What is left?
When the things you want to do are hampered or denied
by lack of time
by lack of space
by lack of money.
What is left?
When those you love are absent
the one who remarries and moves away
the one who lives on the other side of the world
the one who moves away in search of work
the one who would have understood you best but is gone forever.
What is left?
When the friends you had have been driven away
by hurtful words
by thoughtless actions
by irrational emotion
by a lack of attention and time spent.
What is left?
When the structures that held you up and held you steady
the community of faith
the community of theatre
the community of song
the community of writers
are damaged or gone from your life.
What is left?
When you see yourself failing
as a partner
as a parent
as a child to an ageing parent.
What is left?
What is left?
Only to try and remember
you have a roof over your head and bombs will not fall on it
you have food in the cupboard that will not vanish with the next drought or flood
you have a home and a place to belong instead of languishing in a refugee camp
you have education, healthcare and technology readily available.
What is left?
Gratitude. Wherever you can find it.
Yesterday I wrote a post about being someone who always instinctively wants to help people. I call it the ‘servant gene‘.
Someone left the following comment on my post:
I had to read it several times to be sure it was saying what I thought it was saying. Is it just me or is this person accusing me of bragging about having a servant gene and that I think I’m better than everyone else because of it?
It upset me. A lot. Because one of the key things about those with a very active servant gene is that they never think they’re superior to anyone.
I started going over my post. Was it braggy? Did I sound like I was making out I was better than other people? Admittedly, I’d ended with the comment that those with servant genes are an important part of the community but it had actually taken a lot of effort to include that. If it sounded like I was putting myself above other people, I hadn’t meant it.
I’d never seen this person on my blog before so I clicked through to their blog to try and understand where they were coming from. There was nothing there. It’s a nothing blog. They just have a profile.
So this person just came by and threw a grenade at my house before driving away.
What is it with these people?
You see it too often these days on Facebook posts and online newspaper articles and the like. People say whatever they want, often inflammatory, and then disappear. Drop a nasty bomb and take cover.
If I had presented what was in my blog post as a speech somewhere, I’d be willing to bet that person would never have come up to me afterwards and made that comment to my face.
I just wish people would have a little common decency and stop detonating bombs wherever they feel like it. Not all of us are bulletproof.
Postscript: Amazingly, I’d already considered writing a follow up post about how much this comment had upset me and then the Daily Prompt landed in my inbox. It seemed meant to be.
Post-postscript: I feel better now. 😉
I was born with a servant gene as were my mother and father before me and my siblings beside me. We have met and married other genetic servants and produced children with the same gene.
What does it mean to have the servant gene?
It means that helping others is as instinctive and integral to our being as being right- or left-handed. It means always putting our hand up when volunteers are sought. It means always looking for ways to relieve another’s burden. It means always seeking ways to be of assistance to others whether near or far, loved ones or strangers.
Why do you do it?
Not for gain, that is certain. A quid pro quo or obligation to repay never enters a genetic servant’s head when offering a service. Indeed, the very act of serving, the satisfaction that brings, is our payment. Any offer of reward or payment for service is viewed with embarrassment.
Do you ever tire of it?
No. Never. We may feel tired, as we are often trying to meet many demands, unable to say no to any request, but we never tire of it. In fact, it is often the opposite. A request for help from a friend and the ability to then fulfil that request is likely to be the highlight of the day and leave us in a positive state of mind for the rest of the week.
What are the downsides?
It’s true that we can become over-stretched as we try to meet as many demands as possible. This does not lead to resentment at the imposition but only sadness that we are not fulfilling our full service by being an effective servant to all who need us. Some people do not understand the mindset of a person with the servant gene and will reject assistance or refuse to ask for help for fear of imposing. This also makes us sad because being of service is what fills our hearts and souls with happiness.
How do children exhibit the servant gene?
They are always the ones to attend events to support their school, club, a charity or friends. They take on the bulk of the grunt work in group projects. They make friends with the otherwise friendless kids and invite them to their birthday parties. They stay behind to help clean up. They always help when asked and offer help unprompted.
How do I know if I have the servant gene?
Are you always looking for ways to help, especially when attending events? Do you usually find yourself in the kitchen doing the dishes or staying behind to help clean up? Do you notice when your friends may need help and offer a practical way to be of assistance? Are you always on the lookout for ways to participate in events to raise money for charities or awareness of important social issues? Most of all, does doing these things bring you great joy and satisfaction?
I used to sometimes think that I was cursed with the servant gene but I have come to know that it is indeed a blessing and that we are an important part of any tribe.
Do you have the servant gene? Is it a blessing or a curse for you?
What makes the best of friends?
The best of friends stick with you through the good times and the bad.
The best of friends do not abandon you when life changes.
The best of friends forgive your mistakes, thoughtless words and careless actions. Time and time again.
The best of friends are there for you when you need them even if you haven’t spoken in a year.
The best of friends receive an offer of help with joy and not a sense of obligation because they know that helping them makes you happy.
The best of friends can pick up where you left off no matter how much time has passed.
The best of friends let you know where you stand and tell you to your face when you’re being a pain.
The best of friends celebrate your successes and mourn your losses.
The best of friends never leave you hanging.
The best of friends take a genuine interest in your passions even when they are not their own.
The best of friends can live close or far, see you every day or only once a year but are always your friend.
The best of friends can read between the lines and respond to what has not been said.
The best of friends know the worst sides of you but love you anyway.
The best of friends are a rare and precious gift.
What makes the best of friends for you?
A MOSY News exclusive
Southern Australia, 8 January 2017
Meteorologists are warning the public of a large testosterone cloud that has emerged in a small area of south-eastern Australia in recent weeks. They are unsure of the reasons for the development of the toxic plume but it is assumed to be caused by the cessation of normal activities in the area.
It is not known what health impacts are likely from exposure to the testosterone cloud but medical experts have issued a warning to anyone living in the area who is genetically female and carries the motherhood gene that there could be moderate to severe psychological effects. Such persons are advised to exit the area whenever possible to reduce exposure. Some relief from symptoms is possible through contact with other genetically female persons not affected by the cloud.
Non-residents are being advised to steer clear of the area.
While climate experts cannot yet fully account for the emergence of the cloud, analysis of historical data would suggest that this is not an entirely new phenomenon and there has been evidence of similar developments in the past. In these cases, the cloud has dissipated by early February which would indicate that the reduction in normal activities in the area is the probable cause of the toxic cloud.
Based on such evidence and despite the unusual size of the current development, it is hoped that this testosterone cloud will dissipate by mid-February. The Bureau of Meteorology advises that the cloud should hold no immediate danger to the wider community but that those living in the area should exercise caution at all times in the coming weeks.
There were empty chairs at the Christmas table. Some temporary, some permanent. Some have been empty a long time. Some we are still getting used to.
Others might think thirteen around the table to be a grand-sized party. The table was full and crowded. But the empty chairs were obvious to me.
I sat in my father’s chair. It made sense, as the only one of his children present. But the burden of taking that place felt heavy.
The party was congenial but I missed my natural allies.
Little things were difficult. A discussion of family likenesses to those not there. The bottle of wine my father always bought for Christmas. Traditions replaced by new alternatives.
The grief has been hard this year.
Things were wrong and there was no way to make them right.
I went to the ocean. I felt the cold water on my body, the sting of salt in my eyes and I let the ebb and flow of the pounding waves carry away some of the pain.
But still next year there will be empty chairs at the Christmas table.
In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it “Christmas” and went to church; the Jews called it “Hanukka” and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Hanukka!” or (to the atheists) “Look out for the wall!”
~ Dave Barry
It’s going to be 35 degrees on Christmas Day. That’s in Celsius, by the way. As in, Bloody Hot. Needless to say, lunch will not be a hot roast. And you can keep your pudding and brandy custard. Ice cream all the way, baby.
Now, I can imagine my Northern Hemisphere friends are trying to wrap their heads around a Christmas Day with sunshine, heat, a cold lunch and flies. And why wouldn’t you? It’s not the common conception of Christmas, is it?
See, we here in the Southern Hemisphere have the advantage of being able to simultaneously understand both a hot and a cold Christmas given the plethora of snowy Christmas TV specials and movies that abound in the global culture in conjunction with our actual experience of Christmas. Pity, then, those in the wintry Christmas lands who are spared the equivalent televisual experience of a baking Christmas (and I’m not talking about cookies). I imagine one can count on one hand the number of Christmas movies set down south of the world.
So you may or may not understand this song.
I do like Christmas on the whole…. In its clumsy way, it does approach Peace and Goodwill. But it is clumsier every year.
~ E.M. Forster
Last year someone suggested to me that I should be developing my own Christmas traditions rather than just perpetuating the ones from my childhood. I found this mildly confusing as I thought that was the whole point of tradition. Also, given my boys were already teenagers, it seemed a bit late to be starting new traditions.
Then, at an event this year, we were asked to bring along something that represented a Christmas tradition for our family. Uh oh.
I conveniently forgot to take anything.
But a few days later, as we decorated the Christmas tree, I realised that we had established a new Christmas tradition. Introduced two years ago, we have our own special tree-topper that minds our Christmas tree each year now.
Why have a standard star or cutesy angel on the top of your tree when you can have one of the most terrifying monsters ever to come out of Steven Moffat’s frightening head? #ChristmasWeepingAngel #WeAreNotInsane
I can’t wait for the next opportunity to share that Christmas tradition.
In a wonderful book I was given for Christmas by a dear friend, I learnt that you can learn the twelve cranial nerves to “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. It might be my new favourite carol.
On the first nerve of the cranium,
my true love gave to me:
My sense olfactory.
On the second nerve of the cranium,
my true love gave to me:
Two eyes a-looking,
And my sense olfactory.
And so on, the last verse being:
On the twelfth nerve of the cranium,
my true love gave to me:
Twelve lovely lickings, (Hypoglossal)
Eleven heads a-tilting, (Spinal accessory)
Ten heartbeats a minute, (Vagus)
Nine quick swallows, (Glossopharyngeal)
Eight sounds, and balance, (Auditory)
Seven funny faces, (Facial)
Six sideways glances, (Abducens)
Four superior oblique muscles, (Trochlear)
Three cross-eyed glances, (Oculomotor)
Two eyes a-looking, (Optic)
And my sense olfactory. (Olfactory)
Santa knows Physics: Of all colors, Red Light penetrates fog best. That’s why Benny the Blue-nosed reindeer never got the gig.
~ Neil deGrasse Tyson
Half the parcels I’ve been waiting on (stocked full of Christmas presents for the boys) haven’t arrived. It’s a common phenomenon apparently.
Sucks to be a postie at this time of year.
Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas.
~ Johnny Carson
To all my friends, family members, fellow bloggers, and random strangers who came here by mistake, I wish you all the appropriate greetings for the celebration of your choice and hope that the coming year brings all of the things you want and none of the things you don’t. And may we all find peace on earth.
I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays – let them overtake me unexpectedly – waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: “Why, this is Christmas Day!”
~ David Grayson
I used to sail. In a boat. On the water. Really.
(You would know this if you’ve read the extensive list of what I’ve attempted to be good at on my About page.)
Hidden in a shed at my parents’ house there is a boat. My boat. The “Eleanor Rigby”. (I was a big Beatles fan from about the age of nine.)
She hasn’t been sailed in…. oh…. I don’t want to think about how long. Decades.
It’s time to let her go.
I haven’t sailed her since my teens but I’m finding it unexpectedly heart-wrenching to part with her.
I developed a passion for sailing after reading Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome when I was twelve. I think part of the reason why sailing, in the end, didn’t stick was because it was never (and was never going to be) like it was in the book. I wanted to sail with hearty mates. I wanted to sail on a lake to a private island. I wanted secret adventures and seed cake and tea cooked over a fire. I wanted to be friends with John and Susan and Titty and Roger. I most especially wanted to be best friends with Nancy and Peggy, the Amazon Pirates.
But it was fantasy and this was reality.
So I sailed in a not-a-clinker dinghy on a bay (well, technically a lagoon off the bay) by myself and there were no private islands on which to camp and make parley with the natives.
It was never quite the same as the dream I held.
But I think it’s mostly hard to let her go because she reminds me of my father.
A father who understood the weird dreams and desires of his youngest daughter and bought her a boat even though money must have been tight.
A father who drove his daughter every week to the lagoon and waited on the bank while she tried to fulfil that dream.
A father who travelled hours around the bay towing the boat so his daughter could share her sailing passion with her school friends at camp.
A father who continued to pay the registration on the boat trailer for years after his flighty daughter had moved on to other things just in case she wanted to come back to sailing.
Life changes. Dad is gone. Mum needs to move on. And the boat must go.
Anyway, she needs to feel the wind in her sail again. Feel the water lapping at her sides. It’s only fair.
But I’ll miss her.
….there’s a new craft business taking the world by storm!
Okay, so maybe it’s only taking Australia by storm.
Okay, so maybe it’s just my town that’s getting stormed.
Okay, okay, so it’s only my immediate circle of friends and family.
And there’s no storm.
It’s not even a business.
It’s just MOSY Creations – my new initiative to explain the weird handmade gifts I like to give to people.
I have, for many years, rather enjoyed making things as gifts. I’m pretty sure there’s still a couple of small framed watercolours I gave my parents for Christmas when I was about 13. I know. You may pity them.
I especially like making things when babies are born.
I went through a period of making animal gift baskets with themed baby items including embroidered singlets. eg, a duck basket with ducks embroidered on socks, singlets, etc.
Then, each of my nieces and nephews received a handmade teddy bear for their first birthday. (The absolute tragedy of this commitment is that I never did the same for my own children. I still feel bad about that.)
Then, in the throes of raising my own children, I got a bit slack. My apologies to any friends whose babies received a store bought present. I owe you one.
I did, however, keep my hand in by making costumes for my kids when required for various school events.
The Youngest Son dressed as some explorer whose name escapes me for a ‘Wax Museum’ exhibition of his work. Some of it made from scratch, some just a clever use of what was in the wardrobe. The jacket was a lucky find in an op shop that just needed the sleeves adjusted to look like they had cuffs. (Smoke and mirrors, people, smoke and mirrors.)
But recently, I’ve been reinvigorated to make things again, inspired mostly by a creative friend whom I knew would fully appreciate a handmade gift.
First it was Mr Snuffleupagus when her son was born.
A year later, I dragged out the knitting needles for the first time in about ten years to knit him a beanie. (It’s Rowlf, for the Muppet-uninitiated.)
And there have been capes and wallets and Muppet Money (very valuable on the Puppet Exchange).
But the thing about all these creations is that I really had no idea what I was doing and was mostly just making it up as I went. Snuffy was based on an elephant pattern but I had to adjust his head. And his trunk. And his tail. (I think it took three trials to get the tail right.)
The beanie was made up of four different patterns.
So they’re never perfect. There’s always a slightly dodgy element to them all. But I never really thought of giving them a label until recently.
Another friend was expecting her first baby this year and she’s a Doctor Who fan. So, it occurred to me that a really cool present would be to make a Tenth Doctor doll (David Tennant being her favourite Doctor). I figured I’d try and knit one but when I went looking for patterns, I didn’t like any of the knitted ones. I did, however, love a crocheted one I found:
In typical fashion, I took to this project with gusto despite not actually knowing how to crochet. (Sometime in my deep dark history I must have learnt because it felt familiar but let’s just say YouTube is a wonderful thing….)
It was far from perfect. I honestly had no idea what I was doing. So, this time I really felt I needed to attach a tag to clearly indicate that this was made by a Jack of All Trades who definitely had not mastered crochet. And thus MOSY Creations was born. It seemed easier to declare at the outset that this was something you would not find on Etsy or Ravelry or even some sort of “Crafties Have Talent” excruciating audition episode. “This is just between you and me”, it says. “It’s not perfect but it’s made with love.”
I was still pleased with the result of my efforts. You know, in that “Gee, that was hard, but I did it” kind of way. And as long as I didn’t keep going back to look at the picture of what it was supposed to look like….
I should perhaps explain that this is a baby-friendly version of the pattern. The original required a piece of dowel in the neck and wire in the limbs. These were obviously omitted in this rather wibbly wobbly Doctor.
My dear friend loved it and she paid me the ultimate compliment. On opening the gift she exclaimed, “Where did you find it?!”
Oh, in a very exclusive establishment.
You’re standing in a shop and a song comes on the radio that makes your heart do a little dance and you smile. Perhaps it reminds you of a happy wedding, a joyous celebration or a ridiculously fun weekend with friends.
“No Life Without Wife” from the movie “Bride and Prejudice”, once performed (with costumes) at a raucous girls’ weekend away. Still makes me laugh.
You’re sitting in the car and a song comes on the radio that makes your heart skip a beat and tears appear in your eyes. Perhaps it reminds you of a significant loss, a painful goodbye or difficult time in your life.
“Turn, Turn, Turn” by The Byrds, played and movingly danced to at the funeral of my sister and niece.
Music has memories. The most potent of these are emotional memories.
“Deep Peace” by Bill Douglas from the album “Celtic Twilight”. I compiled a playlist of Celtic music as a ‘birthing tape’ for when my boys were born. This song always makes me think of them. (Unfortunately, I actually forgot I had the tape when I gave birth to my first child. With the second one, he arrived so fast the tape didn’t make it out of the bag. It was only with the third child, who took his sweet time coming, that I got to enjoy the whole playlist. Many, many times…..)
Songs can be the most likely to bring up memories, as we connect not only to the music but also to the lyrics. Words can have power.
Sometimes it may even take you a while to realise why a song or piece of music is making you feel the way it is because the emotional memory of it remains strong while the mental memory has faded with time.
The emotional memory of music can also linger for much longer than the situation that created the emotion. A song may have triggered a strong reaction because of the space you found yourself in at the time and the connection you made to the lyrics. Years later, you may no longer be in that space in your life but hearing the song can still elicit the same reaction as the first time you heard it.
“Here We Are” by Belinda McArdle. This is written and sung by the amazing woman who runs the community singing group I attend. When she first introduced this song, I was at a stage in my life when I didn’t know what I was doing, what I was supposed to be doing or where I was going with my life and I felt I was wasting the gifts I’d been given. This song made me cry. That was four years ago and until very recently, if it came on my playlist in the car, it would still make me teary. This despite the fact that I have now found my way and I am happy and fulfilled in my life. I am no longer in the place I was but the emotional memory holds tight.
I do believe it’s possible to change the emotional memory of music. If the new connection is stronger than the previous, it is possible to change one type of memory for another.
I recently attended a vocal workshop facilitated by Belinda and it was an amazing experience of finding newfound confidence and trust in my own voice. After the workshop, we sang the chorus of Here We Are together and it was a powerfully emotional experience for me. And thus, the emotional memory of this song rewrites itself to a new one. This song now reminds me of what my voice can do if only I trust in it.
What song or piece of music holds strong emotional memories for you?