A new year, a new word

For the last few years, through prayer and pondering, I’ve had a word for the year. This year, the word that came forward and offered itself was ‘promise’.

No specific promise came along with it, so I began to look into the word itself and it was the second verb definition that resonated with me:

with obj. ] give good grounds for expecting (a particular occurrence or situation): forthcoming concerts promise a feast of music from around the world | [ with infinitive ] :  it promised to be a night that all present would long remember.

Mmmm…a year of promise – a year full of the expectation of – I’m going to go ahead and make it a positive, as you knew I would 🙂 – good occurrences or situations. I quite like that.

The words I’ve had previously have had an application aspect to them e.g. rest – deliberately concentrating on being restful; or intention – requiring me to really think and plan. But promise, well, promise requires me to do nothing but hope and keep my eyes open for the forthcoming good things.

And I’ve also been challenged by what I define as good. As is often the case, my definition of a word isn’t always what God means by that same word. And good definitely falls into that category.

For most of us, good things are the things that make us happy or make our life easier somehow or have some reward or kickback. Yet even a cursory read of the Bible should cause us to rethink what God means by good. By God’s definition, it seems good is anything that brings me closer to Him. And we all know that those things aren’t always what makes us happy or life easier, nor do they always carry a reward we can see in the here and now.

I like the freedom that this word brings and it ties in nicely with last years’ word of rest – rest in the promise of all this year holds 🙂

And what says promise more than the dawning of a new day? This pic is from a couple of years back that I love because it captures two of my favourite things – the beach and a fresh new day rising to meet us.



And now for a year of…

…rest. Apparently.

So every year I try to have a word that is my focus and after waiting on God for this years word, I pondered what the year looked like (so far): two jobs, both needing my full attention, studying, continuing in various roles within church groups and, obviously, I still have a husband and family.

And the word that God gave me? REST.

Yeah, right. I thought it would be something like focus or intention or efficiency. But no. Rest.

rest 1 |restverb [ no obj. ] cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.

So I’m trying to rest. I really am. And I’m discovering the true rest that only Jesus can provide – “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Finding rest in this life, this world, is tricky and often unsatisfactory. But I know the One who made it all and if He says that coming to Him and resting is the only way I am going to manage this year, then that is what I will do. I will relax in His presence, refresh myself by remembering Him and all He is and I will recover strength by drawing on His spirit.

And I’ve changed the photo on this blog to serve as a reminder to rest, for there is nowhere I feel more rested that amongst His creation and in particular, when I’m near the ocean.

I’m grateful for this word. Not surprisingly, it turns out it actually is the perfect word for this year 🙂



Rest. Why is doing nothing so hard? Part 2

Part 2 from the lovely Alison. And don’t forget to check out her blog arthousehomelife.

Why Is Doing Nothing So Hard?

Last week I knew I was heading for a meltdown.

I had painters, plumbers, carpenters, a plasterer, electrician and a frazzled site manager in my house all at once from 7am. My dogs were freaking out and trying to bite chunks out of the tradies’ ankles, Jazz (the cuter, but more nervy one) had stepped up her ‘I-will-not-wee-outside-if-it’s-raining-or-cold-or-a-little-bit-dewey’ campaign and used my daughter’s bed as a toilet (yes, lovely, discovered just as she was saying goodnight and about to climb in).

Every time I began to clear away the breakfast dishes or finish off the laundry, somebody would knock and ask another question or wander in with a ladder, or tell me there was someone knocking at the door, or ask me if I REALLY wanted to paint this thing that colour, and that they’d bought Taubmans rather than Dulux and it doesn’t match your other wall so shall I paint the entire room?, and btw the bathroom shop sent the wrong basin and the stonemason is leaving and won’t come back unless I pay him another $250, and the vanities were too low…. etc etc etc

This has been going on for almost a year and while I always say renovating is a nice problem to have and I am fortunate to be able to do it, my ability to be Zen about it all had worn rather thin.

I decided that for my sanity and the safety of the tradies (I was ready to stab someone, for no good reason) I would leave the piles of washing and hide in my study. Which is what I did.

It worked perfectly – I think after a few hours they all forgot I was here and surprisingly, without me, they all managed just fine. I had a lovely time blogging, reading, paying a few bills, relaxing.

At 3.30 I noticed the house was quiet. They’d all gone home. They hadn’t even knocked to say goodbye. I could get back to the things in the rest of the house that needed doing.

But after a day away from it all, the laundry pile looked higher, the dirty dishes in the sink were now crustier and hardened and much harder to wash, everything was covered, again, with a film of fine plaster dust. And it was time to prep for dinner. Worse, despite my ‘rest’ I had no energy or desire to tackle it all.

So rather than giving myself permission to catch up at whatever pace I needed to do it at, I began to berate myself for taking the time out. How could you while away the hours on the computer when there was work to be done? You wanted to renovate this place, tough it out. How hard is it to project manage while running a household? People everywhere do it all the time. Heck, you’re lucky to have all of this going on. Lucky to have a home at all. Lucky you don’t live in Syria right now, or Afghanistan, lucky you are not a mum with starving kids in Africa, lucky you don’t live in a tsunami zone and have your whole home and family washed away in one awful moment. Lucky lucky lucky. It’s just not that bad – you shouldn’t have rested.

I was so blah about it all, I rang my sister to download. I’m always wary of doing this. I don’t like to whinge or complain about my lot, which is, after all, a very comfortable lot in life. My sister, on the other hand knows what tough really is. She is a single mum to two children, one of whom has a profound intellectual and physical disability.

So that’s what I said. ‘I shouldn’t complain. It’s a nice problem to have. In fact it isn’t a problem really. It’s all fine. I just shouldn’t have spent so long in my study.’

My sister interrupted. ‘Maybe it’s not all fine. Maybe you did what you needed to do.’

‘But I did nothing. I wasted a whole day!’

‘But maybe you needed to do that.’

She was absolutely right. I knew I needed time out, I planned to take time out, I enjoyed taking the time out. I took time out. It was only now after the event I felt guilty.

‘You just listened to what your body needed, and you did it. What’s so wrong about that?’

And then she took the conversation to a whole new level.

She said this: ‘Do you remember a while back I would go to Westfield with R (her disabled daughter) and just walk? Not shop. Not talking to anyone. Just walk and walk?’

I remembered. She had just moved back to town after an awful break up with a man she loved dearly. She was heartbroken, exhausted and dazed, and bringing up two little girls on her own again.

‘I think I walked around Westfield for two years straight,’ she said. ‘At the time I berated myself. I should be at home cleaning, I should be finding a job, I should be exercising, I should be moving on, I should be doing this, or that, something – anything – other than spending all this time walking around Westfield. But now I look back and I know what I was doing. I was resting. My brain needed that walking, and that time out from doing anything else. My body was doing what it needed to do.’ (R’s disabilities means she’s not safe in the open, she runs off, and is very hard work. In Westfield she could wander around with my sister trailing behind, and not be at risk of getting lost, or hit by a car.)

‘I reckon your body tells you what it needs. I think it’s just hard to listen because we have so many voices in our heads telling us what we should be doing. Listen to your body. If you need to rest, rest. Why feel guilty?’

Yes. Why? Why not listen to what your body’s telling you loud and clear? Is it because we don’t trust ourselves? Is is because we fear we will rest for so long we might never get up and work again? Are we afraid of what other people might think? Would it mean we are lazy? Are we lazy?

I had to admit she was right. I hadn’t done anything wrong. I had rested. Nobody had died, nobody was hurt by it. There would be food on the table and enough clothes for the next day. I had done what I needed to do.

I know I’m a bit nuts at the moment, but I don’t think I am alone in this. I know a lot of people who don’t feel comfortable about slowing down. People who will keep going until they melt down, rather than see rest as a valuable investment of time.

Resting when we are tired is a natural thing to do. No need for judge and jury to weigh in afterwards to label it ‘wasting time’.

In the busyness of contemporary life listening to our bodies can seem like an optional extra. It’s not.

And guess what. Today, the laundry is all done and dinner for tonight was ready this morning, in case I needed external proof that I’m back, mind, body and spirit.

And you’ll be happy to know, no tradies or neurotic dogs were harmed along the way.

I get by with a little help from my friends

After a big whinge to my online Writerly buddies about my lack of energy, the fact that the sight of my beloved laptop Mary made my stomach churn with the ‘guilt of the unwritten’, I was met with such a show of support and love, that I found myself all teary and blubbery.
I am so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life. And now, you get to meet one of them 🙂


Rest. Why is doing nothing so hard?

Part 1.

If you are a follower of Personally Speaking, you will know that Susannah has been laid low by a nasty dose of Ross River Fever.

In case you are a bit foggy on all the ways Ross River Fever truly sucks, here’s a rundown:

‘…feelings of flu-like illness, accompanied by a high fever, skin rash and joint pains. Swelling of the joints can also be present, and are usually worse in the mornings. Other more general symptoms include nausea, headache, backache and muscle aches and pains.The initial symptoms normally present between five and 14 days after infection, and usually last up to six weeks. However, some sufferers report ongoing joint pains, depression and fatigue for up to six months.’ http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/

I’m a member of Susannah’s online writing group, and we are e-watching from an e-distance as she tries to do the impossible- to rest. She’s a girl with a lot to do, a lot to say, a lot to write, and fighting the urge to do all of those things is a moment by moment struggle 1. because it’s just so darn boring (see post below), and 2. too because it offers so much time and just enough energy to work up a nice big dose of guilt about all the things you are not doing.

I’ve been there.

Most people I know have been there.

Luckily most of us don’t have to suffer through Ross River Virus, but we’ve all soldiered on during times of illness, exhaustion, stress, and heartbreak because the alternative – resting – often induces complicated feelings of frustration and guilt- ‘I’m just being a wus’, ‘I should just suck it up and get on with it’, ‘I’m taking way too long to get over this.’

Why is that?

I had a major crisis last week about something so very minor that this week, with my perspective fully restored, and a now refreshed knowledge of just how miserable Ross River Virus is, I’m almost embarrassed to repeat it. But I learned something from my wise sister about resting and guilt that I hope will stand me in good stead should I ever end up in Susannah’s position, or God forbid with something worse.
I thought I’d better write it down so I’ll remember it when the time comes, and I hope Susannah will remind me of it when I need to hear it again, as no doubt I will- probably over and over for the rest of my life.

I also thought it might be a good way to introduce myself, as I may contribute a few things here and there over the next few weeks for Personally Speaking so that Susannah can rest a bit longer.

I’m Alison. I’ve known Susannah for six months since I joined her writing group. I am a writer of children’s fiction, television producer, serial renovator with mid-term memory loss (I did say NEVER again a few years ago but here I am again…), blogger, wife, mum, daughter, sister, canteen hand, soccer mum, yoga comittment-phobe, home magazine addict with a life threatening sweet tooth.

In the time that I’ve known Susannah she has warmly and generously e-talked me through several scary blog posts, a pitch to a major publisher, encouraged me on several poems and been honest enough to tell me when something I wrote needed, well, something more. It’s precious and rare to have that sort of sounding board as a writer.

So, when the dust settles on this week’s renovating stuff-ups and redos, I will post part 2 of ‘Rest. Why is doing nothing so hard?’ entitled ‘Learning to rest without guilt.‘

It’s a work in progress, so feel free to post your suggestions, and then, watch this space.