After the Groove – when we be crazy, or inspired, or maybe a bit of both

Date: Thursday 26 February, 2015

Location: Auckland CBD

OMG. I can’t believe I’m doing this. Big envelope in clammy hand. A bound and printed copy of all 10 posts about How Glo Got Her Groove Back inside.

And a personal note.

To Contestant Number 10.

Once My Ardent Pursuer. Once My Sweetheart. Always My First Love. Not quite sure what to call him now.

Am I freaking crazy? Why am I doing this?! What on earth has possessed me to do this?

We finished more than 6 months ago. He could have totally moved on and maybe even be married or living with someone in that time.  Who knows?  Anything’s possible.  We have had no contact at all.

At. All.

But since I wrote those blog posts a couple of months ago…especially the last few about Contestant Number 10…so many people reached out to me afterwards to say such beautiful, encouraging things – that what I wrote, so many parts of it resonated. Being shut down. Being afraid of getting hurt. Choosing change. Choosing a different path, even as the status quo would have been so much easier. Learning to overcome fear and learning to trust, to take risks. Learning about love. Saying No More to letting myself be cheated out of my best life. Going after my best life. Fighting for my best life. The one I was born for.

And even though the specifics of my story were so unique, my desire for my life, for more, for better – that was not unique. That is our humanity. We all want that.

The people who wrote to me after those blog posts said that they saw life in my story, in my words, even in the cheeky way I wrote some of those words. They saw themselves in some of my words, and they felt less alone. More understood. That was what I’d always wanted. To speak true words that bring true life.

And I thought, gosh, if so many people received something like that just by reading that story, what if I shared that with Contestant Number 10, who was such a significant part of that story?

What if, sharing those true words with him, would bring something for him? I read those posts over. And I wondered, did he realize how much he had done for me, how much he had opened my heart, how much of his true heart I actually saw?

Did he realize what an amazing person he really was?

Did he come away thinking he had almost destroyed me? When in actual fact, he gave me such a wonderful glimpse into his heart, into what real love could be. And I came away more determined than ever to Get My Life. To be loved well. If not by him, then I knew now, I knew I deserved to be loved, and loved well. And I knew I would be loved well. And that I was also capable of loving, and loving well.

All because of my experience with him. What an incredible gift.

Walking into the post office. Feeling very very light-headed. Feeling like I am going to faint.

No one in the entire world knows what I am about to do.

If any of my friends knew I was doing this, they would have immediately staged an intervention – they would have told me I was insane, what was I thinking, we broke up more than 6 months ago, he’s probably totally forgotten about me and is back out there and has probably dated how many other women since then, he won’t be giving me any thought and here I am writing entire blog posts about him, what is that, that is freaking crazy, that’s what that is.   And if I send this to him, he will just throw it away anyway and think it’s ridiculous, it won’t mean anything to him, and he will just think I’m a total nut job.

They would say don’t do it girlfriend. Don’t you have any pride?

Still feeling light-headed. Standing in front of the post box. Did I have the right address? What if I send it to the wrong apartment number and some random person ended up reading this?  What if he’d moved somewhere else anyway?  What if it got lost in the post? Or even scarier, OMG, what if it actually got to him?!

Omigod, omigod, omigod. What. Am. I. Doing?! What do I expect to come of this? Do I expect him to read it and laugh and cry through it the way others had laughed and cried through it with me, and to contact me and say let’s try again? Am I so naïve?! Am I that much of a hopeless romantic?! Am I that ridiculous? Whatever happened to being hard and cynical and acting like I don’t care? Oh, that’s right, I never want to be hard and cynical and I never want to act like I don’t care when I really do. And when it comes to Contestant Number 10, I care. I really do.

But I can’t have any expectations. In the note, I didn’t ask him to contact me, even though I do miss him so much.  But we ended things.  We. Ended.  Things.

I just know that I want him to know. What an incredible gift he was to me. And for that to give him some peace of mind. And an understanding of who he is. That he was a catalyst for some wonderful growth and healing in another person. And that other person appreciates that, so very much.

OMG!  It’s gone. It’s in the post box. What have I done?!

Such a girlish, hopeless, romantic. Thinking that life and love is like a romantic movie where love conquers all and everyone lives happily ever after.

Oh well. It’s done now.

I hope he sees it as a gift to him. But if he doesn’t, at least I have reached out and tried to let him know. I can’t do anything about his response. But I know, I’ve sent it with the truest of intentions. To bring something good to him, and not to harm him.

This seems crazy.  But it could be inspired.  Actually, it’s probably a bit of both.  I’m actually OK with that.  This being both.

Daddy God You know my heart. Hold my hand and hold my heart and show me where to go from here to find the life and the love that I know You have always wanted for me.

I’m so glad that I’m Your girl.

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Labels – better on fashion than on people, no? :-)

How do we instinctively respond when we see or meet an extraordinarily distinctive or unusual-looking person for the first time?

Do we make assumptions about them? About who they are…about their intellect…about what kind of character they must possess…about what kind of life they must lead…then, based on our frame of reference, history, experiences, prejudices etc – we might take those assumptions and put two and two together. And we take the sum of that. And in a matter of seconds after seeing or meeting them, we (often subconsciously) assign a label.

Such is the power of labels. And the startling efficiency of our brains. We put two and two together, and sometimes we get five. Or sometimes we get three. Sometimes we get four. It’s pretty cool when we get four.

Kind of understandable, that we do that.   It’s human nature to try to make sense of people and things, to categorise and catalog, in order to efficiently assess, judge and respond accordingly.

We have a lot of inputs coming in, all day and every day. All the incoming on our smartphones alone is enough to put us at risk of spontaneous combustion from mental overstimulation, without having to take on actual real life human interactions as well.

So the more efficiently we can assess somebody as ‘my people’ or ‘not my people’, the better.

So we take all the external cues we can to make that assessment quickly and move on. We look at someone’s surface characteristics…how they look, how they dress, how they speak, what they do, what they say…and our brains deem that sufficient input with which to process, assess and then engage or dismiss.

We all label other people, without even realising it most of the time. I do it too. Being human and all.

But deep down, we must know that isn’t always the full story, right? To label and make judgments about people based on limited surface data?

We all know, that when we label others and dismiss them without knowing them properly, we could be missing an incredible opportunity to know an amazing person, right?

Those people who might seem at first to be ‘not my people’ to us. But who would bring such richness, such perspective, such dimension to our lives. If we could just see past the label.

It’s like me and my head booker. ‘Christian’ me. ‘Gay’ him. You can’t get much more labeled than that. Like, whatever. Two real people with real lives having real conversations about real stuff.

In the final analysis, labels mean nothing.

Last year I learned an object lesson on the meaninglessness of labels when God brought across my path a man who did not – in my then-religious ‘Good Christian Girl’ view – fit the label ‘Christian’…a man who was, ‘on paper’, with his history and chosen lifestyle up to that time, not at all my idea of someone who I would be drawn to, let alone love.

That cut both ways – ‘on paper’, I was not at all his idea of someone who he would be drawn to, let alone love, either. I know this. Because he said so. He was pretty honest about stuff.   He taught me a lot about the value, and the fearsome beauty, of honesty. Those lessons continue to challenge me to this day.

So anyway there I am with my uptight yet awesomely efficient Christian Girl labelling process going on, when faced with this man. And then God says to me, but can you see my sweetheart, can you see what I see? Can you see this man’s heart? Can you see how true his heart is? Can you see how much truer it is, than the hearts of so many other men who claim My Name?

Don’t just see the surface, as man sees, My dear child. See the heart, as I see. This man has the purest of hearts. Do you know how precious that is to Me, my darling girl? Do you know how precious he is to Me? He’s as precious to Me as you are.

Labels. God lovingly but firmly calling me out on my small-minded uptight labeling and saying hold on a minute darling girl, look deeper. Labels. Totally nailed by God.

Can you say challenge me much, Daddy God?! Sheesh. Talk about a crash-course in Losing My Religion. And labels. And seeing with God’s eyes.

Because I reckon God thinks labels suck too, when people – who He has so lovingly created in unique and beautiful and intricate detail – aren’t seen for who they truly are…or don’t let themselves be seen for who they truly are (guilty as charged) – and instead get labeled.

God says that He looks upon the heart, even though people might look upon the outward appearance.   He’s not kidding. Even now, after said object lesson, I don’t think I fully comprehend yet how very much He is not kidding.

Even that label, ‘Christian’…after all I’ve learned in the last year…and after decades of exposure to the imperfect yet wondrous humanity of us all, myself included…it’s a totally meaningless label. At best, it’s a lifestyle label. It’s not a state of heart. It doesn’t matter to me anymore what someone calls themselves or how many churchy things they do or where they volunteer or blah blah blah blah…

I really don’t believe that God categorises people, and their hearts, the way religion does. I don’t believe God categorises people at all. God loves uniqueness, growth, change, spontaneity, fun, wholeness. God loves it when people want to grow into wholeness, into the life they were born for. God loves it when people want to go on a journey to their best life. He’s never wanted any less for any of us.

And although the church is filled with people exactly like that, how many others alongside them are sitting in church pews the world over, Sunday after Sunday, comfortable in their Christian lifestyles but not actually growing anywhere? How many people who claim the name ‘Christian’ are not actually on a journey to more and more of the life God has for them?

Just because we’ve ‘said the prayer’ and are ‘living the lifestyle’ and are going to all the ‘right’ Christian conferences etc, surely that doesn’t mean we hunker down there, Sunday after Sunday, year after year, Christmas play after Christmas play, for the rest of our comfortable-yet-insular-and-ultimately-inconsequential religiously-lived short-changed lives?

And although yes out in the big wide world there are people who don’t give their inner life much thought, how many others alongside them are out there who don’t claim the name ‘Christian’ for various reasons, but they have pure and sincere searching hearts that would put some of the church to shame?

They are looking for the True, and the Real, they are on a journey. When God sees that, how could that not be precious to Him? How could He not respond to that? When a human heart is searching for Him, truly searching for Him and won’t settle for less, He will be found. He wants to be found.

God says that we will find Him when we look for Him with all our hearts. It’s true. That’s how I found Him. That’s how I find Him every day. With all of my heart. Some days, some parts of my heart don’t find Him because maybe I shut those parts down for protection. Those days suck. To put it mildly.

God loves a heart that wants Him. Even when that heart doesn’t know that it’s Him that it wants. God doesn’t look at our history, or our lifestyle, or how many people we’ve shagged in the last few days/weeks/months or whether we did a bible reading this morning. He looks at our heart. Our desire to grow somewhere. God loves a heart that wants to grow somewhere. Because that is a heart that He has a hope of having a real, life-filled, love-filled, heart connection with.

So labels. They have their place. On clothes and shoes and handbags, mostly. Not so much on people.

Here’s to a world with less people-labeling and more I See You. And here’s to eating my own dog food, so to speak. #babysteps 🙂

#lovewins…the Good ‘Christian’ Girl and the ‘Gay’ Model Booker…oh yes, I am totally Going There…

So a few posts ago I wrote about the head booker at my modelling agency.

I mentioned in that post that I wanted to write more about him. Because I’m always writing about awesome, extraordinary, beautiful-hearted people in this blog 🙂

Here’s the thing.   If you were to look at our profiles ‘on paper’, at our ‘labels’ (me: Good ‘Christian’ Girl; him: ‘Gay’ Model Booker) well, it doesn’t exactly seem like we’d have anything in common at all, me and my head booker. In fact, it might seem that we could strongly disagree on a few things.

But anyone who has lived long enough will know that who we are ‘on paper’, who we are ‘labeled’ as – often has nothing to do with who we actually are, what we have been through, what we might be going through, and what is in our hearts.

So this head booker, who I adore. Well, yes, he’s gay. I know, I know, you’re not that surprised, this being the fashion industry and all.

So anyway, the Good Christian Girl me, who spent years bound up in religiousness, well she would have found it a bit difficult, meeting someone like my head booker…because on the one hand she would have completely adored him for who he is because he’s such a lovely person, but on the other hand that ‘religious’ obligation she felt, the pressure she felt, to ‘speak out’ against homosexuality ‘for God’, would have stressed her out a lot.

Which would she have chosen, that Good Christian Girl me? Love and appreciation and respect for the person, or a dispassionate 3-point lecture on why that person had made ‘wrong’ lifestyle choices and needed to ‘get right with God’? Would she have chosen love, or religion?

Love and religion. I have learned, that never the twain shall ever truly meet. They cannot co-exist. They repel one another. Religion hisses violently, viciously, self-righteously, venomously, at love. But ultimately, (and my Daddy God totally backs this up in His Bible that so many religious people sadly misuse and abuse and hold over other people’s heads to shame and condemn them and drive them away), love wins.

#lovewins. Pretty ubiquitous hashtag of late. But see, God has been saying that, quite literally, forever. Because that’s totally His heart. From the beginning of time, that has been His heart. In the end, #lovewins. He says so. He has always said so. He started it. This love thing. He is it. This love thing.

As it turned out, by the time I met my head booker, Good Christian Girl me, that hemmed-in, caged-in, suffocated, religious girl, that persona – she was a thing of the past. I hadn’t – and haven’t – lost my heart love for God, my desire for Him, my hunger for Him and His best…but I had let go of that persona. Because that Good Christian Girl persona – although she meant well, and she was only trying to do the right thing and protect me in a way – she wasn’t really me. She was getting in my way, dammit.

By the time I’d met my head booker, I had let go of the persona, and all her baggage, and was growing into me.

I love chatting with my head booker when I go into the agency. We might only chat for a few minutes, but those minutes have always made an impression on me. In addition to being Just Amazing at what he does, he is one of the most genuine, authentic people I have ever met. There’s no pretense with him. And he’s so very accepting. Of me. Of everyone.

And everyone loves him for it. Whenever his name is mentioned at a shoot – the hair and make-up artists, the stylists, the photographers, anyone within earshot who knows him, will say how awesome and lovely he is. Because he is 🙂

One thing that really made such an impression on me about my head booker, is the beauty of his relationship.

He’s been with his partner, who is now his husband (marriage equality is, like, So 2 Years Ago in New Zealand), for 30 years and counting.

So this image, this stereotype, of this ‘gay lifestyle’…that I’d had drummed into me in religious circles…of it being nothing more than rampant promiscuity, raging immorality and meaningless sex etc – well, all I can say is, that may be true for some, but it’s not true for all. And it’s grossly unfair, and ignorant, to suggest otherwise. And it’s no different to the heterosexual landscape – some are out there casually hooking up, some are serial dating, some are in committed relationships. Same same but different. But same.

And anyway. Here’s the deal. Everybody gets to be choosing how they respond to stuff that happens in their lives, and owning how that pans out in the way they live their lives. Capiche? That’s how God made us, our free will to choose is totally His idea…if that’s how much respect God shows us, always reaching out to us with His heart because He loves us so very much and wants connection with us, but still giving us the freedom to choose our own path…then I reckon I wanna be like my Daddy God. Just saying.

So anyway – my head booker, when he’s talked about his relationship, about his husband, it’s so clear to me, so beautifully clear, that their love and respect for one another, their commitment to one another, is based on a solid foundation and is absolutely real and true. No less real or true than for an opposite sex couple. I daresay, moreso, given the challenges and prejudice they may well have had to overcome together, particularly early on. They have built a life together over the last 30 years. And like any other couple, they will have had to work at their relationship, to deal with things as they come up.

So they will know their stuff when it comes to what it takes to make a relationship work – and my head booker has all the wisdom and insight on relationships that someone would have after being in a committed relationship for 3 decades. I love hearing him share that wisdom and insight, and learning from him, because it’s coming from a beautiful compassionate heart, and from a place of Having Totally Been There And Having Made It Work.

I gotta say. Respect. 30 years in a relationship, and still going strong.

Regardless of whichever view anyone might hold on the ‘rights’ or the ‘wrong’s or the ‘morality’ of gay relationships – in this day and age of stuff that seems to end up short-changing people of all orientations in the long run…the meaningless hook-ups, the disposable relationships, the short-lived marriages, the serial monogamy…for any couple to be committed to one another in a genuine heart love relationship for 30 years, is worthy of some Serious Respect.

Wherever there is heart love, of any kind, there will be something of God’s heart in it. Because God says that He is love.

Rinse and repeat.

Wherever there is heart love, of any kind, there will be something of God’s heart in it. Because God says that He is love.

#lovewins. Whatever form it takes.

Thumbing our noses at religion, and living to tell the tale…because seriously, religion totally blows. Yes, I really did just say that.

So I was chatting with a dear friend the other day, and she was telling me about this new initiative she’s starting, to share with people what she’s learned, to encourage others…in one particular area of life, which she has discovered is her passion.

She’s setting up a website and getting really excited about it, about how it could potentially help and encourage others. I was getting really excited hearing her share too. There is nothing more beautiful or inspiring than seeing someone discover and live out their God-given gifting and passion.

But there’s this one wee aspect of her point of view, which she’s shared is a worry for her. She really believes in what she’s doing, and really, passionately believes that it’s a point of view that would help people, or at least give some perspective.

She’s worried because the point of view she will be sharing – and I won’t go into detail here – may be extremely controversial in some circles she moves in.

Specifically, religious circles. Specifically, churchy people circles.

Sigh. Religion strikes again. It’s robbed so many of so much, century after century after century. And it continues to rob, kill and destroy to this day. In ways both extreme and subtle. We don’t have to go much further than world news to see that being played out in horrifying detail, every moment of every day.

My dear friend is worried that after the work she is doing with this website – once the things she is saying becomes visible to her church, churchy people may at best subtly awkwardly shun her, or at worst outright vilify her as a heretic or worse.

She’s quite concerned about it. Not about what the general world at large will think, but about what churchy people will think, of what she’s got to say.

So sad. That in the one place where there should be freedom, love, acceptance and grace…there is fear of condemnation and rejection.

And I totally understand how she might feel that way. Because I felt that way too, not long ago.

I said to her erm, sooo, what do you think it was like for me to write all those blog posts about my dating experiences last year? Off the back of more than 2 decades of living a ‘model’ Christian Single Girl ‘lifestyle’?

To write all those blog posts about dating (gasp) ‘non-Christians’? Falling in love with a (gasp) ‘non-Christian’? And coming away from that entire experience having lived more, scared the crap out of myself more and learned more about God’s heart and grown more in the depth of my relationship with myself and with God in those few months, than in the previous 23 years?

I said to her I’ll tell you what it was like. It was freaking terrifying. Outing myself like that.

But I did it scared. Most things worth doing are worth doing scared, perhaps.

Before those blog posts, churchy people saw the religiousness of my lifestyle, of my choices, and many deemed me a ‘Good Christian Girl’, by what they saw as a ‘biblical’ standard. Many couldn’t see past that to what was really going on, to the unhealthy fear of closeness that was really driving those choices, and taking my voice away, and keeping my heart shut down, and holding me back in so very many ways.

In writing those blog posts, I took more than 2 decades of mind-numbingly consistent, religious, sensible, goodie two shoes ‘biblical’ behaviour, and called it out for the superficial BS that it was, and, well, *hairflick*. I never liked sensible shoes anyway.

And what was left, was me. In all the glorious messiness of my human frailty. My heart. My truth. My good. My bad. My ugly. My scared. My cheeky. And My Crazy. What was left, was all the real stuff God showed me. The boundless compassion of His heart for every one of us. The incredible creativity He brings to every part of our lives in His pursuit of us…because we are His desire and He wants nothing more than a genuine, life-giving connection with each of us.

Since I wrote those blog posts, I have to say…well, there have been one or two times when I’ve seen a churchy person who may have previously openly celebrated me as a Good Christian Girl, and they now are clearly, well, not all that comfortable around me anymore.

I’m not fitting into their nice tidy little box anymore. But they know, I know they know, that I am So God’s Girl and I love God with all of my girly heart and that God has Got Some Stuff For Me To Do For Him And Say For Him.   And perhaps this is perplexing for them. I don’t come in the usual, familiar, comfortable, Christianese’ified ‘package’, so to speak. But that’s their stuff. I don’t judge them for it. I totally get it. I’ve been there. But it is their stuff. It’s not mine. Not anymore.

So whilst, yeah, I have definitely encountered, erm, awkwardness from some churchy people since those blog posts, well, the world didn’t end.

And the dissonance of a few churchy people really doesn’t intimidate me anymore – especially when I’ve received more amazing feedback from people who, understandably, wouldn’t normally go anywhere near traditional religious structure, but who seem to keep reading what I’m writing. They’re not necessarily agreeing with it. But they’re definitely thinking about it, maybe in a different way.

I have also come to realise that the Stuff God Has For Me To Do For Him And Say For Him, well, it’s probably not going to get done or said in a traditional religious structure anyway. Cos I’ve never really fitted into the traditional religious structure. I tried to, for years and years. Yeah, nah, that really, really, like, really didn’t work out for me. At all. But hey. I’d rather be who God made me to be, than try to fit into a box that religion tells me I should fit into.

If there is one thing I have learned in the last year or two, it’s that God was serious when He said that there is No Condemnation in Him. None. But there is grace. So. Much. Amazing. Grace.

He doesn’t just say that stuff for a laugh. He says it because it’s true. And it’s His heart. This grace. For every. Single. One of us.

So to my dear, beautiful-hearted friend. Finish that website. Say what you feel has been placed into you to say. Believe in the Stuff God Has For You To Do For Him And Say For Him, even when it doesn’t fit into a traditional religious structure, and even when it might challenge traditional religious thinking and make some churchy people squirm a little bit. The poorly-informed squirms of a few churchy people will pale in comparison to the many precious lives you will touch and encourage with your heart, your passion, and your desire for their best.

And babe, when you mess up and make mistakes along the way, don’t let it knock you out – that is just a little thing we call Being Human. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself space, room, to be human. To feel what you feel without judging yourself for it. To be imperfect. It sucks that religiousness tries to take that away from us, to condemn us and shame us into silence because of our imperfections. Haters gonna hate. But don’t back down. Give yourself some grace. Learn from your mistakes. And keep going.

Because sweetheart, at the end of the day, it’s between you and your Daddy God. You do You my dear. If He’s called you to Change The Game, then Change The Game. Come what may. Because you totally can. Because you have an amazing, extraordinary, fearless, resilient heart. Love you. Love you loads and loads.

Confessions of an epic couple dater

My name is Gloria, and I am an epic dater. An epic couple dater.

Now before you start getting any dodgy ideas (seriously, you’d have to know by now that dodgy is so not my M.O!) let me clarify.

When I say that I am an epic couple dater, it means two things:

  1. My social life, when I have a social life that is (long story and not worth lamenting too much here because chocolate and my shoe collection do compensate a little bit when empty weekend nights strike) consists of a notably high proportion of time spent with couples. As couples. By myself.
  2. The couples who I do socialize with, are, without exception, epic couples.

This might seem to some, to be their idea of So Not Fun. It might seem to some, to reek of being a third wheel.

But actually, that’s not my experience. At all. I love socializing with couples. It has a lot to do with the couples I spend time with of course. They appreciate me for me. Not for my relationship status.

As I write this, I can think of at least fifteen couples – yes that’s right, fifteen – across my two homes of New Zealand and Singapore, who I spend time with as a couple. By myself.

These couples seek out my company and they seem to enjoy spending time with me. They make time and space for me in their worlds, and I them. It doesn’t seem to bother or deter them in the least that I am at present choosing not to Front Up With A Man. Although I know they’d love it if I did, and they will love it when I do. Front Up With A Man, that is 🙂

And they never, ever, do or say anything that might reek of ‘third wheel’. And neither do I.

When we get together, we catch up on things that are happening in their lives – including things for them as a couple which I love and am genuinely interested in – and things that are happening in my life. You know, like, as in what friends normally do when they catch up.

And these couples are freaking epic for a bunch of reasons. Not the least of which is because they are, individually and together, seriously awesome people.

They care about the people in their lives regardless of someone’s relationship status, which I love. This, we have in common.

They care about and deeply respect one another…this is no mean feat as they live immersed in popular cultures that seem to trivialise and consumerise relationships, and reduce men to nothing more than a pay check and women to nothing more than a collection of physical attributes. They have seen something in one another that goes beyond the superficial, and they haven’t let the culture, or the superficial, or their own Stuff (and lets face it we all got Stuff), prevent them from fully seeing, and appreciating, and being with, the other person. That right there, that is something extremely special, methinks.

And they actively engage with the world in a way that doesn’t follow a couply, in-our-own-little-world just-you-and-me-babe stereotype. But they are absolutely together, they are absolutely committed to one another (even when they don’t like each other much sometimes) and they love one another as a strong couple all the same. It’s not like there’s no romance – there is no question that they are besotted with each other, and have eyes only for one another. It’s lovely – and it’s heartening – to behold.

But they are individuals too. And they give each other space, to be themselves, whilst still being together.

And they’re so freaking real. I love this about them. We share a common allergy to all things BS. Some of these couples are very open with me, about stuff. They trust me enough to talk to me about their stuff, as a couple. The stuff that they’ve found difficult in their relationship, the stuff that has scared the crap out of them about one another, the stuff that nearly ended them, the work they’ve had to do to stay present with one another when everything in them has screamed Run, Run, Fast, In The Opposite Direction – NOW.

I see, up close, what it has taken for them to be together. To stay together. And I can see that whilst it’s amazing, and it’s a gift, it isn’t always a doddle, this relationship commitment lark. The commitment bit especially. This is extremely helpful insight for me, given my very, very, very limited experience of such things.

From what I can tell, anything worth having in terms of a relationship will have its moments where you Just Want To End It Now. But these couples, they don’t. They stay. And they talk. And they fight. Not against one another, but for one another. For their relationship. They back each other, they back their relationship and they back themselves. It gets messy sometimes. They hurt each other quite badly sometimes, when their own hurt parts get in the way. But they keep reaching past that, to one another’s true selves. And work it out. And what could have driven them apart draws them closer. Mad respect. Seriously. Mad, mad respect.

For each of these couples, of course it was usually one of them who I was friends with first. The guy or the girl. And it was lovely that they wanted to introduce their partner to me once they knew they’d met Their One. This, to me, is an enormous privilege. And an honour.   And without fail I always adore their beloved as much as I adore them. Of course their beloved would be awesome. Cos they are awesome!

Of course there are the friends who disappear after they become part of a couple. Either they completely disappear off the radar, or they ‘disappear’ by gently, and sometimes unwittingly, putting you into the ‘single friend’ box…that is the box where they will still spend time with you, but not with their partner – you’re more of an ‘insert’ into their daytime schedule now, the ‘single friend’ they keep in touch with off to the side, as opposed to an actual part of their day-to-day lives the way you were before. You certainly wouldn’t figure in any of their weekend plans anymore, where they now socialize with family or other couples. You get the feeling that if you were part of a couple, you might actually make their weekend socializing list once in a while.

In fairness though, there is a lot of adjustment and re-prioritisation and stuff that happens when couples form and commit, especially when babies are added into the mix. And not everyone wants to spend time with their partner’s friends!

That’s all pretty normal, and such changes After Coupling do not reduce the value I place on those relationships in any way. I still love them, and am genuinely grateful their friendship. It still means something to me.

One day, and soon, I will be Loved, and Loved Well. By That Man. Some days, I see the harsh reality of my history, my life, my circumstances, my fears…and I’ll admit it can overwhelm me, and I lose all hope of this.  But I want to choose hope in the face of years of screeching hopelessness.  That he exists.  That Man.  That Man, who will see me the way God sees me (warts, munted toes from 2.5 decades of teetering around in high heels, and all) and who will love me the way God loves me.

And whilst I will want to share that with all the friends who I love and who have loved me through thick and thin, no matter what their relationship status – when it comes to couples, the first couples who I will want to introduce to That Man…the first couples who I will want to spend time with, with That Man, when I am part of a couple…are the people who spent time with me as a couple, when I was by myself.

Because of course.

Love you guys. You rock. You know who you are x 🙂

Toddler Wisdom – it’s like Totally A Thing…

So it’s really no secret that I kind of completely adore my toddler nephew. Like, really, really, adore. As in Completely Besotted.

My Facebook page is evidence enough of that. Before he was born, I really didn’t expect to be That Aunty. The besotted one, clogging up FB news feeds with unashamed adoration of nephew cuteness. But hey. It’s kind of awesome. Being That Aunty.

He’s 3 years old now and talking up. A. Storm. I am, at this juncture, Aunty Gloya. Evolved from Gloya. Evolved from Glowie. Evolved from Goy. Evolved from Gor. Evolved from Deedee (a variation of ‘Aunty’).

And he’s singing so gorgeously, and in tune. Honest. Aunty’s classically trained musical ear knows ‘in tune’ when she hears it. Baby boy has got him some epic perfect pitch going on. So he should. His mother sings with a voice like silk!

And he’s busting some Ever More Impressive and Seriously Awesome moves on Aunty’s living-room-as-a-dancefloor whenever he hangs at mine. If there is one thing that everyone in our family can do, it is Groove. And Groove Well.

There is so much of this little person growing so beautifully into himself. So much of his personality, his nature, his character, his generosity, his kindness, his energy, his rambunctiousness, his cheekiness, his boldness, his thoughtfulness, his openness, his innocence, his gallantry (he is already looking out for the women in his life!) and his wisdom, is emerging.

And this little man knows without a doubt that he is So Very Loved. By his whole family. Every part of him – the good, the bad, and the trantum’esque – all of it, is loved unconditionally by his family. We’ve all made a conscious effort to make sure that he knows it without a doubt.

So he knows it. He completely knows it.

I see him growing, I hear the things he says and I observe the things he does, and I can see the wonderful effect of knowing you are So Very Loved.

He’s so freaking healthy. On the inside. In himself. And so unfettered, so pure, so unashamed of who he is. He doesn’t know any other way to be. And I’m like, wow.

Sometimes, he says something, or responds to something, and I look on in wonder, and think – so this is what it looks like, to grow up knowing you are So Very Loved.

So in just being who he is, he is teaching me. So much. And challenging me. And my bruised, fragile, deceived, blinded, closed-down parts. And opening them up again. With his childlike wonder and wisdom.

He’s become Aunty’s Little Wise One.

The other day, Aunty’s Little Wise One taught her something – no, showed her something – wonderful.

So I’m in the bathroom with my sweetie pie. He’s standing on his little step so that he can reach the tap to wash his hands. I am singing a song I made up for him, that I’ve been singing to him since he was a little baby. That song kind of pours out of me whenever I’m with him. I’m usually humming it under my breath when I’m with him, without even realising it.

I high-five him for washing his hands Like A Boss. Awww yeaaah. Rock ‘n’ Roll. Water splashes everywhere but that’s cool. It’s fun. We like fun. Fun is cool. He says so, and I agree. I get the hand towel for him so that he can dry his hands.

As we are drying his hands, I say how exciting it is that his Aunty (to be clear, my sister, not me) is getting married in a few days.   We’ve all been talking about the wedding so he knows that there is ‘a wedding’ coming up and that it’s a really exciting and happy thing. He probably doesn’t really understand what ‘a wedding’ is, or what ‘getting married’ is, but he has probably figured out that it’s a pretty good thing. Like, an awesome thing.

So he says to me, I wanna get married!!

So cute. And so powerful. Saying what he wants at the ripe old age of 3.

I put the hand towel to the side and I hold his now-dry little hands in mine.

I look him in the eye and I say – my darling, you will get married, and you will marry a beautiful girl who loves God with all of her beautiful heart. And you will love God with all of your beautiful heart too, and you will love each other very much and have an amazing life together. And God will bless you both lots and lots and lots and lots.

It is at this point that Aunty’s Little Wise One teaches her.

His response to those words completely blew me away. I can’t really do justice to describing it, but I will try (!).

As I was speaking, this huge smile spread across his face.   And it was like the warmth of those words seemed to envelop him all over, and he just settled contentedly into those words. And received them. And embraced them. Because they spoke of good things. And knowing he is So Very Loved, he knows that he deserves good things. He doesn’t know any differently.

To him, that was a perfectly natural response. To me, it was wondrous.

In those few seconds, Aunty’s Little Wise One showed her what it looks like to completely accept, receive and embrace beautiful words, genuine compliments and blessings.

I have no doubt that my darling nephew will indeed grow up to marry, and marry beautifully. Because it’s been spoken into and over his life. And he’s wholeheartedly accepted it, with the childlike wonder that is so precious to the One who made each of us with such purpose and care. And who loves us so far beyond any kind of Crazy Love that we could even begin to imagine.

No wonder childlike faith is held up as something to aspire to in matters of the heart and soul 🙂

Our words, they carry so much power. They can bring life or death – to a dream, to a destiny, to a fear, to a soul.

Our words can, quite literally, speak things into being, for better or for worse. Not in some random, hocus pocus, voodoo, name-it-and-claim-it kind of way. Ugh. No thanks.

But when we tap into truth, into our truth or the truth of someone else – and we speak that truth over them or over ourselves – and that truth is accepted and received…something is released. And heaven and earth is moved, so to speak, and history is changed. I’ve seen it time and time again, and I’ve only been around for 44 years 🙂

Life has a way of jading some of us, of making some of us a bit suspicious, a bit skeptical, of such things. We struggle to accept it when someone speaks good things and truth and hope and love and blessing over us. It’s like there’s a part of us that reacts to it, that wants to sabotage it. To not accept it.

Because maybe on some level – conscious or subconscious – we’ve believed the lie that we don’t deserve good things, that good things are meant for other people, not for us. And we often have a whole bunch of past experiences and empirical evidence to support that lie. We wearily point to the facts and resign ourselves to our fate, that this must just be our lot in life.

But no. It’s still a lie. It’s still a lie. Facts are not always the same as truth. We do deserve good things. We do.

It will likely take a few runs around the track for Aunty to get to the point where it’s the most natural thing in the world to completely accept, receive and embrace beautiful words, genuine compliments and blessings.

Aunty’s Little Wise One showed her the other day, by striking example, how this is done. He’s like my very own wee role model, he’s so wise in the ways of such things.

I am a very lucky Aunty, to be so very blessed with such an amazing little nephew 🙂

Who We Really Are. Bring It :-)

Truth.

Let’s face it…if we gave ourselves time to think, to breathe, to stop for just a moment…we would probably find that we are all freaking starving for truth. To some extent, in some area of our lives.

Freaking. Starving.

And that’s cool. That desire for truth, for all the best in every area of our lives, is totally legit. There’s no shame in that desire. We’re wired that way for a reason. Because we truly do deserve the best. We were all born for the best.

I’m not talking about that purist, religious, performance-based concept of truth that many of us were raised on….to tell the truth in a yes-I-did-cut-my-little-sister’s-hair-with-my-craft-scissors kind of way (OK so in my defence I was only 4 years old at the time). Although that is, absolutely, part of truth.

The truth I’m talking about is the truth of Who We Really Are.

Who we were born to be. Our truest selves.

It has nothing really to do with how we look, what we wear, what we do, what we earn, what we drive, how popular we are or are not, what we think or even how we feel about ourselves at any given time. Those things have their place, and to some extent are a part of who we are, but they ultimately won’t stand the test of time.

And it has everything to do with the extraordinary miracle of life and love and potential for grace and hope and total restoration that is each and every one of us. Even when we feel at our most wretched. Especially when we feel at our most wretched. Especially then.

Cos some days (or weeks or months or years) we might just feel pretty wretched. As a wise man once said to me, if we were happy all the time, how would we know? It’s all part the ebb and flow of the human condition, of relationships, of life. Some days (or weeks or months or years) just seem to suck more than others.

How we feel at any given time doesn’t change the truth of Who We Really Are. It doesn’t change the greatness that we were all born for. It’s in us. No matter how far we feel we’ve gone from that place, no matter what we’ve done, no matter how beyond hope we feel we are.

There is always hope. For the life we know we were born for. Always.

It’s always still there. It’s still in us. That truth.

At the core of our truth, are our precious hearts. Every part of our lives are touched in some way by our hearts. If we live long enough, our hearts often become bruised and broken from life’s challenges and setbacks and we often close parts of them down for protection.

But those hearts are still beating, still fighting to keep going. Fighting to live. Fighting to find our truth. Sometimes gasping for truth. Fighting to find Who We Really Are.

And to totally live there. To put behind us everything that has gone before, to cast aside and walk away from any shame and regret and sorrow for our past.

To be completely present in the now, to move closer to Who We Really Are.

To move into the future knowing that we don’t have to be held prisoner to our beginnings, to any destructive legacies or patterns from previous generations, or to our past.

And to forgive all those who may have, even inadvertently, injured us in some way. Often, this applies most to those closest to us. Those who love us more than we will ever know, but having never known love themselves, have been unable to truly express it.

And to celebrate who we are, no matter what others might think or say about us. And to own it. Every. Single. Moment.

Yeah, that truth.

As I’m writing all this, I’m learning about it. It’s a tough gig sometimes I must admit. Sometimes it can feel like everything in the universe is conspiring to scream at me that Who I Really Am is not true.

I seriously don’t have this whole truth thing all sorted in my own backyard yet. Two steps forward, one step back. But oh my how I want it all sorted.

Lies have been my closest companion for most of my life. Those lies have weighed me down and shut me down and walled me up and wrapped their fingers around my throat and tried to suffocate the life out of me.

I have let lies intimidate me into a corner and a restrictive box and label me all sorts of things from ‘good Christian girl’ (gag, I hate religion with such a passion, that is another post for another time) to ‘good daughter’ to ‘straight A student’ to ‘successful career woman’ to ‘good dresser’ to ‘shoe addict’ to ‘superficial jet-setting girl-about-town’ to ‘frankly, a bit of a mess’.

But no. Enough. Enough with the lies and the labels. Enough with the lies and the labels for every one of us.

I was born to Speak Truth. And Hope. And Love.   To have lived under lies and hopelessness and a sense of lovelessness only makes that desire stronger.

My Daddy God has put something of His heart into me that has always been there and it won’t rest until it is fully expressed.

That is what I was born for. That is Who I Really Am.

Be ye not fooled by the glossy exterior. Be ye not fooled by anyone’s exterior. I am not the only person on the planet with more to me than meets the eye.

We are all, everyone of us, wonderfully and beautifully and uniquely made. We are each a unique and precious expression of truth.   And love.

There is so much more to each and every one of us than meets the eye.

If we could only see ourselves as Who We Really Are.

That is where our best lives are. In Who We Really Are.

Here’s to Who You Really Are my dears 🙂