June has been a month of contradictions.
We’ve known the heights of celebration and the depths of pain in receiving bad news about a family member. I’ve discovered insights about stillness and rest and losing it, and wrestled with the feels that come from having my first article submission rejected. I shared about how I don’t have my shit together, and on the flip side, how I try to recharge in the midst of chaos.
What I’m Reading
The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)
I basically knew nothing about this book about teenagers with cancer before picking it up, but the characters drew me in right away with their witty banter and depth of insight into the human condition. Green’s vivid portrait of Amsterdam has sparked an interest in all things Dutch now, and I loved delving into the landscape that he painted with his words. Emotionally, it was a tear jerker, though mostly in hindsight I found, as I was retelling the story to Dave. Definitely recommend it.
The Kitchen House (Kathleen Grissom)
In the end I had to skim read this story about slavery because it was messing with my head! When what felt like the fifteenth character to die by the third chapter I put it down because it was just too brutal to continue. I eventually picked it up again, because I wanted to find out what happened in the end. The brutality and conditions that the slaves had to accept as their ‘lot’ was just so horrific and shocking, and the juxtaposition of the white ‘slave’ girl brought up interesting notions of race, privilege and identity. Reading the author’s note at the end was fascinating as it told of how she almost felt like the story was ‘uncovered’ to her as she wrote and that whenever she tried to dull down the horror of the story it just hit a dead end. Not one to read if you are sensitive!
Becoming Wise: An Inquiry Into the Mystery and Art of Living (Krista Tippett)
Haven’t quite finished this one yet, but it has been a Krista Tippett month! In some ways this book has been a great guide as to which On Being podcasts to listen to next, and in others it has just been a beautiful framing of reality in Tippett’s poetic and insightful language. Really enjoying the journey so far.
The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert)
This is by no means ‘new’, but I found it to be a comprehensive and helpful reframing of the Enneagram from a spiritual perspective. I felt like it really deepened my perspective on what the pitfalls (and strengths) of my type are and and is helping me understand those around me with much more grace.
What I’m Watching
Bloodline (Season 1)
I’m kind of watching this show through Dave. We watched the first couple of episodes together and he gives me a run down of the storyline as it unfolds, and it is fascinating as the writers blur the lines between who is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and how the hunters become the hunted. The plot revolves around a close-knit family involved in running a seaside hotel in Florida, and the fallout that occurs when the ‘black sheep’ of the family (Danny) comes home. Such an insightful picture of the complexity of humanity.
I’ll Have What Phil’s Having
I actually stumbled upon this show through The Simple Show podcast and we are all loving it! Phil Rosenthal, comedy writer, explores beautiful places (Italy, Paris, Japan, Hong Kong, Barcelona) renouned for good food and leads us around with him as he meets interesting characters and samples mouthwatering cuisines with such a sense of wonder and curiosity it is contagious!
This was a simultaneously uplifting and depressing movie. Uplifting because of the tireless efforts of the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe to uncover the insane reality of systemic child abuse by Catholic priests in Boston, and depressing because it is a true story of corruption, stonewalling and everyone turning a blind eye. I was concerned that the child abuse aspect would be handled voyeuristically but it was tastefully done, told completely through accounts of victims rather than ‘flashbacks’. A must see.
This month at Open House we have been trying to reconstruct a faith we can believe in (rather than our natural critical position of deconstructing). We have been delving into the beautiful insights of Richard Rohr’s Alternative Orthodoxy and it has been inspiring. House Church discussion have been spirited and engaging, bringing to mind echos of John O’Donohue’s framing of deep conversation: “Where you heard yourself receiving from somebody words that absolutely found places within you that you thought you had lost and a sense of an event of a conversation that brought the two of you on to a different plane.”
As for the rest of the month, we enjoyed a delicious Persian BBQ at Naomi and Jam’s house, crashed Dwain and Jane’s for pizza, a fire and Messy Church; and a group of us (not me, I confess) did the Act for Peace Ration Challenge, raising a spectacular $5,097.00!
What I’m Listening To
Ahh podcasts, how I love thee! It has been a month of podcasts… I listen while doing the dishes, in the car, doing housework. It surprised me when I sat down to recount just how many you can get through in the incidental moments if you try…
On Being with Krista Tippett
This podcast was my first choice this month. I love the gentle, insightful manner of Krista Tippett and her way of drawing out profound reflections from her interviewees. My favourites included David Whyte – ‘The Conversational Nature of Reality’, Frank Wilczek – ‘Why is the World So Beautiful?’, Pico Iyer- ‘The Art of Stillness’, Ellen Langer – ‘The Science of Mindlessness and Mindfulness’, John O’Donahue – ‘The Inner Landscape of Beauty’, Nadia Bolz-Weber – ‘Seeing the Underside and Seeing God’ and the one that brought me to sobs: Craig Minowa – ‘Music and The Ritual of Performance’. There were many other worthy mentions, including David Isay- ‘Listening as an Act of Love’, Stuart Brown – ‘Play, Spirit and Character’, Elizabeth Alexander – ‘Words That Shimmer’, Maria Tatar – ‘The Great Cauldron of Story: Why Fairy Tales Are For Adults Again’, Arthur Zajonc – ‘Holding Life Consciously’, Adele Diamond – ‘The Science of Attention’, Paulo Coelho – ‘The Alchemy of Pilgrimage’, and Bernard Chazelle – ‘Discovering the Cosmology of Bach’.
Anne Kroeker Writing Coach
If you only have a five minute car drive or a little chunk of time, these are perfect. Succinct ideas and inspirations for writers that you can practice and implement, honing your craft and re-centering your ideals of why you write in the first place. I listened to at least ten of these, and have been attempting to follow Kroeker’s instructions as I go.
The Simple Show with Tsh Oxenrider
I listened to three of these this month, and Dave and I have been captivated by the concept of Neighbor’s Table in the interview with Sarah Harmeyer. Sarah practices radical hospitality in her simple and small house on a huge cedar wooden table to the tune of 500 people a year. I also listened to ‘Everyday Spiritual Practices’ with Katherine Willis Pershey and learned how Anne Bogel fits everything into her full life ‘How We Work- Part 1’.
Straight and Curly
Carly and Kelly are two Australian bloggers and writers and I discovered their podcast recently. It is filled with down to earth advice and tips about how to do life well. So far I’ve listened to ‘The Coffice’ which talked about etiquette when using a coffee shop as your office and the ‘Tried It, Hated It’ episode which covered bullet journalling, juicing and sleeping naked.
Dave asked me to listen to this one – a collaboration between Science Mike, Michael Gungor and others (including Richard Rohr) in discussing and discovering life through the lenses of science, art and faith. I listened to the ‘Sin’ podcast which brought in Dave’s homeboy Rene Girard and his propositions about sin, desire, scapegoating and the force of ‘Satan’.
Eli turned five this month! It still feels weird to me that we have been muddling through this parenting thing for that long now… Eli has been impressing us with his incredible focus, his ‘letters’ and drawings to his friends that are produced at a prolific rate, and his lego building skills! He was so excited about his party and was very hands on in helping with the decorations, menu planning and cooking. It is so great to see him developing and growing up, even if he does clash at times with Hudson!
Hudson has come along in leaps and bounds in some ways – finally showing interest in learning letters and numbers, and transitioning from nappies (I was dreading this but it actually hasn’t been too bad… so far). He lives life to the absolute full, knows how to cast music and shows from any device onto the television screen or speakers, and drives us crazy with his ‘shepherding’ of Ivy and wanting to shadow us and do what we are doing at all times.
Ivy has discovered The Wiggles and is mesmerised by their singing and dancing. You can often hear her singing to herself as she plays with playdough or creates another drawing… I think we are at an average of at least 4 drawings a day at the moment – she loves it! She is at the cutest stage… We took her along to a party where they played the dancing Freeze game and she was right into it, dancing wildly with her arms flapping, then freezing along with the fifty odd other kids when the music stopped. Her biggest thing is not being contained – she is one super independent woman already!
Adventure-wise, it has been a month of living life to the full!
We threw an Autumn Cocktail Party and let the kids stay up a little later to be our waiters. They were enchanted and we even let them have a special mocktail. The wonder in their eyes was so special.
Dave and I visited the Cafe de Beaumarchais in Sassafrass which was so evocative and beautiful. The sun was out, we listened to podcasts, marvelled at the beautiful Dandenong Ranges and sampled a French platter of antipasto style ingredients.
I conquered my fears of taking all the kids to the other side of the city to visit Scienceworks and it was an exciting outing. Hudson could not be moved from the motorbike, and Ivy loved hopping in and out of the canoe. Eli spent half an hour designing a futuristic car and it was so much fun!
Club Officer opened in our estate this month and we have already visited three times for coffee and the indoor playground. It will be a frequent watering hole, methinks.
Eli turned five ‘Wild Kratts’ style and we had a party to celebrate. We ‘grew’ trees out of brown paper and balloons, made a Tortuga cake and Dave hit it out of the park as the Games Master.
On his actual birthday we took a trip to the Zoo along with one of his best friends, Chase. It was a perfect day and the kids loved seeing all the animals and reptiles in real life that they had learned about in Wild Kratts shows.
As for the rest of the month, we took a short train trip to Pakenham where Hudson fell face first into the mud, had a crazy hour dinner with Alex & Monica and Naomi & Jam, celebrated the last day of term with a Hot Dog and Footy Day at Kinder and celebrated 30 years of Sharon up in the hills.
What a month!