In person/phone/online
I have incidental but meaningful chatting with 10 or shopkeepers across the road or at the local mall. Living in the same area since 1969 means we have lots of relationships, it’s like a village. I also talk with people at church.

This week I bumped into an acquaintance recovering from an operation and had a longer conversation.
Plus the phone rings regularly, perhaps 7 of those calls are longer conversations with close contacts.
I’m also fairly savvy on the Facebook.

What is one way you support someone each week?
I love and care for my wife, who has medium level needs.
I bring in the bins for our neighbours.

What action did you take this month to support someone you contact irregularly?
I have spasmodic contact with adult grandchildren, especially the few living locally.
I always seek to write a meaningful note to the bereaved – more than a card.

What did someone do this week to love you?
My wife – as much as she can.
Others show appreciation and encourage me when I receive written thanks for playing funerals (& weddings but they are less common now).

How do you practically care for yourself?
Music is a big part of to recharge my batteries. I listen to recorded music. Now I have an organ in the house sometimes I try to play something different or difficult. The hard work relaxes me, even after a long day.