Much to learn

When I look up, I can see the dust storm is slightly easing.

The weeks have smudged into a month and my old things are slowly being unpacked around me, having arrived in good time.

I still feel like I am sleep-walking, and am completely detached from reality, but no longer feel quite so blue all the time.

We have replaced the dead computer and I am getting my head around a newer, more unfriendly model which doesn't make much sense, but if I keep plugging away, perhaps I will be able to get back to blogging.

My own voice is loud in my head, mostly internal conversations with God about the meaning of things and the endless mirror of shifting perspectives, responsibilities and expectations. The effect of this transition mentally and emotionally is staggering - I am pleased that it was a surprise or more unwilling would my feet have been to step out.

Where are we going? I ask frequently, to the Big Sounding Board that now feels completely void in the face of my discomfort. It has been a shock to feel the impact of the dislocation, perhaps because it is hitting an old injury. But I am facing a reluctant truth that faith doesn't exclude me from feeling cold, and out in the dark. I am appalled at my desperate need to find comfort in order to feel grace. It is an irksome unveiling of self that reveals the shallowness of my nature and how much I poorly proportion my belief to my levels of awareness.

Because God is out of time, and I am in ensconced within it, I have no choice but to shelve my observations (which must be irritatingly narcissistic, my apologies) and place a net of hope back where there used to be a cushy wall of resplendent faith.

My small people however, are blossoming despite the odd bad day/moment/frequent parental failure. For that I am grateful. We do have a hunched up tween, sobbing into her pillow with homesickness and sheer sibling frustration. We have a confused pre-schooler who thinks Sentosa Island (a ten minute drive away) is in Auckland, NZ and who just cannot conform her thinking to involve potty training. And there is a nearly 9 year old whose established picky-eating habits have nose-dived into a sub-category of near starvation. However, not counting those perfectly natural tendencies, things are ticking into a kind of hobbling routine.

The more I come to know about life, the more I realise how very much more I don't know. The secret might be harvesting a shred of acceptance in the knowing that the knowing will never be complete.

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So Over the Colour Blue

Colbolt. Periwinkle. Navy. Powder. Sky. Steel. Denim. Cornflower.

No matter which way I hold up the kaleidescope of today, I only see shades of blue.

Tiny bricks of frustration balance on top of each other to create levels in My Big Blue House. Otherwise known as Grumpy Me.

Demolition party? Paint the blue into something else? Add yellow? Green would be nice. Add red? Purple is not my favourite colour but perhaps would be a great improvement.

Or, if I cannot mix a new hue, what can I appreciate from what I have?

A bright sky.
A great pair of jeans.
Cute eyecolour.
Cookie monster.
Sapphires.
The ocean.

Nothing there garners my interest except maybe cookie monster and only if he'll share.

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Missing: One Brain

My laptop curled up its toes and died last week. Along with it went my last shred of humour.

However, this warm wet morning saw a flash of brilliance descend upon me. I blame the coffee, or the high gained from the grim satisfaction of fully cleaning my kitchen before 8am (this ridiculous endeavor to spite the colony of red ants that I play pest-chess with).

Staring at my iPhone, I belatedly realised that I could probably download an app to make virtual blogging from my phone a possibility. Not to add anything to your lives, but to greatly add to mine.

And so here I am at the end of week 3 in my new space. It has been a time pocked with emotional adversity and my brain folded its wings and said "well that's that" in a rude and unkind way, forcing me to navigate witlessly.

I have been lost more times than I can count, sometimes even physically. Defeating the ants with my spindly purple mop dunked into one of the kid's beach buckets and taking possession of a working washing machine have brought surprising solace (brain rolls eyes).

Lack of sleep with sick babe and the absence of the home stuff around us that we use hundreds of times and take completely for granted has had a weird levelling effect. No phoneline, no computer and an inappropriate wardrobe has forced a quietness in me where words wither like useless feet in paralysis. There is nothing to do but wait. My husband has had to travel away this week so even more than normal, the shutters came down on my thoughts and the rubber gloves went on instead.

I have met a few lovely new people, stared at them blankly and wondered how to conduct reasonable conversation. I have been shown some amazing kindnesses, to which I have been so grateful and yet cannot fathom how to uncover myself to a level where others can actually see me.

I am stiff and wombly inside and it is fearfully stifling but we are closer to unwrapping ourselves I think. Our container of furniture arrives next week. I will be getting a replacement computer as soon as I can and we will continue to pursue getting to know others and then perhaps I can entice Brain back and feel more like my old self.

I have missed reading you all, you are thought of and loved, especially my real bloggy friends and fam.

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easily broken

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My oldest daughter tripped and fell while we were out walking last night, grazing and bruising herself quite significantly.  She hobbled home with tears in her eyes and once we were back, I bathed her wounds, washing out the dirt and gravel.  Today she was sore and stiff, but still had to get dressed and go off to school.

When she first fell, she sat stunned and still.  Once she began to move again, the pain hit her and has kept on reminding her to protect and favour those bruised places.

I tripped up a while back too.  Only it was on the inside.

Since arriving in Singapore, I have held my breath, sitting very still and trying not to jolt the bruises, but today I stretched out and did something from an old life.   

And it really hurts to move again.

My baby girl and I went to playgroup together.  Played like monkeys on the climbing equipment.  Had a coffee in the cafe by ourselves and then we left when I knew I could no longer hold in the emotion.  Ignored by every other mother there, who turned their backs to us as we walked in, and completely unsure of where to go or what to do, I just kept walking.

And each step screamed at me. 

It’s hard to explain the crawling unease at the cold shoulders of others.  I could feel the sensation multiplying as I became aware of standing out by being a loner, by not fitting in, by not having a chair to sit on in the playgroup room of the association we have joined. 

Of being an outsider.

And I knew it would be like this.  Like when you trip over on rough tarmac, you know it is going to hurt to walk home and for a while to come.  It is normal and icky and just a part of re-settling.

But it took me back to ancient cracks in the walls of my heart, places I found myself wanting to run to and hide in.  Of feeling my cheeks flame at the rebuff.  Of solitude being the warmest welcome on this earth.  Of wanting to shut a door and cement it closed so that no-one can ever inflict rejection this way again.  It became the tipping point where the immensity of the last few months came crashing around me.

I don’t need pity or encouragement.  I know this will pass and one day I will read this and smile at the memory.  But in the meantime, this is just me washing the gravel from where the broken road hit my knees. It is just a part of the journey. 

And it’s sharing my reality from this place on my knees.  It isn’t all about walking tall and sweetness and light.  Haven-space is most definitely where I surrender my soul to gratitude and sometimes this can look nothing but rosy.  But it is not my style to hide the gritty places of where I grow from.  The place grace has to find me is  messy and sorrow filled and is where small things trip me up.  Ever noticed that?  Sometimes you can’t even see what made you trip up.

 

Old wounds sometimes heal slow, rejection especially.  But a by-product of suffering is compassion and if I am not so up myself that I don’t drown in my own tears first, I will have plenty in-store for others.

Say hello to someone who looks new and lost in your world today.  You just never know. 

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Retail therapy

This week,

I have been doing a little shopping.

Without a budget.

Sheer unadulterated extravagance.

Elastic, grace-filled purse strings

that found me standing in awe

in front of dazzling showroom

of priceless handcrafted pieces.

Come – let me show you a glimpse from my purchased observations:

017 I nearly fell over when these sapphire eyes appeared in my scope of vision;022

And I stared at this brilliant enamelled craft disbelievingly,

023 and surveyed the abundant scattering of this bling, becoming even more breathless

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when I saw dimpled porcelain arms meeting curtsey clutching. 020

I watched a zesty Rockstar,who shakes the solitaire of this world,

to make the gold dust fly out;    028

and felt the drops of liquid platinum love erupting

to remind me of how I feel when I see these three,

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and smiled in wonder at how incredible a custom design they can’t help but make on the world,

just by existing. 

 

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This stunning one catches elegant by the fistful and flings it into facets of poetry, 

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 and this one crafts strands of adventure from the bright sparkles of a joyful moment. 044

And in this shady showroom

I sat in the steamy heat,

ignoring for a time my tarnished collections of old grief

while being bedazzled by the clean, sweet richness of this,

the gift of a personal display of Life.

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catching threads

I am incredibly privileged

to know and love dearly,

an army of women whose

lives are like ribbons woven through my own.

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Irreplaceable heart-sisters,

some besties, some kindred spirits,

some real kin, some second mummies to my babies.

All warm, trustworthy and beautiful girls

who have opened heart and home

to me.

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Some I said goodbye to,

Some we knew we would ‘see’ each other around in blog-form,

Some I never got the chance to say goodbye to, in the flurry,

and others I curled up in a heap after they left and cried like

I might never stop.

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Some farewells we celebrated out with dinner,

or a last day of hanging out together,

some we whispered surreal phone endings, well, I’ll talk to you soon,

some we just looked at each other,

past tear-glazed eyes into the pocket of the soul

sweeping a million memories into a sliding door,

letting flimsy words fall through a glass crack.

To all of you.

Your threads emboss a walkway of my heart,

where I pass often.

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It must be a part of the grieving process

to stop and gather up the trailing strings.

And when I purposefully sit down and capture my thoughts of all of you,

each a different colour and texture,

I weave you back into the cloth of my today.

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Thank you for being,

all of you,

exactly who you are.

You have become a part of me.

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Transition

There is a unique phase of the childbearing process called transition, that I found myself pondering yesterday.

It is a shifting gears kind of time;

Disconcerting, intense and emotional.

Your hands and legs shake, you gasp “I can’t DO this”.

Everything has worked to bring you to a point where you are ready to crown the new.

It is surreal and unworldly.

In your head, you go to that faraway place where no sounds reach you.

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In the middle of my day yesterday, while I was literally scrubbing out the insides of my new kitchen drawers, I remembered what transition felt like. It was a weird thought, as I don’t tend to dwell on the less pleasant aspects of childbirth, but was an encouraging one, because I know transition is the signal that life is about to appear.

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It’s that, okay Guys, get ready time.

And it is bigger than the cage we have for it. It has to break forth.

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The last few weeks, I have been confined to the Faraway Head Place but it was consoling to remember yesterday that having true relationship with God is knowing He is real even when we can’t feel Him.

In the grip of transition shakes, I can truly say that I no longer need evidence to prove He exists.

In the absence of feeling safe and happy and able to connect with Him, I know in the empty places, He hovers.

Each breath I inhale and each tear I shed makes Him no more or less real.

A little like when we are about give birth – and we are in the middle of incredible physical distress –

we KNOW this is all about a baby even though it feels and looks like the last thing a baby represents.

There are none of the cliché baby signs present in transition: no powdery smell, tiny clothes or outpouring of love.

Yet, we cannot not deny that is the reason we are there, working real hard.

We can’t see it, nor imagine it’s face nor who it will grow to be.

But it is a part of our future that is arriving in a gritty, real and uncomfortable way none-the-less.

And that is where I am. In the place of bringing myself face to face with the future. Everything has led up to this point.

And it will not last.

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And now it is here I am reduced to drinking copious quantities of tea and coffee

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from these ridiculously weird little cups.

To living with rented furniture.

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I fold unfamiliar school uniforms,

and drive around a bustling and busy city in a new vehicle,

I get lost, hooted at,

and grip the steering wheel with sweaty palms.

I leave my children in new places, with total strangers.

I count coins that make no sense.

I frown on the phone when trying to decipher the foreign accents.

I miss being able to do things without knowing how to do them.

Like where to park the car when I need milk.

Or where to buy a laundry marker pen, or a lunchbox.

Or how to get my phone to work.

I am a fish out of water.

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But I am close to meeting the New,

holding it close in my arms and saying

Hello Lovely, nice to meet you.

I will post more images of our new home as we get our stuff organised.

Right now it is a suitcase and laundry (and gecko) infested 3 level semi-detached house with a view of palms and skyscrapers.

And I have a howling wilderness for a brain,

but I did remember to buy flowers with my first grocery shop for essentials.

So that’s gotta count for something, right?

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