Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Funniest person in my life

EQ says this line almost daily - he has a great sense of humour, quick wit and has our family always laughing, probably inherited from his Dad. So I asked him this week about the validity of his statement, as how can everyone he meet possibly be 'the funniest person in his life', so he clarified.

"So and so is the funniest person I know at school, so and so is the funniest person at TAFE, so and so is the funniest person at work etc"....... So in every circle of his life he is attracted to others with a quick wit and quirky sense of humour too! I found this really interesting and remembered the conversation we had after his first shift at MacDonalds, eighteen months ago now.

Me: "So how was your first shift?"
EQ: " Oh you should meet xxxx, they are the coolest person!"
Me: "So what did you have to do?"
EQ: "Our manager is just the best, she did x,y,z...., I think she'll be really cool to work with."
Me: "So do you think you'll like working there?"
EQ: "It's great to meet new people, xxxx this, xxxx that, xxxx...."

So what does this little transcript tell me/us? EQ is aptly named! He LOVES people and would rather focus on the people at work, than the work itself. Having said that, he gets more shifts than he can do, because he does have a good work ethic and has been commended by his managers for such. So I am not worried that he focuses on people more than the work. He seems to be able to do both. I just love it that he loves people and they are the focus of his life. Some people make us smile on the inside and/or the out, EQ does both. I never did find out what he did on his first shift! Something to do with flipping burgers, oh that's right, it was cooking chicken nuggets!

Cherishing my children.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

One crystal goblet

Inspired by a recent read at Kamarooka, She, Understanding Feminine Psychology by Robert Johnson. Not a huge mythology fan but have grown to appreciate the power of the narrative in myths that can speak to us vividly when the blatantly obvious sometimes doesn't. It never ceases to amaze me that even as adults we need repetition, repetition as do children, until we 'get something' and even then we constantly need to be reminded! And often it needs to be presented to us in different ways, colours and shades to keep getting it, living it or applying it. Maybe I am just super slow at 'getting some things', and all this is a swings and round-a-bout way to say the penny dropped while reading Johnson's book, and it took a wild mythological story to help me see it!

"Myths are rich sources of psychological insight. Great literature, like all great art, records and portrays the human condition with indelible accuracy. Myths are a special kind of literature not written or created by a single individual, but produced by the imagination and experience of an entire age and culture and can be seen as the distillation of the dreams and experiences of a whole culture. Myths honour universality and timelessness."

Do you ever feel as a modern mum/parent caught between conflicting choices/demands? Parenting +/vs volunteering, parenting +/vs work, parenting +/vs study, parenting +/vs helping others, parenting +/vs community projects, parenting +/vs sport? With education & ever changing society expectations has come this incredible pull to not just be satisfied with the wonderful profession of parenting, particularly mothering. The once 'stay at home' mum myself have struggled with this ever since becoming a 'full time working mum'. Getting the balance just right. We are all expected to juggle parenting plus, plus, plus.

Johnson is his book, She describes the interplay between two characters, Psyche and Aphrodite, who represent the two parts of a woman's personality according to Greek mythology. I won't go into all the details, but rather highlight one 'task' out of four that really leapt off the page, and you guessed it, has to do with a crystal goblet.

Imagine a character, Psyche, she has been given four tasks to accomplish before she can really know herself and be 'redeemed'. The crystal goblet is a part of the third task along her perilous journey to find the inner treasure. Psyche finds herself by a fast flowing river that tumbles from a high mountain. Her task is to fill a crystal goblet with water from the river. Easy? The river is guarded by dangerous monsters and there is no place by the side of the river to set one's foot to dip the goblet in. Suddenly an eagle appears and flies to Psyche in her distress and asks for the crystal goblet. Flying to the centre of the stream, the eagle lowers the goblet into the dangerous waters, fills it and brings it safely back to Psyche. Her task is accomplished. Simple, yet profound.

What does this story tell us? What is the crystal goblet? Who is the eagle? And why a fast flowing river? All imagery that I am sure you could relate to your own life, with varied meanings attached to each character as symbolic.

"This task is telling us how the woman must relate to the vastness of life. She may take only one goblet of water. The feminine way is to do one thing and do it well and in proportion. She is not denied a second or third or tenth activity but she must take it one goblet at a time, each in good order." 

As women/parents we are often flooded with the vastness of possibilities in life and drawn to all of them, usually all at once! Here, here! Speaking my language! But this is impossible; one cannot do or be so many things at once (but we'll all have a good go at it, that superwoman fallacy). Johnson goes so far as to say that there is a modern day heresy that states if a little is good, more is better. Unfortunately this is pumped to us everywhere, do more, be more, achieve more. This creates a life that even while we are enjoying one experience we can be already looking for the next. Balance. Enjoying the now without being consumed by the future.

The goblet is crystal for a reason. Crystal is very fragile and very precious, it represents our ego/personality. It holds the water representing life from the river.  If we are not careful the goblet can be shattered by the treacherous river. So we need vision like an eagle to see the vastness of the river, the great flow of life and be ale to dip into the river at just the right place, in the right manner. This comes with a warning to not plunge too deeply expecting the whole of life to be experienced at once, it is better one goblet at a time, otherwise the river may drown or overwhelm us.

Johnson finishes by reminding us that almost all of us at times can become overwhelmed by the 'too-muchness' of modern life, even daily. This is the time for an eagle view and one-crystal-goblet-at-a-time  mentality, to life, to parenting. Little is much, be content and satisfied with what you have now, let go of longing for more, more, more and model this to our children. Parenting, particularly when our children are younger is enough, don't squeeze them in around everything else. Parenting is our focus, they are with us for but a short while.....cherish them now.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Inner beauty

Today more than ever we are pushed by media to look a certain way, dress a certain way, follow fashion, be skinny, have flawless complexions, no saggy butts, boobs, chins or faces, botox and cosmetic surgery are heralded as saviours to our ageing bodies. To be quite frank, I don't subscribe to it.

To override the push or even to go against the pulling tide, takes substantial energy. I find as a mother of two daughters and two sons, it is a constant challenge to navigate and interpret what my four see on TV and around them. I want for my daughters to be content with who they are, invest time in inner beauty and attitudes rather than external looks, aim to be generous, loving and kind, rather than sexy, hot and available.

I want for my sons also to be satisfied with who they are, not pumping themselves full of protein powder, steroids, hormones or becoming gym junkies to prove themselves as studs. Nor for them to expect their potential girlfriends and wives to be like what is promoted on TV to be attractive. Hopefully they see beyond the superficiality of this and desire women in their life who have invested in inner beauty.

Maybe you think I am old fashioned, or not wanting to keep up with modern times. So be it, I still would rather see my children grow up valuing inner beauty over external. In my work as a palliative nurse I see the ravages of disease, cancer, dementia, motor neurones, huntington's etc and their toll on physical bodies and sometimes wonder at the great price we pay to keep our bodies beautiful to have them suddenly flawed by disease or accidents and inevitably the ageing process. This makes me value what's going on the inside more than the out. Whatever happened to ageing gracefully?

So much time and money is invested in beauty products, treatments, facials, scrubs, massages, gym memberships and the like, I consider how much do we invest in nurturing our inner selves/beauty. Richard Rohr, renown author speaks about a renaissance of contemplation and the potential benefits of this 'exercise' and would argue not only for its internal benefits but also that it enhances the physical too. From the inside out.

Don't read me wrong, I am not anti exercise nor for looking one's best and I am all for a relaxing massage or other treatments in right measures when time permits. I love clothes and its one of our favourite mother daughter things to go op shopping to find the best fashion bargains we can. Thoughtful Princess is the BEST bargain hunter! All in moderation. However it's the obsession with physical beauty or appearances that consumes our TV programs, magazines and billboards that concerns me as a Mum.

A father's relationship with his daughters also plays such an integral role in young girls sense of self esteem and how they view themselves. And likewise mothers and sons. This I see so beautifully in my own children. Thoughtful Princess and Sunshine are for the most part very content and have lovely self esteem, more balanced than I ever was at their age. I attribute much of this to their Dad's love and affirmation of them. He tells them how beautiful they are. And he means from the inside, out.

Sunshine once asked me why I wear makeup, I spun some response around, "if only I had beautiful 10yr old skin like yours I wouldn't need too" (then felt instantly guilty for comparing). Sunshine quickly looked in the bathroom mirror and said, "I like my face, I'm glad God gave me this face"! Oh how precious those words! She said it not in any kind of pretentious, vain or conceited way, but one of total satisfaction with who she is. Isn't that the healthy kind of self esteem we long for our children to have? Hope she is still saying that when she is 21 and beyond!

Sunshine when she gets dressed for an eisteddfod now has a little verse stuck to her mirror which I have encouraged her to practise & remember. Behind the makeup and costumes is the inner beauty and attitudes we desire more, "clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience". I have for years had this on my own mirror, recited it as a morning prayer & tried to live it, now it's time to pass it on.

Something we can all aspire to regardless of age or gender. In the art of cherishing our children let us foster inner beauty more.


Sunday, 15 July 2012

Dare to be silent

View from Kamarooka Cottage

O breath of morn
blue of blue, hues of grey
cold crisp air says it's dawn
arise, come meet the day

A wallaby greets me at the door
silence offers a gentle kiss
all around is beauty to adore
heaven on earth is bliss, bliss, bliss

To take all this into my soul
beauty out there bring in
a dose of creation to make me whole
surrender to the still voice within

He is here in all of this
that I may see His face
let all striving cease
embrace grace, grace, grace                                                                                                                                                             

It kinda was and kinda wasn't, a conversation that planted a seed, like almost a dare to a silent retreat. Being an extrovert who loves people, people, people, the idea of total silence and no human contact for even just a day almost fills me with dread. But the opportunity arose, two whole days without commitments or responsibility, could it become a carved out space, a dare to be silent, to retreat? With no agenda but just to be, a swag of books, nature and me.

I feel purged from things that really don't matter. No TV, no phone conversations, no Facebook, no food, no artificial noise just natural ones; birds chirping, kookaburras laughing, bees buzzing, crickets clicking, cows mooing, chooks clucking, dogs barking, frogs croaking, like a hot soak and massage in nature's silence, stripped away from technology and pressure, a detox from competing voices of the world; do this, be this, lead this, manage this, coordinate this, write this, review this, sort this, fix this.

Stop. Be still. Come away. Dare to be silent. Just be. 

Though I love to keep up to date with politics and current affairs it has been really refreshing to not hear 'bad news' for two days. It's almost like being marooned on a deserted island with no news from the outside world. Marooned and hidden in the hills. I am not advocating a totally cloistered lifestyle, though for some this is a calling and choice, but for some of us to retreat from the busyness of life even just for a day or two can be enough to recharge and regain perspective. Imagine a month's retreat!

Contemplation, meditation and prayer are ancient practises that go in and out of vogue in our crazy paced culture. Being still when there is so much to do, achieve and succeed in is contrary to popular demand, 'operating in the opposite spirit' my YWAM days taught me. Their experienced benefits far outweigh any criticism of them. Each religion in the world has variations of the same, yet for me as one who tries to follow Christ, I find immeasurable comfort and peace in meditating on His life, His words, His love, trying to make relevant His presence, principles and values, a practise that has been tested and trialled through the centuries. Though I fail mostly, there is infinite grace to keep trying. It is this rhythm of grace I have found again this weekend in the hills and silence of Kamrooka and untamed places of my heart.

Often we need to remind ourselves we are human beings first, not human doings. I am one of the first to get caught up in do, do, do. To retreat is a golden gift to pause, reflect, recalibrate, refresh, like shift F5. Hopefully I will be a better mum, colleague, friend having been tucked away for a couple of days. Taking some of this beauty into my soul and everyday. Responding graciously with love and patience rather than frazzled fried reactions. Wonder how long the benefits of retreat last? It comes with no packaged guarantees, but this I do know, I have taken a plunge and jumped into the river of life again, to be carried by the mystery of its unfolding (thanks to John O'Donhue). Reconnected with the Source of its flow and ready to go. I invite you to do the same.

Thank you God, thank you Kamarooka.


Friday, 13 July 2012


Kamarooka is an indigenous word meaning, "rest awhile". It's also the name of my friend's property nestled at the base of the Toowoomba range. It is a little piece of heaven on earth. Not only for my friend and her family, but for anyone who visits. Imagine wide horizon plains, undulating green hills, mist rolling in, cows lulling, kangaroos a jumping, hares a hopping, chickens a scratching, veggie patches, frolicking lavender and hydrangeas, citrus trees, wild passionfruit vines and tomato bushes, a gorgeous little farmer's cottage with outback grain hut converted into guest lodgings, a cubby house as big as the guest lodgings, typical Aussie tin sheds for farm equipment, water tanks, dams, nearest neighbours a mile away, the sound of silence except for the eveningsong of crickets & frogs and gentle rain on a iron roof and you have the lovely quintessential picture and feel of Kamarooka.

Never underestimate childhood dreams. Kamarooka is the fulfilment of a childhood dream for my dear friend. All she ever wanted was to marry a farmer and own her own piece of land. A dream kindled during childhood holidays at her grandparents property in Kingaroy. It took 38years, but her dream is now a beautiful, living reality. She even got married on her land. A wedding to remember, marquee in country setting, ceremony under massive gum tree. Every time I come here there is a sense of coming home and sharing in my friend's dream and land. We grew up together. I too spent many childhood holidays at her grandparents farm so delight to share her realised dream now. We had wild imaginations as young girls, my friend is one of a twin, and together the three of us were the Charlie's Angels! We really were!

My four and I have enjoyed Kamarooka's beauty and hospitality at least annually for many years now when we come to Toowoomba for Easterfest. Our first Easterfest we camped at Kamarooka rather than Queen's Park and enjoyed frosty autumn morns here woken by the cattle moo-ing near our tents! We farm sat last year for a week while our friend's holidayed at the coast. My four LOVED being here despite at first wondering how they would ever cope for a whole week without the X-box, playstation 3, DVDs, pre iPods and iPhones. They ran wild on the hills, chased cows, fed the chickens, collected eggs, played with the dog, swam in the dams, picked dandelions and made daisy chains, played in the rain, the mud, skateboarded down the country lanes, EQ learnt to drive on the country roads and did fabulous free range kids stuff, it was divine!

We left Kamarooka last year ONE day before the 2011 January floods that hit the Toowoomba/Grantham area. Thankfully Kamarooka is on high ground and my friend's property didn't go under. They were trapped in their home for a week, but no damage. We had even gone to visit the rising river, totally oblivious to how dangerous it could have been. Link to farm sit and rising water photos below.

This weekend I come alone, to embrace a silent retreat. My four are still in Victoria with their Dad. The call of Kamarooka's serenity woos me. Once again I farm sit, as my friends enjoy the coast. Once again I soak in the beauty, deliberately get off the busy merry-go-round, be still and know God.


Monday, 9 July 2012

Crazy busy

I have borrowed this title for a post out of an article from the New York Times, entitled the Busy Trap (see below link). I read it and thought the author must have been spying on my life to write it. I do have some ownership over the title in that it is commonly my response to the question, "so how are you?" Crazy busy is/was a fairly standard reply. Busy by my own drivenness, although as a parent of four, there is also a degree of natural busyness by a simple uneven ratio 1:4. I often think the perfect balanced family is 2:2, two parents, two kids, even stevens, everything seems equally shared between parents. But anything beyond 2 and add solo parenting to the equation and life without even trying gets busy.

So in my feeble attempt to justify the busyness of our lives as simply mathematical we add to that each of my four have individual interests that require dropping off and picking up. They say our generation of parenting promotes extra curricular activities, yet I have never ever pushed my children to do so. Sunshine actually begged me for 2 years to do dancing before I enrolled her. Ok, I do confess to strongly encouraging her to stick to playing the flute, but in the end let her drop it and focus on her dancing as expressly requested by her. Thoughtful Princess tried Irish dancing in grade 1, hated it, so we quit pronto. Both girls now dance purely and only because they love it.

The boys have always been involved in club sport, soccer mainly and EQ one season of rugby until he realised footy was not sport of choice for him due to his compact size. A concussion, near broken nose for DW, and ratios again, also made him realise footy was not for him either, his light 40 kg compared to other 14year olds who were 80+kg (I wanted to check their birth certificates!), it just wasn't safe! 

So the extra after school/weekend activities have all been self directed by my children's interests never imposed by me. Throw a working son into the mix and the drop and pick ups can number up to 10+ on any given Saturday. I promise that I don't deliberately try to be busy! But do find most week nights and Saturdays are spent in the car or waiting in car parks of dance studios, MacDonalds, shopping centres or friend's houses, squeezing housework and study somewhere in between. 

Many mothers work full or part time now, and the super woman juggling act of parenting, working and extra stuff does present real challenges, certainly my grandmothers generation didn't have to deal with. They battled day to day with just making ends meet, being able to simply get chores done, feed and clothe the family on a farmer's seasonal directed wages. Bad weather meant poor crops, meant bad wages, but they didn't complain about being too busy!  

We are definitely a more affluent age. My grandmother's family never ever would have dreamt of an overseas holiday. Going to the Sunshine Coast for the day was a luxury, forget a week on the coast! Nowadays overseas holidays seem par de cour for many families (not ours). And yet we still complain we are financially & time poor AND too busy! Hasn't technology helped save us time? Microwaves, dryers, computers, email, iPhones? My grandmother had none of these, yet she never complained about being too busy and definitely wasn't as stressed as our generation! 

So how do we get off the busy treadmill and find a pace to life that is healthy and good rather than ulcer making? I guess cutting out unnecessary stuff is a good start. Does that mean I can't go to Zumba? I do think parents need their own interests too beyond family, work and study. Is that being greedy or selfish? No it's being kind to oneself and finding spaces and places that restore our souls that will us keep going in the draining demands of day to day flurry. Maybe just maybe I need to rethink involvement with one too many committees! 

I observe those around me who lead busy lives and particularly notice those who are equally or if not busier and amazingly carry it off without appearing to be hurried, stressed or overly anxious.  For this I am thinking of families I know with multiple children (sorry to those reading this who don't have children or have <4) - to get some inspiration I need a comparative analysis! In our church we have an amazing family of 10 - 7 natural children and 3 foster children. Now they are busy!! They do appear busy and frazzled at times but also incredibly happy, great role models for what family life is all about. 

A few other friends have 5 children, work and are all involved in medicine, missions, chaplaincy, music, sporting pursuits or combinations of all and seem to do this entirely with poise, precision and an air of unhurriedness, a real art. Then I walked yesterday with another friend who has 6 children, 1 disabled daughter, a brand new granddaughter, does veterinary research and finds time in her busy life to connect with people struggling with their sexuality. Made me rethink my definition of busy. My life is calm in comparison!

So with a mouth full of ulcers, (a sign of being run down & too busy), my beautiful four safe site seeing in Canberra today and a Sunday to just read, relax & write, I think I have succeeded in getting out/off of the busy trap even if it's for just one day!

I don't agree with everything Tim says but in general it's a good reminder to find meaning in life while avoiding being too crazy busy.......


Saturday, 7 July 2012

Saying goodbye

I had to say goodbye to my beautiful four this morning. Ugggghhh, found it hard. Missing them already. The house is too quiet. Most of us as parents in the hustle & bustle of family life probably wish for a reprieve or days of respite and quiet, but when it's granted, we paradoxically long for the noise & buzz that family life generates.

They are driving to Victoria with their Dad. EQ is doing most of the driving to clock up towards the all consuming 100 hours on his L's. Nothing like a long road trip to learn to drive. Making me very nervous though, what if a kangaroo jumps out, what if trucks sit on their rear end, what if's ........ will he know what to do? I trust their Dad to be ever watchful eyes and play safety conscious driving instructor, but it's all the other variables that cannot be controlled that do a mother's heart a worry.

The act of saying goodbye is like breathing, something we do without thinking, apart of our everyday experience. We say goodbye to our children dropping them to school, to work colleagues at the end of the day, to finish phone conversations. There are happy goodbyes, sad ones, painful ones, tearing ones, awkward ones, wanted and unwanted ones, formal and casual ones, rushed and drawn out ones (check out the departure lounge at any airport!). Goodbyes filled with emotion and with nothingness, with longing for the next time or dreaded ones. Welcomed goodbyes like to the telemarketer ringing at dinner time or the foxtel salesman on our doorstep for the 5th time this year. Also goodbyes filled with anger or tears as in death, final goodbyes or closure to  childhood, a friendship, a beloved pet, a job, a career, a marriage, a season in life, even a country.

YWAM days were always filled with goodbyes. I didn't like the 'being left behind' feeling that always accompanied farewelling people and teams. Just get to know people really well and have to say goodbye, knowing full well you would probably never ever see them again. Teams coming and going all the time and quickly learning that being the one left behind saying goodbye was the short end of the stick. Goodbye is worse for the one/s left behind, especially in death and to a lesser degree in travel. Like my children as the excitement overrides the sadness of the moment and there are adventures ahead for them and the mundane for the left behinders. 

So today it was a happy/sad goodbye and have to make our last hugs and kisses linger for the next 12 days. I wanted to embrace the goodbye moment and make it a memorable one. Let's not regret 'bad' goodbyes. Interesting that it is goodbye and not badbye, as if the good prefix imparts a sense of blessing to the farewell.

Maybe the 'see ya later' type of goodbye is best, like the French with au revoir or à bientôt or the Chinese, 再见 zài jiàliterally translated as, again see! What I do hope is to make our goodbyes count. Rather than be incidental, be deliberate and intentional, like my Thoughtful Princess who never fails to say,  "love you Mummy, drive safely" when she says goodbye. Her goodbye mantra! 

Or perhaps we could learn from Jewish culture, where they use the word, shalom to greet and farewell each other. Maybe not so much in today's 21st century but the word means 'peace to you'. Actually it means much more than just simply peace; it is complete peace. A feeling of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well being and harmony (Strongs concordance).  Now that's a beautiful way to say goodbye wishing/hoping/praying that kind of peace to everyone. 

Love you EQ, DW, Thoughtful Princess and Sunshine, drive safely, have a wonderful trip and see you again soon. Thank goodness for mobiles, Skype and facetime! 


As Ben Jonson said, "In the hope to meet shortly again, and make our absence sweet." 

Don't be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetime, is certain for those who are friends." -Richard Bach

A goodbye means the next hello is closer......anon

Thursday, 5 July 2012

No goes both ways

One of my favourite stories and lessons learnt about prayer is from the life of Amy Carmichael. What an amazing, courageous woman. As a teenager I devoured all her books, of which there is a library, she loved to write poetry and stories of the children she rescued from temple prostitution in India. A woman who has inspired me greatly, Sunshine is named after her. Amy was Irish. 

As a young child of about 7years of age she desperately wanted blue eyes over her brown ones. Being a child of a religious family she had been taught to pray, "ask and it shall be given unto you". So with great faith she prayed one night going to bed that somehow God would change her eyes from brown to blue.

She arose early in the morning, jumped up and raced to the mirror, full of hope to see blue eyes staring back at her. To her disappointment, they were still brown. Amy said she learnt a very important lesson that morning about God and prayer. Sometimes God says, No!

I had to say, the "N" word to my son tonight. Usually I am fairly flexible with activities and requests but sometimes it is appropriate to say no. He was cool with it, and I actually thought in some ways, relieved. I had planned as a family to go somewhere and though his invitation to go out with friends was a valid invite, wanted him to spend time with us.

I was reminded again of how saying no is healthy. Creates boundaries. 

Also in discussing the activity to be done as a family, my other, older son said he didn't want to go. I was disappointed and tried not to show it. Tried some reverse psychology, the path of lest resistance sometimes works best. This made me realise that no goes both ways. As parents we are compelled to say no to obvious actions that will cause harm, or activities that are not in their best interest, and other times things are negotiable and we need to teach our children these skills. But can we accept when they say, no, when they decline to participate, especially as teenagers fast approaching adulthood?

If it is just because they don't feel like it then it's a different story, but I do believe as parents we need to gauge when some liberties can be given and a no from our child/teen needs to be considered as them learning to make independent choices. It may not be the decision we want, but does need to be respected without demonstrating obvious disappointment. An art I am still learning.

So back to Amy's brown eyes. After years in India where she started a home/orphanage/a village for children who were rescued from temple prostitution and destitution she often had to go 'under cover' at night on rescue trips, dressed as an Indian woman. She writes how grateful she was then that God didn't answer her prayer, because her brown eyes made her blend in as an Indian. Blue eyes would have given her away.

No is good and healthy in parenting, life, relationships, prayer and goes both ways. No is mostly in our best interests, like Amy's, and sometimes we only find out the reason why years later, hope we and our children can learn to respect it.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Fear of failure

It was a toss up to call this post, fear of failure, humble pie or wrongology (term coined by Kathryn Schulz). Found out yesterday that I haven't passed one of my subjects towards my masters. Bless, my lovely lecturer said she even marked one of my papers twice to try and find extra marks, but reality is, that it just didn't flow, it wasn't good enough, it didn't meet the criteria. My argument was flawed, referencing poor and I really didn't engage with the topic. I knew it was a very average effort when I sent it in, being pressed for time, crossed my fingers, whispered a prayer and hoped it would be enough to get me over the line.

On reflection, I didn't deserve to pass. I didn't engage with the subject properly at all since being involved with a state election political campaign, have struggled with the juggle of family, work & study and addiction to fb! Not using this as an excuse, rather evaluating my slack attitude which was one of aiming simply to pass rather than to learn. Taking on too much, expectant of favours rather than being realistic. I now think trying to be superwoman is not something to aspire too, but rather a recipe for failure! 

I read this very thought provoking speech recently which has been a good shock absorber to receiving the disappointing news, it helped me gain perspective.

You can read the full speech here -  You are not special

What I got out of this article was the stark reminder to embrace the journey of the challenge and not dread or wish it over before the process has wrought its work in me/us. Also to seek not the accolade of completion but rather relish the process of getting there as just as important, if not more. I am guilty of the former. 

The old saying, "you get what you put in, is true,". Although DW doesn't think so regarding his HPE grade.  He worked really hard, but was disappointed with his final semester grade. He believes he definitely deserved better and feels hardly done by. Somehow too, I had selfishly hoped for a miracle, but thankfully God is not fooled by our minimal efforts just as university lecturers are not! 

I do attempt, as no doubt we all, to teach my children this, but feel like I have failed them with my own example. Interesting how school report cards can make us feel like good or bad parents, when really efforts are owned by our children. Also interesting is how we gauge value based on effort or productivity, an almost communist view. 

Are we worth less if we don't achieve an 'A' or high distinction? Definitely not, but maybe we all secretly wish our children could be straight A students and claim their brilliance! Even though all we ask is that they try their hardest, do their best. Well on this occasion, I didn't do mine & the results showed that! 

To do our best and aim for excellence is to be admired, but what happens when we don't? Do we feel less as a person? Courage is to do our best despite our circumstances, physically, psychologically or emotionally and hopefully learn from our mistakes, rather than despise or disown them. 

Perhaps an even greater reminder is that our worth as human beings is not in our accomplishments or lack thereof but in the intrinsic, ineffable value and dignity of simply being who we are. Otherwise how do the severely disabled, paraplegic, or one with dementia rate their lives. Their life is worth the same as someone who wins the nobel peace prize or can split atoms. Unfortunately we esteem success over failure, being right over wrong. I finish with two quotes, the first from Benjamin Franklin (1784), as quoted in 'Being Wrong' by Kathyrn Shcultz;

"Perhaps the history of the errors of mankind, all things considered, is more valuable and interesting than that of their discoveries. Truth is uniform and narrow; it constantly exists and does not seem to require so much an active energy, as a passive aptitude of soul in order to encounter it. But error is endlessly diversified; it has no reality, but is the pure and simple creation of the mind that invents it. In this field, the soul has room enough to expand herself, to display all her boundless faculties, and all her beautiful and interesting extravagancies and absurdities." 

David McCullough finishes his speech with:

" Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you. Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly. Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, these rest of the 6.8 billion - and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with recognition that you're not special. Everyone is."