Thursday, February 19, 2009

Just Do It

Odin rang last night. It breaks my heart to see both the strength and the weakness in the man he is now. But it was a wonderful conversation.

There are many things we don't know about other people's lives and there are many assumptions that we make. In this conversation, I heard, for what I believe was the first time, that he had been a Sunday school teacher in his late teens. He, as so many, had a few bad experiences with the church and subsequently became an atheist, but now considers himself an agnostic. I didn't know any of that either.

He also talked about the religious and theological training he received in the army, both when he first enlisted and again at a more in-depth level when he was doing his Captains exams. This all fits so well with his love of history and its effects on the world. I have some of that interest but not the passion he has.

One of the assumptions I made when he told me he became an atheist was that it was because of his time in Vietnam, perhaps not when he was there because, as they say, there are no atheists in fox-holes, but in seeing and living the things he did whilst there as surely this would be enough to make anyone question the existence of God. Even though I was thinking about this mis-match, I didn't quite know how to ask. I hate to bring up memories like that for him, but I guess he is much more hardened that I am. Sometimes empathy can give the understanding and therefore the hurt without the lessons and therefore the protection and self-preservation that the other person learned through the actual experience.

As it happened, the atheism arrived only because of the realisation of the hypocrisy of the church group he was with and of other things he had seen when he was younger that suddenly made sense to him. It reminded me to take a minute to be thankful again for the wonderfully positive experiences I have had with church and how some people do more harm than good in the name of worship.

Vietnam actually turned him back to Christianity in a way and he spent some time reflecting on not only what had happened there, but the certain times that he found himself praying and then onto thoughts of the reasons for and repercussions of those prayers. That's enough to send anyone around in circles for some time, but when he emerged from that spiral, the explanation that gave him peace was no explanation at all; just knowing that we do not know who or what God is.

Something else he reflected on as we talked was how since retiring and moving to his current home, he has met up with many other vets, including one mate he actually served with in Nam. He told me on his last phone call a few weeks ago that this mate had recently passed away and I believe that this passing has caused him much pain. It also seems to have brought to the forefront all of the other funerals he has attended since living there. I can understand that and both he and I know there is nothing anyone else can do to ease that pain. It is my hope though, that those demons within him will not be fed and made fat by the regrets of more recent years. I go through stages when I don't want, or have the energy, to do anything about that. At the moment it is something I do want to focus on but that is how I seem to live my life sometimes. I don't want to measure my days by the number of dreams that I don't take action on and I know the only way to prevent that is to act yet still I don't.

We also talked about business and I know this reminds him of the amazing person he was on several levels. The gratitude of this is a two way street, in that he receives fulfilment for the reminders of his strengths and I have pride in him and appreciate that he is finally offering advice, in his way. In fact, it may just be that finally I am accepting his advice or even just understanding how he expresses it. Either way, it's good and I am grateful.

With the talk of religion, I asked him what he thought I believed. He was a little thrown by this question and stumbled over the answer thinking that it seemed obvious but because I had asked, with a hint of challenge in my voice, that there must be more to it. His answer was expected, and, like many others, he though I was a Christian. From my perspective there is still a wall that he doesn't get past when given the choice of talking about himself or talking about others, and even though my question sparked some curiosity and thereby opened a little peep-hole in that wall, he heard a bit of my answer and then closed that peep-hole once he made his assessment and categorised all that I had to say on the matter. OK, that's a little harsh. He wasn't judgemental and he accepted and understood what I was saying but maybe he just didn't want to enter into a discussion on belief systems. It still makes my heart long for nights with him drinking red wine and talking about these things. I know we would both enjoy them but neither of us will do anything about it. It's just life getting in the way again and stopping us from actually living.

Later in the conversation, I mentioned my birthday. I won't go so far as to say he was devastated to learn he had forgotten this year but he was shocked and was so disappointed in himself that he didn't know what to say. I assured him it was alright and moved the conversation on. He'd made such an effort over the last few years in an area that he has accepted as something he just doesn't do, so to forget this year was to undo a lot of his good work. It's something I accepted long ago, even though I wished it was different. The difference is that I chose not to do anything about it while he chose to make an effort and this year he failed himself.

Well, I said much more than I had planned to, in fact, more than I realised I had to say. I felt really good after the call though, not as raw as after other conversations. And I know there is no point in setting up stupid unspoken rules about what I deem to constitute effort on his part that only once delivered on will I allow myself to respond to in kind. Reality is harsh and I am not afraid to look at my failings and stand by them regardless because, for good or for bad, they make up the person that I am. There are just two elements that I need to strengthen at the minute: planning and action. I know it, you know it, now I need to 'Just do it!'

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Struggling

I'm struggling a lot with church at the minute. I have found a really good level of peace being essentially a Wiccan who moves in Christian circles (albeit guardedly in terms of labels whilst very open about my core values and beliefs amongst my Christian friends) and I love our church but am struggling with the sermons from our current pastor. He's only fairly young (early thirties) and is an entertaining speaker but everything is so black and white with him and it all seems to land on the opposite side to my thoughts and feelings. Yes, I know Lisa will be smiling to herself at the minute given my views on things being black and white in terms of there being absolute right and absolute wrong but I also strongly believe that while some things can be either right or wrong, there are often reasons and justification for why something was the best option at the time. I just think that if something is understandable it doesn't change it being right or wrong in essence. But our pastor seems to have this total focus on self-sacrifice that I can't get to apply to the way life should be lived. Our last pastor was awesome and his teachings were so relevant (a bit like life-coaching) but our current pastor seems to denounce there being any value in this. But I love the people and I love the size of the church and I love our connections and community there and I love the acceptance of our circumstances and I love the music and the worship team so I really don't want to go anywhere else (although I kinda smile at the thought of 'church shopping', as is the term apparently) but, like I say, I'm struggling.

Well, I guess this has been troubling me more than I wanted to admit. I have ranted a bit about it to The Starchild (who only really goes to church for the sake of the kids) and one of our pastors other messages is that we shouldn't be looking at what we don't like about a church or come to church as someone in need as we should just come to help others and to give of ourselves so I don't feel it would help to talk directly to the pastor because it seems to me that what he will hear is just me saying what I want to take, not what I want to give.

I don't know that there is really a win-win solution here and I am such a win-win negotiator so that's also why this is weighing on me as it is. But, if anyone has any suggestions then I’d love to hear them...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Inspirations

Hmmm, strangely inspired today. Not that I am inspired to do strange things, just that I am inspired and I didn't expect to be.

Am running on empty sleep wise, which can go either way for me as far as mental processing. At the moment it seems to be elevated and I really like that. Enjoying being an air sign today.

How does one become a life coach, I wonder? I also wonder what, exactly, a life coach is and does. I guess its a highly mutable role. Am very captivated by the thought at the moment.

Spent some time yesterday rearranging my fish tank with bubble bits since my air pump was freed up with the installation of the new filter. Moved the plants and ornaments around as well and made it a bit of a mother and son thing with the help of Kman. Am really happy with it now although I plan on getting another ornament to put in the middle. Saw one I really liked which was a section of a castle facade with arch windows and moss covered stones but couldn't believe the price so that one can just stay on the shelf for now, me thinks.

Here's my happy fish with bubbles:





Stayed up way too late last night configuring my laptop - I love having new toys. Vista is shiny and I am surprised to find how much I like it. Need to source affordable version of Office 2007 (with full version of Outlook). Have had offer of copy of a corporate trial version that provide full version upgrade for $50 but not sure if it has Outlook. Have to ask around IT friends from previous life. Firefox has heaps of way cool add-ons since I last visited and I'm loving the functionality, as always.

Had a spontaneous coffee (or tea for me) with two friends - the first time I have been out for coffee since I stopped work last October. I've been asked heaps of times but kept making excuses, as I sometimes do when I just need to find me again and don't want to get caught up in the 'let's do coffee' routine. But it was wonderful and I'm really glad that I did. I do miss my other mum friends but as I am seeing them more regularly these days it makes it easier. A dedicated adult chat was really good though.

Well, it's 1 o'clock and I have so much I want to do today so I'd best get along and take action on my inspirations.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

'I love you'

When the soul enjoys the quiet solitude of the witching hour more than the dazzling brilliance of a summers day resplendent in its fourth consecutive day of torrential downpours, what else can one do other than blog. Somewhat indignant am I though when The Starchild asks with a whinge and a grumble if I am only coming to bed now. This seems to cause him great displeasure, which I can understand no more than he can understand why I stay up late. It used to be the only time when I could catch up with me and just do me stuff but I can do that a few days a week during the day now; its just not the same.

So, awake am I and tired and my eyes are blurry even after a power nap on the lounge a few hours ago while watching TV. But happy. I had a good Valentines Day. I got The Starchild a card and he encouraged me to go out and buy the filter for my fish tank that I have been wanting, a new fridge for the outlaws and a new laptop for the business (not that I needed much encouragement). It was a tough slog, too, braving the weather and the salespeople. And, as is my way, I went to every store in a reasonable radius of my house, took notes, listened to spiels and talked turkey before making any purchase. As a result, these few purchases took a total of about 5 hours, but I am happy as I have more than I was expecting and slightly under budget so that's gotta be a good thing.

I also bought some Xbox controllers as they all seem to suffer horrible deaths at the hands of the widdies and the animals here. The smiley monster has just discovered that he can actually control Homer Simpson on the Simpson's game so he will also be eternally grateful to his most wonderful mother when the new controllers arrive. Oh, the things we do to get affection from our children. Actually, he is an enormously affectionate child, as are all of my widdies, and I'm gonna milk that for all its worth while I still can because I know that the time when public displays of affection will be shunned is fast approaching.

Speaking of public displays of affection and life stages, it's a funny thing saying 'I love you' in some families. In my family, there was always great affection but rarely did we say the words 'I love you'. Cards and even just daily chore lists were always signed 'love Mum' and whenever she drove me somewhere there was always a kiss (yes, even through high school and even when I was with my friends) but no 'I love you' was uttered.

In The Starchild's family there were even fewer displays of affection. I guess it was more of a generational thing (his parents are almost 20 years older than mine) and also due to how they were brought up, particularly for his mum whose mother died while his father was at war so she was raised for many years in a catholic orphanage until her older sister could raise her and her other brothers and sisters.

Even when raising my step kids (and I was only 18 when I first came to live with The Starchild and his children) there wasn't really any 'I love you's there. The Starchild did say it, but I don't remember saying it, which I can sort of understand looking back.

But things are different now, and I am so glad. It got to the point where I'd talk to my mum on the phone and it would feel funny not to say 'I love you' before hanging up, so I started to say it. She was a little thrown at first I think and even though this has been the case for many years now, she will rarely say it even now unless in response to me saying it. Same with Dad. But I still say it. Usually. Although I do go through stages where I am grumpy so don't say it but it is more common for me to say it than not. We always kiss and hug in person and there are even face to face 'I love you's these days, which is lovely.

And the outlaws, I think it was shortly after Kman was born and I decided I was going to say 'I love you' to them, too. That one has been more hesitant and they still don't really say it to The Starchild but it's becoming more frequent again. They are almost home from their holiday to Tasmania so we have spoken on the phone every day or so and at each of these calls there has been an 'I love you'. That is really wonderful.

And even the step-kids. Virgo Nurse and I haven't actually exchanged 'I love you's as yet but we do hello/goodbye kisses and hugs now that feel natural and more real. But the nine live cat with clipped wings, his 'I love you's are much more frequent. I guess, given his circumstances that not only is this a good thing, it is also completely understandable, but it could have gone either way. I have always held a deep and enormous affection for him, despite all of the horrible things he has done, so it's really good to be able to express that and for him to be able to express that to me as well. I think that has gone a long way to the emotional healing after the verbal forgiveness was put out there.

But, I fear I have rambled on for far too long so I'll just finish by saying I love you, too.
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