A Wrestle with Fear 

“’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears relieved;” 

– John Newton

We’ve all heard the song a thousand times

Amazing Grace. How sweet the sound!

But those lyrics struck me light a lightning bolt to my heart as I sat in church this morning.

Those lyrics articulated a profound truth about my story and the anxiety I have wrestled with my whole life.

I’m sure the author would forgive me if the original meaning of those lyrics meant something completely different but please allow me to indulge.

Fear in my heart 

Something I’ve known well since I was a little girl

A sense of unrest, the palpitations, fretting in the now and constantly worrying about the future.

Always and relentlessly

After 26 years of the same thing over and over, I’m realising that I am grateful for my fear.

Strange and unorthodox I know

We’re taught to fix our fear, to drive it out. To pray it away, control it, manage it, medicate and meditate it into submission.

But fear has brought me to a place of courage

Fear has kept me awake at night, long enough to dream

Fear has stirred me to break free

Fear has taught me how to survive

And ironically enough, once I made peace with my fear, it no longer held any power over me.

It’s like the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz.

You rip the curtain wide open and all you find is a trembling, insecure little person trying to feel important and in control of something.

”Twas Grace my fears relieved.”

For so long I’ve beaten myself up for what I suffer. I’ve wrestled and writhed around with my fear to the point of exhaustion.

Until I could no longer.

I’d run out of solutions

I’d run out of prayers

I’d run out of the willingness to live

I just wanted the torment to stop

And last year

I collapsed into the arms of Grace.

Amazing grace

It’s relieved my cares

It’s saved me

Grace can look like many things

But for me

It was making peace with my fear

It was asking for support from safe people

It was truly trusting the divine power that cares for me

It was getting professional help

“’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears relieved;” 

I invite you to make peace with fear

And allow amazing grace to relieve your cares whatever that might look like for you

Be free my friend

X Gem X

Fortune Favours the Brave 

“The conditions aren’t ideal ya know”

“It’s tough out there”

Look at those rain clouds on the horizon 

Better stay put

Better stay comfortable 

No thanks

That’s not for me 

I went trudging down that hill, away from what was safe 

Into the valley 

What would I find there?

I didn’t know myself 

Is this nothing but a really dumb and risky idea?

Or could I discover something magical amongst the narrow and unworn path?

When I was a child my favourite thing to do was to go on adventures with my sisters. We lived on acres of bushland and we would run around to see what magic we could find!

A really old coin 

A strange bird 

A pretty leaf to press 

There was always this sense of wonder

And a freedom that lay in a lack of reasoning

Those were the happiest times of my youth

Then I grew up and this thing happened and did what many of us do. We buy into this idea that straight paths and manicured gardens are what’s best for us

 So we did what all our gurus, our parents or our teachers told us. We got degrees and day jobs and started living for the weekend

And we stopped trudging around the bush for no reason
We stopped believing in fairies, Santa Claus and the Easter bunny
And we stopped believing in our silly little dreams 

A few weeks ago I quit my job

With nothing else lined up 

I put myself out there 

Nothing yet 

Interview

Rejection 

“What’s next for you!?” Was a daily inquest.

And I had no answer at all

I’m supposed to be functioning adult right!?

How could I just quit my job like that? How odd.

Well, I am odd. Always have been. And the little girl inside of me longed to adventure into the unknown again.

I couldn’t say no to her any longer 

The other day my husband took me away to a farm down south 
A much needed rest for our souls after a challenging month

And we walked down into the valley 

Not knowing what we were doing or what we were going to find 

And it felt like a metaphor for my life 

Puffed and wheezing and unsure of where we were

Had I made a huge mistake? 

What if I can’t get back up that hill again?

We went the wrong way but it didn’t matter because we were together 

We hit dead ends, but it was ok we just turned back and found another way

And then we hit the most beautiful green field, covered in mist and an old farmhouse 

I remembered what my friend said to me a week before

Fortune favours the brave Gemma

What if we treated our uncertain seasons with a sense of childlike curiousity?

What if we got more comfortable with not really knowing and not having a well formulated answer for every single facet of our worlds? 

And what if we let go of the straight and narrow path

and instead embraced a trudge into an unknown place

I wonder what you might find?

I have a feeling there’s more treasure to be found there.

Be free my childlike friend 

X Gem X

Self Care Muffins

I have this thing that I do when I have a low day.
I peel myself out of bed and head to my local shopping centre and I get myself to muffin break. And I do not order the healthy one. I get the biggest, chocolatiest muffin with a big dollop of cream cheese on top with a flat white to boot.

Now some might say I’m self medicating my emotions with food however I have gained different perspective around this little outing.

Us westerners are not so good at rituals of any kind. We have the standards like birthdays, Christmas, funerals, weddings et cetera. But when it comes to marking the bigness of life and the struggle of it all…we don’t to know what to do. It’s fascinating to look into the rituals of collectivist cultures. For example Jewish people have lamenting rituals when a loved one passes away, Egyptians wail together in the open to grieve.

What do we do? We crack a cold one, say something like “Mate everything happens for a reason” and carry on.

Why do you think we all just “keep busy”? And why do you think we’re some of the most medicated and increasingly anxious people on the planet?

My somewhat off kilter logic has concluded  that when I go to muffin break on a grey day. I am doing two significant things:

1. I am acknowledging my current state, choosing to be present in it and give it space. I am not fighting how I am that day. Have you ever tried to swim against a current? It’s exhausting and completely futile. I choose to accept the fact that today I feel sad, today I probably won’t get a lot done. but I will decide to get out of bed and sit where I like to sit when this day appears.

2. I’m practicing Self Compassion. Do you know what makes your mental health spiral? When you beat yourself up about your mental health. Ironic right? These days I’ve decided that’s a completely pointless place to go. It only extends my grey day into the night…which never goes well for me or anyone around me. So I treat myself like a dear friend. This morning I lay there consumed with sandness and blanket. I had to make a choice…The old voice would say: “Look at your life Gemma, it’s fabulous how dare you be so sad, don’t be so sensitive! Go do something productive you lazy loaf about”(Sound familiar?) 

Instead I had a little chat to myself that went like this:

 “Hey there friend. I can see you’re really sad today. That’s so understandable because your friend left for a year to another country. And you know what you haven’t had a sad day in a while so that progress from last year! Let’s go get a self care muffin! How does that sound? You know you are so loved right? Adam loves you, your dog loves you, you have lots of great friends. Don’t worry today will pass. Let’s get out of bed and get that muffin!

And I did.

I’d love to know your thoughts.

Do you have a special ritual for yourself when you are having a hard day?

Do you practice self compassion?

Give it a try. It’s completely changed my life and the lives of those around me.

Be free my friend,

X Gem X

#6 Reasons I Stopped blogging

blog4

 

#1. There was too much to say.

Sometimes life hits you like a fire hydrant. That has been my experience over the past 6 months. I had so much stirring within me, so much changed so quickly for my life and others around me that it all became a bit too overwhelming. How am I supposed to process all this? How am i to have any answers or existential meaning to give from all of this? I just white knuckled it and I feel like I have finally come up for air.

So with the help of a few assertive friends, I’ve decided its probably best to start somewhere rather than hiding in a blanket watching a shameful amount of Will & Grace.

#2. I had nothing to give.

There are times in life where you just cant fake fine anymore. And I had well and truly had enough of trying to keep going in my current path with no fuel left in the tank. I have made drastic changes to nearly every facet of my life in the last month. Now my tank is slowly filling up again and I can begin to give, to process and to share my journey with others, which I do so enjoy.

#3. I was afraid.

The longer I didn’t blog, the more I built it up into this huge deal in my own head. I have a little person inside of me that simply cannot make mistakes or fail. She had the wheel for a while and perhaps it was good protection from blurting a bunch or stuff I might regret however, I fired her and Courage is now the new managing director or my writing world.

# 4. I am wrestling with my “Why”

I’m in this season at the moment where I am question the purpose of everything and anything. Questions like “Why should I bother going to church?”, “Why are christians (including myself) so crap sometimes?” “Is organised religion a big sham hell bent on controlling people and helping leaders feel important?” ” Why do I need to have a career to be successful?” swirl around my head all day long. Nothing is certain to me anymore and I actually love it! It’s so expansive to hold everything in a place of curiosity. (That’s another blog for another time! But the point is, I couldn’t pen anything down because I wasn’t sure why I should or what conclusions I had to draw.

But I’ve realised, blogging about that could be fun and interesting too. And I will probably never be certain about anything.

# 5. What do I have to add anyway?

There are a bagilion voices out there competing for attention. What on earth was I supposed to contribute? Yes I know I am unique snowflake, no one is like me blah blah blah. But I just couldn’t see a point to me bothering anymore. I don’t have any prescriptive advice to give, I don’t see myself as very profound, nothing I say is new at all, I have been authentic and raw in the past and all I got was private messages from people I never see asking “was I ok”. Ugh it just seemed pointless I tell you pointless!

But the more I avoid writing, the more wrestless and fidgety I feel. So perhaps the goal is just to freely write about my world and my experiences just for the sake of it and let go overthinking the whole thing. Its a little like picking the petals off a flower to analyse how pretty it is. My life is a beautiful mess and I this is the place to write about it. That’s all there is too it.

# 6. I worked for a church

Any good leader knows that people look up to you whether you like it or not and people are always watching you. This is just the way it is. And unfortunately that left me censoring and overthinking alot of my writing.

It was one of the most fruitful and fulfilling seasons of my life. But with that, came certain expectations. Now I am in a different season and different job completely. I no longer have to censor myself or my experiences.

So pop by sometime and do life with me.

or not, that’s cool too 🙂

Be free my friend,

Gem xxoo

 

Little Acts of Defiance

I remember when I went to pre marital counselling

Aside from realising how different

In

Every

Possible

Way

Adam and I are

One thing that our counsellor said

Will remain in my mind forever

Life is designed to pull you apart

And it couldn’t be more true
For relationships

For anything that truly matters to us

“Life”

Pulls us away gradually from our passions

The need to survive
Often takes priority 

Over our desire to thrive 

Have you noticed?
I am obsessed with this Netflix show called ‘Chefs Table’
It’s all about the stories behind some of the greatest and most innovative chefs in the world 

I cry nearly every time 

I think seeing someone decide to grab their dreams by the go nads hits a nerve deep inside of me

In the best kind of way

It reminds me that impossible really is possible

And that I can literally do

Anything I want to do

And It reminds me that I am not alone 

Have you ever felt like you had to let go of a dream?
Me too

What happened?

Was it the expectations of others?

Fear it just won’t work?

The needs of your loved ones coming before yours?

The necessity of making money to provide?

I hate the idea of people not following their dreams
I hate the thought of getting to 85 and regretting not doing what I truly wanted to do

I imagine myself as 85 very often and I ask her;

“What would you want me to do, old and grey Gem?”

I’m realising that I can give the finger to “Life” in really small rebellious acts in my daily grind
By little acts of creative defiance.
It’s like I’m saying,

“Yeah dream! I see you! And I still want you to exist, even if the dishes don’t get done today!”
These past 2 weeks have been insane for me 
And I’ve struggled in moments where I’ve felt like I’m drowning in obligation and this longing for something more then the ‘nine to five lyf’

So how do you keep that dream alive and not let it die like that crispy excuse for a coriander plant on your ledge?

For me 
Acts of creative defiance looked like

Baking a beautiful loaf of sourdough

Buying a domain name for business website 

Taking a nap 

Eating a cheeseboard in the bath and sipping champagne (why the heck not!?)

Buying a pregnancy test and remembering that soon enough it’s going to come up positive 

Picking flowers for myself

Putting my ideas in writing and texting it to an encouraging friend 

Having lunch in the park with a colleague even when it’s not convenient

Ducking into an op to just buy one pretty something 

I think when we make our dreams too big they become overwhelming
And they get ignored

And eventually they die

But I wonder what would happen if we all just gave “life” the finger in a small way today?
What would be your small act of creative defiance today?
Give it a go
Trust me
If feels so good!

Be forever free my friend
X Gem X

Shame

vulture

Shame is like a vulture

It feeds off the deaths in your life

It feasts on destruction

dysfunction

Any small morsel of failure it can find in you

Standing tall

Authoritative

A Gloating stance

Perched confidently above you in the wirey trees

Why won’t you leave me alone and fly away!?

Perhaps it is because you are so well fed here

It thrives in the dry places of our soul

where there is little sign of life

He is always there

in the corner of your eye as you navigate the dry land

Waiting for you to fall

Pick! Pick! Pick!

Not good enough

Not good enough

Never ever good enough

Accusing tone

“Who are you to think you can make it out of here alive!”

Constant

Gnawing at my faults

Pulling at the weakest parts

Digging up writhing around with my past

Tugging at me when I am too exhausted to fight.

Where is my oasis?

Where can I escape from your constant swoops?

Ahhh that cool drink of water

A refreshing breeze!

Just when I thought all was lost.

I prayed to the Lord

And he answered me

He freed me from my fears

Those who look to Him for help

Will be radiant with Joy

No shadow of shame will darken their faces.

Psalm 34:4-7

The vulture flies away.

 

Be free my dear friend,

x Gem x

Shhhhhh!

shhhhh

Have you ever had that moment where you felt like what you had to say just didn’t matter?

It could’ve been in a work meeting

A crowded room

In a fight with a loved one

Me too, I have had many times in my life where I have felt completely choked out

Voiceless

Yearning to heard

To be seen

But the desire returning so void

I think on some level everyone has felt this

It seems the world is hell bent on shutting us up

We do it to each other

and

We do it to ourselves

TOO LOUD!

TOO QUIRKY!

TOO OUTSPOKEN!

TOO YOUNG!

TOO INEXPERIENCED!

TOO “LEFT”!

Are the comments I hear spinning around in my head as I try to make my way through this life

I find myself feeling so disqualified

So small

So insignificant

But as I sit in my little pity party, crying into some Ben & Jerrys..

The voice of infinite truth and wisdom whispers into my ear

“Being silenced in this world is inevitable

  But remaining silent is your choice”

I don’t know about you but something big is stirring within me

Like many rebels who have come before me

I am saying a bit fat NO to silence

I may not get the speaking roles I hope for

but I will continue to speak life into every person’s life that I touch

I will be that weirdo that encourages anyone and everyone in extravagant ways

From my closest friend to the shopping clerk

I may never have a gazillion people reading this blog

but I will keep pouring my heart onto these pages in the hope that just one person is inspired

I might be a complete sissy when it comes to hard conversations and shrink in fear at saying anything back

but I will continue to seek courage, forgive and try try again at this whole “truth in love” thing…even if its said through wobbly lips

Hey you

Yeah you

Your voice is worth listening to

Your voice matters!

The world is a little less beautiful when you stay silent

So tell me my friend,

What is it you have to say?

nah

xx Gem xx

 

The things I said in 2016..

mescarf2

I have kept a diary since I was eight years old.

My bookshelf is bursting with all sorts of glittery,shabby,decorated diaries, filled with my experiences, comings and goings, and existential musings of the last eighteen years.

That time I had a crush on Legolas from Lord of the Rings (This filled most of my diaries as a nine year old)

That time I had to share a room with my sister and I wrote how I might plot her demise (Sorry Blaise)

Those troubling times where I was trying to make sense of the world

My first broken heart

My first day of highschool

It’s all there on paper

And man how precious they are to me.

Each year I take time to look over my diaries for that year.

I laugh, I cry, I smile at God’s faithfulness since then.

There’s nothing more cathartic than a little retrospective gratitude.

So I thought it would be fun to share some of the stuff I said in my diaries for 2016.

I hope you can relate, have a giggle or find some inspiration for your heart as you walk into 2017.

On Friendships..

” I have everything I need to be a great friend.”

” Before you knew it, we were no longer just making small talk. We were genuinely connecting with each other, woman to woman. Sharing our hearts authentically, the good, the bad, the ugly, our disappointments, our hopes deferred. I felt so honoured that a woman I hardly knew would trust me enough to hold her story- not to try and solve anything. Simply to hold the moment with her and comfort her with the “Me too.”

” I need to have a NO in my friendships, how I do I find a No?

On Marriage..

” We must let go of hurt and disappointment. We must learn to trust each other and ourselves again and again.”

” If love is patient, than so you must be.”

On God..

” He always sits you just a little outside of your capacity.”

” We are not God’s project. We are his prize!” (Credit to Relate Church)

On Self Care..

” To scone or not to scone…I sconed!”

” Sweet, delicious Cofffeeeeeeeeeee.”

On the Healing Process..

” It’s not all rainbows, Shalom, unicorns and doves raining down from the sky as I had imagined it would be. It’s hard, it’s messy, ugly, muddy, unclear, relentless and met with much resistance. But one day I know I will see the light of morning and my joy will return fuller than ever before.”

“I bet you monks don’t have to put up with this crap!!!”

“If you don’t have hope, what point would there be to keep going?”

” I am so loved, it’s going to be ok.”

On Laughter..

“Being deep all the time cannot be a good thing!”

On appreciating the little things..

“So today the sunshine is out and my heart is very happy”

On Religion..

“I am one big Catholic noob”

On Discipline..

” I am learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable”

 

I hope that 2017 is everything that you want it to be

and it if it isn’t, I hope it’s better.

Be Free in 2017 my Friend,

xx Gem xx

Hope in a Flat White


It’s hard at the moment 

Exhausted 

Skinless

Sensitive 

Like a wire stripped of its protective covering

I try to hide

But the guilt meets me underneath the Doona

Agitated

Puffy eyed

I have nothing left to give

The thing that keeps me going is the God smiles in little moments

Embraced by a loved one 

A call out of the blue from my Sister

An encouraging text

A handmade gift from a friend

The barista made my day today

He will probably never know

Just as I sat staring into space 

Numb and tired 

Down pops this prettiest thing I had seen all day

Little fluffy hearts floating in my flat white

What effort it would have took

To form those hearts around the edge

To make them look as if they were dancing 

I was filled with hope again as I gazed at this coffee made just for me

See there is beauty in the world

Even if I have no more energy to create it on my own

And I thought

Perhaps it is perfectly ok, 

Even necessary

To sit in a cafe

And watch the world keep turning

Without my participation

Without my striving

Without my input

To catch my breath as I sip my pretty flat white

And let my soul be filled once again

Be forever free my friend

x Gem x

The World is still Turning


The sun rose this morning

The man still walked his dog

The cafe still opens early for me to grab that first sip of goodness

My engine still revved when I turned the key

My husband is still snoring 

The cars still rush by 

Busily as they make the morning commute

The computers turn on

The emails come through 

A man peddles peddles along

The music on the radio echoes through our windows
I am still breathing 

My lungs expand
And I remember 
Who is really in charge
The creator of heaven and earth

The one who hung the stars in the sky

Who set the world into motion
He is the king above all kings

True ruler of the nations
Full of justice

Full of love
Full of grace and mercy

Especially for the least 

The vulnerable

The marginalised
I let my face turn to the sun

And remember who made it
And how powerful

Mighty 

and sovereign He is
The world is still turning folks
And the one in charge has a good plan

Even when we can’t see it
So breathe

Trust
And carry on with your day
Gem