The heart of art.

“What a waste of time!”  I thought, as I took my ‘paper of effort’ folded it up and put it in my pocket to discard when I got home.  I would have preferred to discard it there and then in the classroom, but a quick ‘risk analysis’ in my head raised the unlikely ‘what if’ of someone retrieving it from the bin and it reappearing somewhere to my humiliation and shame.  But then something shifted on the journey home . . . and ironically, here I am now, the one ‘publishing’ it!

We had been directed to pick an item to sketch, draw, or paint, using different techniques, and to try using different colours to see what emotive response we have to those colours.  So I chose a copper cup, embossed with dimples.

I started with charcoal, then the blue paint, the red paint, and the yellow paint.  For the last attempt (with the grey lead pencil), an extra challenge was thrown in . . . to draw the item without looking at the paper on which I was drawing.  My eyes were supposed to stay focused on the copper cup, as my hand drew it on the paper.  And the evidence speaks for itself, I couldn’t do it, so I gave up on that one.

In evaluating my emotive response to each drawing, this is what was revealed :

The charcoal: I like it for the fact that I held the stick on its end, so as to see what the effect would be as I drew the base of the cup . . . and I got the sharp edge that I expected.  But I don’t like the top of the cup because the rim is out of proportion.

The blue:  I like the vertical effect of the brush tip I used to create the dimple appearance.

The red: I like the effect of the brush stroke I used for the handle.

The yellow:  I like the horizontal effect of the brush tip I used to create the dimple appearance.

In terms of colours, I don’t like yellow; in fact I don’t even know why I put yellow on my paint palette?  But out of all of these my favourite is the yellow, because of the way it turned out.  And so I learnt . . . that my emotive response to colour is not related to the colour itself, but rather how that ‘thing’ worked out is what determines my feelings about that colour.  And all my CrAzY yellow readers said “Yay! for the yellow.”

But another step further is this . . . the biggest lesson . . . is in the one I couldn’t draw.  The one where I had to stay focussed on the object, and let what happens on the page, happen.  I was constantly checking the paper to see what my hand was doing, and how the picture was forming.  I literally could not keep my eyes off the page and let my hand do the drawing ‘unsupervised.’  The end result was too daunting . . .   because without any element of control, I had no idea of how it might turn out, but I had already decided it couldn’t be good, so I simply gave up on it.

While I’m further along on the journey now, and it doesn’t seem as scary anymore, there was a time when I didn’t know who I was, or who I was becoming.  No longer driven or moved by the same things that used to drive and move me, I was somehow scared of the me that I was becoming, because it was all too unfamiliar to who I had always been.  There were things I could see that I didn’t want to be, and things I couldn’t see, but I so wanted to be.  It was a fight in my mind, for my heart and my soul, and ultimately, a fight for my life.  But fear had me in its grip, and I wanted to give up.  I was giving up.  In some areas, I had already given up.

Life is not always like that charcoal stroke, giving us exactly as we expected or hoped for.  When you’re stuck in the middle, and you don’t like who you are in the now, it can seem easier to go back to who you were (because at least you’re familiar with that person), rather than to push through to find who you were created to be!

It was during my own time of being ‘stuck in the middle’ . . . when one day while doing my grocery shopping, with the radio playing softly in the background, choosing my flavoured tins of tuna for work lunches, when it was as if the volume on the radio had been turned up . . .  so I could hear these words . . . which spoke so very true to where I was at . . .  and I felt like God was telling me:

That I see the light surrounding you

So don’t be afraid of something new

Cause I see the light surrounding you

So don’t be afraid of what you’re turning into.

No, don’t be afraid

Don’t be afraid . . .

Cause I see the light

Cause I see the light

Cause I see the light surrounding you.

 (Light surrounding you. by Evermore)

The journey of life is like art under the artist’s hand.  It’s progressive, it doesn’t always look like we thought, but we have to keep going at it, if we’re to see the end result in its reality.

And so I would ask you . . . what is your emotive response to your life?

If it hasn’t turned out (or is not turning out) how you expected or hoped, don’t be so discouraged that you give up because you can’t see how it will turn out.  Just because it’s not what you expected or hoped, doesn’t mean it can’t still be good, or even great!  So be encouraged to push through the fear, the unknown, the unfamiliar, to find the better you . . .



When you find the gold . . .


Today I had brunch with a friend.  As we parted ways, I was thankful for the time we had together.  It was good, encouraging, and positive!  But I couldn’t help but ask God why in a different time and place, a similar ‘catch up’ took a completely different path … with a negative impact?

I set my Google maps to take me to the place of my next errand, but while driving I got distracted, missed my instruction to “keep right”, and so I was now waiting to be rerouted.  I knew Google would reroute me, because the destination is preset, just that the journey to get to my destination would now be longer, due to my distraction resulting in an unplanned detour.

How much this is like our own life journey!

We have a plan but due to distraction in some form, we end up off the planned route, having to be rerouted.  But if only we would trust God more than we trust Google … that while the journey will take longer due to the resulting detour of our distraction, the destination has been preset!

Distracting decisions can be divine detours in deep disguise.

While we don’t always like the situation or event in which that thing happened, because it hurt like hell, there was great pain, and significant loss … we can (one day) appreciate the result that came through that situation or event, because it brought growth and change for a better ‘you.’
Even as I don’t yet understand it in its fullness, I can now say . . . albeit still with an “Ouch!!!”

“I’m glad it happened!”  (Steven Furtick)

In hind sight, my brekky today would not have been what it was, if not for the distraction and detour resulting out of the previous ‘catch up’.   While I wouldn’t choose that again, it is because of that, that today I was able to:

1) empathise instead of sympathise.
2) understand how it is, instead of imagine how it is.
3) connect on common ground, not be disconnected by foreign ground.
4) be able to say “I hear you, cause I’ve been there too!”
5) say “This is my story … “

And so I feel this piece I wrote several months ago is now ready to be released:

Found in
Struggling through
Discouraged by
Consumed with
God I can’t do this
Damaged.  Discarded.  Decaying!

Dreams stolen
Disappointment engraved
Despair overwhelming
Depression overtaking
Direction lost!
Distortion.  Distraction.  Detours!

Tempted by
Denial of
Played with
Burnt in
Scarred by
Depravity.  Destruction.  Death!

Rescued out of
Repentant for
Refined through
Restored by
Renewed with
Deliverance.  Direction.  Destiny!


Ume’s Story 


This is Ume!

Ume was a Christmas gift from a good friend . . . who else . . . because enemies don’t usually give gifts.

Anyway, before Ume was Ume, I thought out very deeply, and researched very wide for a suitable name.  Given that Ume has a space in ‘her’ belly for a tea light candle I did a lot of research on the word ‘light.’ My own name means ‘light’ but that would just be complicated and confusing with two Helen’s in the house. J So I looked at names in other languages meaning ‘light’.  It was a toss-up between Zia and Uri depending if my new ‘balcony mate’ was female or male.  But in the meantime, while still deciding on a name . . . I decided to light a candle in Ume’s belly and see what degree of light ‘she’ gave off, and how it reflected out from within ‘her’.

Hmmm . . . I immediately noticed her metal frame heats up quite quickly.  I know this because she burnt me.  And seemingly her beautiful and colourful painted exterior is not of the right substance . . . because I’m getting a very distinct smell of toxic fumes.  And so I quickly ‘snuffed’ that tea light candle out!  Thus Ume is no longer a source of light on my balcony, but a décor item amongst my succulents.  And that’s how Ume became Ume.

While Ume is unable to be a healthy light, she is an emu (and spelt backwards), a reminder that just as they cannot walk backwards (a trivial fact), we should not look backwards.  So I challenge you to consider, as I have been challenged myself over the past couple of years . .

Are you a healthy light to those around you?

What kind of light do you give off, and how is it reflected onto others?

Are those around you, burnt by your words or actions?

No one wants to be burnt, and no one wants to burn others, but we’ve all been on both ends of the burn . . . or at least I know I have.  As with Ume, the candle I put within her was good.  The intention for light was good and purposeful.  But in activating that match, the effect of the flame, heating up her metal frame, drew out toxic fumes from the paint, making the environment unhealthy to those around her.

Likewise . . . our intention ’to give’ to another can be good and purposeful.  But in activating that ‘match’ . . . the negative effect of any misguided beliefs about ourselves and resulting learned behaviours (which make up our substance of who we ‘think’ we are) can result in actions that are toxic to those around us, making for an unhealthy environment.

Now if like me, you discover some things about yourself that need tweaking, I’m not suggesting you go ‘snuff out that flame’ as I did with Ume.  But rather instead get yourself right with a new set of healthy self-beliefs and behaviours.  So that in shining your light, you can give out and reflect the good light in the way you first intended and purposed it to do, ensuring healthy relationships with those around you.

Negative self-beliefs

lead to toxic behaviours

causing unhealthy relationships.

And as Ume would say:

“I know I can’t walk backwards.  So it’s not something I try to do, nor do I need to learn to do.”

Likewise for us, looking backwards at past ‘toxic events’ is not helpful.  We shouldn’t do it. and for many of us, we need to learn how to unlearn the’ practice of looking backwards’.

Think Ume:

Look forward.


Walk forward


Be encouraged.

P.S. As of this day the 31st of December, (with Thanks to my good friend for her clever thinking) Ume can now be a healthy source of light in 2018 . . . with a battery operated tea light candle.

What about you? There’s always a way . . .

If you’re not already, then find a way to be a healthy source of light to those in your world for 2018!  Happy New Year ! ! !


Maybe it is about cleaning the windows …

My current apartment is perfect except for one issue … the issue of mould appearing on the aluminium window frames due to condensation.  My lease expires soon … and so for the past 2 months I’ve been looking for another apartment, as I don’t want to continue under the risk of mould spores affecting my health.  Damp rid hasn’t fixed the issue, and so I wipe down the window frames repeatedly.

But as I checkout apartments, one after another, they all have evidence of mould issues.  And apart from the mould issue, I’m also realising just how good I’ve got it where I am, in terms of what I pay, for what I’ve got, and where I am.

And so the challenge is:

Is your only reason for leaving, because you fear the risk to your health?

What if you flipped it and chose to deal with the risk to your health, so you had every reason for staying?

I’ve  read the lease agreement and it’s not my responsibility to deal with the mould issue in my apartment … I’ve done all I can do in terms of preventing the cause of mould (condensation) from continuing … so it’s a structural issue of rising damp.

But I’ve also been reflecting … while I’m preventing the continuation of, and the original issue is the responsibility of the landlord, no-one has dealt with the start up issue of the mould.

Over the years … those mould spores have grown as a result of dirt and  grime building up in the window tracks and then the addition of condensation … or at least that’s what the articles I’ve been reading say.

So who deals with this middle ground?  It’s very obvious by the landlord’s lack of action that he’s not interested in fixing anything.  So now it’s back to me … should I continue in my pursuit to leave … or is it worth my effort to try to fix my reason for leaving, in order to gain all the benefits of staying?

Earlier this week the following quote came up on social media.


It challenged me, but I didn’t know why, or in reference to what?  Then today after looking at more apartments that left me still looking … the challenge to leave or stay came, and the memory of the above quote shortly followed.

While it’s difficult looking for an apartment, every day searching online for rentals, registering for inspections, losing my Saturdays … the idea of cleaning the window tracks, and the possibility of still having a mould issue, is a greater difficulty.  BUT . . . today I’ve had a few light bulb moments:

“The essential oils course you’re doing has just covered the topic of how to eliminate mould issues.”

“Your new neighbour you met last week at the tram stop … told you how she had just cleaned her windows with a $25 steam cleaner from Kmart.” 

and lastly …

You’re equipped to fix the issue to be able to stay, you just have to action it, or you can leave. Your choice! You choose.”

Leaving or Staying

Running or Confronting

The choice is yours.

“Not my responsibility”

Is NOT a valid reason.

Choose the great that is to come.

By walking the difficult of now.

Are you leaving or Staying?

Are you running or confronting?

The choice is yours … regardless of who’s responsibility it is … there’s a choice to be made for or against the great and the difficult. But it’s a package deal, and one where the difficult comes before the great!

I never considered that I was running with fear … just that I was leaving the risk.

But it’s a matter of choice:

No difficult, no great.


Know difficult, know great!

Responsibility is not just about correct ownership.

It can also be a behavioural choice that inspires others.

If no-one ever picked up the rubbish that others dropped,

in order to create a nicer environment …

we would see the fullness of ‘neglected responsibilities’

that were never owned or taken up by anyone,

regardless of who’s responsibility it is, or was.

Through the Storm!

On the freeway at night travelling at 100kms/hour, there were storm clouds hovering above me . . . then they opened up and those storm clouds let everything out!  And I mean EVERYTHING!  As the rain came down harder and harder, my windscreen wipers were increased to top speed . . .  and that still wasn’t enough.  It was difficult to see the road for the rain haze, and my little 2 door hatch was feeling like she might just glide at any moment.  So I slowed down to 8okms/hr.

Slow and steady wins the race . . . except in this case, there is no race to get home, just to get home safely.  But the vehicles coming up behind me didn’t share my theory . . . and so they in their large sedans and 4 wheel drives pulled out from behind me, and overtook me at the legal speed.

Along the way, there was of moment of reprieve . . . and I mean like a 1 second moment . . . as I went under a bridge which sheltered me from the downpour.  That moment of silence was golden, but gone in an instant.  I contemplated the idea of pulling over (under the next bridge) for a longer reprieve, until the storm had passed . . . but then who knows how long that will take?  So I decided I was better off to just keep on going at the speed I was comfortable with . . .

Singing always helps!  So I turned the radio up, above the noise of the storm and sang!  Sang my heart out, LOUDER than the storm! But then the traffic volume picked up . . . and so my radio was turned off so I would not be distracted by anything.  Sometimes I just need silence to be able to concentrate with no possibility for distraction.  But that silence quickly turned to praying when the thunder started . . .

Then came another bridge . . . and the advertising sign was:


And then another bridge . . . and the advertising sign was:


. . . and so I kept on driving . . . without stopping . . . to get through the storm . . . rather than be out in the storm longer than I wanted or needed to be.

Sometimes the storms of life let everything they have out on us . . . in one massive hit . . . like a bladder that’s been waiting TOOOOO long! 

As a result, it can be difficult to see the road ahead, and you feel like the ‘wheels of life’ might just lose control.  While you feel you have to travel at a slower pace, everyone else around you continues as normal.  I guess they’ve got more weight under them, and they’re better equipped to handle the conditions around them.  But each to their own . . . as to their own capacity and ability.

The bridge: each one was a moment of reprieve . . . but any one of them could have become my time of delay, delaying me out in the storm, if I had decided to stop.  But I had to push through the fear of the storm: the rain, the thunder, night driving, the other vehicles speeding past me, the water coming up off their wheels at me, the sound of the water underneath my wheels, and the ‘feeling’ of not being secure on my wheels.  But to ultimately believe in the tread that I know is there, despite my feelings. 

Don’t let your moment of reprieve, become your time of delay.

And so the bridge became my encouragement.  Not for stopping under it, but for the message that it carried as part of it. 

Believe for better!

Too right!  Believe that there is better on the other side of the storm. 

. . . and

You’re in the driver’s seat.

So don’t be stopping in the storm.  As the driver, you’re in control.  You make the choices. Sometimes we need to be reminded of this.  So many choices: as the billboard says “Choose from over 100 fabrics.”

So if you’re in a storm:

Move forward in spite of those fears. 

Don’t be discouraged by those around you.

Know your capacity and ability.

Don’t give in to the feelings . . .

But have faith in the tread that’s carrying you.

Do what is necessary to keep moving forward:

sing your heart out,

know when it’s time to be silent,

pray like crazy!

What’s the fabric you’re choosing for your life?

Believe for the best, and aim for that!

And if you see someone in the storm then:

Be a bridge that carries a message of encouragement through the storm,

rather than being a place to delay in the storm.


It’s not about cleaning windows.

This morning I was cleaning my window frames.  As I was doing this laborious task . . . I was thinking and reflecting on the past 12 months since I moved in to this apartment.  At the time of looking for a new place to call home, I was actually on my way to look at a different apartment when I saw the billboard for this one, and so made an enquiry.

It looked very flash from the outside, and it was 2 bedrooms, bigger and better than the one bedroom apartments I’d been looking for, and for the same price.  I thought it was a sign!  There were two available No 3 and No 5.  So I checked them both out.

I really liked Number 5 . . . but Number 3 was okay too.  But I would REALLY like Number 5.  And so I prayed . . .  and prayed . . . and PRAYED! ! !  I missed out on Number 5 and I was SOOO disappointed.  But I got No 3. So I was thankful that God had heard my prayer, and for whatever reason I didn’t get my first choice, I did get my second choice.

So I moved in and everything was great.  Due to my early morning shifts, and thus most mornings arriving at the tram stop literally across the road at 520am . . . I came to know why I didn’t get No 5.  And I found myself being reminded every morning, and thanking God for what He didn’t give me,  and thanking him for giving me Number 3 instead.

  • The sound of the little green man at the pedestrian crossing . . . that ‘clacker’ sound would have been right outside my bedroom window . . . and there’s 3 crossings . . . I hadn’t considered that!
  • The garbage truck . . . every Thursday morning. Imagine anticipating a sleep in before a late shift . . . only to be greeted by that sound of the garbage truck arm emptying all 9 units bins.  I hadn’t considered that!
  • The small shop front across the road by the tram stop which is actually a biscuit factory which starts super early and I don’t know what they do in there to make biscuits . . . but there’s a loud machine of some sort (I hesitated to cross the road to wait for the tram) that sounds like a massive air gun shooting out short spurts of air, followed by a whacking sound? I definitely hadn’t considered that! 
  • The tram bell every time it stops . . . AnNoYiNg! ! ! I hadn’t considered that!

Then back to this apartment . . . come winter . . . my Number 3 would soon reveal that it had an issue with condensation, and resulting mould, that only appears on the aluminium window frames.  Hence why I’m now cleaning them . . . AGAIN . . .  a ‘MUST DO’ task.  ‘Damp rid’ was not the solution I hoped it would be.

As I was cleaning the window frames . . . I wondered why, when on inspecting the apartment, I had not seen the evidence of mould in the window sliding tracks?  Why had I not concluded that the wooden rods to secure the windows (black with stains), was due to mould?  Why did I conclude that the damaged sills and chipped paint was due to sun damage, rather than water running off the windows rotting the wood?

Hmmm . . . maybe because . . . from the outset of seeing the outside, I had already decided this was my apartment . . . and so I didn’t see on the inside, what I could have seen, if I’d kept an open mind.  With only a 10 minute inspection time frame . . . I had rushed in . . . with all the other potential applicants . . . had a quick look . . . checked for critical things like air con, washing machine taps, good hot water system, nice balcony (albeit no scenic view), and a good stove.  But now, in hind sight, the issue of mould is a very critical issue as it is the sole reason I am now looking to move again . . . because of the potential for serious health issues that I don’t want to take a chance with.


In reflecting on all of this . . . my thoughts went to life circumstances and situations that take place.  How many times do we end up somewhere we don’t want to be, as a result of not considering ALL the possible options?  Some obvious like the ‘green crossing man’ . . . others not so obvious, like the small shop front that’s actually a biscuit factory.

How many times do we set our heart on something because of what we see from the outside?  And somehow we think that determines what’s on the inside.  Maybe what we think we want, is not what we want at all!  As the saying goes: Don’t judge a book by its cover!  But we do it all the time . . . sometimes without even thinking about it.  I certainly do!  Especially when scrolling though rental properties online before even opening them up to look at the photos of inside.  If I don’t like the outside, sometimes I don’t even bother to check out the inside photos.

How many times do we conclude “It’s a sign!” earlier than we should?  Maybe “It’s a test!” instead.  A test . . . not to judge the book by its cover, but to check out the inside first, with open eyes and an open mind, before setting our heart on something or drawing any final conclusion about it.

How many times do we put ourselves at risk of serious life issues, health or otherwise, because of something we thought we wanted, when in fact we didn’t have all the facts to make that decision wisely?

How many times do we pray and pray and pray for something?  Without having considered all the options . . . things we haven’t noticed, things we don’t even know about, things we can’t know about . . . but God knows about . . . and yet we keep praying for Him to give us that thing.  Have we considered the most important thing?  That God knows best, wants what’s best for us, and will give us what’s best for us.  But sometimes ‘allows’ us to have a ‘softer portion’ a ‘taste’ of what we fervently prayed for, so we can then see with open eyes and mind what he was protecting us from.

I REALLY wanted Number 5, but I got Number 3 as my second choice.  I soon learnt why I DIDN’T REALLY want Number 5 . . . and then 6 months later I started learning why I shouldn’t have even been ‘Okay’ with Number 3.  If only I had known . . . if only I had seen . . . I certainly don’t want any consequential health issues as a result of mould spores.

So now with all this hind sight, as I’m looking for a new place to call home . . . I’m looking with open eyes and an open mind.  I’m not setting my heart on anything . . . although I still get excited when I see a place that looks really nice both on the outside and then on the inside.  But I’m not drawing any conclusions until I’ve checked it out at an inspection.  Then I will put in my application, and if it’s meant to be mine, then I believe it will be . . . but only if it’s ‘safe’ and ‘whole’ for me and my needs.  I do not want to go from this home with a mould issue to another.  God knows more, and He considers every aspect.

The WHY, WHAT, WHEN and HOW of ‘Friday, Monday, Thursday.’

This morning (Thursday) my shift started at 6:00am . . . and so I was up at 5am, planning to be out the door by 5:22am to catch the 5:27am tram.  But I was ready 10 minutes earlier than expected . . . and so I decided to check ‘Tram Tracker’ to see if the 5:19am was running.  And I’m SO glad I did, because that was when I discovered that the next tram to arrive was not for 27 minutes . . . a quick calculation in my head confirmed that my 5:27am was not running this morning.

The next tram would be at 5:39am . . . getting me to my work stop at 5:49am, from where I then have to walk 10 minutes, catch a lift up several floors, to collect the keys, to then run up a floor, to unlock and open up my department, and get changed into my scrubs . . . all by 6:00am.  Hmm . . . with a big day ahead and a few extra things to prepare as ‘worded up’ by my Anaesthetist the night before . . . I needed to gather every minute possible.  How was I going to do this? . . . I could drive! But I don’t have a staff car park card that enables me to park for $17, so that means I’d have to pay $35.  And then I remembered . . . .

. . .  back two weeks ago on a Friday . . . in preparing for the following Monday’s operating list, my surgeon had an appointment he had to get to and so in order to make that happen, it was all arranged that on Monday we would start at 630am.

This meant that on Monday I had to be at work by 530am . . .which means leaving home at 5am . . . which means getting up at 445am.  Thankfully one of my colleagues knowing I travel by tram, prompted me as to how I would get to work in time for that.  And thankfully another of my colleagues was right there to provide the solution for this.  ‘Pay Stay’ is the parking app I had to download in order to park at the location I was advised to . . . and given the hour of the day . . . there would be no issue of availability.

Come Monday morning . . . I was up and out the door . . . and on my way to work.  I found my street and parked in the very first space . . . prime location!  I keyed in the parking code and my rego into the parking app and set it to start . . . how convenient is all of this!  No need for coins and dashboard tickets anymore!  Then I set off on foot for work . . . a 10 minute walk away.  Then at the end of my shift I returned to my car, hit stop on the parking app, and it deducted $6.92  . . . the exact amount of funds for my time, and Voila!  How easy was that!

Now come forward to today on this Thursday morning . . . knowing where to park and how to use the app, I was confident of my journey.  Arriving at work, collecting the keys, unlocking my department, changing into my scrubs . . . it was a smooth process  . . . and I was on time.

And so I now realised . . . in hindsight . . .

The ’why’ behind the ’what for’. . .  ‘when it happened’ and ‘how come?’

The reason Why: I had to have such an early start on that Monday morning previous . . .

What for: so I could learn and discover my ‘parking’ need, and have opportunity to get the info from my colleagues (on the Friday prior) in preparation for it.

When it happened: Monday’s planned extra early shift had to happen before Thursday’s unplanned tram absence.

How come: because if it had been in reverse, the parking location and ‘Pay Stay’ app I used on Thursday due to the absence of my tram, I would not have come to know about until Friday in preparation for Monday’s planned extra early start.  Or if you like . . . I needed Friday first, so I could prepare for Monday, which would save me on Thursday.

And so I can see the ‘order’ of it all . . . and why it had to happen the way that it did.

So that everything could work out in my favour!

The order was perfect.   Any other order would have been the wrong way around.

While at the time of it, I didn’t like the extra early Monday start . . . but it was because I had forewarning of it on the Friday before, that I was able to plan and prepare for it.  Then this morning, I was now feeling SO grateful for that extra early Monday start . . . because it prepared me to know what to do today (Thursday) . . . when faced with that which I had not known was ahead . . . the absent tram!  And because of that . . . I was on time, my day went smoothly, and without any outrageous parking price to pay for being unprepared.  $8.80 hurts a lot less than $35.

Life: It is a process!  Understand it not? 

But doubt it less, and tighten its knot!

Life IS a process!  And while we don’t always understand it, we need to doubt the order of the process less, and hold on tight until we get to the other side of it.

Trust the order of it all.  Be confident on the journey.  Knowing that you have been / or will be equipped with what you need at the right time, for the right situation.

Sometimes we don’t know what we know until we see the events in hindsight.  And then we have the answer as to why it had to happen that way.

And while there may still be a cost . . .  it’s nowhere near what it could have been.

If you cant find it, then make it.

Car smash

A few months ago I was driving along Mt Alexander road in the right hand lane. The traffic ahead had stopped as they were turning right, but were giving way to oncoming traffic.  I was going straight ahead and so I indicated and moved across to my left hand lane.  As I drove past the line of stationary traffic on my right, there was a ‘suddenly’ moment when a vehicle pulled out and connected with the front side panel of my car … at which time the right lane traffic must have started to move … as ‘we’ (me and my new unwanted accessory) moved through the intersection like we were ‘one’ vehicle.  I had nowhere to move left away from her, as we were ‘one’ vehicle, 2 cars wide, and in my lane . . . so as we’re moving together, I’m glaring at her through my window, literally screaming at her “GET  OFF  OF  ME!!!!”   She ‘eventually’ moved right … back into her own lane … and then we were able to pull over.

We exchanged license, phone no, address and car details, took photos, and went our separate ways.  We were both insured, and she admitted fault.  Her car was barely damaged other than some minor scratches on the side from where we were connected.  I still don’t understand how her passenger corner wasn’t damaged given the damage it did to my ‘Buka’ (Book-ah-ta! Zambian, meaning ‘gift from God’).

As I drove away I asked God, (rather agessively) “Why? Why did we have to collide like that?”  I had been on my way to a voice lesson, driving in my lane, and then suddenly, either she didn’t look, or when she looked I was in her blind spot, and now as a result, this has happened.  What is the purpose in this?  Why?!?!?!? God! Why????

That evening, (let’s call her) … ‘Mary’ called to say that she had called her insurer and learnt that she had missed her last insurance payment … thus she is uninsured.  So I contacted my insurer, giving Mary’s details so they could process the claim directly to her.  The process thereafter was quite frustrating.  My insurer advised me there was nothing closer to home, and so sent me to a smash repairer 30 minutes away, and nowhere near public transport.  I didn’t know how I was going to work this out, but I went ahead and got the quote anyway.  Then the guy doing my quote advised me of repair centres much closer to home.  Frustrated by the differing information … he then amplified that with the words “Given the age of the car, we may well just ‘write it off’ as not worth repairing.”   Now I’m frustrated and distressed!  This is Buka we are talking about here!  You can’t just write her off!  She is my gift from God, and even if she wasnt I’m not in a financial position to buy a new car, and the idea of going on the second hand search again was somewhat daunting.  “Ahhh! ! !  Why God? Why? ? ? ”  Then a few days later, the quote came back as repairable. So that was a major relief.   “Thankyou God!”

So then I began my own research, and found a smash repair centre that was close to home and with good customer reviews, so my insurer transferred my claim to them.  Making more work for myself . . . I then had to organise getting a quote done by this repairer.  Then it was about organising a date for the repairs to be done . . . which they said would take a week.  Then it was Easter holidays.  Then it was Anzac Day public holiday.  Working around their opening hours and my nursing roster, I finally worked out a day I could drop Buka off at the smash repairers . . . they could have her from Wednesday to Wednesday.  But then I realised that was a really busy week … I needed a car Wednesday night, Thursday night, Saturday, and always on a Sunday.  Public transport was not viable.  Organising lifts with people too complicated.  Hiring a rental was going to be expensive, and given this is an uninsured claim, I would have to pay the cost up front, and maybe I’d get it back on a payment plan from Mary, somewhere in the future.  But I didn’t want her to incur that added expense either.  Uber?  I used their quote app and that was going to be just as expensive as hiring a rental.  So I changed my plan.  I negotiated a shift change with a work colleague, and booked Buka in on a quieter week for the following Monday to Friday.  Hopefully that’s all it takes.

So on that Monday morning I dropped Buka off at the smash repair centre for her repairs . . . but instead I was advised that they’ll do a wheel alignment and a mechanical check first to make sure it’s all good to go ahead, and when they’ll be able to start those repairs.  Now I know I’m not a mechanic, but I thought those things would have been established on doing the quote?  But apparently not!  While waiting for that report … I felt like I was right back at the start again … revisiting the whole question of whether ‘Buka’ would be written off or not . . .  Is she repairable . . . ?  They said she was . . . !  It was looking good . . . ?  But now they think there’s a chance there may be more damage than first thought . . . !  So will she now be deemed unrepairable based on what they find on further investigation . . . ?  “Why  God?  Why?”

It was 2 days later … once up on the hoist, Buka was found to have some ‘structural damage’  … a bent wheel strutt on the right.  In that moment I wondered “What does that mean?  The damage IS definitely worse than first thought!   Does this mean she’s now ‘deemed’ not worth repairing after all?  “Why  God!  Why?”  But apparently not! … She still comes in as repairable.  What a relief! “Thankyou God!”

But it does increase the time they need to have Buka in the ‘workshop’ to be able to complete the repairs.   And so it was, Buka was out of action for 9 days in total.  And when I picked her up . . . Buka was looking great!  No sign of where the damage had been done.  No more of that clunking noise every time I opened my door and the two damaged panels collided.  Fully repaired and running like she should.

car repair

Why do we have to collide with situations and circumstances that bring challenges causing frustration and distress?  Sometimes it’s our own doing … or ‘undoing’ you might say.  And sometimes it’s not.

From Mary’s perspective:
We all make mistakes.  We all have blind spots.   We can’t avoid/prevent what we didn’t see. That’s why it’s called a blind spot . . . because we are blinded to it, or by it.
From my perspective:
I was in my lane, following the road rules, then bang!   Thanks for the inconvenience and the turmoil to my life.

And … so it is in life!…
Life is staggered with ‘stuff’ …  inconveniences and challenges … but without them, where would our growth come from?   Sometimes the situation or circumstance is repairable, and sometimes it’s not.

As it was with Buka:

  • sometimes it’s about timing and schedules … and the time required with the repairer to complete the repairs to be up and running again.
  • sometimes the damage is deeper than first thought.
  • the damage is still deemed repairable, but it’s gonna need more time in the workshop, than first thought.
  • with a complete repair, there was no evidence of the damage that occurred, as a result of the collision that took place, which under different circumstances (no blind spots, looking properly and seeing) might have been avoided.

But that wasn’t how the situation played out . . . and all the ‘wishing’ it didn’t happen wasn’t going to change that.  If only she hadn’t pulled out of her lane.  What if I hadn’t changed lanes.  So that same afternoon I made the decision to find ‘some good’ out of this saga . . . and if I couldn’t find it . . . then I would make some good.  However, due to the nature of the incident I decided to wait until the repairs on Buka were all done.  For whatever reason, I feared any communication with Mary before that time, might jeopardise my repairs.  So once the repairs were done, I followed up on that ‘make some good’ and I sent Mary a card in the mail to say “Thankyou” (for admitting her fault and accepting responsibility) with a little gift of ‘encouragement’ inside.  I don’t say this to boast, (at least I got it ‘right’ THIS time, or I think so?), but rather to show that I could see it from her perspective.  I had to acknowledge that.  I wanted to acknowledge that.  Even though I knew it was an accident … thus unintentional … I guess it was for me an act of forgiveness for the inconvenience.   And maybe for Mary it gave her some ‘relief’ as well . . . because at the time of the accident when we exchanged our details, I was trembling like a leaf on a very windy day, caught up in my own trauma of the situation.  But on later reflection, I remembered Mary’s demeanour, I recognised and interpreted that ‘look’ in her eyes that said to me that she was struggling with more than just this accident.

I’m sure we’ve all been in life situations (not just on the road) where we’ve had a blind spot, looked and not seen something we should have, or just didn’t even take the time to look, see, hear or listen properly.  Then in hind sight we’ve regretted (and maybe even berated ourselves) for not having looked, seen, heard or listened properly.

In every situation and encounter:

always endeavour in looking … to actually see. 

and in listening … to truly hear.

And so I concluded that while I can’t ‘fix’ Mary’s internal struggle, I can do what I can to ‘make some good’ in this situation in which we collided … and who knows the impact of , and where that piece of ‘good’ will take Mary on her journey …

Ephesians 4:32 says … be kind to one another … and sensitive …

And a quote I like by an unknown author:
Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind always.

So be kind and sensitive to those in your world today … especially those with who you collide!  Because maybe they need your ‘kindness and sensitivity’ the most…

Nooo . . . please, not my phone!

Today was just like any other Saturday . . . with a list of 101 things to do on my ‘to do’ list.  It was in the middle of achieving this list, while I was in K-mart that I reached in to my back pocket for my phone . . . Ahhh . . . my phone?  Not in my back pocket? I quickly dropped my Coles bag (where I’d been previously) so both hands would be free to search . . . my other back pocket, my front pockets, my jacket pockets, my very small handbag . . . back to my back pockets . . . really, it’s not like a phone can get lost in your jeans pockets?

So then began the mad rush to retrace my steps . . .  but in my panicked state of mind, I couldn’t remember where I had been . . . and so I was running here and there, dodging and darting between fellow shoppers this way and that, in the hopes of finding my phone still on the shelf where I must have put it down to look at something.

Think Helen!  Think!  What had I come to K-mart for?  A lazy susan and a whiteboard . . . so I ran back to both of those places in the hope that I would find it there . . . but No!

I had made an exchange at customer service, so I ran back there and asked the store assistant if I’d left it on the counter?  But No! I hadn’t done that either. 

I asked if she could call my phone for me.  And so she did . . . BUT  NOT  BEFORE  she finished serving the customer she was already serving.  I understand that’s not unreasonable for that customer, and that the store assistant owes me nothing, but from my perspective this was a moment to prioritise tasks as you would ‘desire’  if you were in the same situation.  As I stood there watching her put those photos in to the envelope, chatting to her work colleague, I felt like she had no understanding at the urgency of the situation.  This was a critical situation!  A time critical situation!  The difference between my phone still being on a shelf somewhere, and someone finding it and putting it in their pocket and walking away with it.

As she dialled my number . . . I wasn’t sure if I wanted someone to answer it or not.  I had hoped someone would answer saying “Yes, it’s been handed in at . . . “ but no, no one answered the call.

I had two images running through my mind . . . one of my phone sitting on a shelf somewhere . . . if only I knew where that was . . .  and another image of it in the hands of someone having just ‘received’ a brand new google Pixel phone.

I had no faith in the ‘goodness’ of someone to hand it in . . . I thought for sure it must be gone, and it’s just a matter of time before I will have to face the fact that I’m spending my afternoon sorting out a new phone, or at least reconnecting my former phone.

But just in case that’s not the case . . .  I resumed my crazy lady rampage around the store . . . remembering that I had checked out some plastic containers . . . No! Not there? 

“Please God!” I prayed, “not my phone.  Please take me to my phone . . . remind me where I left it.  Yes, it’s insured.  But that’s beside the point.”  Then I remembered . . . I’m on call for work for the weekend.  I’m now uncontactable . . . and that was the link to a whole new level of stress. In my own moment of crisis, I was now uncontactable for any hospital emergency requiring surgery.  Aghh!!!!!

Then I remembered an earlier ‘incident’ . . . I had sneezed unexpectedly . . . and with my current head cold . . . that was a tissue moment (sometimes life is messy) . . . so I had quickly ducked in to an aisle to give ‘the situation’ the attention it required.  But yet again at this place of my ‘situation recovery’ my phone was not there either!

Then I remembered across the corridor is a Telstra Shop . . . and since I’m one of their valued customers   . . . maybe they can help?  So I approached the counter . . . and found a store assistant who was not busy with another customer . . . and she was immediately helpful.  I typed in my gmail account on her phone . . . and there was the problem . . . my password . . . what is my password?  This is the very reason, I have an app on my phone that stores all my passwords . . . I just never considered the situation of losing my phone.

First attempt  =  Incorrect password.

Second attempt =  this password was changed 12 months ago (now that’s helpful – NOT!)

Third attempt = and the green circle is rolling . . . . and I’m in!  The store assistant is just as excited as I am, and then does whatever she does to track my phone . . . . and it starts searching . . . . and . . .  it’s located at Coles!  And I’m running . . . as she’s telling me she’s set it to sound an alarm in 5 minutes . . . long enough for me to get there . . . (Im wondering . . . will I be tracking that sound to the shelf space where I left it?  Or will I be confronted with a situation of having to recover my phone from someone whose pocket starts alarming?) . . . along the corridor . . . down the escalator “Excuse me!”  and again  “Excuse me!”  (and remembering I’ve just left my shopping at Telstra) out the plaza doors . . .  across the pedestrian crossing . . . through the plaza doors . . . and as I’m approaching Coles . . . I remembered using my phone after having been in Coles . . . so I knew it wasn’t there, unless it’s on the move . . . and I’m not hearing any alarms in the plaza yet . . . and that after Coles, I’d then gone to the $2 Supa Bargain store next door . . . where I’d been looking for plastic containers for a storage solution for my freezer . . . and so I had had my phone out looking at ‘notes’ while measuring different size containers and comparing them with the size of my freezer space that I needed them to fit in to . . . and as I raced to the counter of the $2 Supa Bargain Store . . .  inconsiderate of the queue of customers waiting to be served . . . I blurted out to the store assistant in my out of breath, head cold voice “Has anyone handed in a phone?  A google pixel phone?” . . . and there I saw it sitting on the counter . . . and she handed it over to me!  I thanked her, and everyone in the queue . . . and I could tell by the smiles on their faces . . . that they understood my plight!


. . . very high accuracy I’d say!

I then returned to Telstra to retrieve my shopping, and to thank the store assistant that her part in the mission was successful.  Meanwhile the search alarm had not yet gone off . . . so I disabled that, and went on my way to finish my ‘to do’ list, thanking God that He did indeed lead me to my phone . . . via Telstra and its location tracker.

I then resolved that in order to prevent this from happening again, some behaviour modification was required, and thus from here on, after using my phone, I shall endeavour to return it to some place on me, rather than putting it down on a shelf (or some such space) for it to be left behind.

And so the life lessons learned today are many:

  1. Don’t panic! It will all work out in the end . . . just that you don’t know that yet!
  2. People won’t necessarily understand or perceive the urgency of your crisis. They’ve got their own priorities and ‘stuff’ to deal with.
  3. Have faith in people to do the right thing. Such people are still out there.
  4. Always pray! Say a little prayer . . .
  5. Life can get messy . . . especially when we least expect it! Always have tissues on hand.
  6. There is always someone willing to help . . . just keep on asking til you find that someone.
  7. Show your appreciation. Remember where the help came from.  Give thanks outward and upward!
  8. Behaviour modification: make a change so as not to repeat the same incident that results in the same crisis.  A repeat event might not work out so well.  So do what you can to prevent the event!

It all starts with a single mark…

They said: “…to expand and explore our creative vocabulary…”
They said: “… art is just a series of marks, one after another…”

And so I began … It was intimidating to think outside the box … to push myself not to paint an object like a shoe, or a vase of flowers.  I can’t paint or draw anyway, so I’m better off steering away from what would only be a poor representation of such an object.  

Sitting beside me, I have a real artist, who has decided to sketch with charcoal, and stroke with her finger the facial features in gold paint … it is Brilliant! with a capital B!… like Aghhh ‘NO  PRESSURE’ to perform at all!  I really wanted to just go and sit somewhere separate, by myself, where I was not at risk of anyone’s thoughts, or even worse, actual comments.  But I stayed in my seat, and I decided on abstract.  That takes away some of the pressure of it … to have to look like any particular thing … because it is no particular thing.  It is it’s own thing.

But I was still stuck at: how to, what with, and where to make my first mark on the page.  I knew I wanted bright and colourful.  And so I started with a paint palette, squeezing out the colours that appealed to me.  

Finally I decided to just make a mark, any mark, top right, in blue, with a wooden slider thingy… Ugh! … it didn’t really give the result I was wanting … so my next move was to pick up a twig and scrape out the paint further right.  Hmm … kind of what I had in mind, but not really. 

So I decided to leave that for a bit, maybe that will develop further later … but in the meantime I’ll explore a new colour … and so enter purple!  Then red … as I explored dots using the end of a twig.  Then some more blue, parallel with the purple. And back to the red dots to enhance those from earlier, as well as adding in more red dots.  Then back to the blue … with some blue dots.  I’m having a very ‘dotty’ old time … but with no idea of what I’m creating, where it’s heading, or how it’s going to look in the end.  But it’s growing … into something? … and I’m actually starting to enjoy the ‘unknown’ of it all, the freedom to just do whatever, and see what happens!

So then let’s try some yellow, each of the 3 with something different, a brush stroke, a squiggle with a twig, and another kind of twig impression that didn’t work, so I squiggled with a twig again.  A finger print in red … my one and only unique mark contributed by the fourth finger of my right hand.  Then something extra was needed bottom left … more yellow, then green on top.  How about some green in the middle … something in the opposite direction to the blue and purple … exploring different sides of the wooden slider thingy.  Then a bit of red in with the yellow and green.  And that was where it finished.  Or at least I figured it was finished? As I didn’t know, with the tools I had, what else I could add to it.  But what is it? I don’t know?  Other than to say:  “Its just like they said it would be . . . a series of marks one after another, that were impressed on the page, as I allowed my creative vocabulary to open up to explore the possibilities of what I could do, using the tools available to me.”

And so it can be with life:

Intimidating to be your own version of you, not conforming to the norm . . . but to live outside of that box.  Not to pursue the ‘usual’ things of this world, but instead the abstract.  Not that there’s anything wrong with ‘usual’ except when ‘usual’ is not a true expression of you. 

To recognise what you can and cant do in your own ability, but still being able to allow yourself to be open to expand and explore the possibilities out there.  Dont be a ‘piece’ poor (accidental pun, but it works) representation of someone else, but be the true original ‘piece’ you were designed to be.  There will always be other ‘pieces’ around you, but dont compare, as we are all unique in the ‘art exhibition’ that is life. 

There is no pressure to perform, no reason to hide.  So make the choice to stay, and do your own thing.  Dont get stuck on the ‘how what and where’ … take that first step, use what’s available to you, and make a mark, something, anything, somewhere, anywhere on the page.

Some marks will turn out as you expect, and others not.  As you explore and expand, with ‘twigs and brushes and wooden slider thingys’, you’re all the time ‘adding on’ to a journey of  discovery and learning.  Maybe with no idea of what you’re building, or where it’s heading, or even how it’s going to look in the end … but you can see it’s growing … into something?  You’ve just got to trust the process, the process of artistic expression, as you continue to make one mark after another on the page that is your life … and most importantly, have fun doing it! 

They said: “…art is the creative expression of leaving your mark … whatever that may look like, be it in writing, in song, in paint, or whatever be your talent.”
I believe this also includes that which has been entrusted to you, for the person that you are.  Maybe you’re not artistic in the usual interpretation of the word.  But you are just as much leaving ‘a mark’ when your life expression is lived out of who you are as a stay at home parent, as an employee in your work place, as a single person, whatever your situation may be. 

So go on, show the world … What is your mark?