The Year of Intentional Living

We have decided that this is the Year of Intentional Living. We’re both lazy and apathetic and ‘easy way’-seeking, so we often find time and energy and friendship and inspiration and thoughtfulness and creativeness and ‘seizing the day’ slip away from us. This cannot continue to happen, or we will end up dry and empty.

There are three things that we’ve chosen to try and aim for this year in order to ‘wake up’.

We choosing to eat more intentionally. Not healthier, or more cheaply, or more organically, or more ‘environmentally-soundly’, just more deliberately. More thoughtfully. More considered-ly. Eating not because it’s dinner-time, or because we have to finish the last of the cheese in the fridge before it goes mouldy, or because the cereal’s in the cupboard and it’s quick, or because everyone else is having cake…but because we really want an excellent cup of coffee, or because ‘the chef at this restaurant is amazing’, or because the smell of fresh-baked bread hits right as the stomach growls, or because sautéed asparagus, steamed fish with ginger and shallots, and saffron basmati is awesome.

I want to work toward deliberately choosing what and when to eat, rather than just eating.

We’re choosing to have people to our home more frequently. Neither of us crave social interaction at a high-level, but we’re both aware that we need it, and enjoy it. We also – due frequently to my ‘recovering’ perfectionism – don’t have people in our home often…which just perpetuates the issue. The less often people are here, the harder it is to invite them, and the more easily I can invent excuses why we shouldn’t. So, we have decided to have somebody, or bodies, in our house for something social, at least once a fortnight, even if it’s just my friend for a cup of coffee or my parents for dinner. And it will become easier and easier, and I will make less of an issue of everything needing to be ‘right’ before someone can set a foot inside our door.

I want to work towards natural hospitality by deliberately choosing to be hospitable.

We’re choosing to view, or attend, or participate in something ‘arty’, or musical, or creative more often. This is a small town, and it was hard to move here from Seattle where you barely have to think for more than a minute in order to come up with something creative to do, or see, or listen to. While there are certainly options here for connecting with ‘Art’, we have to look a bit harder, and we’ve been lax in doing so, and, hence, we’ve become a bit trapped in mediocre routine. So, we have decided that once a month we will consciously choose to go to a play, or an art museum, or a concert, or a performance of some kind, and we will engage with it. Because art makes life richer.

I want to deliberately work towards more depth, and creativity, and interaction, and inspiration.

Intentional living – so our lives don’t unintentionally drip away.



It’s been a craptacular day: could not get my social interaction together, and kept saying dumb, awkward things; a crazy, angry lady shouting obscentities at the whole office, accusing us all of racism; the husband of a local lady who has just died, called to arrange enrolment of his 12 year old daughter at our high school – the whole family was very involved in the homeschool community here, and the children have never gone to school (including 2 grown-up sons who I am friends with). It was such an overt indication of how changed this family’s life is now. Left me feeling a bit gutted, as I found high school quite a damaging time for me – I turned into a much harder, and more defensive person as a result – and I’m so prayerful that she won’t be broken. And, sadness, while watching Tim Minchin – who I love – on Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope, with such misunderstanding about…about what? faith, I guess, truth, eternity, reality, who God really is…the fact that God is not defined by the humans who claim to be on his side…breaks my heart.

Dorkiness Will Out

I was kinda a moderately dorky kid; different enough to be on the dorky side, but perceptive enough to be aware I had dorky tendencies, which, surprisingly, dials down dorkitude.

When I was in primary school there was already clique-iness stirring, even though our class, school and town were all so small that we’d grown up with each other. I was well aware of my social standing – amongst the ‘smart’, middle-classy kids – so when a ‘cool’, rebel girl, from well outside that group, made friends with me, I was pretty stoked (well, I wouldn’t have used the term ‘stoked’, being only 8 or 9, which would have made it about 25 years ago, and ‘stoked’ wasn’t so big then, but you get the emotion). Let’s call her Kelly.

So, when Kelly invited me to her birthday party I understood that she’d gone outside the ‘norm’ to do so, and I felt like my whole social status was on the cusp of morphing into something more interesting.

The day of the party I spent time getting ready, wrapped a carefully-chosen present, and made certain that my mum drove me to the caravan park where Kelly lived, right on time. After Mum parked, she and I walked to Kelly’s caravan and tentatively knocked on the zip-up awning. There didn’t seem to be a lot of activity, which was a bit worrisome, but I figured that maybe I was just the first to arrive.

After a couple of knocks, Kelly’s mum came out to see us, with a question in her voice and a quizzical eyebrow raise. I, haltingly, stumbled out that I was here for Kelly’s birthday, had I got the time wrong?, was I too early?

There was a little laugh from her mum, ‘It’s not till next Saturday.’

‘Oh. I’m sure the invitation had today’s date, I’m sorry to bother you. See you next week.’ And then I hurried my mum back to the car, shamefaced, red-faced, and having lost face. I was hugely relieved that Kelly hadn’t been there – apparently she was at the pool – but also aware that there was no way that her mum would keep to herself what had transpired.

I can still feel the burning, roiling humiliation in my stomach as we drove home, knowing I would have to go to school on Monday and hear about it. I looked at the invitation when I got home and realised that I must have just been excited about going, and not checked too closely, because the date, very clearly, said next Saturday’s date.

When Monday rolled around there wasn’t a lot of joking at my expense, just a bit of teasing, but it was obvious to me that any burgeoning social status change had been shelved, probably due to my clear (to fellow primary-schoolers) display of dorkiness. I don’t recall a lot about the actual party the next Saturday, just a vague feeling of awkwardness, as the reality of spending a few hours with a party’s-worth of ‘cool’ acquaintances manifested itself.

Kelly and I were polite, even occasionally friendly, with each other through the rest of our concurrent schooling, but we never really got past the awkwardness.

Just Because

I feel angry and resentful. Just because someone else is disorganised, or self-focussed, or manipulative, or demanding, does not mean that I am required to acquiesce to them. My plans do not have to change just because someone else is put out. Just because someone else is frustrated, or childish, or knows how to lay out a passive-aggressive guilt trip, does not mean I have to feel sad, or controlled, or infuriated. I am responsible only for me, I cannot and do not control other people’s happiness. Just because someone else might lash out, or wheedle, or presume, does not mean that it’s my fault, or that I need to ‘be nice’ just to keep them ‘happy’. Sometimes conflict is helpful in the long-term.

But words are easy.


Sweet little old lady who served in WW11: You know? Still to this day if I saw a Jap in the street with a broken arm I wouldn’t help him.


Little boy (’bout 8 yrs old) at the table next to us in the restaurant: When I first heard about it I thought it was called ‘sour crap’.

Our table: *hearty guffaws*

Me: Yep, that’s an accurate way to describe sauerkraut.

Movie-Going Fun Times

In a supremely poor act of scheduling today, our local movie theatre did not open the doors to this afternoon’s showing of Get Smart  until 15 minutes after the listed show time, leaving a crowded foyer of formerly excited movie-going patrons to become increasingly tense and claustrophobic and irritated with staff.

The murmuring began about 5 minutes before the movie was supposed to begin, and grew into muttering and nervous giggles at 5 minutes past scheduled time, until, at 15 minutes past, when we had originally thought we would be sitting inside with our popcorn and choctops and Diet Cokes, there was a feeling of growing crowd-crushing hysteria and, somewhat edgy, supposition as to what could be holding them up.

At first people thought that the staff were simply incredibly stupid and had forgotten to open the door – there seemed to be no logic in letting hordes of people congregate outside when we could all be out of their way and comfortably seated. As time went on though, it was obvious that this could not be the case, and so we concluded that some dolt had been unable to figure out when the previous movie would end and schedule the next screening accordingly.

Finally the exit door opened, people streamed out and we were allowed to go in. Fortunately, from this time on things got (mostly) better. We were able to settle into good seats – in the middle, towards the front, with foot-rests and no-one in front of us (yay!) – and wait.

As the lights were going down a lady scrambled over and sat in the seat next to me. My tension level immediately rose a notch. Theatre showings are rarely full here, so you mostly don’t have sit next to anyone but the people you’ve gone with. Consequently, the people that one fights with for the arm-rest tend to be friends/family, so when a stranger sits next to one, one hardly knows what ‘correct procedure’ is…

Being very much a ‘movie-enjoyer’, and quite detail-oriented, and, let’s face it, pretty selfish, I like to be comfortable and have everything ‘just so’ when I sit down to watch a movie (I’m SO fun!). It’s bad enough to have to figure out which bit of the arm-rest belongs to HL and which bit is mine, so, when my other neighbour is somebody I’ve never seen before, but whom I have to sit next to for the next two hours, I find the whole social conundrum of ‘polite, polite, we’re both so polite, which bit’s yours?, sorry, I just bumped you, is my arm too close for comfort?, ‘scuse me, but your arm seems to be taking up three-quarters of the space’ a bit tricky.

We played ‘push forward to claim territory’ and ‘pull back to maintain polite social conventionalities’ for a few minutes until we both seemed to find comfortable ground and were able to settle into the movie-going experience, phew.

One of the previews at first seemed to be a joke, a spoof, but after watching for a little bit, I finally concluded that they were serious. The new attempt at producing more income from the Star Wars empire appears to be a poorly animated movie/tv series The Clone Wars. This, to me, looks like nothing more than a pathetic grab at a few more dollars from a dwindling and increasingly grumpy fan-base. *disgusted grimace*

I’m trying to withhold judgement, but it looks so bad I don’t even think I could watch it to find out. What a way to continue to spit on the already-tarnished (probably irrevocably) reputation of a beloved and originally ground-breaking phenomenon. *sigh* (Though I reserve the right to apologise and change my mind if it turns out to be better than the ad indicates it will be.)

FINALLY we got to the actual movie. I laughed very hard. It was much, much better than I thought it would be. The writing was more sophisticated than I had anticipated, and the humour was just the right amount of obvious ‘see-it-coming’ punchlines, ‘ball-crushing, smack-into-a-wall’ slapstick, genuinely humorous ‘tickle-your-funnybone’ comedy, and ‘wink-to-the-audience’ homage to the original.

Max was cleverer and much more competent than he was in the tv series, and 99 wasn’t quite as overtly adoring of him, but, on the whole, it was a very adept rendering of an updated, 21st century version of a much-loved, cliché-producing tv institution.

We left the theatre (as crowded as it was when we were waiting – knock-on effect I guess) and I felt like skipping to the car with a very light heart. aahh…happy, fun movie-goingness…it’s a ‘good thing’

The Little Things

The grocery store where I usually shop has one particular checker who stands out for me. He’s polite, quick, converses with the customer just the right amount and goes out of his way to make the tedious grocery shopping experience less so.

Last time he rang up my groceries (which he did efficiently and unobtrusively) he smiled and made eye contact, asked how I was, chit-chatted about relevant things and didn’t go into any un-asked-for details about his life. To cap off the experience, when he gave me the receipt to sign he folded a corner of it up so it would be easy to pick up off the rubber counter when I was done. Usually the thin papery receipt is quite difficult to lift off the rubber to hand back, so this thoughtful action delighted me and I told him so. He said that it was just a small thing that made everybody’s life a little easier. 

This stands in stark relief to the grocery checker I had today, at the same store. I said “Hi, how are you?” as she started scanning my purchases, and her response was “Ok…but I feel like someone hit me upside the head.”

It’s hard to know how to respond to that, really, but I said “Oh, I’m sorry, that’s not good.”, to which she replied ” Yeah, can’t wait for this shift to end and then I have to go home and study for an exam tomorrow morning for which I haven’t even opened a book all term, and I’m not going to be able to get any sleep and I’m going to fail, and…” (can’t remember the rest).

I didn’t really know what to say other than to make sympathetic noises throughout this long sharing, and when she gave me the receipt for a signature at the end of the transaction she just dumped it on the rubber counter, turned around and started organising some plastic bags, while talking under her breath about her horrible day and her upcoming exam. 

I left feeling quite awkward and as though I’d just had something unpleasant dumped on me that was running down my hair and into my ears. I hope her day tomorrow goes better for her.