Last night I snuck under an Arabian tent, with a snack of hummus in hand, leaving behind the stress of my day and watched the preview of one of my all-time favourite films, here in Perth, Western Australia. I finished the evening walking out, overwhelmed by the colour, light and love of Arabian nights, wishing I had a magic carpet to fly me home.
Princess Jasmine has always been a strong character in the Musical Theatre repertoire of Disney’s latest film offering “Aladdin” but there is a plot twist that the purists may not like.
In the popular 1992 animated film, she is depicted as a strong daughter of the Sultan of Agrabah, who is sick of feeling “stuck” behind the walls of their castle. She refuses to be forced into marriage and longs to become queen one day.
The new remake of this cult classic draws the story from this thread and smashes it wide open with a new song, Which I am sure will become a power ballad classic.
I was speechless as I watched her character find her voice and stand up to the patriarchal institutions that have held her silent. A tear dripped down my face and I remembered this quote I read recently:
“Daring leaders who live into their values are never silent about hard things.”
She sings loud and clear that “Enough is enough and I will make a change!” Reminding me a little of “Meghan Markle” and her real-life social media prison she married into and to blow convention out of the window and she has decided to do Motherhood in her own way. Feminism is being written as a backstory into the history of this cult classic.
Naomi Scott talks about her passion to bring little girls into wide spaces of emancipation here in this video below;
Will Smith, of course, wins the comedy card in this remake and the video production of his enactment of the Genie is brilliant. The sets, the costumes and production numbers don’t disappoint but for me, the stand out of this movie is the continual theme of women in leadership in Disney’s current season of remakes.
Empowering our girls to know that they can indeed change the course of history. And the last little plot twist, I cannot tell you, because that indeed would be a major spoiler. Here comes a wave, but it won’t take me under.
If I was completely honest with you right now, if we were sitting across each other with a flat white in hand and our eyes looking across a table, I would tell you the feeling I have felt the most lately has been loneliness.
The solution is not more people in my life. The solution isn’t even more friends. My husband and I are better than we have ever been, but there is a deep desire and natural inclination within my personality and value system that needs connection.
Community is my super power and if I was even more honest, I have felt used by people more than ever before. It has a lot to do with the way I grew up, surrounded constantly by my cousins and then I went to three different universities and was the life of the party. Then I was swept into a community of faith that I spent all day every day building meaningful things.
Over the last few years of novice Motherhood I have been seeking out that sense of deep passion and purpose colliding together and I’ve often been left wanting. I adore my faith community, yet I live a long way away from the core and cannot give every moment of my days like I used to.
I see my family every week, but everyone is just so busy, I find we end up talking about really simple things, because we are trying to keep the kids in line, rather than sink into the power of each others stories.
I have lots of friends, like hundreds who I feel connected to, but with a truth serum that brings my deep disappointments to the core, I find the women who truly get me, live very far away from me. Were all in different seasons, we all have kids and they make me feel like sunshine, but we are just not in each other’s every day.
The way I have been exploring this feeling and not ignoring it, is finding ways to spend more intentional times with people who are not wanting anything from me, but just to hang and be.
These are the lessons I have been applying in my today sowing seeds of friendship in my tomorrow;
Five minute chats over texts
I am the ultimate emailer and texter! A quick reply and then onto what is next. I find chatting on the phone difficult. Firstly, my kids go crazy and secondly, I find the interruption really difficult in the midst of my tasks and overscheduled life.
I have a friend who lives in Newcastle and she always starts her calls with a song “five-minute chat, let’s have a five-minute chat”. On Monday it was her birthday and we facetimed. We decided then and there, that Monday was our facetiming day. We are going to sit in front of the screen, show up and find meaning and connection. She may live far away, but the connection is our responsibility.
Who could you create a regular facetime or skype time with?
I started a book club. Instead of wallowing in my feelings, I found something creative to activate the place that has been weighing me down. Often in friendship, I find that we wait for other people to create the community that we desire. Finding a common interest, a date and a book, that’s it.
Rather than waiting for someone else to invite you, what if you created the context yourself?
I changed my work schedule around this year to prioritise my weekly sisterhood hangs at my local church. It was difficult. It meant that I said no to some big opportunities and some regular writing community that had been a big part of my last few years. Hanging around with other women of faith, singing, chatting and finding ways to drive an hour to sit and be encouraged with women across our nation has been a huge source of inspiration for me.
The effort of driving an hour is worth it, every single time. Come and sit with me, gather with Thursday’s girls.
My friend Em and I decided to create a four week series for coffee and connection, each Tuesday in June. We wrote a devotional called Embracing Slow. And to honour the content of this book, we thought an ongoing conversation over a whole month was needed. It takes courage to put this kind of conversation out there. What if no one turns up?
We created what we were needing. When was the last time you created what your soul was looking for?
Face to face class time
I have joined a gym and three times a week I am showing up for an exercise class. By the evening, I am exhausted and don’t feel like talking anymore, but I have a friend that goes to the class with me and we chat even for just five minutes before the class and it’s a quick little check-in. Showing up to a group of people away from the internet and my phone has been such a great scaffold to my week.
When was the last time you signed up for an exercise class or hobby?
Writing can be a lonely profession. You sit thinking about the thoughts you have been thinking, and it can take over your whole life. I find I need a place of quiet and contemplation, but I also need I created a writers retreat for people who need companionship in their passion but also need spaces to write. The next two dates for the year have been released Term 3: August (midweek) and Term 4: November (weekend) if you would like to come along. They sell out quickly, so come and hang away from a screen with me and write.
I am learning to love five-minute chats and also to ask for what I need. If there is not something that matches my needs, then I create it. Maybe the loneliness I feel is because I am propelled by something more than this world and not feeling satisfied is the art of belonging and growth.
Also, that community and collaboration is a core part of my value system, and loneliness is a reminder that I have been spending too much time alone, or building my own spaces. Also, to be careful and wary of people who are continually using me to create their platforms, rather than seeking conversation and companionship to hang and come alongside.
What makes you feel connected in your week, tell me in the comments below?
I stood in the classroom waiting for the smackdown as a Mother asked to speak with me. My internal defence mechanisms shot up and I said “here we go” silently. Yesterday, your daughter asked me a question.
I said “Yes and” watching this heavily pregnant Mum tentatively move from foot to foot.
She said “Excuse me, is it possible that I could come on an excursion to see you give birth to your baby?”
We both looked at each other and burst out laughing.
Motherhood is a battle ground, that I mostly try and sit at the back of the playground and walk with tenderness. Each day at all the different activities this uber driver drops her kids too, I watch Mum’s talk and breathe deep, getting ready for their next battle cry.
This morning in the shower, I remembered what it felt like seven years ago on my first ever Mothers Day, holding my son so closely, so overwhelmed with gratitude. Today I need to remind myself what it was like on that morning, soaking in the beach pathway and my husbands hand. I was grateful. I was jobless. I felt lost and unsure, with no briefcase in my hands but I was so very happy.
That happiness that cannot help but overflow out of every pore.
Today that happiness is like a treasure that I am searching for again. I feel purposed, content and grateful but pleasure, the intensity of being at home with my kids wears that bit off a bit after seven years on the ground.
Lately, I’ve been watching this clingfilm appear over parenthood and it is framed by a little set of squares and rainbow logo tv. Instagram has developed culture that shouts across our thread that we need more things to be happy. Matching outfits with our kids, holidays in far off places and gumboots in duck egg blue.
Let’s remember that our children’s spirits are more important than any material things. When we do, self-esteem and love blossoms and grows more beautifully than any bed of flowers ever could.
As the story keeper of all my kid’s emotions, I have to been thinking that maybe that new outfit from the latest store or a book to escape into, will be the answer to fill my happiness cup.
To counteract this growing wrestle in our eyes and hearts as a family we took 6 months off buying any new clothes, books or things.
We have been prioritising people over things. We have been leaning into experiences over consumable products. To begin with, it was fun, heck a creative experience. As a young adult I had a whole year of not buying anything new, it was a blast.
As a parent, I have realised that things become a refuge in a society that continually tells me I need more to feel satisfied.
In my personal retreat daybook Pause; I have this exercise that helps you unpack some of these ideas. On one piece of paper you brainstorm out this question:
What makes you feel happy?
And then on the next page, it asks you to describe stories and memories when you actually felt it.
A very simple exercise that helps me to remember I don’t need to do more or be more or have more, but to dig deep into the memories that reminded me how happy I have been and it never has to do with the stuff I own, but the people sitting in my circle. In this season I’m learning to zone in on the people in front of me, than the things in my hands.
Including my phone, Instagram, Facebook, new clothes, books, crochet (Lord help me) and so much more. In those moments that I want to escape into the land of internet shopping, I am learning to explore the feelings that I am trying to escape from.
Tell me in the comments below how you are prioritising people over things?
This is our 2019 manifesto. We are far from nailing it but so far its the fifth month of the year and I haven’t bought a book or any new clothes! How is this a thing.
The pink plush velvet seats couldn’t appease the sound of the argument ensuing at the table beside us, but my ears couldn’t un-hear the tone that haunted. We were grabbing a fast dinner post movie and were keen to chat and hang out. As the conversation behind us got louder and louder, the awkwardness grew.
You see we were the only ones in the restaurant beside this couple. The pain reverberated around the room and my friend and I tried not to listen. The waitress held her eyes steady on the floor, trying to shrink the atmosphere looming but a long-held miscommunication was spewing out of their mouths, and we didn’t know what to do.
I know they were in a bubble of pain, but each sentence became fuel thrown on a log fire. I am pretty sure they were now separated and trying to rediscover how to move forward. I am pretty sure they have kids and were trying to talk through their way ahead. Every word a wall. Each topic with agenda.
I sat there desperately trying to eat my curry and stay focused on my friend and her conversation, but they broke me. My heart for their family and the pain following them with every spoon full of their food, each sip of champagne made me wonder about the beginning.
What happened that led them to this pink, Indian Palace on a Monday night in Autumn?
Where did the cracks appear and how did they go from wanting each other forever to hating even the sound of the other’s voice?
My husband and I celebrate eight years of marriage this week. It is not a huge milestone, but we both know the tension we walk, is staying interested in each other. Our love didn’t begin with outrageous statements or gifts. Our passion has never been explored online with extravagant gestures. We often smile with the simplicity of the life with which we live.
If I could offer any encouragement from eight years of walking alongside him, it would be looking for the micro-moments of intimacy, rather than the extravagant emotion fuelled displays of love.
Our culture creates a pressure cooker that shows us that love is a mixture of feelings and gift giving. Whereas I have learnt love is walking alongside and noticing one another, learning to express our thoughts, ideas and possibilities with care and courage.
Recently we bought a coffee machine. We saved for months to be able to upgrade after our machine broke. When we were engaged, we attended a barista course given to us from some of our closest friends. Ever since that day we spent learning the art of espresso, it has become a daily competition in our relationships of who makes a better coffee than who?
I sit on the counter, watching his espresso pouring and he snuggles in behind me to watch my milk frothing performance. It is a daily dance that brings intimacy into our mornings and a warm hug in those tired afternoons. He walks a coffee in on the mornings that I get out of bed and I extend an offer to make him one as he walks in from the garden.
These little moments maybe inconsequential to those who may look on and observe, but these are our micro dates that fill up the spaces, that life drains us of in between. Then it is those little smiles or texts full of laughter, light and love. Maybe the emoji’s that no one else understands the meaning of, or the daily call from his intense workplace at lunchtime every single day.
It’s the “I appreciate you” as he walks out the door at 5 am to begin again and the daily phone call at 7.15pm as he walks out the gate. It is the giggles behind the corridor as our four-year-old said the word “duck with an f” this morning, having no idea what she said.
These are the micro, inconsequential moments that no one will ever see and familiarity makes us forget. As I sat and tried not to listen to the couple in the corner, as their relationship ended on that rainy Monday, I remembered it is the micro that creates the macro, and our culture doesn’t teach us to look at the in-between moments.
Next time you see a flashy demonstration of love on Facebook or a new diamond ring, maybe it is a romantic holiday to a far off destinations or a photo shoot in front of a coloured wall. Maybe remember that there is nothing wrong with the big, but you have important everyday moments and intimacies that count just as much. If not more.
I am learning to love the little in my relationship and to allow the scaffold of micro dates to deepen our intimacy, our love and our in-between.
The sacred in my life, is my source of inspiration. We live in a world that focuses on the external, we watch the highlight reels and we allow desire to run rampant.
Desire was foundational to the redemption of humankind. If you believe there is a story beyond the story of this moment, then you come to a place of reckoning in the midst of desire.
Yesterday my daughter found five dollars under her pillow from her first tooth falling out. In our house their first tooth bounty is five dollars and from then on it drops to whatever we can find on the floor of the car.
As we walked through the shopping centre, I heard the coins she received that morning clanging in her pocket. Everywhere we went yesterday she was insistent. “Mum can we go to the shops.” “Mum, how far to the shops.” “Mum I need to spend my money.”
The treasure in her pocket, was unravelling her desire to buy something new. Oh the delight of a five year old and the possibilities of a new toy, lolly or lip gloss.
I see that same desire in my own heart over and over. Each and every time I scroll through your screens the desire ignites and somehow I believe the lie, that one more pair of shoes, a holiday or a new pen will fulfil the deep longings in my heart.
We were created with desire. There is nothing wrong with surrendering to the potential of wanting more. However in my life, I am learning that when I allow that desire to be filled with the sacred it completely changes the way I step into my tomorrow.
When we desire what others have, instead of rumble with our stories it becomes a place of shallow comfort. Just like our hunger pains, to remind us that we haven’t eaten. Our heart has pangs that create a longing for something more.
In your heart of hearts do you desire something more of your life?
My answer to this perplexion is digging and developing a sacred secret place. There are secret questions, there are places that my heart has delved, that you will know nothing about.
The authenticity clause of our online culture, does not mean that we lose the beauty of living a quiet and surrendered life, that unpacks the pain, the longing and desire in places away from the public eye.
Vulnerability is not about a public showing of the hurt and stories that have plagued our lives. It is the capacity to surrender to the process of growth and wisdom is unearthed in those places of quiet.
Paths that no one can walk except you.
A conversation with our Creator, where He reminds us that the desire we hold in the cradle of our hearts was put there for Him. in conclusion those desires show us that we were made for more.
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
1 John 2: 17 says it this way “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
How can we know what the will of God is for our lives?
In the secret sacred places. Those paths that we walk through forests of opinion, judgement and pain. The times that we reference our beliefs and belonging by the sage’s of days gone by. Where we sit in the seat of the learner rather than having to be the one on the stage.
Success is reformed in these places by the ache of belonging to a world beyond our today. Leaving a legacy of hope that is framed by eternity rather than our belongings. A hope that speaks so deeply to our soul that we were named before the earth was even formed.
Our identity is not shaped by the external. Success is not experienced through the amount in our bank account, but the depth of our souls.
Fame will never satisfy the longings of your heart. Being known across the world only magnifies your pain rather than heals it. Each and every time we surrender to the discomfort of sitting in the sacred, we grow.
Growth is not easy, but it is satisfying. To look back over our own stories and see that we have surrendered to the stretch of the sacred and developed depth and humility.
This is a the sacred in my life. These are the places I cannot show you or give you. You cannot take my sacred away from me. You can copy my ideas, you can try to mimic my voice but the sacred secret places cannot be replicated.
As they are mine and His alone. These are the places that we write hard.