Easy Rider, Easy

A friend recently asked me what type of motorbike my husband owns. “A black one,” I replied with the blunt voice of the ‘reluctant pillion.’ I am one of those, ‘hold on firmly with eyes shut tight’, passengers, particularly when we sweep low around the many bends and turns on the country roads we explore. Neither am I inspired by the numb fingers and toes on frosty morning rides, or the fleeting pungent odour of roadkill in my nostrils.  

My husband loves to ride his motorbike. I hear it in his voice when he is out riding and stops to call me to let me know he’s OK. I hear the exuberance; the sheer delight and pleasure riding gives him.  

I notice how conveniently and quickly I can jump in my car, switch on the ignition and be way down the street by the time he has put on all his gear- a ritual of respectful devotion to all that is required to ride, safely and well. He has a routine that works, as I have learned after the frustration of attempting to switch up the order, only to find you cannot put a helmet on while sunnies are still on your face. Gloves always go on last, just in case something on the helmet or gear needs a final tug or tweak. The ritual makes sense.

And so, from time to time, we ride. And yes, honestly, it is a bit scary, but exhilarating all the same!

I do it because he asks me. Not often, as he knows how it is for me. But he asks with hope in his eyes, and I become the ‘reluctant pillion’ praying for a safe, smooth ride with a seriously good coffee and lunch somewhere along the journey to ease my tension.

He has passed that love onto his sons and again my mother’s protective heart kicks in and I wonder. I wonder.

I wonder why, for some of us, riding a motorbike seems such a daunting and frightening experience to be avoided, while for others it is a sheer delight. I can see the love of the risk, the thrill of finding a new ‘great route’ to master, the pushing to the edge to find what bike and rider can accomplish together. I get it. In this area of physical safety, I am not a girl who likes to go to the edge and push to see how fast or far I can go. My husband and sons on the other hand, thrive, come alive and celebrate life every time they ride.

I love that about them and while my heart and mind have to process all the ‘what if’s’ every time they ride, I do appreciate and accept it is something they want, need, must do.

But go to the edge I must, if I am to grow. I wonder what my edge of risk is? What areas of life I am exhilarated, inspired and enlivened by? I know that if I am to grow as a person, learn what I can achieve, I need to go there. Otherwise, life remains safe, predicable, unchangeable, full of possibility and potential, but not fully realised.

Life is like a ten-speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use! Charles M. Schultz

My husband and sons inspire and encourage me to go through all the gears of life and invite me to motorbike ride, mountain bike ride (dodging trees and rocks down a steep hill, and yes I hit the dirt), surf, (such a great feeling to stand up on a board), go to a screamer band rock concert, (got stuck in a mosh pit) and learn to laugh, love and live to the fullest even with a niggle of fear tucked away but not holding me back.

What is your edge? What is the place of risk for you? How do you push through fear and do it anyway?  That edge will be different for everyone of us. We all have them, edges that is. Places that trigger fear, anxiety, uncertainty and confusion. The beauty of shared life is that I don’t have to go there alone. My family, my friends and mentors help me see the edge, feel the fear and do it when I’m ready. Maybe one of our first risks is to trust others with our edges, our places where we want to go to but can’t go alone.

So my question is: Where is your edge and who is standing there with you to help?

Isa 54:2 NIV

“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.God asks us to stretch out our tent pegs, do not hold back. Life is risk.

Photos taken by Glen Yeomans Blog: Zed14.com (Iron Butt Rider Legend)

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

If you could ask someone you respect and admire (past or present) to dinner, who would it be and why?

Let me answer by telling a story.

In my fresher year as a Uni student, I became quite enamoured with the ‘carefree’ lifestyle I could enjoy being a young adult who had left home to commence a degree in the big smoke of Hobart. Armed with a bit of cash from a government studentship allowance, I regularly indulged in the footloose and fancy-free lifestyle on offer. Over time, my dulled and wearied mind began to wonder if the ‘good times’ were actually satisfying and genuinely enjoyable. This question forming in my mind led me to look around to note how my peers were managing their freedom, their studies, their finances, their relationships and their sense of self and dignity.

I began to observe the lifestyle and interactions of one of the students in the Uni residential college where we both lived. She was well-respected, handed in assignments on time, turned up to lectures ready to learn and would often be found with a bible in her hand, as she attended a study in a nearby suburb with friends.

I found her fascinating, and watched her from a ‘safe distance,’ not alerting her to my observations, or communicating with her in any way. I had never seen someone walk around with a bible in hand. I admired her courage to do so, and noted the respect and acceptance accorded her by other students as she went about her life.

I watched her for two years, all the while growing more and more weary and dismayed by the personal life choices I was making, in the pursuit of the elusive ‘good times’ offered by the ‘in crowd’.

So much so, late one night, I finally acknowledged in a raw, honest moment alone, the significant lack of satisfaction in my lifestyle choices. On a whim I will never fully grasp, I did not knock, but rather impulsively barged into her room, woke her and asked her to tell me everything she knew about God. There it was. A strange question but the right question to ask. I knew from the months of observation that she had a secret, an understanding about life that was worthwhile, giving her confidence, courage and poise. I wanted all of that and instinctively realised it was somehow connected to the God of the bible.

Her, wise and gentle response to being woken up by my passionate plea was,Come along tomorrow night to our bible study to find out more about God.”

I did! Awkwardly, hidden from all my friends, I went along each week for some months to the bible study. Over time, listening, watching and studying the bible alongside a group of fellow students, I found the answer generously and authentically alive in the hearts of those who faithfully shared their hope and truth with me. I too, found the answer in Jesus.

I have never forgotten my beginnings as a Christian. I am eternally thankful for a young woman of faith who bravely and genuinely lived her life amongst use while many of us were chasing after the whirlwind and wondering why we felt empty most days.

My answer to the question of who to invite to dinner and why, is my friend from Uni. To thank her, to celebrate her and to share our stories of life as it pivots on the axis of faith every day.

We are shaped and changed by others in significant, sometimes painful and often powerful ways. But there are those we have watched, respected and admired, perhaps emulated in some ways and they have changed our lives.

And now I ask another question for you to ponder.

Who would be inviting you to dinner and why?

1 Peter 3:15-17 TPT

..give reverent honour in your hearts to Jesus and treat him as the holy Master of your lives. And if anyone asks about the hope living within you, always be ready to explain your faith with gentleness and respect. (Even in the middle of the night when rudely roused from deep sleep!)

The Art of Journaling

To write or not to write… or draw, collage, paint, doodle, dot point or photograph. 

Over the years of being mentored I’ve always been asked if I keep a journal. And now, I ask the same question of my clients.
Do you keep a journal?
Responses range from; “Nah”, “Never”, “Did years ago”, “Started lots but…”, through to “Absolutely love it and never miss a day”. So, for lovers and dodgers alike read on to find out how this time honoured technique can be of benefit to you and explore some of the blockers that may hinder you.

Social Media -Tells our Story

I’ve noticed with the onset of social media people love to write, video, photograph and record with fabulous flair their everyday life moments. From the sublime to the ridiculous, banal to brilliant, people from all corners of the world are recording their activities for posterity and whoever wants to click ‘like’ or ‘love’.

So, when I ask clients, if they journal, perhaps now I need to ask a more relevant question: Do you consistently post on; FB, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat or any other platform I have not yet encountered (cause I’m not in the right age bracket)?

I am not trying to lower the tone of journaling here at all by linking it to our social media interactions. But social media reveals more of us are keeping written, oral, visual and creative records of daily life, including interests, ideas, questions and issues. With this activity in mind, the step towards journaling can be a smaller one than many of us imagine.

Perhaps we need to consider how to utilise the skills we apply to social media to the ancient and reflective art of journaling.

The ‘Big, Blank, White’ Fear

I remember a conversation some years ago with a friend of mine who is a brilliant landscape artist about what happened for him whenever he started a new work. He spoke of feeling daunted at first by the large, blank, white canvas in front of him, never quite sure if he would yet again be able to capture the beauty of the New Zealand landscapes he delighted in.

I marvelled that with his amazing body of work he still felt the same when standing in front of the next big blank canvas.

Journaling can often be stalled by the ‘blank white page’ moments of uncertainty; what to write, will it work for me, why bother, who will read it and what will they make of all the junk in my mind?

Perhaps we need to approach journaling with a bit more curiosity and playfulness. This will give us the room we need to mentally switch on the light and find out what we have hidden in the recesses of our minds.

Not sure you want to find what’s lurking there?

You may surprise yourself in your discoveries and yes, if you are willing to explore the questions, contradictions and patterns of your life, you will come across new things to appreciate and challenge within yourself. That is one of the amazing things about journaling; making it worth the time and consistent effort it takes beyond the first few pages. Keep turning the pages of a journal to write in a regular sustainable rhythm until it becomes part of the expressive and explorative fabric underpinning your life. Keep writing until you break through your own masks, walls, indifference, fear and finally find you. I don’t want to sound like a ‘shampoo advert’ here but ‘You are worth it!’

It all sounds mystical and mysterious, but it’s really not at all. It is a simple reflective repetitive tool of trade for any of us who desire to learn to listen well to ourselves, each other and to God.

The wonderful thing about journaling is that it is private, personal and has no limits to creative capacity. No one can click like or love, no fear need hold you back. You can’t fail at this!

As part of a therapy process it is an invaluable mirror for a client to reflect on sessions, skills and next steps.

But for anyone who wants to pivot on the growing edge of life becoming more compassionate, confident and courageous, then journaling is a no brainer. Build the habit into your life, but don’t become ‘religious’ about it. Keep it fresh, playful, honest and be curious about who you are, what questions are forming, what challenges you face, what hopes, dreams and darn good ideas are floating loose in that ‘fearfully and wonderfully designed’ brain of yours.

Go on, give it a go.

Contact us at C-Change and I’ll email a helpful handout of ideas, questions and suggestions to get you going and keep you going on the adventure of journaling. If you have any suggestions, please share them with us so we can pass them on.

Change Our World

It is always a bittersweet experience to leave our home state of Tassie. It’s certainly not a new experience for us since our first big move to Sydney in the early 80’s. We left then as young newly married adventurers and idealists wanting to change the world. We had no insight into the changes that would occur in and around us over the years of study and preparation for our eventual move to PNG, where we lived and worked for over 8 amazing years. We have returned home a few times with our ever-growing family of sons for various periods of time. We have also left a few times for long seasons of work and life commitments. And now, we are leaving again.

We are aware it does not get any easier to leave, nor do we think it ever will. We love our beautiful home state! It is a gentle place to live. A place we know so well. We have explored so much of this treasure isle, but know there is always another trail to find, another waterfall, mountain, beach or small town to re-discover.

But even more than the natural beauty, there are some amazing people who live here. We have known, loved and been loved by some beautiful people. Family and friends will always be the reason we keep returning to be reminded of who we are, what matters to us and why we leave to continue to ‘change our world’.  Yes, it is no longer about changing the world, but more about us growing, becoming, risking, exploring, learning, listening and loving our world. We are learning how to allow our faith to change us with each new adventure.

Our latest opportunity will be with a church in Canberra where we at C-Change Counselling and Coaching will be providing a gentle ministry of listening with individuals, small groups and leadership to help them grow together as a community of faith people.

We position ourselves as learners and listeners and look forward to being changed yet again in this ministry framework of dialogue.

We’ll be back. Yes, we will.

A Peaceful Day

In the midst of packing, moving house and preparing to leave our wonderful home state of Tasmania (yet again), I created some precious moments of pause in the day. Yes, pausing in the midst of the adrenaline-fueled craziness that flurries around to distract me from noticing the beauty of simple moments.

We’ve moved this week into a friend’s home that has a wide open northerly outlook facing Table Cape, Bass Strait and a big sky. I’ve been drawn to stand and look out the large windows as huge clouds passed slowly overhead throughout the day.

Oh, this day has included its fair share of tasks; sorting, communicating, cooking (lamb shanks in a slow cooker simmering) and planning for our next adventure across to the mainland. But there have also been pauses, still moments of watching in awe at the beauty in dark clouds scudding by, threatening rain, patches of blue sky and amazing hues and shapes.

I’ve been experimenting with an app by John Eldridge called ‘Pause’. I love the notion of mindfulness and have finally given it some attention by means of a phone app that reminds me to slowly breathe, let go the tyranny of the urgent and enjoy some moments of stillness. It’s all part of this journey, this new intentional journey of going deeper into truth, meaning and purpose.

It has taken some stepping out of ‘liking the idea’ (but not doing it) or waiting for the ‘right time’ (never turns up TBH), into some practical shifts in how I use my time. So here in the busyness of our current circumstances, I’ve downloaded the app and am honestly enjoying the blessing of pausing to intentionally cease for a few minutes to breathe, notice and savour being. Just being.

Deeper Listening – Recognising the Contradictions

I grow weary of the contradictions in my being. I really do. I am shooting for gentle, patient, kind, considerate, measured – serene may be a stretch. But often there is the ugly, niggly, uptight, stressed, antsy, self-righteous me which is hard to hide from those who love me most, or those who are in proximity to me for any length of time. Poor souls.

Our son and his partner rang the other day and he immediately picked up on my mood. “Mum, are you tired, or something?”, he asked. OK, can’t hide it. Yep, struggling today. Love it and hate it when those who know me best can so easily spot what I’m working so hard to hide from myself.

I appreciate that about my sons and husband, they know me well and they are gentle and honest in turn. The recognition of my mood helped me own it and toss it.  Yes, toss it! In the moments of clarity that followed kind exposure, I was given the ‘mirroring awareness’ I needed to help me choose a different response to what was getting under my skin that day.

Ok, being human is messy. But for any who are recovering perfectionists, you will know how difficult it is to deal with anything messy. Particularly responses to situations we cannot control, or situations we think we are good at, but stuff up in ways that leave us confused and confounded. Either way, I so weary of the tension that surprisingly springs up in ordinary moments on any given day.

I’m up for learning, growing and being transformed. What I am not up for, with any genuine enthusiasm, is the means and methods life uses to teach me how to grow and be transformed. It is humbling, painful and so not a perfectly smooth learning curve. I find it is more a crazy stumbling uncoordinated dance, where I’m flying solo in my foolish, “I must do it by myself’ style.

And this is where the deeper listening comes in. I want to accept the Father’s outstretched hand and dance in a duet with him. I want to forget my awkwardness and uncertainty and look up into His eyes, not down at my feet. I want to sense the rhythm of the beat through my connection to Him. I want to be willing to be led, to be guided, to surrender my need to control, to pretend, to perform. I want to be absorbed in the moment and movement of the dance with my heavenly Father.

Trusting that He knows me and is honourable, I know He will be gentle and honest in turn. Showing me step by step how to hear, to follow, to allow Him to lead me in the dance of deeper listening.

I’ll let you know what serenity feels like as this journey of learning progresses. I’ll be playing more music, walking along more beaches and mountain trails, reading more, watching less TV, listening to stories and sitting in silence savouring the moments.

It’s time to grow, again. Let the dance begin.