All posts tagged: character

I Never Thought I was a Cynic… Until I Read This Book.

A Praying Life (Connecting with God in a distracting world) by Paul E. Miller NavPress, 2009 Every so often you read a book that completely reboots the way you think. A Praying Life has been that kind of book for me. Don’t be turned off by the title – or the cover for that matter. This is a book with the potential to change your perspective on every level, not just the few minutes you grab with God each day, running through a list of pleases and thank yous in your head. Paul begins by defining prayer as “interconnected with all of life”. Such an important distinction right there. He continues, “Because prayer is all about relationship, we can’t work on prayer as an isolated part of life. That would be like going to the gym and working out just on your left arm.” With an easy turn of phrase, Paul grounds his teaching with stories, many from his own family including the trials and triumphs of his daughter Kim who has autism and developmental delay. Paul and …

The Skin I’m In

I am white, middle class, Anglo female, and here I stand in front of the mirror lamenting my own skin. The weather is warming and long-sleeves and jeans are swiftly being exchanged for singlet tops and shorts. Yes, that golden, celestial orb is bestowing her warmth and those of burnished skin are reveling in the strip-down. Us of “alabaster complexion”, as my mum fondly names it – we stand in front of mirrors lamenting that the change of season means baring these ghostly limbs, these legs like fluorescent tubes. I reach for the cream, squeeze brown onto my palm and begin to rub fakeness into my pores. This year more than years past, I’m attuned to it. The farce of it. The travesty of altering my very skin colour. It’s hard to say what’s changed. 32 years of life and a daughter who shares my skin tone might be a good place to start. Still, I rub it in, from the tips of my toes to the tops of my thighs, rubbing at my counterfeit skin. There …

Caution: Risk of Blessings Ahead!

There I was, jogging on the treadmill at the gym, maintaining my usual four-minute kilometres. Ok. I wasn’t going that fast. Ok, ok. I wasn’t even running. But in my defense, any kind of jiggly activity while a mum is still breastfeeding is not recommended. Let’s move on from that mental image tout de suite. So I was walking – very briskly – on the treadmill at the gym, and I’d forgotten my earphones and the infomercials were making me feel dumber by the second. Instead, I let my mind carry me away (a dangerous activity), ruminating on such world-altering ideas as why gyms don’t somehow offset their energy consumption by using treadmill-junkies as power generators, hamster wheel style. And, if Harry Potter’s such a good wizard, why does he still wear glasses? And why do cats gravitate towards the laps of cat-haters? Anyway, it was amongst all that brain waffle that I noticed a warning on the treadmill. CAUTION: RISK OF INJURY TO PERSONS! The notice proceeded to advise the operator to read the …

Kissing the Bullet

Who would have thought that being shot in the head would be such a boon!  When 16 year old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai took a bullet to her cranium in October last year for speaking out against the Taliban, she can’t have anticipated what a blessing in disguise that piece of metal would be. A year on, the young campaigner for the education of women has experienced worldwide exposure, won the European Union’s prestigious Sakharov human rights prize, been invited to the White House by US President Barack Obama himself and released her first book, ‘I Am Malala’. I wonder if she has that bullet propped on her bedside table and, every so often, she picks it up, rolls it around in her palm, maybe even kisses it and whispers, “Thank you little bullet!” Malala is an extraordinary girl.  I hesitate to use the word ‘girl’ for one who has demonstrated wisdom and courage well beyond her 16 years.  Making good of a bad situation takes a lot of character – in fact, it is the …

The Case for Resilience

Australian psychologist Andrew Fuller describes resilience as “the happy knack of being able to bungy jump through the pitfalls of life”. I know that feeling. One summer on a family holiday in Cairns I took the jump and felt that heady mix of trepidation and exhilaration, followed by the joy of accomplishment. I’ve known the same muddle of emotions when life has heaved with difficulty, when circumstance has greyed the horizon. Resilience is an imperative ingredient in life, but the social landscape of Australia is such that children are becoming adults without the ability to deal with the hardship that inevitably comes. Girls cop it worst. Like a flower amongst weeds they must navigate past issues of body image, the sexualised media, relationship breakdown, identity and so on. Learn resilience, or choke. It was while holding a clothes stall at a local market last weekend that I got talking to some women about resilience. Launcestonians Michelle Dingemanse and Kylea Aldred have a business called Little Bird that runs two programs for primary and high school-aged girls designed …