Liberty & Life

cover1-150x235Change is inevitable, like nature – life evolves and constantly moves around us, if we do not adapt we wither, and thankfully adaptation seems to be something that we are good at… even we we proclaim not to be.

Change is not always easy, depending on the circumstances it can in fact feel arresting, the other side of that coin however is liberty, which is the topic of todays post.

I have under gone an enormous amount of personal change over the past 3 years (longer if you count the time from which I had gastric banding surgery) however the last 3 years have been monumental in bringing me to the point I am at today.

In 2010 I went back to University full time and started a graduate degree in education. It was a busy year with crazy timelines, I started a job the same time, working part time with at risk adolescents at night of the streets of Melbourne. At the end of 2010, I finished my degree and although I loved my teaching rounds (for reasons to numerous to go into now) I made the decision to stay in the job I was at and accepted a full time role with the team. I still believed however that I would move towards teaching eventually, but now was not that time.

The full time role and work we engage in is tough, at night and with young people often marginalised by a society that barely accepts them, let alone make the time to understand them. We work with young people who are tough and hard on the outside, but like us all underneath are just looking for acceptance and belonging. I love this work, I love the interactions with young people, I love advocating for them, encouraging them. But  like all meaningful work it comes with a price.

My role involved working 10 hour shifts (often with long overtime) and was always at night either 4pm till 2am or 6am till 4am, and it entailed working 7 nights a fortnight, which always included one weekend in that block… I know that for this work to be possible this is the way that it needs to be, it has to be at night, on the streets, rain, hail or heat. This is the role.

I think that these hours worked for me for a period of time, I could prioritise my exercise during the day, sleep in (I am a bit of a night owl) and engage in work that is both rewarding and meaningful. However there is always a cost. Working night shift continually eventually turned me in a vampire (not literally) but yes, I rarely saw sunlight, found it difficult to sleep at night or during the day, became disengaged from family and friends given that I only had 7 nights a fortnight to see people, and add dating to that – well you get the picture.

I have had 4 surgeries this year, hard enough for anyone, interrupted sleep and poor eating routine and crazy hours found it hard for me to return to my best healthy self… Add to this a number of stressful events at work and I was a powder keg just waiting for a spark to set me off.

I knew in my heart in the middle of this year that this would in fact be the last year I would be able to stay in my outreach role. I love the role, but my heart yearned for something more. I love working with children and young people, and have a desire for them to see and realise their full potential.  Social work is great, I am passionate about it, but it is  not where my calling lies, I believe that my calling is in realm of education.

So it is with great pleasure that I announce (now that I have formally told work) that I have resigned from my job today, and will not return there. I am currently on annual leave and my resignation will dovetail right into my resignation date. I have accepted a position teaching next year, I will be teaching in a suburb about 10km from me, I am under no illusions that it will be tough at times, but I know it will be rewarding also. I will be teaching Year 6, and get to journey with a group of students from Jan to Dec in 2013 seeing them grow and graduate from Primary School…

I am sad to leave my colleagues and young people on the street, but I know that this is where I am supposed to move towards.  I can work in education with a group of students and hopefully become a teacher that allows students to see and understand their intrinsic value and develop as individuals, building resiliency and skills that will  afford them full lives and divert them from coming into contact with social workers protecting kids on the streets.

The door is officially closed to my last role, I will miss some of it and most definitely my colleagues who are simply amazing people… But I feel strangely liberated, like I am moving towards myself, my path in life. I look forward to a life of living in the waking world, exercising and eating with more routine, not feeling socially isolated and having every weekend free; but more importantly, I am looking forward to a  2013 where I will open the door to the learning space that will begin my next journey.

Till next time,

Lin.

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Getting back together…

I know that it has been a while since we caught up, months actually, and If I’m honest, I was a little nervous about tonight, and I wasn’t sure it would be the same, feel the same.

I know that when things got hectic, and I got sick – I let us slip…  That’s why coming back was so hard. What if it wasn’t the same? You know we had great times together. What if something else comes between us again?

I made the decision to see you at the last minute. I think it was so I wouldn’t talk myself out of meeting. My stomach was a knot, my head a bit of a mess… What if doesn’t feel as good as the last time, what if the magic was gone…

I wore the outfit you like, Ha, no, You don’t really care what I wear do you? You just want me to turn up. I think I wore that outfit for me, I always feel great in that top and those pants – ready to take on the world, confident, strong…

Before I know it, the dream is reality again. We are together, my knees start to shake, I kind of stumble, and I am slow, but slow can be good, right? I know I am rusty, but the rhythm comes back, my arms, legs, hips all start to work in sync – it feels wrong, but right at the same time, such a cliché!

After a while I realize I am so tense, Damn, I know I am over thinking this. I just want it to be good, like it used to be –  like I used to be. I use a little mantra, relax Lin, relax, I feel the tension in my shoulders go, then I relax some more – just feeling every moment with you…

When we finish I can feel those endorphins kickin’ round in my system, I almost forgot how good it could feel – just you and me…

My body quiets down, the feel good wearing off as my heart rate returns to normal. I am lying on the bed, and it starts; I know you never criticise me, – it’s never you – but the doubts creep in, and those critical voices come out to play,

“You started out too fast, your pace was off.”

“There was no rhythm – towards the end you were lagging, you know you were.”

“HA the ending, well you didn’t…you didn’t finish well dear”…

I almost scream, SHUT UP! – But it is now 2:30am and the apartment below would probably hear… So I scream it in my head… I remind myself, it’s ok to be rusty, it’s been a while, and that you don’t care, It doesn’t matter how long I lasted, or that my rhythm was off, that I was slow, or so hot and sweaty at the end that it was a little embarrassing…

What matters is that I came back to you tonight, in the wee hours of the morning, I came back to you, and you welcomed me with open arms, no judgment, no laughter, no “You should have come back sooner”.

You don’t judge me, never have, never will, and that, that is why I love you Running.

Lin xox

The “Boyfriend Cake” Flop

I haven’t posted this for tea and sympathy, It is more about being true and honest in this blog; and my journey. That being said, sometimes, some cakes, well they just don’t work out.

The ingredients you thought were there at the start, turned out to not be the true ingredients that you thought you were working with. Fortunately I realised this sooner than later. In my case the BF couldn’t keep up appearances or subterfuge any longer, the cake was cracking at the sides and had turned into a fruit cake – a fruit cake that was full of alcohol – bringing out a very different man to the guy I first met.

So after a few less than ideal conversations and being spoken to with anger and disrespect I ended it. He wanted to gloss over the issues and said I was stubborn, I said that being spoken to with contempt by seasoned drinker with anger issues was not something I was willing to compromise on, he could call that what he liked – but we would not be getting back together.

Saying goodbye wasn’t hard actually, I felt strong and know that I am worthy of more – Honestly the disappointment came in the form that he wasn’t the right guy and back to square one; but I do believe that I am happier single than in a bad relationship. So my focus is on continuing to live and love life, taking a break from dating and just enjoying every moment.

Testing all this stuff out has been tough, maybe tougher than losing the weight (mmm, maybe not) but I am proud that my self-esteem is strong, and that I continue to learn more about myself and relationships across all areas of my life. Being true to who I am is really the best feeling.

Have a great day, I know I will,  till next time – Lin xox

The Boyfriend Cake…

I haven’t posted in quite a while, sorry about that. There have been many many things going on with life and to be honest up until my tonsils came out 1 week ago, i really had limited energy and used every moment of it to just get by, sleeping enough to recuperate and go back to work for my next shift. Sounds a bit doldrum like – but it is the truth.

Something funny happened a few months ago. I was still (in a much slower capacity) dating and had met someone online that I thought I would give a chance at a real life date. So we met up… and it is still going well, almost 3 months in now and I would suppose that he has the title of boyfriend (BF seems like an odd term at my age) Honestly he has done pretty well at being around sick Lin for the last few months, and in recovery stage post surgery as well!

But navigating a relationship at this age and stage of my life is quite different to other stages of my life, and it is different again to dating. Whilst dating I had in my head that I wanted to be in a committed relationship, but the reality is different again to the expectations, and with that comes a lot of personal reflection and self assessment.

I am learning that a Relationship is essentially expectations of self and others, negotiating these expectations and understanding that time will impact on the trajectory of the “us” that springs forth.

I am a fairly forthright person and believe that truth in love and kindness is what is needed (with a good pinch of timing) but it is a bit like baking a cake, there is a recipe (proportion / ingredients) and a lot of mess that makes a good cake and time will tell if the cake is going to rise to the occasion. The same goes for us I suppose. It is fun, messy, tiring, exhilarating and yep the cake is still baking… But I will sit back and enjoy the process, and enjoy getting to know the me and the him in the “us”.

Till next time, Lin xox

Mum

I am not a mum to my own children. I have been a foster carer in a past life, and that gave me an incredible insight into parenting at some levels. It is the hardest job in the world being a parent. It means that your life is not just about you anymore, and that you are responsible for another human being.

I remember calling my mum after my first week as a single parent foster carer of 3 teenagers; I thanked her for putting up with all my teenage angst, and told her how I didn’t know how she did it…She told me it was OK, that she loved me, and encouraged me not to give up, that I was doing OK… She laughed when I told her all her sayings that I had used in that week and always swore I would never say to my kids.

I also felt ashamed for some of the hateful things I had said to my mother growing up, names called, anger screamed. Often it was not my mother that I was angry with, but another situation, person or I felt generally sad about my life… I was angry at Mum because she was safe, I knew she would always love me, never reject me; that was something that I never doubted.

Mum was always safe, but it wasn’t until I grew older that we grew closer. I didn’t really understand my mothers strength until I became a woman myself. It wasn’t until I grew up that I saw and understood her love for family, that she would put her own needs and wants aside and solider on in the face of tough times and opposition. It was when I realised this that I finally saw my mothers true beauty and strength.

Neither of my parents are perfect people, we all have our flaws – but I know this.             My Mother is a woman who loves her children, their partners, her grandchildren and extended family with the heart of a lioness combined with a spirit of grace, wisdom and forgiveness.

Not everyone gets a Mother like mine – the work I do is testament to many young people who don’t get a childhood or parents that they need and deserve. My two brothers and I are the lucky ones. Forget about the 70 million dollar Powerball draw – We won the lotto when we got a mum that loves us unconditionally and with passion to see us become the best version of ourselves we can be.

Thanks Mum & Happy Mothers Day,  Love Lin xox

P.S. Remember to tell your Mum what she means to you… and not just on Mothers Day.

Society, Church, Sex & Being Single…

On Monday there was a story doing the rounds of the Australian Media outlets. It featured on Channel 9 news in Melbourne. There is a link to the Courier Mail article at the end for the full context.. Overall it was not a well researched article, and was full of quotes from people designed to get a response and polarize opinion. Well it got me, hook line and sinker… or should I say stinker.

The premise of the story was this; Grab a man if you are a single girl or miss out. (Subtext you are to blame for being single, It is your fault for wanting it all) In fact what really frustrated me was Catholic Church Priest Father Tony Kerin episcopal vicar for justice and social service in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, and his gems (*cough*) of wisdom, that went a little something like this;

“Today’s women wanted the best of both worlds.” “Are women getting too choosy? I’d say yes,” Fr Kerin, speaking on behalf of the archdiocese, said.

“I think many are setting aside their aspirations for later, but by the time they get around to it, they’ve missed their chance. In trying to have it all, they end up missing out.”

WOW – thanks Father; We want the best of both worlds – Really – Too Choosy you say! Can’t we just aspire to have the best life we possibly can? Of course relationships are about compromise, working together, learning to live with differences and  live together.  But we no longer live in a world where as women we are reliant on a marriage to make sure we are “looked after”. I want a partner that is an intellectual, emotional, and sexual equal and treats me like one. No I am not willing to settle for less than that.

I didn’t happen to meet anyone in my 20’s for a bunch of reasons; “Never mind” says the Catholic Church, “that’s your lot in life, you’ve missed your chance Lin now live with it”. Or in Cartoon like fashion I imagine it a little like  this “Haha ha you tried to have it all woman!!! Now take that (slap)”.

There’s an expletive I want to scream at this priest it goes something like; “F#&K OFF!!

Honestly I wasn’t trying to have it all, I was just trying to live my life… My 20’s were hard work and a huge learning curve… I am kind of glad I didn’t get married then, I was a mess; physically and emotionally.

The very statement of women “trying to have it all that they end up missing out” is so misogynistic; And then there is the push to get married, like that doesn’t have anything to do with Christian views on sex.

But hey, don’t worry girls, the  Church doesn’t seem to be such lovers of women unless you are the virgin mother! After all it was a female that ate the apple and lead Adam astray, Women who are depicted as adulterers, and then the bibles love of highlighting the female role of seductress who will lead men astray…Yeah the church has a really healthy view of  relationships and sex… They don’t place any guilt around sex at all right?

But wait there’s more! The article also explains that there are substantially fewer available women than men out there … I also have an issue with the way this was stated in the article, and here is a quote from the article in relation to the work of Demographer Bernard Salt (who is promoting his new book that talks about this topic);

“Demographer Bernard Salt calculated that for single women aged 25 to 34, there is substantially less heterosexual, well-off, young men available after excluding those who were already married, in a de facto relationship, were gay, a single parent or earning less than $60,000 a year.”

The article here makes the assumption that single women aren’t interested in any men that are single parents or earning less than $60,0000 a year. The subtext of this to menfolk; If you have kids, well then women are not interested, if you earn less that $60,000 in the last financial year, sorry mate you’re not a viable option. How bloody insulting to men and women. So as a woman, I must only be interested if you are single, no kids and earn over $60,000. What are you smoking Bernie??

I have dated guys with kids, it is not a deal breaker. I have also dated men that earn less money than me… I can earn my own money thanks. But the figure in the article is also arbitrary given I have dated tradies that earn less than me on paper for tax reasons, but more in real life in their business.

This article does confirm that dating out there is hard. There does seem to be less viable men out there than women. However my single male friends tell me they aren’t finding it any easier either, and that finding a female partner is hard too.

This whole article screams of fear mongering to me; it screams of 1960’s expectations of the lives we need to lead. Hey ladies if you’re not in a relationship of some description there is something wrong with you..can anyone hear the word “Spinster”sitting on the cusp of this article… (Now where are my cats and balls of yarn!)

Thanks Church again for telling me (and other women) that we should follow your prescribed playbook for our lives. Hang on I know what to do; Let me find a man who I don’t get along with, marry him,, quit my job, have a couple of kids and bake all day…    Not that there is anything wrong with being married, having kids and baking all day …     But God forbid you are gay, bisexual or having sex outside of marriage… No, because according to the church that is forbidden, God doesn’t approve, there can be no love for you, no grace… You don’t fit the marriage mould, or aren’t allowed into the “club”.

Now I know plenty of Christians that wouldn’t agree with what the priest said about single women being picky, but I know plenty that would as well.

I know Christians and churches that love and accept straight, gay, bi, tri – well anyone really. But there are also plenty that don’t and actively promote hatred towards people who don’t fit their mould.

What I am sick of is this… Faith groups (of any description, denomination or religion) bullying groups of people and making “holy” unhelpful statements about how people should live their lives. Women in particular have been bashed enough by faiths across the globe. For crying out loud, most women (and men) I know are just trying to navigate their lives the best they can, with what they have, and get through each day. Leave us alone Priests and demographer’s… We got enough on our plates…

Rant over (for now)

Till next time; Lin xox

Grab a man or miss out, girls warned | The Courier-Mail.

“Coming Out”; Dating after Weight Loss.

Just a click away??

“Coming Out” is now a term synonymous for telling family and friends that you are gay or same sex attracted. Sorry readers, no gossip today, I’m not about to tell you I am gay, but I am here today to talk about dating.

Once upon a time in a little land called England, “coming out” or “coming of age” was the term used for young lady’s of aristocracy to be presented to society as ready and available to meet eligible gentlemen. These men; of good social standing and breeding – were the hope of securing marriage and a future. This occurred between the ages of 17 to 18, where the young woman would be presented to the courts and come out to society. The young ladies “job” role from this point forward was preparing for the social events of “the season”. Being introduced to interested, eligible and suitable bachelors. Enter the whirlwind of Balls (with gorgeous gowns), picnics, afternoon teas, charity events and concerts galore. It was the world of Jane Austen and Downtown Abbey, where marrying the “right” gentleman” had as many pitfalls and complications as it does today.

“Back in the day” these women’s family members, (usually female matriarchs such as mothers, grandmothers and aunts) would be out on the “social network”, think FB without computers. The rumor mills would run hot, the gossip of London’s “well to do” could make or break a future, a family and lives. Young women’s attributes and beauty would be extolled. Eligible bachelors were considered and evaluated; It was, for all intensive purposes – trade. Often match making occurred for a variety of reasons; to confirm or keep royal titles, money, and land. The idea of love and attraction in these matches was not usually the first priority, but the hidden romantic in me hopes that it wasn’t entirely lost either.

Part of this all sounds like fun right? Being part of a family that was wealthy enough so that you could spend your time shopping and having maids set your hair sounds a little delightful. However for some cases, surely the awful truth, was just that, awful, and that that for many women, and men for that matter, it was a scary, daunting prospect; a little like being a commodity or an object…

In previous blogs I have stated that I am dating. Don’t get me wrong, It is fun, but just like those wealthy English Girls of yesteryear , it feels like hard work, a little scary and a huge learning curve. I have stated previously that it is tough to meet people. In today’s world it feels like one of the few places left to meet other singles is on a dating website. So I have wondered about the dating website world, Is it the 21st Century version of Coming Out? We now create profiles of ourselves, have we become our own matriarchs?

Are we now using new social dating sites to change the way we meet, communicate and interact? Or are we now just spruiking or making a commodity of ourselves? Primping and priming our profiles, rather than our hair?

I am not bashful or embarrassed to be internet dating, honestly where do you meet the single eligible men of today? I haven’t heard from my Mum on this, but, I am pretty sure that she is not organizing my social calendar for picnics, charitable events, or balls…(No mum that is not a hint:)

Meeting people is hard, meeting a nice, funny, real, SINGLE man who your attracted to; even harder. The pub seems like a less attractive version of internet dating sites (beer goggles are not good for anyone) and most of us have exhausted the friend connections.

In today’s world we do everything online, we are connected all the time; So if that is the case, so why shouldn’t we use the tool that can (at some levels) make it easier to assess potential partners…

Saying that you were internet dating 5 – 10 years ago was almost taboo, one of the statements that would often get you a sideward glance, and a snigger from the corner – How times have changed. Now it seems like everyone has a profile..and if you are honest enough to admit it out loud you often find that the single person next to you has an online profile too (or is seriously thinking about it). Whilst we live most of our lives on-line, the hard part of internet dating is translating that into meeting, turning the online reality into a real life date, but more on that another time.

For me, part of this modern-day personal “Coming Out”, this Multi-dating (or meeting guys for coffee to see if they are reasonable human beings) is about learning who I am in this process. I am trying to figure out what I am looking for in an eligible bachelor. Losing weight is not just a physical journey. It is really more than that, it is about becoming healthier across mind, body and spirit; It is also about becoming healthier in connecting my self esteem and sexuality… Honestly it is some scary stuff people; I know, I know, I mentioned the word sex there – even though it was backed up with some “uality” at the end of it 🙂

But back to being fat for a second, when you are obese, and the discussion about partners starts, you hear a lot of “But you have a great personality, someone will see that”…

LETS STOP RIGHT THERE…. Lets cut the crap people, and, to be honest, for me, I don’t think my personality was that healthy. Sure I had friends, I was happy at some levels, but I was also really f*#king miserable as well. I did not like the me I was. I looked awful and didn’t love myself. If I am honest; deep down… gut wrenchingly honest – I did not want to be loved. Especially not by anyone that would have accepted that version of me; Seriously how could I love someone who accepted that me, when I couldn’t accept myself. It would have been settling for someone I didn’t respect…

So now, where to from here; Well I have jumped into the Magic Far Away Tree, and landed smack bang in the middle of “The land of Multi Dating”, where, the healthy me; the happy me; looks for Mr Darcy, whilst weeding out the Mr Duds… Who knows what the magic far away tree has in store next, but I like Multi Dating Land now, and plan to hang around for a while. Why? Well because I am learning, learning about myself, men, and how to navigate relationships. I am also learning that I have plenty of lessons that need to be learnt in this space.

I really look forward to reading your comments on this post 😉 and, as always, I will continue to keep you posted!

Till next time, Lin xox

Please Note; Multi Dating is a term used by some dating sites to explain that you are meeting people for a coffee or first date. A first date, second or third date doesn’t constitute a relationship people! I am not talking about being in multiple relationships. It is a process of getting to know people, developing friendships and seeing if anything more is there.