A weekend retreat at home

cosy fire

For the last couple of months I have spent quite a bit of time outside my comfort zone, but this weekend I have been firmly inside my comfort zone and it’s been delightful.

This weekend I am on an enforced retreat. I am in quarantine because I am radioactive, but I don’t feel unwell so it’s quite a strange situation. You feel that if you are not allowed to see other people, or go near them (I have to stay a metre away) then you should be feeling like you have the plague. But apart from a slightly snotty nose I don’t feel sick. I just need to stay away from others. I am on retreat.

I am loving being able to choose my own activity and not having to think about anyone else. If I want to get up at 4.30am then I can (I did on Friday, then I went back to bed). If I want to go for a walk, then I go. If I want to read, I read. If I want to watch TV, play the piano, dance around the living room like a loony, I can.

Yesterday I felt very much like going for a drive. I took the mini for a spin around Tinderbox, stopped for a little walk at the reserve, then kept going through Howden. (This is all in Tasmania, if you want to see how beautiful it is, Google earth should be able to help, I didn’t take photos, sorry.) In the dirt road part of the trip I drove through a big muddy puddle, and that decided the next activity for the day. The mini has now had a quick wash and is not a muddy mess any more.

I have work that I need to do this weekend and I have work that I want to do, but even though I am working I am just loving having the house to myself, having quiet when I want quiet, and noise when I want noise. I’m enjoying having time to think, to pray, to read, to write. I don’t think I could live like this all the time but for me this weekend is the equivalent of going on a cruise. It’s relaxing. It’s rejuvenating.

I look forward to the boys coming home on Monday (they’ve been on camp, so they’ve been having a great time too). I will enjoy having company by then. But I am also enjoying this life now.

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I-Day

radioactive image
This is a 3D illustration of an electromagnetic field in a nuclear radioactive core. Nothing to do with me, actually, but much prettier than the other pictures to do with radioactivity so I chose this one.

‘Good Camp Morning!’ Caleb  bounds into the kitchen and smiles at Moz, ‘and Good Radioactive Morning’ he says to me. And that’s all you need to know about us today, really.

The boys are off to a Scripture Union camp called Dcypher. It’s a camp for high school-aged computer gamers. They get together, link all the computers, and fight, race, and compete with each other for a few days. They also spend time away from the computers, chatting, playing games outside, and performing engineering challenges, all the good stuff.

It’s a great camp because the campers have time with adults from their world, people who understand gaming, and as well as that they are taught balance and discuss life lessons. They even do cosplay. My son who is over six feet tall is dressing up as a dwarf.

And as for me, well, we’ve come up with some theme songs for my day today. The first is Radioactive by Imagine Dragons, the next is Standing Too Close by Thandi Phoenix  and then there’s Don’t Stand So Close to Me by the Police. (I just watched the video clip for that one, it’s disturbing.)

Yes, today is the day for the radioactive iodine therapy. Not D-day but I-day. At lunch time today I will head into hospital, and as far as I understand it, I will swallow a capsule, and then go home. But I will be harmfully radioactive for the next five days or so (some gamma and mostly alpha radiation) and I should stand at least a metre away from any people I meet so that I don’t shoot them with harmful radiation.

I have thought about this course of action a lot, and talked to a lot of people, including more than one medical practitioner. I believe this is the right thing for me to do for my health at this time.

And the timing has worked out very well. I need to stay away from people for a while, and the boys will be away for the same amount of time. They get a camp, I get a retreat, everybody’s happy.

If you are a praying person, I covet your prayers for the camp, and also prayers that I get exactly the right dose of iodine to kill off my thyroid enough that it is no longer producing harmful quantities of thyroid hormone, but that it is still producing some hormone, so that I don’t need to take additional medication. That is the absolute best outcome we can hope for, so that’s what I’m praying for.

Have a great weekend everyone! See you on the other side.

Grace for the moment

It’s been a big (but good) couple of weeks.

Scratch that, it’s been a big (but good) couple of months.

In case you haven’t managed to follow all of this as it happened, the crazy all started straight after Easter with a trip to Canberra for Jess’ graduation, then we had our Vanuatu visit, which seemed to flow straight into the first book launch, which was followed less than a week later by the second book launch. Then I had a few weeks of finishing up at uni, packing up my office and being given lovely farewell lunches, and then I was off to Los Angeles for a week. I brought my sister back with me from LA and we’ve been doing family things for the last week or so. It’s been pretty hectic.

In fact, by last weekend it was starting to feel like Christmas. On Saturday we had a big wider family lunch together at my Uncle’s house (my great aunt, and aunts and uncles, and cousins and second cousins), and on Sunday we all went to church (Mum and Dad and my brother and sister and me) and afterwards came back to our place for lunch and collapsed in a heap. That’s what Christmas feels like to me – family and church and exhaustion and good food. I think we ticked all the boxes. The weather wasn’t quite warm enough, and we were missing some important family members, but all the rest was right.

I’ve enjoyed all the fun things we’ve done. I really have. It’s been so great to catch up with people and meet new people and have excellent conversations. The trips overseas were amazing, and the book launches were a dream come true. But there have been aspects of the last few months that have been challenging for me as well.

On the plane over to LA I was listening to The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis, narrated by John Cleese. It is absolutely brilliant (of course). If you don’t know what this book is, it’s a series of letters from the demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood giving instruction on how to get a patient (that is a person) safely into hell. It’s sort of Christian instruction from the opposite point of view. Very clever. And Cleese shows his brilliance in narration too.

One thing from the book that stuck in my mind was the phrase ‘grace for the moment’. Screwtape was telling Wormwood that he needed to keep his patient’s mind focused either on things he had messed up in the past, or things that he was worried about in the future. That ‘our Enemy’ (that is, God) had promised grace for the moment, and that if the patient could keep living in the future or the past then he wouldn’t be able to access the grace that God had promised for the now.

It’s so true, isn’t it? If we are focusing on now, living in the moment, depending on God for the energy only for now, then it is so much easier than trying to access grace for things that may never happen.

And if we look into the future too much, there is a great variety of possibilities, many different ways that things can go wrong, many eventualities to worry about. But only one of these possibilities can happen in this trouser leg of time and we only need to face that one possibility as and when it happens.

So that has been my experience over these last few, very full, weeks. God has given me grace for each moment and I have come through rejoicing and grateful.

I don’t want to promise too much, but things seem to have slowed down a bit now. I’m starting to get the washing under control, and to clean up the mess that happened when my uni office was moved into my home office, and to go for walks and cook my own dinner instead of relying on easy meals and takeaway.

And I have plenty of wonderful memories to look back on.

The Adventures Continue

Amaro's picture
This is Caleb, Jessamy, Amaro, Me, and Moz. Isn’t it gorgeous!

Today’s gorgeous picture was drawn by our friend Amaro who is just about to turn six. She and her mum Jessamy stayed with us for a couple of nights (just as I got back from LA) before heading off to Townsville. Their adventure is much bigger than mine and I pray that it all goes smoothly for them.

Amaro drew the picture of everyone in the house. The boys have pink trousers on and I have to say that it’s a pretty accurate representation of Caleb’s hair (on the left).

I’ve been home for a few days now and it’s taken me a little while to figure out what is going on in my head. In fact, I’m proud of figuring it out this early, but then I knew it was coming so maybe it’s taken me too long.

The thing is, I am now officially an entrepreneur. I no longer work for the university, not even two days a week. I am a small business owner. I work for myself.

The whole day is mine. The whole week is mine. I don’t have to go into uni anymore. I can organise the all my time as it suits me.

But that means there is no structure. No fixed appointments. No urgency to get things done today because tomorrow is taken up by work.

And it is easy to let things go. To get lazy. To convince myself that I am tired today and that it would be better to start on that job (whatever it is) tomorrow. To tell myself that I don’t feel like writing this morning and I’ll do it later.

Or to get stuck. To wonder whether I should work on the paid editing rather than the writing because it is paid work and therefore more important. Or whether I should work on the writing rather than the editing because it’s my body of work and therefore more important. And then to do neither of those things because it’s all so confusing that I don’t know where to start.

The fact is, none of the time is mine. It was given to me by God. And though I am no longer working for a business, I am not working for myself either. I am working for God.

Now is the time to put into practice all the wonderful time-management processes that I have been reading about for the past years. I can now figure out when my most creative time is, when it is better for me to do editing, when I need to work on the business side of things.

There is plenty to do. I just need to schedule it in. I need to get started. Try things. See if they work, and adjust if they don’t.

And not feel overwhelmed by the hugeness of having my dream come true.

I am so grateful for this opportunity and I am NOT going to let it pass me by.

I have a novel to finish, editing work to complete for customers, blogs to write, and plenty to learn.

It’s exciting times, folks! Bring it on!

 

P.S. I thought you might like to know that my tooth has been fixed with a filling and you really can’t tell that it was chipped at all. And my arm is feeling much better and nearly all the bruising from the fall has gone. I’m over the jetlag too and I’m borrowing Moz’s old phone until my new one comes in the mail.

I’m very much enjoying having my sister visit us here in Tasmania, and my brother is coming today as well for some proper family time. Life is good. Busy, but good.

Back to winter

Guy in Lyft: How are you?

Me: I’m hot. I’m heading back to Australia today so I’m wearing my warm clothes.

GIL: Is it cold in Australia?

Me: Yes, it’s winter in Australia, it’s going to be freezing.

GIL: Oh, I’m sorry, I’m an arts major, I have no idea about these science things.

Hilarious.

I’ve had other conversations where people have asked me what the weather is like in Australia. I find that a difficult question to answer – Australia is a big place with all the kinds of weather you could want. I think I usually manage to get that across.

The Lyft driver and I went on to talk about how he’s an illustrator and wants to work in comics but that he needs to work on his writing skills. It was a very cool conversation and I pointed him to some podcasts that I am pretty sure he will forget but I hope he remembers.

It is one of the fun things here that everyone you meet is either a part of, or trying to be a part of the entertainment industry. The lady who runs the café near us is a writer, the driver is an illustrator, and so on. I’m sure that not everybody is part of the industry but it sure has felt like it.

I decided to visit the little church near me this morning – Silverlake Community Church. They were great people. Sometimes the little churches are the best. I felt right at home there. Morning tea after the service was coffee (and decaf) with vanilla creamer (too sweet) and some apple pie (yum). The blessing talked about going home rejoicing, which I thought was appropriate.

So now we’re working, Cath and I, and cleaning her house, and getting ready to go. The cats are aware now that something is happening and they are hiding in the bathroom. They are clever, are cats. But they will be ok.

The next post should be from Australia. See you then.

Nearly Over

brunch
Here we are at brunch. The cafe staff were awesome too. Go to Friends and Family if you’re ever in East Hollywood.

This morning we had a brunch, a ladies brunch. It was so nice. Catherine’s friends are great. I remember when Catherine invited me to this brunch as a Facebook event. I was so excited to be able to go to one of her events. And I was right to be excited. We had such a lovely time together, and ate such good food.

Catherine’s friends are also very international. Just to give you some idea, at the brunch this morning we had two Italian-Americans, a French-Polish lady (and her son), an Israeli, a lady from Norway, a lady from Latvia, and us two Aussies at breakfast. And also a short visit from a New Zealander but we kicked him out (grin).

It’s been a much quieter day today. After the brunch I went back to my place and got some work done. Catherine is frantically getting everything together before she comes back to Australia with me. So I’m staying out of her way a bit. I remember what it felt like finishing up at home before coming here.

Tonight we went out for Thai food. It was amazing! Hobart needs to up its Thai game I think.

After dinner we went for a walk around the beautiful streets here in East Hollywood. There are some absolutely gorgeous houses and gardens. It was so great to walk and chat. Now we’re relaxing with some TV.

One more day to go. This time tomorrow we’ll be on a plane.

Events and Triumphs

I am living in hipster-ville. The airbnb where I am staying specifically states on the website that it provides breakfast. And there are all sorts of cereals in boxes on top of the fridge. But when I tried to make myself a cuppa, there was no milk. There was coconut creamer (whatever that is) but no milk.

There is also no coffee here. Well, there is Turkish coffee, but that’s not going to help me, I looked at the instructions and it was pretty complex. I get the feeling that this is very special coffee and if you can build an outside fire and make the whole thing in a clay pot then that would be better, really. There’s heaps and heaps of herbal tea.

So I went shopping to Trader Joe’s and bought a little carton of organic half-and-half milk. No hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides. Then I could have a nice cuppa using the decaf coffee I brought from home.

(Ok, I am tying myself in knots here because it’s actually Saturday morning but I’m writing Friday’s blog. I was trying to pretend (or lie?) but I can do it no longer. I didn’t get to writing the blog at all yesterday. But that’s ok. If you remember, I thought life might get a bit hectic and I might not make a daily post. If you’re in Australia you won’t even notice.)

Yesterday’s adventures involved heading to a café to meet one of Catherine’s very good friends. Getting there late, finding that he was going to be later, and then (after a really nice latte) finding that he was at a completely different café so packing up and meeting him there.

The middle part of the day I came back to my digs and relaxed a bit while Catherine frantically did all sorts of things at her place. Then in the evening we went to a Film Fatales event that Catherine had been helping to organise, where female composers, directors, and cinematographers came together to network. It was a great night, very successful. Someone told me that these sort of meets happen twice a week but that they are never ‘this good’. So I think it was a triumph and I’m proud of Cath for pulling it off.

I had a name tag that put me in the composer camp so that led to several of these conversations, ‘so, you’re a composer?’ ‘Um, no.  I’m Catherine’s sister, over from Australia.’ Then we’d have the Australia conversation. I even picked up a couple of business cards and someone promised to read my book.

Today we have a brunch and a party. I’ll keep you posted. Hope you all have a great day today too!

IT Detox?

orchestration
Here are Catherine and Joe, hard at work, while I just watched in wonderment.

I didn’t expect this trip to be an IT detox trip. Not that it’s a complete removal from anything online by any means but I am learning to live without my phone.

The first few days were already a challenge as the phone had been turned to airplane mode and was only going to be used when wifi was available, or in an emergency. I kept pulling it out of my purse or pocket to look something up, or to text someone, and then realising that I couldn’t do that while I was out and about, and would have to wait until I got home, or got to a café where wifi was available. It wasn’t much of an imposition but it was different to my normal.

Now that the phone is completely dead (the screen got smashed when I fell over and doesn’t light up anymore) we’re just hoping that the emergency doesn’t happen and I’m learning to live without the phone at all.

The phone was my camera, my bible, my note book, my audiobooks, my podcasts, and my calendar. Now I have none of these things in my pocket, and only some of them available on my laptop. It’s an adjustment.

It’s good to have these kinds of challenges every now and then, just to remind us what a sci-fi world we live in, and that life can go on without all the luxuries.

In other news, this morning we met with an (or should I say another?) award winning composer and talked orchestration. Well, they did, I listened and learned. It was fascinating what a difference the correct orchestration can make to a composition.

Then we went out for lunch with another friend, travelled to The Valley to drop off another friend, and took me to my new digs (I’m staying in an airbnb, as planned, for the next few nights). Tonight we had a hang out at a rooftop bar, so I had a nanna nap this afternoon. The pace is getting to me 🙂 No, actually it’s been an amazing visit, I’ve met fantastic people, lots of composers and writers, seen so much of the city, and had quality time with my sister.

And now, to bed.

What time is it?

Alfredos coffee
Apologies for the fuzzy photo. This is the very hipster coffee place where we started the day today. Good coffee. Yes, they make good coffee here, in places.

Today has been really delightful. We have gone to a very shiny part of town where Catherine had a really encouraging and exciting business meeting. I did some writing. I only felt a little bit like a toddler who sits on an adjoining table and plays with crayons while the parents talk.

Afterwards we walked along Melrose (I know! Melrose!) and looked at all the shiny shops, and saw some shooting taking place. (Movie shooting. It’s all good.) Big trailers and stuff.

Then we came home, and we were just popping out for lunch when the adventure happened.

I tripped.

Big time.

Face plant.

I’ve scraped my hands and my knee, my chin and my lip, and I’ve chipped my tooth.

Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 9.50.29 am

So talented to do that in the very city that is concerned more about looks than any other place in the universe.

The homeless people sitting on the pavement just behind us were quite concerned about me.

I have also destroyed my phone.

So it’s been quite the day.

Right now, I’m sitting on the couch watching Catherine record the work of an amazing vocalist. It’s so fun to get an inside look at what happens in the world of making movies. Mostly the music bit but there’s a chance I might even see some filming this week.

After the recording, the plan is to go out for dinner with another friend and then have a quiet evening. It had better be quiet. I’ve had quite enough adventure for today.

Oh, and the time I fell? Truthfully? It was two-thirty. Tooth-hurty. Geddit? Geddit?

Interesting cultural differences

the syrup aisle
So much maple flavoured syrup!

Here’s a fun thing: There’s a shop near me, and when you try to steal stuff by taking it through the door with the ID tags still attached, it doesn’t set off a screaming, beeping alarm. Instead there is a polite voice saying, ‘Excuse me, but we seem to have forgotten to remove one of our ID tags from your purchases. Please bring your purchase to the register so we can remove the tags.’

So polite. Not necessarily a bad thing. It does repeat over and over, but hey. (It wasn’t us with the ID tags still attached, by the way, it just happened while we were there.)

And today, when we were buying groceries, the self checkout asked us to, ‘Please put your item in the bagging area’ with every item. But then, one of the items was a bag of mushrooms. They needed to be weighed and the code put in, so the announcement changed slightly:

‘Please put your “mushrooms” in the bagging area.’

Catherine thought she (the phantom voice) sounded proud to know what was being bagged. But I thought she sounded mighty suspicious of the “mushrooms”.

The picture today is of the maple syrup aisle. I just can’t get over how many bottles of syrup there are. And also how the instant coffee is locked away in a glass cabinet and that you need to call for assistance to purchase it.

All these interesting cultural differences.

Today also we’ve been to Hollywood proper, with all the stars on the footpath, and people dressed in costume, and famous theatres and waxworks museums and stuff, and Scientology people accosting you on every corner. We just walked past all this on our way to the subway after going to an amazing Mexican restaurant for lunch, but it was an experience anyway.