Wednesday, April 8, 2015

It's peaceful inside

The cold wind buffets my face as I push open the door on this, our first wintry-feeling day. A shell mobile jangles to announce my entrance, but otherwise it is peaceful inside. We say a quick greeting to each other and soon I lie face down on the massage table, the thick white towels enveloping me in warmth. A Chinese flute plays Faure's Pavane, accompanied by harp. I allow myself to relax completely, as strong capable hands seek out and start to heal aches and pains, tensions held for years.

The temptation to sleep hits almost immediately, but instead I make myself think. This is my time - eighty minutes or so to remind myself of what's been going on in life, to process it, and to collect together the learning that has been going on, and let go of some stuff if need be. Two weeks ago when I had my first massage, I was shaking off the shock of an intense fortnight of dealing with someone else's stuff, and getting a property ready for sale, all on top of the busyness of family life. This time I am more relaxed, in holiday mode. Easter with its sadness and then its joy has come and gone. I've had time to remember God and be thankful to Him for so many things.

Hallowed be your Name - I remember what I learnt from listening to a sermon yesterday - the importance of praising God, and the acknowledgement to myself that in my spare moments I'm not thinking about God, but often fantasizing about things for me and about me. Since then I've been trying to train myself to nip those thoughts in the bud, and to meditate on Christ, his sacrifice, God's glory, and prayer.

I think about the difference between holidays and term time, and how I have almost come to a standstill this week, with plenty of time for reading and thinking. And I wonder how next term will play out? Will I have this luxury of thinking time in my days? Or will I be busy, as I was in first term?

Give us today our daily bread - I think about my diet, and am thankful for a peaceful tummy today, after 48 hours of pain and discomfort. I think about self-control, and how I quickly lost it over the weekend and ate one (currently) forbidden food after another in the space of a few hours. Even in small amounts, they caused a large and miserable reaction two days later.  I know that I can continue to stay on this restricted but healthy diet, if I just exercise more self-control. I cringe inwardly in pain as my neck and shoulder muscles are worked on, knowing that I can be strong and endure when I know that something is for my ultimate good. I remember something I read last night in an Elizabeth Goudge novel, quoting the apostle Paul: "I keep under my body and bring it into subjection" and going on about an old man living alone ... "The hard chairs, the straw mattress, the plain food, the water instead of wine, the struggle to turn towards the things of the intellect a nature almost wholly attracted by the things of the body. Well, he'd won the fight. There was no sensual hunger that he had not conquered now except the hunger for a child" ... and I wonder where I am on the scale of self-control, and how much of my life revolves around my own comfort?

I think about this last year of good hearing. It is almost twelve months since my ear surgery, and I am oh, so thankful that hearing is something I now don't have to think about - no more difficult conversations or awkward situations. Interestingly,  though, it seems that the chronic shoulder pains that my massage helped today have likely stemmed from years of holding my head to the side to hear better.

Now I have almost dozed off. The warm, slowly moving hands continue their good work on me, each inch of my body stretched and relaxed. The music stops and now I soak up the silence, punctuated here and there by the sound of a bus, or someone speaking outside in an Asian language.

"Ok," she says, when she is done.
"Ok," I respond, and get ready to head back out into the world.

Monday, April 6, 2015


March was quite a month.

 I started to help Steve's mum sort through some of her possessions,
in preparation for downsizing later in the month. She gave me many of her beautiful linen and haberdashery items she has treasured over the years, some of her artworks, and other lovely and/or useful items. Some of these items are yet to find a home at our place, there are still piles of things for me to deal with here.

Laura and I stopped off one day at our favourite Mona Vale park on the way to the chiropractor.
Laura grew beans on the kitchen bench as part of an experiment. It's official - water is better for growing plants than coke is.

At (almost) the last minute we decide to take another Japanese homestay student. We had such a good time with Hikaru last year and agreed to have another girl, this time for almost twice as long (10 days)
Laura gave up her bedroom for the guest, and moved into my newly cleared craftroom for the duration  (and was serenaded the first night by Steve on the violin).

Akiko was lovely, willing to do her best to speak English, helping in the kitchen and generally being a very easy guest. She was tired in the afternoons, often sleeping, and it was a busy time for us, especially once Steve's mum and I started meeting with real estate agents and really getting ready to put the townhouse on the market at the end of the month. But we had some good moments, making origami cranes, playing with boomwhackers and teaching Akiko some of our favourite games.

Some of our highlights of her stay were ...

An afternoon at Palm Beach

with lots of space for Laura's gymnastics ...


being a "family" of five for a short time ...

... sharing our everyday life, and having cute Japanese clothes on the washing line,

and enjoying a nice dinner out. 

Soon it was time to say goodbye.

With downsizing in full swing with Steve's mum, I crashed in a small heap at this point, but only long enough to take breath for the final week of decluttering at the townhouse.

Other things this month were ...

saxophone rehearsals with an accompanist for Emily
and many assessments and exams for her, she has worked so hard,

a free ticket for me to a seven-harp concert at North Sydney

Laura conquering a new braid

and getting new reading glasses

some new organisation for the coffee table (small things, right?)

a fun day of shopping for me, once we'd finally got the townhouse ready for sale -
every.single.item. from a lifetime either given away or boxed up ready for a garage sale.
Truly exhausting.

 The open houses are happening this month, and an auction in a few weeks.

 Both Steve's parents are comfortable in their respective new abodes, (one in aged care and one in a small apartment) although it has been so hard for them to give up their independence and so many possessions. For me it has been an eye-opening experience regarding life and possessions.

So, March with it's constant stream of things to do and places to be, has well and truly ended.
I'm thankful that Easter and the school holidays have arrived, a pause before the next chapter, 
wherever that may take me.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Weekend

So grateful for some slow.

After a very busy and tiring few weeks - a season of working hard and driving a lot and
eating different foods and supporting an HSC student and trying to keep on top of things at home and whole lot of other things,
it is bliss to be able to slow down a little.

On Friday we remembered Christ's death.
This year I am struck anew at what Jesus endured, and how unworthy
I am to receive his gift of life, bought through his death.

I broke my diet with these paleo hot cross buns. (Don't tell my nutritionist)
Which looked and smelt the thing but were an interesting texture, something like a shortcake. But to one currently deprived of baked goods and sweet foods they were amazing and very much enjoyed, while watching We Bought a Zoo, and over the next day until finally they disappeared - baked to boiled eggs and avocado snacks for me.

Yesterday we celebrated my Dad's birthday with family, while outside
rain poured down. More breaking of the diet. Last night we enjoyed Chariots of Fire, the first time the girls had seen it.

Today I woke and read John 19, about the empty tomb, and Jesus appearing to the women, and to his disciples. For the first time in years, excitement bubbled up in me at the story of Jesus' rising, his power over death.

The sunshine after the rain was a promise of a great day.
Another church service, with old friends and new, to celebrate together.

I arrived home to the smell of roast lamb, Steve had started it cooking in a slow oven
while we were out. I sat on the sofa, feeling slow again, enjoying my first square of chocolate in a long time - a pure chocolate and coconut nectar variety. An Easter treat, with permission of my nutritionist!

I set the table, using a white damask cloth that belonged to my mother-in-law.
Steve took out the lamb to rest before carving. I picked flowers and decorated the table for Easter,
looking forward to a family meal.

But alas, Laura turned a cartwheel in the living room while
we served up the dinner, banged a foot into my occasional table (that I use for morning and afternoon tea every day), smashed it, and then was so upset that she refused to join us at dinner, or later.
The three of us were left to enjoy our dinner as best as we could.
Later Steve and I played music together, and I went for a walk in the sunshine.
Two good things, but not what we had envisaged for the afternoon.

Life is not perfect, is it?

Jesus has power over death, and I trust in that,
but we still have to deal with the nitty-gritty -
the broken table, the gravy that isn't right (and sticks to everything!),
the rifts between people, a bedroom door that stays shut.
I'm not so great at all that - at knowing when to act, and when to let things lie.
Or at dealing with the frustrations when my plans don't work,
or others suffer because of the actions of one.
Or coping with seasons of extreme busyness that leave me
unwilling to do anything but curl into a ball and look after myself.

It feels like it's time to process all these thoughts,
the slurry of all that happened in March, and the expectation of new things ahead,
to pray and to listen better to God, to learn from Him and others,
to close out the world for a bit and focus on family, resting, reading, and being slow.

We have nothing planned for tomorrow, which is a rare thing.
We're looking forward to a holiday together soon.
With the end of daylight saving* last night , the sun has set already at 5.30, 
the next season of cosy dark evenings has begun.

Soon I'll be standing by a lakeside photographing sunsets over the water;
being slow, and wishing I could bottle that for the rest of the year.

I hope you've had a slow Easter too.

* * *

*Yesterday I found out that it's 'daylight saving', not 'daylight savings'. Who knew?