Sunday, September 30, 2007


A couple of months ago at Solace Sunday stuff we writing prayers of the everyday and I wrote a prayer about swimming, which I'm aiming to do way more than I currently am! Here it is:

Creator of the water
Help me sink into the rhythm of the pool
To let myself be as I swim
To submit to the rhythm
And as I sink into the rhythm of the pool
As I let myself be and submit to that rhythm
Work deep within me to help me further submit to your rhythm of life.

Colossians 3

We've been going through Colossians at 5pm. The other week the person leading it got us to write something for ourselves that she then sent a couple of days into the week. Here's what I wrote to myself coming out of a gospel reflection on the beginning of Colossians 3.


It's a mystery
It's a paradox

You can't make it happen
But you can trust that it has happened
It is happening
It will happen

Your life is hid with Christ in God
Be true to that life

Much of your life is not in line with that reality

Live in your new reality
Put on your new self
Which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Continuing the Grief Processing

In many ways I do feel like I'm moving into a different place in the grief zone. I've certianly got more energy and the fog/blur is lifting. But there is still so much to process. And over the last couple of weeks I've been processing the cause of mum's death and autopsy report. They have said the cause of death was a stroke in a lady who had very high levels of alcohol in her system and that a secondary cause of death was high blood pressure.

It's been interesting to process that and more specifically the autopsy report. I wasn't surprised to find that she had significant alcohol in her system - I'd suspected that some of the strange behaviour from her was connected with alcohol, so in some ways it's all confirmation of what I thought - that's nice in a strange way. But the amount was and is shocking - .28 in her blood, and that's probably a lower amount than was actually there at the time of her death. There is also evidence of numerous strokes of different ages and dad now thinks he saw some of those. There is also evidence of some pulminory stuff either as a result of the stroke or the alcohol. And now that I have a sense of how much she was drinking, I certainly don't think this situation was in any way a one off.

So how do I feel? Sad, vindicated, angry, at peace, like truth is known.
But it's wierd to think that these are the actions mum had ended up in.
It so makes me want to choose widely different paths with the things that are struggles for me.

Friday, September 28, 2007

This is what life is about :)

Such a small but big experience happened for me yesterday. In the op shop/church building/community space where I work there was a person out having a coffee in the more community/lounge space of the building. This person is someone who can be quite demanding about things and often will not engage, she's definately up the higher needs end of the people around our area. Lately she's been around alot, we are not really sure how she started coming but since she started coming the space has become a very regular space for her.

A guy who was in a wheelchair was being assisted in buying some trousers by another guy who I think was a personal care assistant and they needed more space than our change rooms in the op shop would allow, so I pointed them through to the toilet up the back of the church property. As they walked through the community/lounge type space, this lady who was having a coffee asked if they wanted a coffee and offered to make it for them - which she proceeded to do while they were trying on the trousers. As they came back she gave them the coffee ... and then left.

It was an amazing experience to listen to - a glimpse of the kingdom and one of those times when I deeply know that what I am involved in is worth it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Unworded grief

One of the things about grief is that it often has no words. What am I feeling? Not even sure that feeling isn't too tangible a word for the experience of grief I have right now ... it just is. It's the blur, it's the state of being, it's just a place. It's not empty, it's not horrible (although I look forward to it not being a place that is a frequent experience), it's not exciting, it just is. Bring on the other side of it - but for the moment ... grey is the colour - dull old grey. (this is in contrast to Clare's song where she writes about black being the colour cause it has no end - my experience today is that it's grey, black is way too intense, I can handle in some ways black better than the dullness of grey!)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Engaged in Life

Been processing a bit about the kind of situations I prefer to be in and ones that I don't - and there seems to be something about choice of what you engage with and also actually being engaged. For ages I've known that I hate lectures/classes ... and I hate tutes just as much, so it's not just about being talked "at". There is something about being told what to engage with when that doesn't work for me (and it's not just about being told what to do!!!). It all feels quite unnatural or something - and doesn't work for my brain somehow. Thinking about it has taken me back to school days and the best ways I worked - which was being way ahead so that when I was in class I was just working in my own space. Interestingly for an extrovert (although I did one of those tests yesterday and came up as an introvert), I prefer to work on things alone, but normally have ideas initiated in conversation with others and like to take things back to others too. So I guess tutes where I'd done the reading and we really were coming for a free form conversation around the reading would be brilliant. And while I do in many ways process externally, it's processing what is already beginning to be processed in me not what the situation I'm in is telling me that's what I need to talk about. So ideally I like to be in situations where we are talking about stuff I have come prepared to talk about - but where the conversation has permission to go wherever it goes. For that to work well though I need to ensure I have done the "pre-work/thinking".
Not only that though - I hate situations by and large where I am not actively involved. I get bored if I am not participating strongly and I just don't want to be in the situation. However, there is another side to that - I also enjoy actively watching! So one of my favourite things to do in a group situation is sit and contentedly let the social situation occur. What I hate however is being asked to be involved in the conversation/activity but not in a way that is fully engaging all of me. And so much of life in our normal ways of interacting asks that of us!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Truth will set you free

Truth is spoken,
Truth spoken in season,
Truth that is ready to be heard,
Truth that reveals brokenness and darkness,
Truth that is stark reality,
Truth that brings actions into the Light.

The Truth will set you free.

SMS - exceptions

And just a note - there are a few people who I do not have exceptionally regular contact with but who are people who sms me to show interest, connection, share information etc on occasions ... who are overseas or interstate ... who are exceptionally close friends ... and who read this blog - your sms's are just fine and lovely!!!! You'll know who you are :)

SMS and how we use it

I've had various reasons over recent days - and the last years - to think about how different people use different technology and especially how different people use texting. A friend and I have often commented on how differently I use texting to others. And we've never been able to pin down exactly what it is - but know that I use it quite differently. Most people who know me well know that texting is fine - but don't rely on a response - I will see it but i won't necessarily respond, particularly if it seems like it's to a group. And I confuse people about my approach to texting because i do use it as a communication method. However, for me it's a fairly intimate communication method - or a very basic communication tool. So it's basically reserved for "I'm running late" or for communication with people who I have very regular contact with and this is just an enhancing mode of contact. Either way it is adjacent to other contact not as a main way of connecting - and I've been thinking about how it can often feel to me as a way of avoiding contact - even though I know for most people it's a way of not intruding (I just say to that - I have voicemail!).

And what's wierd is that lots of other people would feel like that about blogs, facebook, email, even phone - all things I feel very comfortable with ... and feel like it's "real connecting" even when there is not signifiant other contact but sms I don't - bizarre! I don't pretend to get myself - so don't feel obliged to either!!!!!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Inspiring conversations

Had a great time this morning with a Solace board member talking about some of my work. Not sure where what we talked about will lead - in fact it raised more questions than answers but I am starting to learn that the best things come from those places. The trick is to enjoy the questions and to let them lead somewhere but not force them there. The skill in that is an extreme balence - but as natural as breathing if we let it, but one we rarely let happen. It's an active waiting, an engaged emerging process ... one that trusts answers to come and continues to journey with the questions while not forcing the answers - but also not backing away from answers.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Realisation

Yesterday dad had a procedure at the dental hospital. He is in the process of getting dentures so they removed the rest of his top teeth (2). Being the independant creature he is, he went in by public transport but I was on stand-by in case he needed me to pick him up. Last time he had work done he had gone into shock from the pain of the injection, which caused him to have breathing problems (he has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) - they called a code blue and of course called me urgently. On that occasion I went and picked him up, took him to his GP and then took him to mum's to be cared for for the next 24 hours. That was just 2 weeks before mum died (ironically I got the phone call in the same part of the week/day as I got the call about mum - during Tuesday morning staff time). So yesterday, I was on stand-by and got a message saying that they wouldn't let him go home alone because of the anesthetic. So I got into the car and drove in to the hospital. He was sitting waiting. We started walking to the car and he had blood running down his face; obviously we went back. Most people were at lunch but they found someone to look at him, who placed some stuff in to help the bleeding stop. We went to the car again; dad looked shocking, mixture of just how he is in general (not well), grief, pain and just sick of it all. I brought dad back to my place for a while and then took him home (he purchased a unit a couple of suburbs away from me a few years ago for these exact reasons). As we were driving from the hospital to my place, it hit me afresh - essentially I am the only person dad has. The weight of that hit me in a way it never has before. I acknowledged it and then moved away from it - conscious that it was important not to go there right then. But went back to it last night. While 3 months ago I dealt with the acute stuff and then sropped him at mum's to do the recovery - there is no one else now.

A Sad Fact of Life

I am sitting here drinking instant coffee. After years of basically saying I don't drink instant coffee, since i ran out of plunger a few days ago I have been drinking the instant that is stored in my cupboard just in case people want it. Sad!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Being people of the cup half full

A month or two ago at Solace Sunday stuff we were rewriting Psalm 1 together. The thng that has stayed with me from that is "being people of the cup half full". There's lots of ways in the time between then and now that I haven't lived as that kind of person but I definately know that is the invitation and who I long to be.

People only know what one tells them

mmm ... a thought I've been pondering!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Homage to Young Men

Just found this song on a blog. Again words that speak something deep of my current journey - particularly the need for the second stage for the third stage.

Homage To Young Men
Lyric by Luke Concannon
Verses Alastair McIntosh
Chorus Luke Concannon
Music John Parker

I want to talk to the young men out there. It’s for the women too, but especially the men, cos it’s tough to be a young man in this world. You have to face so much heartbreak and loss. In love and career and life. It’s easy to forget the meaning and give up. To burn up or sell out to addictions, despair or greed. Easy to forget that life’s a journey with a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s about navigating the future, your future. It’s about learning to become a man who’s real, and able to love.

Are you waiting for me? Are your hands down in the dirt? We belong together. I’ve been longing since my birth to be arms around you to be true to who we are, to let all our pain out to be playing in your heart.

So let’s talk about the first stage of life. The departure, when your boat is pushed out on the river. Most of who you are is still your small self. The you your family has made you, your schooling and your friends. You’ve still not found your deep self, your Great Self, cos that’s what the journey’s for. So you set out, full of hope, but with a heavy load. All the baggage of your upbringing. All the love, yes, but the fuckedupness too. Maybe the absent father, or the smothering mother, or the cold indifference of those around you. It’s no wonder you’ve a rough ride coming. It’s gonna get tough and it’s got to. So you can find yourself. So you can become a real man.


And that’s when you hit the second stage of life. The initiation in the rapids and the storms. That’s when you find the pain of brokenheartedness. Love affairs that fail, failures in career and all your hopes for what the world might have been. Plenty young men founder grazed on such jagged rocks as these. Bruised and angry in a storm of violence towards self and others. But it doesn’t have to stay like that. No, my friends, not if you push on and open to the inner grace that will bring you courage. The courage to face reality as it is, without lies. The courage to know your wound but to insist on beauty and outgrow it. The courage to open your heart, to hold fast to truth, and to stand each step in your dignity.


And that’s the courage that brings your boat to the third stage of life. To see how your small self is held in a greater Self. And that you’re fit to be an elder in your community, able to share the gifts and the blessings. Able to support and inspire what gives life among your people. And to love your beloved; to love and be loved by the Beloved no less, my friends. Because we’re talking here of love in all its meanings. And you can only love with a deepening heart. And that is why you had to grow courage on this journey to the ocean. That’s what your battle wounds on the field of life were all about. That, my dear friends, is what qualifies you to be a man in your community. Capable of loving and able to be loved…. Capable of loving and able to be loved…. Capable of loving and able to be loved

Another quote on vocation

Just catching up on some blogs I look at and foudn this great quote from Thomas Merton on the Moot blog - interesting after posting the other ones this morning - it speaks so strongly of so mmuch that is happening in me at the moment and the stuff I'm being invited to as a co-creator with God in the universe and especially in my own life:

"Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny. We are free beings and children of God. This means to say that we should not passively exist, but actively participate in His creative freedom, in our own lives, and in the lives of others by choosing the truth. To put it better, we are even called to share with God the work of creatingthe truth of our identity. We can evade this responsibility by playing with masks, and this pleases us because it can appear at times to be a free and creative way of living. It is quite easy, it seems, to please everyone. But in the long run, the cost and sorrow come very high. To work out our identity in God, which the Bible calls "working out our salvation," is a labour that requires sacrifice and anguish, risk and many tears. It demands close attention to reality at every moment, and great fidelity to God, as God reveals Godsself, obscurely, in the mystery of each new situation."

Callings and Vocations and more

I love this quote which Anj read to me on the phone this morning and then also put on her blog:

The core and essence of a sustained calling in the ministry is this: to learn more and more to listen, pray, live, and act on behalf of the life of God where it is at work and where it is imprisoned in your fellow human beings.
On Living with a Concern for Gospel Ministry, Brain Drayton, Quaker Press 2006, page 27.

It reminds me of one of my favourite quotes of Westerhoff which a number of years ago was so central to everything I thought about - and certainly still is a foundation for me and which I've rediscovered recently:
"Our vocation is to live the life of a lover, dreamer and visionary who sees miracles on mountain tops and in slums; to live day by day in the conscious awareness of the merciful judgement of God; to be aware of God's active presence in our lives and history; to strive to discern God's will and to act with God as a sign and witness to the coming of God's Kingdom. We are called to join God in embracing and enlivening each other's faith, to help seek out experiences through which divine revelation may be made known to us, and to aid each other in the realization of our vocation."

I pray that I would live more and more in line with those quotes!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cause of Death

1. Cerebrovascular accident in a lady with acute alcohol toxicity
2. Hypertension

A Helpful Website

For those who are interested: I came across this site the other day and reckon it's a helpful comparison between the penal substitution and Christus Victor view of the cross. It's from a personal persepctive but does rigorous theological work; is heavy as the topic is that but also I found readable and helpful.

Relaxing/Time out

Mmm ... interesting, I was at my old work place yesterday and commented to someone that I was on compassionate leave and they commented "that'd be hard for you". My thought was - "actually no".

But it's got me thinking - I reckon lots of people do think something down those lines about me. And I so know it's not true. Giving myself permission is hard, but once I've given myself permission it's as easy as anything. And it's interesting, loads of people who are quite close to me wouldn't see that but I can think of some of the closest few who know it well ... and some others. But I reckon most of the world would think the same as that ex-colleague.

Doesn't really matter what others think - although I do get a bit tired of that perception of who I am - but it did 'cause me some food for thought.

A Simple Hatred in Life

As I was getting a spoon for my porridge I thought of one of my hatreds in life that I felt inclined to share:
eating dessert/cereal etc with a soup spoon or eating soup with a dessert spoon.

Be warned of such hatred :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Changing my name

So it's decided - I'm changing my name back to Totterdell, from Daws.

If you don't know - Daws is my married name and for a host of reasons I didn't change my name when we separated almost 8 years ago or when we got divorced 6 years ago. It has seemed good and natural to continue on with Daws until now. Now however, in these weeks following mum's death there has come a desire in me to go back to using Totterdell, my birth name. Not sure that I can really explain why - it's something very deep in me that's decided to do it. And not sure that I can explain the timing either. But I'm conscious I don't need to - I just need to be sure in myself - and that I am ... so here goes. Happy to talk about it if you'd like - but not sure that I have heaps to say about it other than - it just seems good to do and good to do now.

But as well as that (and I'm sure deeply connected) I've been thinking lots about what it means to "be true" to who we are created to be. We are reading Colossians at 5pm at the moment and the phrase that hit me during the gospel reflection on Sunday was "your life is hid with Christ in God". So what does it mean to be true to our primary identities - that of being children of God, co-creators with God, people who have the breath of the life of God in us etc ... rather than our false selves - the ones that came later, the ones that deny life. I long to be true to my primary identity and there is something in this name change that is representative of that too. (Not at all implying that changing my name or keeping my name as Daws for this long has been bad - just the symbolism is all quite timely and deep)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Holy Play quote

"To a large extent, coming into your own in every dimension of your life is a matter of learning to embrace and engage your power. Your ability to do so will determine your capacity to engage and not feel threatened by the power of others."

Holy Play by Kirk Byron Jones

George MacDonald Quote

"For to deny God in my own being is to cease to behold him in any. God and man can meet only by the man's becoming that which God meant him to be. Then he enters into the house of life, which is greater than the house of fame."

Birth, Dreaming, Death (The Schoolmasters Story)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Something I should learn to NEVER say

Just chatting with a good friend about something I'm thinking about and she commented that I'd said "I'd never do that". As we agreed, one thing life has taught us to NEVER say that! It keeps proving us wrong!

Time out for Adults

So in my processing of what being an adult means and in my thinking through the fact that the way I've lived for years is not sustainable, I've thought lots about time out. I have on and off for years - often making judgement calls either in myself or to the person concerned (!) that what they are engaging in isn't very "adult like". So where did I get these pictures and understandings?

As I've thought about it a bit over the last couple of days I've thought about my family as I was growing up - stuff has changed radically since then but that's what I was shaped by. My dad worked long hours, generally working overtime and often weekends. He gave pretty much everything to that and then some time to me. However, my memory is him working long hours but coming home and collapsing - either in front of the tv or reading a book or newspaper. So the lesson from him - blokes (or adults) work long hours that takes everything from them and then collapse. My mum was a stay at home mum all my life. Her hobbies were much more down the sewing, knitting end but of course because they were part of "homemaking", I haven't separated those off from the rest of her "work". So in what I took in she just kept going in much more low key ways but still the message that I have internalised is "women just keep doing stuff that needs to be done". An exception to this for mum was tennis - which she played lots of ... so again the message for me: to have time off it has to be something out of the house.

Combine all this with a parenting style that said clearly that art and anything of that nature was useless and that what mattered was english, maths, science etc. Also combine that with engaging actively with my faith and church at the age of 13 in ways that engaged me fully from then on. Also combine that with a personality that is very focused on others, often to the detriment of self. Also combine it with messages that reinforce that "biblically".

It's not surprising that this is a recipe for an engaged, fairly driven life that hasn't had much time for time out. In fact, I reckon looking at all that it's only really the grace of God that means it's not been more that! It's also the grace of God that I'm relooking at it and making definate choices to live differently at 32 and not older.

The lovely thing that has been true and that continues to be very true is that it only takes a choice to have time out and it's fairly easy for me - again gracious of God. But the message that has been incorporated into me is "time out is a waste of time and only to be had when you really need it".

And because of who I am and lots about my upbringing too (only child of deaf parents says most of it) really the main time out I can have at this time is by myself - quite limiting really.

Anyway - I'm pretty excited about where all this is going ... and certainly don't hear me blaming my parents in any way (they were just living life as they knew how). For me it's just about understanding where my messages, understandings and habits come from and then choosing what I want to do with them.

And what I want to do is - choose time out well and regularly ... and not just when I really need it.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

What does being an adult mean?

For years now on and off I have been processing in all sorts of ways what being an adult means. And I reckon it's so different to what I believed it was when I turned 18 ... beliefs which have shaped me so deeply and impacted myself and others profoundly. There are certainly different points over the last 14 years where I've thought about and experienced this question more deeply than others but it's impact has been continuous.

And what does it mean to age? Not the kind of aging that happens at 70 or so (although that is just on a continuum anyway) - what does it mean that at 32 you can't do what you could at 22. But that you have wisdom and life that you didn't have then whihc means you can work more productively and where we choose to live more fulfillingly.

As I process life particularly following mum's death, these are some glimpses into questions I'm asking and things I'm processing. Within the first week following mum's death, my key statement was "if I wasn't an adult before now, I am now" - so what does that mean?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Nothing I have to do

It's a lovely Melbourne day. I've just been for a walk in the sun, and the blue sky. I didn't wake at 4am which has been my norm of late (and often when there is lots going on in life). I did wake at 8.30am, got up and had lovely talk with a friend and my cable internet has been connected. Then went for a walk and ended up seeing various people I know which was all good (it's hard to know what being on leave means when you are such a community minded person and when going to the local shops means seeing people from all aspects of your normal life).

But the key statement of the day is - there is nothing I have to do, nowhere I must be. That is so my definition of true rest.

And how I long to be more in that place internally: there is nothing I have to do, sounds like grace to me. I'm glad of what I do know of it & I long to know more ... and am very thankful for what I'm learning about it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What word would you use?

Two separate people who I was talking to today, who don't know each, said at different points in my day today that the journey they are reading of on here is ... rich. What word would you use?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Embraced and Held

A vestry meeting tonight made me more conscious of something that's happening in me. I'm knowing that I'm embraced as I am, where I am more than I've ever known before ... for weeks I've been thinking lots about how there is nothing I need to do and that's just intensifying - that not only is there nothing I need to do, I am embraced, delighted in, in my lostness, darkness and brokenness, in the stuff that is going on in me that is way beyond anything I could describe or even comprehend for myself, I am delighted in.
Now that's deeply a place of healing, transformation and change but in a way far more beautiful, mysterious and precious than I've ever known. Words don't cut it to describe the beauty of what is happening in me.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

More words from Clare

Some other parts of Clare's "The Thing about Grief" that are making me smile in a knowing way today:
"It makes no sense but it's interesting in its own way"
"The about grief is that it gets kind've boring for the people who don't yet know"

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Some clarity on my betrayal

A couple of posts ago I hinted at having committed a mortal sin I'm sure for some readers of this blog - it seems I was way too cryptic! What I refering to was that I had joined the "Melbourne is better than Sydney" Facebook group. So Trish no you shouldn't be horrified by that action (unless you are a closet Sydney lover and I don't know it) but I am sure others will be.

The thing about grief

Clare Bowditch sings "the thing about grief is that the i comes before the e and it's hard to give away because it's the last thing you gave to me". I don't know about the rest of it but "The thing about grief" has gone through my mind much over recent days. Here's my "Things about grief" as they come to mind:

The thing about grief is ...
that it is unpredictable
that it can give so much energy
that it can take so much energy
that it gives a new purpose
that it takes away your sense of purpose
that it is not understood
that others don't know how to respond
that it can be overwhelming
that it is consuming
that it amplifies everything else
that there are ways in which it is delightful
that it drains you of everything you've got
that it is a place on the edge of chaos
that it is a place where you can know God like never before
that it blurs your head
that it gives you fresh clarity
that it is intense
that it helps you enjoy the simple things in life
that it is isolating
that it is a place of abundance
that it is a place of deep solitude
that it is a place of huge aloneness

The thing about grief is that it's the process of life and death colliding.