Christmas treats

Thankyou my dear friends
for being so kind and sensitive to my last post. 

Here I have a video of my boys doing some Geocaching and Aiden playing with his drone.

I also have a fun little musical treat for those who listen to the end.

We have had/are having a super Christmas with many fun family times, lots of good food, and days of lying around doing not much except sleep and read. The best kind of holiday in my opinion.
Mind you we are in the middle of a heat wave with most days over 35 deg C this week, so lying around is just about all we can do!
I really feel Summer here is like Winter in the northern hemisphere with all the hibernation involved.
We did manage a trip to the lake and a sunset picnic when the temps dropped under 30. We plan to do many more.

Our Christmas also contained the inaugural riding of Miles' custom built bike (self built vintage quirky design).

And Aiden's new folding bike which needed a few tweaks, but is now running beautifully thanks to the budding bike mechanics in our family. It is now sporting brand new lights for after sun adventures (when it is cool!)



Winter scored a new bed this year after having eviscerated her last one.

Which Smart-Blue was never seen near or in...never! Why would I want to do such a gauche thing as that?

Hoping your Christmas or celebrations were just as fabulous.

Much love,
Jazzy Jack

Spiritual cracks

I am going to be very personal here, so please be kind.
Lately I have gone back to church, specifically Christianity. It kind of surprises me that it's all happened so quickly. Forgive me if I don't explain this well.

I grew up in a very religious environment. My parents were missionaries in Papua New Guinea with Missionary Aviation Fellowship, a wonderful organisation that flies people around the world especially in small hard to reach places. My Dad was an aircraft engineer. I lived there from the ages of 4 to 19, so my whole life was imbued with Christianity.
When we returned to Australia I went to University and then married, still keeping up with my Christian traditions. Around the time of my eldest son's birth we both decided to leave the church, and I found myself unable to believe the way I had growing up. So for quite a few years I remained outside the church but still searching for a way back.
One way I tried was when we moved to New Zealand, I joined a "happy clappy" church for a while and explored that philosophy. I wanted to see God at work and they claimed to see miracles all the time. I even joined the music group and played keyboard in the band. But it was not to be. I confessed some of my doubts to the Pastor and was ordered off the stage. Apparently the music leaders had to be extra believers or something. No doubts allowed. This soured me on the whole thing and I left the church again.
So from that time to this I have been away from the church, but underneath feeling a huge grief about it all. I was still subconsciously searching for a way back in. Every time I ended up in church for a singing performance or visiting family, it was like visiting someone's grave. It was all I could do to not burst in tears. Clearly something was not settled around my spirituality.
I tried investigating Buddhism and the tenets of yoga, but somehow always felt something was missing. I realised I was too indoctrinated with the concept of God being a friend, being family. I still instinctively went to pray during moments of stress, and then had to talk myself out of it. But at the same time I really didn't think I could believe all the weird and wonderful things Christianity brings. Could I believe in the actual virgin birth? Or the fact that God could live as a man? What about the resurrection? These are very fundamental truths to the faith!

So I muddled on still feeling there was more to this life than meets the eye and craving it. Until one day it occurred to me to have another look at a book I had read many years ago when I believed. Written by Kathleen Norris called "Amazing Grace", it is a study of all the hard words in Christianity and her take on them. I thought this might be a way to start. She herself had a similar story. She was raised in the church and then spent many years away, only to find herself being drawn back inexplicably. She is also a poet and I found her writing to be perfect for my needs and delight. Somehow in all this reading I realised that I didn't have to believe everything to be allowed back to church. I suppose I had been thinking it had to all be a done deal before you could enter into the worship service. It sounds a little crazy to me now, but maybe my New Zealand experience had put that thought in my head, or maybe just having grown up so convinced of it all I had no experience being the doubter in church.
Anyway, I started reading the Bible and praying, giving myself permission to see it as an outsider, and to experience it in whatever way I could. I found the experience to be liberating. Allowing myself to pray as I instinctively wanted to, and also allowing myself to question and disbelieve as I wanted to.
So currently I am going to a "high" Anglican church, which is similar to an Episcopalian church I gather. They do the incense and the robes and the processing etc. which I quite like. They are more liberal in their views on women and gender and sexuality. I can gently attend without great requirements being placed on me, and I'm finding it a lovely low key place to explore my faith. I don't go every week and they don't mind that. It also is where my choir performs as the music directors are based there, so that is convenient!

All in all I am so happy to be able to slide through the cracks in my belief system, through the stringent rules I somehow put on myself, to find a joyous mysterious expansive place beyond. My spiritual life looks different to anyone else's as we are all individual and will come to God in our own way, if at all. But I am so enjoying exploring beyond my physical senses in a poetic way.
I am continuing to explore Kathleen Norris' writings and others. Currently I am reading "Wearing God" by Lauren F. Winner talking about using uncommon names for God in the Bible to explore different ways to relate to God. I suppose I am drawn to the writers who write from a poetic mindset, exploring metaphor or who themselves have gone through a struggle or are marginalised in some way. But then again that is where I sit in my everyday life too!
So I hope you found this little story interesting and maybe enlightening too. I would love it if I could encourage one person to sit with their struggles and be gentle with themselves, to not give up and continue to explore.
I know there are people who read this who have no interest in Christianity or any faith, and that is absolutely your business. I am so not trying to convert anyone here. I am really just wanting to tell my story and in the process someone else may see themselves in me and be encouraged, as I am by the writers I am reading.
Here is a poem I wrote on this topic:
 Poetry may give me 
A way back to God
The way poems can be
Open ended
And using metaphors
Can create rich
And complex ideas
Is the way I could
Look at God
Not knowing all 
The answers
Not believing
All the creeds
Not having everything
Black and white
But feeling my way
Through the beautiful
There is a reason
God chose to speak
In parables

Okey dokey, I will leave it there.

Much love to you all,
Jazzy Jack

No Comment

Hello darling ones!

Don't fall over, it's me again. Ha!

I have been thinking lately about comments on blogs. That lovely tangible evidence that someone reads and sometimes likes the words we send out. The meandering thoughts we gather and tie up with a bow. How much we long for them, at least I do. But lately I've been wondering if my relationship with them is a little needy. I wondered about switching off my comments box, but then I would miss the real connections that can be made.

When no one comments I am tempted to think "they don't like me", or I sit there making up excuses like maybe it isn't daytime yet, or people are busy.
I often feel online like I do in real life. I think I've said this before. So when I don't get comments I feel like an introvert trying to put myself out there at a party and nobody notices.

I wonder how many comments would be "enough". If I felt no comments meant I wasn't a worthy blogger, how many comments means I am? It seems rather silly when put like that.
Maybe it's not about the number of comments but how deep our conversation goes. How much we can share of our lives and feel supported, or enlightened.

Here I must admit to delight when I have visited more prominent blogs which have no comments at all. It almost feels freeing. "See they don't have any comments either!"

Of course we all know that seeking external validation is never a wise move. But I am a born performer, despite my introversion, and love an audience. I love the give and take and the sense that more has been created by our interaction than I could ever do on my own.
This is the crux of why I blog. To have a connection with another and to somehow together create something in each other's lives that enlarges us.
To put our random thoughts together and pile them up until they create a wonderfully idiosyncratic sculpture against the skyline. Leading our eyes towards the setting sun.

Having taken this as my topic today I am fully aware it may seem like I am begging!
While I am so totally grateful to those who have visited and shared their stories, I am also aware that I don't always have words to share on others' blogs, so I do understand.

I leave you with a lovely image of the sea and my gorgeous man with his faithful friend. We could take a tip from the sea. So many waves, but not every one is greeted with shouts of joy. But still they come. Maybe this is a little fanciful, but you get my drift. Ha! Drift?

Many hugs to you all,
Jazzy Jack

Working together

Hello again! Fancy meeting you here again so soon.

I thought I'd check in and let you know how the singing went.
Last night we had our 9 lessons and carols service which we have been practicing for for weeks.
As I said in my last post, I had some meltdowns during a couple of practices due to!
So this performance although less involved for me personally, was also much anticipated.
I did do a solo verse and was in a trio which was a little stressful due to lack of practice opportunities and last-minuteness. However, all went well. We didn't stuff up too badly and the sound was glorious. Somehow the carols were my favourite part, because the congregation joined in with gusto. It really felt we had a cathedral's worth of people singing in our tiny church. Of course the choir is full of trained voices, so it packs a punch as well. The whole thing was a lot of fun and my family came and enjoyed it too. We knew it would all go well, or suspected, but the real triumph was the resourcefulness and stickability required to get there and perform. If that was the story in my family, I wonder about all the stories involved in the choir and even the congregation to make that triumphant moment part of all our lives. 

I really do have a hard time sometimes with my "art" being so ephemeral. I want a tangible thing to remind me of the moment and to have something to boast over. It seems hard to allow it to disappear into nothing. But maybe it doesn't. Maybe it is released into the lives of all who were there. Life after all is just a series of ephemeral moments which make up our story. If I can be involved in others' moments in such a pure and joyful way, then I am grateful.
I am thankful my body recovered enough to allow me to stand in amongst the noise and not immediately start crying. 
I am grateful for my training that helps me through my nerves during solo moments.
I feel the hand of my teachers resting on my shoulders as their words of wisdom are brought to life.
And I feel the audience buoying me up with their expectation and delight.

I also really loved the end of the service where we all file out to the courtyard where the supper is ready and sing "Silent Night" to guitar accompaniment. This is where having Christmas in Summer makes sense.

I leave you with a picture of our Christmas tree from last year (because we haven't got around to it yet this year!)
It is a picture for me of how a slightly wonky imperfect life can light up the world.

Much love and Merry Christmas!
Jazzy Jack

Vulnerability and shame

Hello my friends!

I am reading a book about being vulnerable called "Scary Close" by Donald Miller. It is a quick flowing easy read, and yet packs such a punch.
I have been so conflicted about my blog and internet commitments as you know. It seems every post I write lately has been about how to streamline my life and use my energy more wisely.
I felt my blog added too much pressure to my days and I was lacking in inspiration. I felt like I'd said the same thing over and over and I was judging myself.
My perfectionist inside was standing up and pointing out the less than perfect photographs, or the repetitive subject matter, or the lack of comments. Every time I wrote something it didn't seem important enough or life changing enough to share with the world.
"Who am I to be telling this to the world?" or "Who wants to hear about my week?"were some of the phrases besides many others that flowed through my brain.
But in the midst of reading this book I've been convicted with my judging attitude towards myself. And so I would like to continue writing and showing my warts and all. I will share my imperfect poetry and my random sewing adventures. You will see my videos that are not really very professional but just home movies for my kids to enjoy in the future.
I will share myself with you in short and long ways. There will be no rhyme or reason, and I will give myself permission to have no readers at all!
This is all to help me learn to be vulnerable and to turn down the volume of my internal judge. Ultimately I want to connect with love and grace to myself and those around me. But I am so good at writing scripts of how things should work out that I struggle to let go and let it flow.
I want to feel the words and life and love flow through me.

This last week I have been mostly resting and unable to join in family activities too much because I am singing in a carol service on
Sunday. Somehow my ultra sensitive autistic system has become overactive, and I have had a couple of meltdowns during practices. So now I feel like my life is on hold until Sunday night. This is not fun!
Maybe I can let go a little, and instead of holding myself tight to every perfect note and every perfect moment, I can allow the music to flow through me. Maybe I can let go and not require perfect relaxation?

Of course even being vulnerable can become a stance and an act to perfect.
We'll see :-)
How do you cope with this? Have you had similar thoughts?
Thanks for reading and hopefully we can connect again sometime.

I leave you with my latest creation to celebrate 100 years since the end of World War 1.
My dog statue has a new poppy necklace!

Jazzy Jack