The Bloom of Scar Tissue

The Bloom of Scar Tissue

Ponderings

I wrote this blog Sunday 22nd October.

Do you reach inside and find the beauty or accept that skin and shape and lumps and bumps are but an illusion you must not fixate on?

That bump filled with brain fluid was not there before. The under layers of skin were not torn and stretched from the swelling of a saw and staples.

It is 2012 and the only story you know that tells of such things is Frankenstein. A monster. A craniotomy will do that.  Little children cannot come in to visit. It is too distressing. Grown men you have known for years are reduced to tears when they see you, and they struggle to hide it. That thing- that expression. It is a pity and sadness. Yet everyone says you look great, you look fine.

They tell beautiful lies to help keep you grateful for the life you have. The life you hold that keeps your heart beating is what is so important. Their hearts shine true in that moment.

In those months after a craniotomy, I was not a monster, just a little broken. But no longer a girl, no longer a woman. No longer a dancer of ballet, of quick human movement and a painter or a poet. No longer the protector of my children at night while they slept. I prayed each night they were okay. That I could trust those loving them on the daily to make sure they looked at them in the eyes and told them they were loved and safe. Like I did.

I think of myself sometimes when it was tough in the third person.

I think it has been a way to compartmentalise. I was a grateful survivor, and yet a soldier of war with battle scars she did not ask for. She did not volunteer for. Yet she did not fight anyone off, she walked right in and took the needle and signed the forms. She wanted to run, she wanted to scream and hide and say no. But she could not. The inner confusion and turmoil, to damage oneself to live. What a notion.

To say goodbye and kiss the heads of your children, to get in a car and drive to a big bustling place. To get your head shaved and your body naked under a cotton gown not knowing if you will kiss their heads again.

Consequence is a word you hold in your hand like a strange seed you found. Which garden shall you plant that in? The one that faces the north and screams of Victim or the one that says Growth?

Then there is the now.

When I lose myself in the energy of the room, I forget about what I look like, what anyone looks like. It’s because I can feel everything, the love, the humor, the frequency of those around. Things like traditional beauty or prettiness or ugliness or any such appearance do not concern me. Until someone takes a photo. Because then it’s like an ugly little version of my surface just got captured in a bottle and can’t get out. Unless you smash it with a delete button. And then there is the fear with social media, that someone else will share the little version of you and others won’t see your energy, they will see the damage the war did. Why does it matter what they think and see?

Blindness was freedom from all of this. It was a relief. I did not need to see myself; therefore I did not have to validate my appearance. It didn’t matter. Out of sight, out of mind.

No makeup, no hair, no eyes to see the damage. Those super hearing marvel style skills were too much fun and the challenge of learning my environment in a new way all wrapped up in the happiness of still being on the planet surpassed any vanity.

Until my vision returned.

So much joy. Because I got to see my children’s smiles again, the pictures they had drawn for me. The sky windows- puddles in the ocean. So glorious and full. My husband, my family. Their physical, visual picture was mine again to capture with my body’s camera- the eyes. I was not prepared for the trauma of seeing myself again and finally understanding why my little boy cried so much. He wanted Mummy to look like Mummy again, and why the grown men cried. Why the mailman did not recognize me at the door and asked me who I was. I told him it was me and he said it was so sad. I asked him why and he said I was so pretty before… but don’t worry you will be again. And the nurse saw my picture on the wall and asked who it was.
”That’s me.”  It is one of my favourites. It doesn’t look like me anymore.

Society tells you it does not matter it does matter it doesn’t.

Like this barge going back and forth between the shores of depth and shallow. Which one is it? Why do we get so distressed with scars and physical damage? We hero worship the survivor and yet as a species we spend millions on maintaining and enhancing the symmetry of the human appearance. A world that celebrates the beautifully broken on one hand and shining perfectional beauty on the other. Where do they connect? For surely beauty is unique, not a blended image of sameness.

Where is the distinction or balance in this? It used to baffle me, now it intrigues me and mortifies me all in one. I now believe when people speak their perception of what beauty is to them, it reveals the contents of their heart.

Then I got the all clear. Then the all clear was taken away. An inoperable option. Not an option. The lack of an option. We can’t do anymore. How much longer do I have? Not sure. Ok.

So we walk that walk. As a family and yet the unshakeable truth sits within me- LIFE IS FOR LIVING. Not for fear. It is the walk of the possibly dying. Because we all are. So it counts. Every day counts- it’s not a cliche. It is the essence of every single molecule and particle, shape, symmetry and pattern that exists for life to prosper. There’s a whole lot of work going on in the living here and in whatever comes after this version of life, there are many more of this I am sure also. But death is real too, and it might just be that death is but a doorway to another life.

So now I live in this one, I rejoice. I choose to live a life that is full with no excuses, to feel my way intuitively, guided by my understanding and perceptions, hoping to keep them as precise and sharp as possible to be valid and true. I listen to the guidance I receive, and I do my best.

I love within an inch of my being, and I hold those I love dearer than my own heartbeat. The patterns of nature and the design of our world intrigues me, as does geometry and physics, the gleaning of the matrix that supports the whole system has captured my fancy in a way unimaginable. The gifts of the spirit are abundant and my cup runneth over.

Yet still, this undeniably human desire to be physical as I was before the surgery haunts me every time a picture is taken, every time I look in a reflective surface, each time my body won’t work the way I want it to. So I will be grateful, and I will work on trying to mend that broken part within. I will be grateful for the scars and the bumps and distortions, I will be thankful for the migraines, the weird inexplainable seizures, the sleep apnea, and the blood pressure, the brain fog, the short-term memory and the fear of the sound of chainsaws, the narcolepsy stuff and the heartache and even the scar dandruff,  because all of this means I am alive. I breathe. I eat. I love and I live. I am surrounded by good friends and family. I live in a country that is not war inflicted and where I can live this life this way. Because we all have our path to walk.

And I could not have captured this view of real life unless this had all happened. I choose growth and the power of the inner spirit guided by my God to overcome all and sit in Grace.

Why? Because you see restoration of the spirit and growth cannot happen without trauma.

Regardless of what any doctor might say I am going to live.

Because my chapters are not written by humans.

October 23rd this happened:

Neuro clinic appointment.

My brain has healed.

Option 2 Happened. (Bye bye Tiffany)

Car Park: screaming and crying hysterical woman spotted ranting loudly in Major Melbourne Hospital. Blue eyed man pacing in shock with what witnesses say was a a look of dumbfounded oblivion.

Incoherent phone calls to family.

Sister may have fainted.

Shock (hot water bottles, blankets and sister needed for this one)

Joy

Overwhelm

Panic

Joy

Humbled like a small pebble in the bottom of a deeeep ocean. Feeling so small.

More Joy (don’t freak out the kids)

Disbelief

Thanks

“Mum- we have run out of milk again”

Prayer

Vomit

Love

Joy

No more fear- running under the moon

Crying (lots and lots of crying)

Dehydration from crying.

“Are you sure you got it right dear? You didn’t get confused?”

More Joy

Anger

Running

Parked outside Flight Centre and considered flying and climbing something really big and shaving my head at the same time and screaming ODONNELL RULES. (That was a weird moment) rang one besty who told me to do it and the sensible one said go home and sleep.

Spontaneous outbursts of laughing

Rage

Sat up in bed next to my sister while we planned our nursing home antics. (We will be room sharing)

Persistent need to kiss my children and it’s now giving them them shits.

Joy

Uncontrollable smiling – it’s a little creepy

Now resting

Life is good. I need a new word. There are no words. I think I am going to faint and cry and I don’t know what.

Bucket list is ticked…now WHAT?

A Transformative Life

There is a photograph of Jillie A. Carter as a young school teacher and beauty queen...   Her...
Egos Are Like Farts

Egos Are Like Farts

by StevieAnne Minner

Egos. We all have them. In fact, egos have become a subject that more and more new-thought leaders and spiritual teachers are focusing in on – inviting us to separate from, transcend above, and live without.

A personal fan of introspective, spiritual work myself, I can appreciate the works of Eckhart Tolle, Debbie Ford, and many others who have written about observing the ego, which swings like a pendulum between inferiority and superiority. It mirrors my faith in Christianity which points directly to the conflict we’ve all experienced since the beginning of time – PRIDE.

The ego, as suggested in many works, is perceived as our “identity.” And while my Christian faith calls me to be “in this world, not of it” I have to regularly practice ways to express myself gracefully. Though there are numerous ways to define and understand ego and prideful positions, why not add humor to such humbling practices?

A crass and comical way to observe the ego head-on from a place of neutrality and even lightheartedness. When we see our egos as more of an “activity” taking place within these “God pods” we are scooting around in, we invite in observation and inquiry versus self-judgment and criticism of others. Egos, much like farts, are simply a part of the human experience. Clearly, God has a “sense” of humor also.
This new idea of “conscious” living is far more than just being mentally “here” – it is about being spiritually “present” and mindful of how we show up and express ourselves in each fleeting moment, cognizant of how to speak to those around us, as well as, internally to ourselves.

Awareness around one’s pride is the quickest way to experience resolve. To make this practice of mindfulness easier to “digest,” here are a few brief theories that will help you identify the activity of ego within you and others. No different than the sometimes abrupt and offensive activity of farting, egos share a very similar M.O:

  • We all have them, and it’s easier to tolerate our own than others.
  • We have our own unique brand – some “digest” information or experiences better than others. Some environments can be extremely offensive and upset those who are highly sensitive to specific topics.
  • Clearing the air can be difficult after either is “aired,” typically putting a significant distance between us and our loved ones/friends/fellow beings.
  • Both are known to cause a set of rosy cheeks – only with ego, they are topside. Expressing either can cause embarrassment – for all parties involved.
  • They both share the ‘Silent But Deadly’ expression! C’mon, we know that ‘stinkin’-thinkin’’ internal dialogue we all have that we are “better than another” or “not good enough.” Both can be toxic and held back when not able to express them in a safe space.
  • Often, when we express either, we are likely quick to blame, not to claim.
  • All too often we point out and laugh at others for their abrupt explosions of fury or flatulence, but rarely do we acknowledge openly and humbly in the times that we have done the same, owning “It was me.”
  • Pffttt… Just hot air. You know, those moments when you think there’s solid proof of someone’s incompetence, yet really our perceptions of them are proven completely inaccurate. Sometimes, whether it’s an ego or a fart, it expresses as nothing more than hot air.
  • Sharting is possible with both. Ever had one of those moments, when you swear you have self-control and you won’t explode; however, you just can’t take it any longer, and you get diarrhea… of the mouth (always a mess to clean up). This often happens when we have held back our opinions, rather than sharing them over time, then wind up expressing it all in an explosive rant.

Letting both go creates inner peace. As human beings, we are meant to express. It is human nature. Both activities of farting and ego chatter are necessary to fully experience this thing we call “life.”

The invitation here is to consider filtering before we fire. This act of observing the ego and allowing discernment before discharge is deemed “Conscious Cropdusting” and may just be the answer to world peace.
Here’s to expressing ourselves through many unique forms in a loving and less-offensive way, creating an environment that is less toxic and more tolerable for all humankind.

Till next time, StevieAnne x

A Stand Up Comedian Walked into The Club…

A Stand Up Comedian Walked into The Club…

What happens when you cross a stand-up comedian, a writer, and a Christian together?

You get the quirkiest and cool wordsmith ever! Ponderers, we are so excited to introduce you to StevieAnne Minner, our newest team member of Ponderings from the United States.

StevieAnne is a Christian comedian who has always been a bit of a goofball.  

“Quick-witted and punny” is what those closest to her would say. She never anticipated performing stand-up comedy, but it was her first published book that she wrote just for fun that was suggested as material for a quick 7-minute gig at a local Improv.

 With a title like “Egos are Like Farts…”

It was no surprise that the one-liners would be both captivating and comical.  She used her comedic comparisons between the two to serve as a fun and enlightening way to encourage the audience to be as mindful about expressing their ego as they likely were about expressing flatulence.   This is especially true in Stevie’s faith in particular where the “flesh” is rarely focused on the compassion of others.

“Most people do not like to be laughed at.  However, in the world of stand-up, laughter is always a reward, and often, the best material comes at the humble expense of the comic themselves.  Being able to laugh at life is not only strategic in overcoming personal foibles, but also brings people together as everyone can relate to the emotions of surprise, embarrassment, and joy – even if the situations that bring such feelings to vary” says Stevie.

Bordering between a childlike faith and a childish sense of humor, she began using the silliness and simplicity of humor to bridge the gap between her faith and her quirks.

What started as a small, fun project quickly became endorsed by a #1NYT Best Selling Author and a regular stand-up routine.  From there, it has grown into company culture meetings – showing employees and staff how to show compassion in the workplace, as well as, a children’s book soon to be published, titled “AttiTOOTs…the kids’ guide to expressing farts and feelings.”

It is Stevie’s hope that we can “lighten up enlightenment” and learn to express ourselves – in many ways – while considering how it will affect others.

We welcome Stevie and her gorgeous insights into humanity, wind, and laughter.

 To Read StevieAnne’s Article Egos are Like Farts Click HERE

 

Midsummer Hiccups and the FOMO Effect

Midsummer Hiccups and the FOMO Effect

by Kirsten Macdonald

The Finnish sure do know how to spend midsummer.

What is this magic? A cabin by a lake, squirrels and tall trees, moss and berries growing wild. I feel like I am getting a glimpse again of home- the other home. I am here creating memories with 2 of my children, a sibling, and Lothario. A Scandinavian dreaming.

Sidestepping again. Why is it when we step aside from our everyday life things bubble up to the surface like stirring mud from the bottom of a bucket?

The sediment settled so long ago on the bottom, and everything above it is bright and sparkly. Then the stir happens and all the crap you forgot about and didn’t want to acknowledge existed rises and creates a murky soup. What on earth does one do with that soup? You can’t drink it, or pour it on the plants- it would surely poison them, or maybe it will go into the soil and help fertilize making the soil resilient and grow into 200-year-old oak trees?

You do not know THEY are there, this is the irritation.

Things that lurk and murk and you didn’t know it. It undoes all of humanity, doesn’t it? The detachment from not knowing, when we find things out, we didn’t know if other people know and we don’t. If a doctor knew you would die and didn’t tell you. When you still had fear buried down so deep, and you didn’t know. A brain tumor, a brain aneurysm. Cancer. Affairs. Lies. A missing body. A lost love. The lost bracelet. It’s what we don’t know that injures our sense of us. I wonder what it is. Are we allergic to mystery or is it desperate FOMO?

We are information junkies aren’t we? We seek truth as the real enlightenment and Google is the makeshift heroin.

It is the fixtures and habits that anchor us to normality and keep the fear at bay. Unless you bathe in frequent faith- that stuff is Vanilla to the ice cream. But it is difficult to be soaking in that all the time. Humanity has that effect.

When the fixtures in life are not in focus, what becomes the focus?

What parameters, what thoughts and observations come into the picture? Each time I sidestep it never feels long enough. A moment longer, a little longer to linger. To hold my own hand and a pen to paper. To achieve something changing and significant. What is this feeling? Discovery and to come back revitalized and with a new perspective. There is such quietness to this place, an occasional bird or child chatting, brothers giving each other wedgies and screaming at each other to stop the headlock. The occasional fart, a passing motorboat and the sound of the lake water lapping against the bank. Quiet + nature = feels.

I promise myself as I munch on a croissant and sip my strong coffee (my eyebrows may have just fallen off, and I may have instantly grown a beard, – this shit is strong) that I will no longer wait to leave home or travel to sidestep. I will spend some time sidestepping each day- to savor something beautiful, to hold my pen to paper but most importantly to use a little strainer each day to empty the dirty water gently from the cup, so no bucket stirring is required in a year’s time.

I am thinking ahead, I am thinking of next year.

I am thinking 5 years, I started putting more money into my superannuation. This means my future is real. Perhaps it may be a fixture that lasts longer. Maybe not. Either way, the Finnish need to learn how to make a good coffee.

I just looked up across this lake and if you have ever read/ watched The Shack- I am seriously having visions of Jesus walking over the water to pop into the old cabin here for a pancake and a coffee, but I had better find better coffee. I don’t think my Gallelian friend would like Finnish coffee anyway. He’d love the croissants. I reckon he’d laugh at the bum hiccups too.

Read The Case of The Exploding Brain 

Ponder Kindness Part Two

Ponder Kindness Part Two

There is nothing I like more than meeting a person who surprises you with a character that is refreshing and far from mundane. This interview with Fr. Rod has created a joyful series of conversations that spark the mind. The most refreshing facet of this man and his beautiful wife Kerry is that even though at times I am sure they fear the backlash that comes with being a messenger, they march on. They march on not because they revel in it. They march on because it is a calling. It is a calling that they cannot ignore. It’s the stuff that your soul emits in unison with your heart so strongly, that to ignore it would be emotionally dishonest. This is why the congregation has grown, this is why many Australians are intrigued and captivated by the message Fr. Rod echoes, its quite simple: compassion and kindness for everyone.  Not everybody agrees. Is it easy? No way. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

 

Planet Spectrum

This boy from the Hunter Valley, the son of conservative country party graziers is now the voice of many. In Part Two we chat about the lighter things in life; cubby houses, Lucifer, climate change, Netflix and so much more…

Kirsten: Ok, so now I am shifting the subject, but if there’s music that’ll get your foot tapping what would it be?

Fr. Rod: Can you believe I am not a huge music fan? (I audibly gasp) But, if there were one it would be Jazz. And improvised, very highly improvised Jazz. I think the biggest-selling Jazz album ever was Miles Davis and Arlo Guthrie, and they came together and basically just cut this thing like nothing in the day in these jams sessions.
I was actually out having drinks last Thursday night, and the guy at the piano was the guy who composed the music for the Compass documentary, and I asked him if he could play this because he’s a very clever musician. So he started playing it.

Kirsten: Okay, so I ask everyone this question as we always get the most interesting responses. As a child did you like tree houses or cubby houses? What would be your preference?

 

Rod: I’m a cubby house fan because I don’t like heights.
I can remember, we must’ve bought a new refrigerator or something at one stage when I was little kid. So, I created this cubby house out of it, and I spent a good couple of years in this box.

Kirsten: (Laughs) There you go.

Rod: But I did climb trees from time to time. I’m not fond of heights, though.

Kirsten: If you could meet with your 25-year-old self and give him a piece of advice, what would it be?

Fr. Rod: Don’t drink so much. Don’t waste a lot of time, money, and brain cells and use that money to travel. I kind of regret I didn’t, I should have. I had an opportunity to go overseas when I was 20, and I never did, and I still regret that to this day. I wanted to travel in my late twenties and early thirties.

Kirsten: What made you decide, was there a moment, was it a series of events, which lead you to be in service to God?

Fr. Rod: Well, there was no Damascus road. In fact, it was a long journey of resistance to an insistent call and people sort of encouraged me to be a priest and me agreeing at each step along the process to engage in that. At the same time, I was totally expecting that I’d be rejected by the Church and so I found myself, you know, the day of my ordination, not really understanding how I had got there. And there’s a sense in which I’m still in that process. I’m daring the Church to throw me out.

Kirsten: So I take it you’d have to walk a pretty fine line.

Fr. Rod: Sometimes.

Fr. Rod: While I’m accused of being progressive, I am, I think fairly theologically orthodox and especially regarding patristics in the early Church years. I know I’m not seen as orthodox by contemporary Protestant conservatives, but they’re not really orthodox in terms of the Great Theologians.

Kirsten: But I think too, one of the reasons people find you progressive is because you guys have a real social presence. You are literally streaming online. You’re on Facebook for starters and churches don’t usually have a strong following on social media. This is not your usual stiff upper lip, cause no waves Anglican church!

Fr. Rod: 150 followers is the average for many churches.

Kirsten: Exactly! You’re up front and center, you do it very well, but it’s also the way you explain theology. It’s very friendly, it makes sense, it’s logical, and it’s not stale. People want to listen to you.

Could you tell me a little bit about your passion for climate change?

Fr Rod: Yeah I have to say we have been very focused on the last few years on refugees. It’s taken over a bit of the agenda for obvious reasons, and in more recent times focus has been on the marriage equality debate. I am hoping this will be resolved quickly and we can get on with other things. Note: this interview happened before the wonderful marriage equality results

I mean, the climate is the ultimate question for us, for our generation, my children and my grandchildren’s generation. It’s going to be the defining subject over the next 100 years. It’s the defining ethical subject; it’s the defining scientific and economic question. It’s the new paradigm. We are the economic paradigm in which we have been in for the last 70 years. It’s crumbling after the GFC. We’ve propped it back up again, but it’s crumbling, and the emerging paradigm has to be the environmental and ecological paradigm. It’ll be the new economy.

Kirsten: The new economy?

Fr. Rod: Yes it has to be. It’s farcical to watch the old right clinging to their coal philosophy when even AGL are saying, um no, that’s old, that’s the old we aren’t interested anymore. They know money is in renewables and clean energy! You know we are so close to this renewable technology being introduced, so why on earth would you invest in coal fired?

But there will be ethical and moral questions to ask in this process, and I think this is where theologians need to be.

KM: You are bringing back the cool. Reminding us of why we look to women and men that question everything and bring our ethics and what we stand for to the forefront. Which leads me to this part of my questioning: Why is it seemingly so uncool sometimes to be Christian? I said to someone at a dinner party that it seems to be very zen and modern for people to be Hindi, Buddhist, or even Zoroastrian, Muslim, anything other than Christian. But it seems to be very uncool to be Christian; this seems a bit unfair!

Fr. Rod: Yes they seem to be the flavor don’t they? (Hearty laughter injected from my interviewee)

Fr. Rod: I think the life and teachings of Jesus, has an enormous amount to offer society. The basic doctrines of Christianity are an anchor that we let go of at our peril in that sense because we float off into this sort of nothingness. But I think we can get a bit obsessed with that side of things and not so much on the social ethics.

Kirsten: Outside of all of this theology, as a regular bloke, what do you like to do?

Fr. Rod: I don’t get much time to relax, it’s quite foreign to me! I grew up in an environment where you didn’t take holidays, and so my brain isn’t programmed in that way. Which is not a very healthy. I am not very good at relaxing, I try and take time each day to walk. I am 55 Type 2 Diabetic with high cholesterol, a very typical 55-year-Old Australian male. (more laughter)

I enjoy getting home, after a long hard day and having some cheese and bikkies, a glass of pinot noir; occasionally I get to veg out I will binge watch something on Netflix. I just finished binge-watching Lucifer.

KM: NO WAY! Are you serious? Ok, if you are watching that, I am so watching that! What did you think? (I am shocked, gaping like a goldfish and laughing).

Fr. Rod: Well it was challenging for a while because Lucifer’s Dad- God is portrayed as a very capricious character, very punishing and I was resistant to this! I am like: God’s not like this! He’s not like this! But the more I watched it; I think he is portraying God in a way in which many people see God. And while it made me uncomfortable, and I don’t believe God is like that I had to acknowledge that this is how many view God.

EVERYTHING

And you know, Lucifer is the devil, and he does kind of challenge in the show this idea of “the devil made me do it” type stuff. He comments that humans make their own choices and actions, his only job is to punish them, he doesn’t make them do anything. Not that I believe in that either, but I have found it challenging, thought-provoking. Its the antithesis of what I believe but it reminded me of how endemic folky religion is in our culture. Because that is what a lot of people believe. I am a Game of Thrones fan.

Kirsten: Now I like you even more. (grinning) This is my all-time favorite series. We actually have a GOT night at our house with friends and eat special dessert. Seriously.

Fr. Rod: I like Tyrion Lannister, he is the archetypical human in that he is carnal, but also has a social ethic, that he actually doesn’t want people to be hurt.

Kirsten: His transformation in the show is pretty entertaining and so complex!

Leaderboard Ponderings 3

Fr. Rod: Yes, because he is vested in good, even though he is a drunken fornicator and even a user and abuser of women which I hold to be highly immoral and terrible. But his complexity fascinates me. I enjoy the religious metaphors in the show, the use of faith metaphor because I think that’s quite challenging too. You know, we are in the process of electing a new bishop… (and there might be a few GOT’s comments, as well as Dutton…I am leaving the next 10 minutes out, what gets said off the record stays off the record) (grin inserted).

 

The conversation continues in Part Three… where we discuss some serious business like Homosexuality, Kingdoms and that Heaven thing people get so hung up about.

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