Sunday, August 31, 2008

I Don't Really Have To Forgive You

A month or so ago, I read a self-help book with an idea I had never heard of before. And I love hearing new ideas--even if I don't agree with them.

This idea though-- I almost immediately agreed with. Well, as soon as I read and digested it. The idea is that we don't have to forgive people. Most of the time, when we say we forgive someone, we're either rushing the healing process and/or we're denying our feelings.

There's even that saying. To err is human. To forgive divine . Okay, but the thing is. We're NOT divine. We're humans. Whether we face the fact or not, we get angry. And it's not easy to let go of that anger. It takes time. It takes an apology. And sometimes even with time and an apology, we can't forgive.

Is that fair though to the person who is apologizing? Aren't we allowed to make mistakes? Am I going to be hated forever just because I did one wrong thing?

When Kevin Rudd apologized on behalf of White Australians for what they did to the Indigenous people, is it fair that some people didn't accept the apology? Is it fair that some people are still angry? What do they owe to those who apologized, and what do those apologizing owe to those who are hurt?

What do we owe each other when there is pain between us?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Well, for personal reasons. I currently have wonderful and amazing relationships in my life. Yet, I also have relationships that are in turmoil.

Just like everyone else in this world, I have had things said to me that hurt to the core. Reading the self-help book was a relief because I realized I didn't have to rush and forgive these people for saying these things. I don't have to ever forgive them.

But what does that mean? Does it mean I stop loving them? Do I hate them? Do I end our relationships? Do I act out in some passive aggressive way?

I don't think so. I still love most of these people. Although I still feel anger for what they said, I also appreciate all the nice things they've said. I know that I adore them, and I know I still want them in my life. I still like to laugh with them. I still like to hug them. I still like to go out and eat ice-cream with them.

What I'm beginning to realize now is that it's possible to love someone while still being angry at them at the same time.

If I can't forgive these people, what do I owe them? Do I owe them anything at all?

I guess it depends on what they've done and whether they've apologized.

I accept apologizes even if I don't forgive them. I guess that might sound like a contradiction. What is the difference between forgiving and accepting an apology?

In my opinion, forgiving says. I'm no longer hurt. I'm no longer angry. I'm ready to trust you again. I'm ready for our relationship to go back to where it used to be.

Accepting an apology says. I'm still hurt and angry, but I appreciate that you're sorry. I'm willing to try to talk things over with you, and when I'm ready we can work on mending our relationship. It also means, that at times, I can push my resentment out of my mind and just enjoy your company.

I don't think we are required to forgive, and I think it's liberating to finally understand that. But I don't think it's asking too much to accept an apology.

I'm a fairly upfront kind of person--the kind who will say what's on her mind. But I can't say that in 100% of cases, I immediately come forward and tell someone. Hey, you've hurt my feelings.

Sometimes I'm afraid I'll appear weak if I admit to feeling hurt by something someone said.

Sometimes, I'm afraid they'll scoff at me for overreacting. What? Do I have to walk on eggshells with you?

Sometimes I'm afraid they'll find pleasure in knowing they've hurt me. Maybe that's what they had wanted all along.

But if someone comes forward and says they think they might have hurt me and they're sorry....I will at least be honest and say something like Yes, you hurt my feelings and I'm angry. If asked directly, I don't think I would lie.

Forgiveness is not necessary for us to maintain positive relationships with people. But two other things are necessary.

They are:

A) the ability to recognize that we have hurt someone and apologize to them for it.
B) the ability and courage to admit we are hurt--to either accept an apology or ask for one.

If we can't have those two things, the relationship will be a mixture of dishonesty and passive-aggressive behavior. Then it's probably best to just say good-bye and go our own separate ways.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Finding a Place to Sleep in Canberra

I've started to think that it might be time to start finding places to sleep while we're in Australia.

The other day, I looked into Canberra.

At first, I was very discouraged. I found a hotel within five miles of the tourist attractions I want us to see. The price LOOKED reasonable, but then when I plugged in our dates, it was very expensive.

I then remembered the whole holiday park thing! We stayed at a holiday park in Port Stephens and LOVED it.

We'll probably be a slightly larger distance away from tourist attractions, but I don't think it will be that much of a difference.

So, here are the two holiday parks I'm thinking we should stay at. Well, I mean we'd choose between the two. We won't be staying at both places.

Capital Country Holiday Village

The Carotel

I'm very excited about the idea of staying at another Holiday Park. It will be a bit different from Port Stephens because there we were lazy and didn't venture out much. We spent the whole time relaxing and just hanging out.

In Canberra, we're going to be very busy. I want to spend one day at the zoo, one day at Questacon, and one day at the National Museum of Australia.

But it will be nice to come home in the evening and hang out at the pool, meet people, look for kangaroos, etc.

I'm already a bit stressed out about the museums. I feel there will be so much to see, and that we really need five days EACH for both of them. If you think I'm being unrealistic....I'm the girl who went to Sydney Aquarium and Sydney Wildlife World almost everyday.

Oh well. I guess we can't have it all. Although we might add ONE extra day to Canberra.

Friday, August 29, 2008

What Is The Deal With The Accents?

I am totally loving all this Australia music I'm learning about.

But for a lot of the songs, I can't really hear an Australian accent.

If I heard these songs and didn't know any better, I would probably assume the singers were American.

What is the deal?

Am I ethnocentric and hearing "American" when it's not even there? Is there a neutral accent that I mistake as being American?

Are Australian singers purposely singing with an American accent? If so, why?

Does the American accent work better for singing for some reason?

I don't know. Maybe this is how the American accent was invented in the first place.

Maybe the Puritans liked to sing a lot. They kept singing and then said Hey. Let's get rid of the British accent and just use that accent we use for our singing!

I googled this whole thing and found a somewhat disturbing article. It basically talks about how young Australians are adopting aspects of the American accent. I guess it makes sense since Australia has so much American television. We watch ONE Australian TV show and I started picking up the Australian accent.

Speaking of accents....when we were in Sydney, Tim got one of the worst insults of his life. My friend's son whispered. He sounds like George W. Bush. Oh no!!

Accents are a funny thing.

I personally like the Australian accent the best. When I receive my superpowers and take over the world, my first law passed will be that every English-Speaking person must speak with an Australian accent.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Changing Plans.....Again

I changed our Australia plans again.

This is not the first time I've done this.

I guess it's hard for me to make up my mind about things! There are too many places I want to see in Australia and too many places I want to go back to.

I started doing research and realized/remembered it's a five hour drive from where we wanted to go in the Snowy Mountains to Sydney. But we have to remember for us....people who are not used to driving on the left side of the road....five hours might be more like six or seven hours.

It's not just that. It's also that we're going out of the way. We'd be going to Canberra first because I want to get there on weekdays and not the weekends (so the zoos and museums aren't overcrowded). So, we'd be going to Canberra and having to drive more south to get to the Snowy Mountains. Then we'd have to go up again to Sydney.

I don't have any real emotional attachment or intellectual attachment to the Snowy Mountains. It's not exactly calling to me. So, I thought maybe it would make sense to go somewhere between Canberra and Sydney.

Save us some driving time.

I came up with two ideas and asked Tim what he preferred to do.

1. Stay at a sheep farm in Goulburn, which is between Canberra and Sydney. We'd stay for the weekend and then go to Manly as planned.

I liked the sheep farm idea because it's so Mcleod's Daughters. This place seems to be a real working farm, and not just some bed & breakfast place that has a few animals so people can pet a cow.

Being a vegetarian though...... Will I fit in? Will they hate me because I'm a vegetarian? Will I be too sensitive to how they treat the animals? It's not a factory farm and I'm glad about that. I don't really have that much against regular farms. But I can get sensitive when people yell at animals. Even though I love Tess, Claire, Becky, Jodi, and Meg.....I get a little on edge when they act so cold to the animals. Why can't they ever throw their arms around a sheep and give it a warm hug? Huh?

McLeod's Daughters is the other issue. Would we be total couch potato losers--trying to find our TV show fantasy in real life? Would the people at the sheep station pick up on this fact and laugh at us behind our backs?

2. Spend some time on the coast between Canberra and Sydney. I'm thinking about Wollongong or Shellharbor. If we do this though, it wouldn't make much sense to stay in Manly when we get back. I think it's too much beach time. On our last trip, Jack actually got burned out on the whole beach thing, before we got to Port Stephens, because we had spent so much time at Manly.

I was having second thoughts about Manly anyway. It's still part of Sydney and we've already spend a lot of time there. Do we really need to stay there for five nights? We can always take the ferry when we're staying in Darling Harbor. We can go everyday if we want to.

Tim picked the second option. I guess the sheep station didn't appeal to him--probably because he expects me to open all the gates and let the animals go free. Something like that.

Well, here is what we have so far for our planned holiday.

Two nights in Sydney
Three nights in Tasmania
One night in Sydney.
Four nights in Canberra
Four nights somewhere on the south coast
Seventeen nights in Sydney

Seventeen nights in Sydney. Yeah. There'll be plenty of time to go to Manly.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What I Wanted to Say in a Comment But It Would Be Too Long so I Might As Well Make a New Post

Retarius commented on my Conscious Dreaming Post--including a link to his own recent blog entry. He talked about Rhonda Byrne. She's one of the few exports from Australia that I don't love.

If you haven't heard of Rhonda Byrne, you probably HAVE heard of her bestselling book. The Secret.
If you have done any readings in spirituality, you would know that this so-called secret is not a secret. The philosophy has been around for a long time.

I haven't read the book. I saw the website that bordered on sensationalism. I read the reviews on I saw enough to know that the philosophy is the same one I had read about in my spirituality reading adventures.

First of all, I want to make it clear that although I do not believe in the basic philosophy, I do not hold anything against it or people who believe in it. Just like I don't believe Jesus died for my sins; but I don't hold anything against people who believe in that.

The idea of these law of attraction philosophies is that we control our own destinies. But only if we truly put our hearts, souls, and minds into it. You need to want something, imagine having it, and be truly open to receiving it.

I first read about this idea in the Seth books by Jane Roberts and another fun book called What the Bleep Do We Know. The books are very inspiring, and when I first read them, I wanted to believe it was true.

And in some small ways, I do think there is truth to the philosophies. I do believe we have SOME control over what happens to us. I do think a positive attitude can SOMETIMES cure illness. I do think that SOMETIMES a negative attitude can make us sick.

I don't think it always works, though. For the most part, I think our wishes come true because they were meant to come true. It was our destiny.

I went to Australia not because I wished for it, but because the universe kept pushing the idea until I could no longer resist. I threw up my hands and thought. FINE! I'll go! Wishing didn't land me in Sydney. Airplane tickets did. And no the tickets did not land on our lap. We had to spend hours researching prices and then actually pay for them.

My main problem with The Secret is it seems to be a scam. I don't know. I think what we're supposed to think is Hey, it worked for Rhonda Byrne. Her life was awful. She followed The Secret and now look how rich she is! Not only that, but Oprah endorses the idea! Oprah said she's been following this philosophy her whole life. And look how rich Oprah is!

How do I see it? Rhona Byrne became rich because she wrote a book promising other people that she can make them rich. I tend to call this phenomena a pyramid scheme.

As for Oprah? Okay, maybe she's rich, famous, and mega-powerful. But how many people are out there forcing a positive attitude, waiting for magic to happen for them, and their life still sucks?

What would some followers of Byrne say to them? They're not wishing hard enough. They're not putting their full hearts into it. They're surrounding themselves with too much negativity.

If your cancer is not cured, it's your fault. If you get hit by a car, it's your fault. If you can't get pregnant, it's your fault. You THINK you're thinking about pregnancy but in reality you're thinking about infertility.

You think negative stuff, it's going to happen to you.

Think happy thoughts and you can fly like Peter Pan!

Okay, but see we must remember. Peter Pan had Tinker Bell and a nice supply of fairy dust.

Wishing without Fairy Dust can only get you so far.

I personally pretty much believe in the opposite of The Secret. I believe in fate. I believe I have free will. But I believe that what happens to me happens for a reason. I believe what free-will does for me is allow me to accept or not accept my fate. And every so often, I'm presented with a fork in the road and I get to choose the path. If I try to leave my path when I'm not supposed to, I'm let go for awhile, but then something pulls me back on the path.

I believe if I get diagnosed with cancer, it's not because I thought too much about cancer or that I have too much anxiety about dying. It's because this was my destiny. Battling cancer would be something I needed to endure for this life's lessons. I don't think a positive attitude will guarantee me going into remission, but it will probably make life more pleasant.

Last summer, we went to a homeschooling conference. One of the offered sessions was making collages inspired by The Secret. There was nothing else that seemed interesting to do, and I love cutting and pasting magazine photos, so I sat at the table with the others.

The idea was that you paste what you want in your book, and if you wish for it hard enough the universe will bring it to you.

I did enjoy the activity because it helped me clarify WHAT I want out of life. This makes me feel less emotionally cluttered and confused. But knowing and wishing doesn't mean it's going to happen. At least, I don't think so.

In his comments, Retarius mentioned that the conscious dreaming thing I talked about in my last post is also called Lucid Dreaming. This is what Robert Moss says about that:

I prefer the phrase conscious dreaming to the widely used term lucid dreaming for two reasons. First of all, the some of the recent enthusiastic for "lucid dreaming" have given the impression that their aim is to practice dream control: to manipulate dreams to serve the agendas of the waking ego.....The point is that dreams are wiser than our everyday minds and come from an infinitely deeper source. To try to control this source, to interfere with the authentic flow of dreams and to justify this on the grounds that they are "only dreams" is the ultimate delusion of the control freak who lives in the ego.

I have a fairly good amount of Lucid Dreams--usually four or five a month. Well, I think that's more than the average person. I have tried controlling the dreams in the past and have had no real luck. The best I can do is REMEMBER that I had planned to control the dreams and make an attempt to control the dreams. But things never work out the way I want them to. So I've pretty much given up, and Robert Moss helps me feel okay about that. I enjoy the dreams. I don't try to manipulate the environment. If anything, I try to change my attitude towards the dream. I tell myself to slow down and observe what is around me. I tell myself to enjoy the dreamworld, rather than try to CHANGE the dreamworld.

Who knows where dreams come from? Our neurologically-based unconscious? Some Ancient long-dead Aboriginal dude? A Goddess in the tree? Our Spirit Guides? Our Higher Selves?

Whatever. I have my hunches, but I can't say for sure.

Why try to control it, though? Why not just enjoy what is given to us and what is shown to us?

I feel that we can apply this to life as well.

It's kind of like the AA motto which I love.

grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Can Sometimes Relate To Eli Stone


Several days ago I wrote about chasing coincidences--the story of how my dreams led me to being interested in both spirituality and Australia.

I had found a book called Conscious Dreaming--written by an Australian (Robert Moss).   The book opened my eyes and mind to all types of spiritual things.

I decided to read the book again--now about three and half years later.   I'm about a third of the way through and loving it all over again.

In the introduction chapter, he talks a lot about Australia.

In the introduction chapter, he talks a lot about Australia. I'm guessing that when I first read the book I had never heard of any of these Australian things that he mentions. I think the only thing I knew about Australia was that it had kangaroos and koalas, and the capital was Sydney (Ha!) Oh, I also probably know about Eucalyptus trees.

Now I know so much more, and I finally have the whole capital thing straightened out in my mind.

I'm not beating myself up for being ignorant about Australia. There's so much in the world to know, and we can't know everything. I just think it's amazing how you can know next to nothing about something one day; and some time later....know so much.

At one time, my family knew nothing about head injuries.I don't think we had ever even heard of them--well, at least I had never heard of it or thought of it. Then someone in my family had a major one, and suddenly we were forced to be experts.   At one point, we probably knew more than some doctors (well, the ones that are NOT Neurosurgeons).

Okay, honestly Conscious Dreaming is much more about Spirituality than it is about Australia.  And in fact, the author no longer even lives in Australia.  He lives in New York. Like me, he was led, through his dreams and synchronicity, to a geographical location.

I can see how reading that book must have brought me enormous amounts of comfort.   It talks about the spiritual aspects of dreams--which I don't think I had heard much about.

For my whole life, I had always had very vivid dreams.  Some of them felt so real and important.

I don't think I ever received any type of validation for these experiences. I read (and was told) that dreams are just random images--your brain getting rid of garbage.   Then, I got my undergraduate degree in psychology--a field which (outside of Jung) usually strips all spirituality away from dreams and turns it into a dry science of symbolism.

This book helped me to realize and accept that you can have personal spiritual experiences--that I don't have to rely on a Rabbi, the Torah, or a Synagogue to experience spirituality.

I am grateful that I found the book--or that the book found me.

I think it's the type of book that someone like me needs to keep reading--well, just to feel moderately okay about myself.    You receive quite a lot of opposition when you believe the stuff that I believe.

First there's the religious opposition.   I met a lovely nanny in the park one day.  This was when my spiritual awakening was in it's infancy--a few months old.  We became playground friends during the summer.   The only challenge was she was a very religious Christian.  I politely listened to her talk about her religious beliefs and kept quiet about my own. Finally, I felt brave enough to speak up and talk about my beliefs.  She politely told me that all that I experienced was the work of Satan.    I wish I can say that I completely dismissed what she said.  But there was a part of me that doubted myself.   There was a part of me that took my beautiful and amazing experiences, and began to twist them into something sinister.   I'm sure I wasn't much different from the Aboriginals and Native Americans who abandoned their spiritual beliefs, stopped being "heathens" and embraced Christianity.

Yeah.   It's hard to have faith when someone tells you that your beliefs are evil.

Then there's the world of science and psychology.

Robert Moss says:

If a fear of dreams breeds witchfinders, it also spawns reductionists  who are perhaps more deadly (or at least more deadening) because they invoke  scientific jargon in a society where "science" is widely presumed to have all the answers.  Turn a certain kind of scientist loose on the dreaming mind and you will soon be informed that dreams are hallucinations  spawned by the wash of chemicals or nonsensical clutter triggered by random neural firing.  Such findings are usually reported without a single reference to the researcher's personal experience of  dreaming, which speaks eloquently about their value.

I love what he says here.   I think the thing is....for SOME people this is what dreams feel like.  They don't have amazing epic dreams.   They rarely remember their dreams and if they do it's usually seemingly random meaningless images.   It makes sense for them to believe dreams are just brain farts.

It's hard to believe in something that hasn't happened to you.

It's hard to believe in something that can't be reproduced in a laboratory.  Although one book  I read talks about how even WITH laboratory evidence, a lot of scientists choose not to believe certain things


Because it's hard to believe in something that doesn't fit into how we already define our world.

I don't have a problem with skepticism--as long as it's done with an open-mind.  I DO have a problem with skeptics who have already decided there is no such thing as mysticism and will fight and deny any information that is out there.   They're so closed-minded.

On the same token, there are people who are too closed-minded in the other direction. They see a strange image and automatically declare. "I've seen a ghost!"  or "God has spoken to me!"

The universe is full of questions. Anyone who thinks they have a definite answer, or has 100% faith in something is a fool. At least in my eyes.

I feel it's best to have an open-mind and see every experience as having multiple valid explanations.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thank You

For those who are interested, here is the Aussie playlist I have on YouTube.  

There are 84 songs so far.......

Thank you to all of you who have sent in suggestions!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wilsons Promontory

I've been reading The Proving Ground by G. Bruce Knecht.   It's about the tragic 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht races--where mother nature proved to be quite the foe.

The other day I sat in our old breastfeeding rocking chair (which we never really used for breastfeeding, btw).   I read the book while Jack played Sims 2 at the computer desk.

I got to a part in the book about Wilsons Promontory.   I think the author was talking about weather forecasts being done there.  Less than five minutes later, I took a look at the Sim that Jack was creating.   Guess what the name was.....


I swear I did not mention any of the book outloud to Jack (or myself for that matter)--nor was he close enough to read the book.

It was a bit eerie.

Here's something cool though.   I looked up Wilson Promontory on Wikipedia.   At the bottom of the page, they have a link to Matthew Flinder's writing from Project Gutenberg.   That might be interesting to read.

Matthew Flinders is the guy who wanted Australia to be named Australia.   He promoted the name, but was pretty much ignored by Banks the rich Botanist and others.   Flinders died thinking they were all going to keep calling the southern piece of land, Terra Australis.

I don't know why, but that story makes me so sad.   Maybe I can relate to having ideas and no one taking them seriously.    Woe is me.   And woe for Flinders.    I will read your book, Matthew.  And I will listen to you.  Okay?    Well, as soon as we get a little less obsessed with playing The Sims 2.


Back to Wilson and his Promontory.   Every time, I see that place on the Australia map, I think of that Shakespearean song from the musical Hair.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What Kind of Person Would Torture a Koala?

The recent brutal murders of Koalas has made me think about bad depressing stuff: The existence of evil and how cruel we are to each other.

I used to not believe in evil.  Recently I've decided that I do definitely believe in it.  I don't believe that any one person is pure good or pure evil...not even Hitler and not even Mother Teresa. I think we all have both good and evil within us. But some people definitely have more of one than the other.

I think the big thing is that most of us have the good and/or evil, but we don't act upon it.  I think we all have urges and desires to cause great harm to someone else. But fortunately a lot of us keep this all within our imagination.  Unfortunately, the same goes for acts of good. We all have great ideas of the wonderful things we'd like to do, but for most of us, it never goes beyond being a good idea.

At one time, I was obsessed with the World War II Holocaust. I would sometimes wonder how I would have acted if I was alive during that time. And I wondered how people I know would have acted during that time.

Most of us probably imagine that we'd be like Miep Gies who helped to hide Anne Frank in the attic.

We imagine that we'd risk our lives and reputation to do the right thing. If we were Jewish, we'd never become a Kapo.  We'd fight to the death to save our fellow Jews. If we lived outside of Europe, we'd spend our money, time, and resources to bring as many victims to safety as possible.

In other words, we'd all be heroes.

We refuse to imagine that we'd be the ones laughing while throwing Jewish corpses into the incinerator. 

We refuse to imagine that we'd turn Jews into the Nazis to save our own butts. 

We refuse to believe that we'd sit at home watching soap operas, totally not caring about what's going on so far away.

Is all this really true, though?

I don't think so. 

If there's a correlation between cruelty to animals and serial rapists/murderers, I think maybe there can be a correlation to other types of behaviors toward animals and how we would treat humans.

Animals today are being systematically and horrifically abused in factory farms.  I believe how we react to this indicates how we might have truly acted if we had been alive during the Holocaust.

1. For those annoying individuals who loudly protest against animal cruelty and refuse to use any animals products. Those self-righteous vegans?  I think they'd be the ones who would hide the Jews in their attic. They would risk their lives and reputations to save lives. And they would be hated by most of their neighbors.

2.  For those people who happily buy excessive amounts of meat and think it's their God-given right to do so--and laugh when told animals are abused?   I think they'd be like the Europeans who happily went along with the Nazis. They would not have given one ounce of protest about what's happening.  Their attitude would have been one of entitlement and lack of empathy.

 3. For those who change the subject whenever animal cruelty is mentioned, and act offended when people question the ordering of veal off the menu?  I imagine that person would be the type who wouldn't personally participate in the cruelty of the Holocaust. They wouldn't get their own hands dirty.  They'd just be an indifferent bystander. They're the type of person who would buy stuff that belonged to Jewish families and not really care that the original owners of these objects had been murdered.  They would choose ignorance to allow themselves pleasurable gains.

4. For those who actually work at these factory farms and enjoy it?   They'd be the Nazis who found great pleasure in hurting others.  For those who work at these farms out of necessity--because they need to feed their own families? They'd be the people who became Nazis, not because they wanted to, but because they had to take care of their own families. They would do bad things to protect their own skins.

Would I have been a hero during the Holocaust?  

I wish I could say yes, but the answer is no.

I think I'd be better than a lot of people but not good enough.

I am very aware of the cruelty that occurs in factory farms. I do not stick my head in the sand anymore.  I am a vegetarian. That's a nice thing.  Every so often,  I donate money to an animal rights charity.  It helps me feel good about myself—absolves me of some nagging guilt. I try to eat organic dairy products and free range eggs--hoping that this means the animals are treated okay.

But I'm not good like this all the time. I too frequently treat myself to an ice-cream cone that does not have cruelty-free ice-cream.  I eat cheese at restaurants that is not organic. I eat many products made out of eggs that are not cruelty free. I allow my son to have huge cups of milk at restaurants that are not only not cruelty-free but also have hormones that are not healthy for him.

I often try to be good and do the right thing. But, too often, I let my own selfish lazy desires get in the way of doing what's best for others.

When I order that ice-cream cone, I don't think about cows being abused. If I think about anything negative, it's about  which part of my body the calories go to.  At moments like this, I'm superficial and voluntarily ignorant.

I think I'm no different than the Europeans who happily laughed at their dinner parties while nearby Jews were being sent to the gas showers. 

Who would YOU have been during the Holocaust?   And can you be honest with yourself about that?

Note:  I have a feeling the contents of this entry will make many people feel too uncomfortable. I'm sure some people will make themselves feel better with the old argument that humans are superior to animals—that you can't even begin to compare the two. Who knows? Maybe human life is worth more than animals.  Maybe it's not.  I don't think that's the point here, though.  It's more about our feelings towards saving or hurting a living thing.  

I personally don't think the life of a butterfly is equal to the life of a human. But I believe the man who laughs as he tears off the wings of a butterfly is the same man who will laugh as he sticks his stepson's hand into a pot of boiling water.    

The young man who stands up to bullies to save a puppy from being drowned is the same man who will stop a violent fight in a pub.  

Friday, August 22, 2008

Another Music Post

In my last music post, I listed all my favorite Australian songs.

I still love those songs.   But now, thanks to suggestions via comments and other Aussie websites,  my horizons have been broadened.

Here are some new favorites.

1. "Australia" by Gyroscope.   Very beautiful song.  I don't get the lyrics too much though, which makes me think I really don't understand Australia as much as I thought I did.   But that's a good thing.    Having a lot to learn gives me a lot to look forward to.

2. "Great Southern Land" by Icehouse These lyrics make a little more sense to me.  I think?   Anyway, it's one of those songs in which the chorus gets stuck in your brain.

3. "To Her Door" by Paul Kelly  I LOVE this song. It's addictive.  Paul Kelly is sexy in a Elvis Presley kind of way.  OR....maybe he reminds me of a young Robert Di Nero.  Sean Penn too.

4. "Sounds of Then" (This is Australia) by GANGgajang  If your high school chemistry teacher made a music video, this is what it would look like.    

5. "Thank You" by the Whitlams Easy song to love.  Whitlam?  Is that supposed to be like the Prime Minister??

6. "Scar" by Missy Higgins.   She kind of reminds me of Jo from Facts of Life.  Her voice reminds me of Edie Brickell

7. "Working Class Man" by Jimmy Barnes   A classic Aussie song. I hadn't even heard of it though until I heard Adam Hill's new and improved version of Advance Australia Fair.

8. "Sweet about Me" by Gabriella Cilmi   This song is so incredibly awesome. Very sexy. It's pathetic and hard to believe that she's barely known in America. What's the deal? Her song should be number one here. On ALL the charts.

9. "Watch Over Me" by Bernard Fanning. This is a really beautiful song.    

10. "Bridal Train" by the Waifs  Very haunting and lovely.   I can hear the Aussie accent much more here than I can in other songs. 

11. "Am I Crazy" by Rebecca Lavelle Okay. I had to include at least one McLeod's Daughters song. This was in the first episode of Mcleod's Daughters. It made Jack cry and he asked for us to turn off the show.   The emotions were too overwhelming for him.  I had never seen my child so touched by a song before. Later, he was able to listen to it without getting too sad. It's a very beautiful song.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What If I Don't Have Enough Awe?

I realized something today--actually while on the toilet.

You know....I tend to do my most important thinking while on the toilet or in the shower.  What's the deal with that?   Maybe I think best with my pants off?

Who knows.

Back to what I was thinking about....

I realized I'm scared to see big and beautiful famous things of nature.  Examples would be Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Grand Canyon.

I'm scared to go, because I'm afraid I won't love them enough.

I worry I'll stand among the tourists with their flashing cameras. My companions will be wiping away tears of joy. They'll say Dina, isn't this amazing?

What if I don't find it amazing enough?

What if I have to be all fake.  Oh, it's wonderful!

I read Bill Bryson's book about Australia and he talks about how he wasn't at all excited about seeing Uluru.  He had seen the image so many times, that he was pretty much sick of it before he even got there. But once he was there, he totally loved it.  Uluru was like some kind of amazing experience for him.

What if it's not amazing for me?   What if all I see is a big rock that changes colors?  What if to me it's no more amazing than the Laser show in Stone Mountain Georgia?

I do get excited about things in nature.  Maybe it works better for me when I have low expectations.

 Last night, I was walking upstairs to go to bed, and through the windows on the staircase, I could see the moon.  I think it was a full moon--or almost full.  I had no idea it would be there, and I was in complete awe.   The moon was so bright and beautiful.  Plus, the reflection from the glass did some weird thing and it looked like there were three moons. It was awesome.

I yelled out to Jack.  Come here!  Come here!

He came and gave the exact same reaction I fear I'll have if we go to Uluru. He said something like Cool, and then rushed back upstairs.

I called to Tim who came and put out a little more enthusiasm.

I don't know.  Maybe I just prefer the little things in life--the stuff that's not well known or famous.

My dad used to joke about it.  He'd tell stories of everyone else watching the elephants taking a bath at the zoo.  And my camera would be pointed at a squirrel.

I think one issue is I don't like crowds of tourists. It ruins it for me.

If I could be alone (or almost alone) at Uluru, I probably would love it.

But all the talking and the cameras clicking bothers me.   Sometimes I get this sense that people don't even  truly care what they're looking at. They're just taking pictures so they can brag to their friends at home.  

I think I prefer climbing up the sand dunes in Port Stephens.  They're not spectacular or amazing.

They're not famous.  They're not on a postcard.  But they're pleasant and rather beautiful.   Best of all when I went there, I was usually completely alone.    I loved that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Those Birds

In New York City and London you see tons of pigeons.  They're everywhere.

In Sydney, there might be pigeons.  I don't remember. But the prevalent bird is the Ibis.

They're everywhere.

I did a lot of research about Australia before we left for our holiday. I don't remember reading anything about the Ibis. I read about parrots and Kookaburras.

No Ibis.

And suddenly there they were.

My cousin asked me if I knew what they were.

I had no idea. She said she figured I would know since I seemed to know so much about Australia.

Why is this bird kept such a secret?

Are the Australians ashamed of the Ibis?


I love animals, but this bird is a bit hard to love.

Jack and I were at first enthusiastic about the whole thing. I love anything that makes Australia different from North America.   Christmas in summer instead of winter.Vegemite instead of peanut butter.  Ibises instead of pigeons.

You're not supposed to feed the Ibis--well according to some signs posted.  We ignored the rules.  Once. We learned or lesson.

The Ibis is very aggressive. Oh, I hate to stereotype, but I kind of think it's true.  Okay?

One flew down while Jack was eating and grabbed a piece of turkey right out of Jack's hand. A bit rude if you ask me.

I witnessed a worse crime by another Ibis.   He stuck his head in the garbage can to find food and ended up scattering bits of litter all around the grass.    For the rest of the holiday, when I saw litter around, I could no longer silently curse other tourists for trashing Australia.  For all I knew the guilty party may very well have been a bird.

Despite it's unethical behavior, the Ibis is beautiful and graceful looking. He's very photogenic.

Okay, there I got the obligatory positive statement out there.

Now for more bad stuff.

The Ibis poops too much. I think Sydney needs to invest in some toilets for these guys. It gets a bit gross.

A popular hang out for the Ibis is the playground in Darling Harbor. So there is poop everywhere.   You can't really sit or stand anywhere without coming into contact with the white stuff.

Once I sat with my friend Michelle.  We chatted as we watched our children play on the climbing equipment.  An Ibis came over and pooped on my backpack.

I was disgusted but Michelle cheered me up.  She said it could be souvenir.

It sounded so much better when put in that context. I wiped it off a bit--well, because keeping it completely there might be a bit too gross.  

Thank you, Mr. Ibis.   I treasure the gift you gave me and the faint leftovers that are still on my backpack.      

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Now How Do I Make This Dream About Australia?

Last night, I dreamed that there was a psychic who was trying to convince a woman she was in danger of being murdered.  The murderer was someone the woman trusted--maybe a friend. He or she (never grasped the gender of the killer) would kill by slicing someones throat.

I'm not sure who I was in the dream.  Maybe the psychic?  Or maybe my identity changed through the dream.  At one point, I was in a car with the woman and trying to convince her of the danger she was in.  I gave a passionate speech about having an open-mind, and my speech did the trick. The potential victim began to believe me.

I woke up from the dream with this feeling I should write the dream in my blog.  I don't know why.

My only problem was I really did not know how to relate it to Australia. I thought of turning it into some dumb symbolic essay about vigilance and paranoia.  Where do you draw the line?  If someone warns you about danger, do you listen or ignore it?   If you're warned about crocodiles in a body of water, do you avoid going in, or do you laugh it off and take a swim? 

Then I went back to sleep and returned to the dream. This time the potential murder victim had an identity.She was Nicole Kidman.  I thought that was funny. It's like my dreaming mind found a way to make it about Australia.

The dream was frightening, but also exciting--kind of like one of those cheesy thrillers on the Lifetime channel.

The murderer lived in the same house (BIG house) as Kidman. We had a police officer or lawyer there walking with me, Kidman, and the murderer.    It's like we knew the killer was guilty, but the police couldn't take her away.  I walked the police (or whatever) to the door and when I came back the murderer and Kidman were gone. I was angry at myself for leaving them alone.  I went upstairs to search for them and found  them under a bed.  Kidman looked dead. I started strangling the murderer who had this evil maniac kind of laugh.  hen Kidman woke up. She wasn't dead after all.

The creepiest part of the dream finding a room that belonged to the killer.  She had tons of photos of Kidman--indicating how obsessed he/she was.  

It really was like one of those made-for-television thrillers.  

Monday, August 18, 2008

American Stuff

My cousin and other expats talk about how being in a different country makes you appreciate and miss your own country.

I think my cousin believes that if I come to live in Australia, I will be like her and miss America.

Well, the funny thing is, I'm actually still IN America, and I kind of miss it.

This summer has been so totally about Australia.  We watch an Australian TV show. I have been sometimes forgetting to speak with my American accent.   Most of friends are Australian.   I write in a blog about Australia. I do research about Australia.  Lately, all the music I listen to is Australian.

In some weird way, I'm already a bit homesick for America.

So in honor of my homesickness, I decided to write a post celebrating that which I currently love about my own country.

Here be my list.

1. Stephen Colbert--He doesn't make me proud to be American, but he makes me feel okay about being American.  He can make me take a break from hating our government....fearing it, and have me laughing at it instead.   I rarely watch his show anymore, but when I do, I almost always end up laughing hysterically.  I think he's so funny that he doesn't even really have to say anything funny.   I just look at him and laugh.  Oh!  And I love when he struggles to keep a straight face. He's too cute when he does that.  

2. My TV Shows!   I love McLeod's Daughters, but I really miss my American shows, and I can't wait for them to come back on. My current favorite American shows are Medium, Eli Stone, and Lost.  Well, Lost is kind of Australian related too since the fated plane did take off from Sydney.

3. American authors.   The funny thing is one of my favorite books about Australia was written by an American.   Blue Latitudes by Tony Horowitz.   I highly recommend that book to anyone interested in Captain Cook and all that stuff.  And I also love another Australian book written by an American. In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson.

I love a lot of popular American fiction writers: Stephen King, Anne Rice, Pat Conroy, John Irving, and a lot of less known authors as well.   

4. Joshua Radin.   I got into his music after hearing it on Eli Stone. I'm not big into music and usually do not get interested in a specific artist.  I'm one of those people who never knows what's going on in the music world.   You guys could probably tell that from my post about my favorite Australian music.    I didn't really have anything current on my list.

But I love Radin's music.

5. Chocolate Rain.   I didn't even know about this until my friend told me about it.   It is a huge YouTube phenomena and I totally missed it. I thought it was very creepy when I first heard it and then I found myself wanting to hear it over and over.   I like the song.   I love that some guy wrote a song, recorded it, put it on YouTube, and then became famous.  I also love all the parodies.

6. Americans.   I love the people who live in my country. Close to half of us didn't vote for Bush, and I think many of those who did now regret it.   Yes, we're a bit ignorant about what's going on in the world, and yes we're very ethnocentric.  But most of us are fairly okay.   As a whole, we're pretty decent humans--okay, even some of those who still support Bush. As Jesus said."Forgive them for they know not what they do."  

Below is the first Joshua Radin song I've ever heard.   I'm waiting for someone to put the clip from Eli Stone up on YouTube, but no one has yet.  So, here is a VERY awesome cover by FabTheGap.   BTW, He's not American OR Australian.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

We're Waiting....

Tim belongs to this video rental program from Blockbusters.  (hey, do you guys have Blockbuster in Australia???)  He picks DVDs online.  They mail it to him.  When he's done watching it, he mails it back, and they send him another DVD.

This is how we watched season two of Mcleod's Daughters. Thanks to Tim, we own season one.

Now we're waiting for season three.

The problem is it seems that someone has gotten season three and is not giving it back.   I can't really complain because Tim had the first two discs for season two and he gave me those the same day he gave me the purchased Season One DVD. We held on to season two while getting through all episodes of Season one. An episode a day. That's twenty-two days to get through season one and then four more days to get through the first disc of season two. So we held on to a disc for about 25 days or so. Hopefully, no one was waiting too eagerly for it.

I have no problems waiting for a month or so to see season three. What I worry about is someone having season three and well.....just having it.   Maybe they lost interest in the Blockbuster program, but they're too lazy to cancel it.  Maybe they have the DVD under a pile of papers with no interest or plans to send it back.

That would be sad.

I miss our show.

It was such a summer tradition.  Every night, we'd sit on the couch together and watch it together.

Please?  Hello?   If you're out there?  Someone?  Please return Season Three of McLeod's Daughters to Blockbuster. Please?   Please! I'll be your best friend and invite you to all my birthday parties.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Chasing Coincidences

I'm somewhat embarrassed to be sharing all my Dina-is-weird stories with you guys.

I worry that people reading the blog will assume I'm some kind of New Age delusional freak. They'd probably be very right.

Oh well!   I am what I am.

After I posted the Manly story, I figured. Okay, unless something happens in the future, I'm done with the weird stuff. I have spilled it all. Nothing else weird happened.

But then someone said something in comments that made me remember more weird things.

I really thought the Julian McMahon dreams were trying to tell me something. I had no idea what.

In January 2005, I dreamed this:

I am in a parking lot looking for my car. I'm having a hard time. I start thinking to myself that I'd really love to see Julian McMahon, but that's not going to happen.

But when I finally find my car, he is standing there waiting for me. He's flirtatious, a bit sarcastic...he acts like he wants something. And he knows I'll give it to him. The first thing he wants is a ride home. And then he says something about me cooking dinner for him. I say how about you cook dinner for me. He says no, not this time. I have hash browns from some fast food restaurant and am planning to share. But next thing I know I've eaten all of it except a half of one piece.

If any of you understand the symbolism behind that, please tell me!

Anyway, a few days later I had plans with Jack to go to this certain shopping center. I had this butterflies in my stomach kind of feeling, but very positive. Excited and eager. For a shopping center. It was a bit odd because I'm not the type of girl who loves to shop.

When we got to the shopping center, I realized what was going on in my little head. This was the shopping center I had dreamed about. No, not a huge deal. It's not like I'd never seen the shopping center and then dreamed about it. I had been there before. I guess the dream just gave the idea of the rather mundane shopping center a little zing.

Who knows....

We went to Barnes and Noble. Jack and I looked around in the children's section. There was a psychology shelf right near there, so I took a peak. I found a book called Conscious Dreaming written by a guy named Robert Moss.

I thought it was weird that the book was there because this book is much more metaphysical/spiritual than psychological.  I'm guessing it was in the wrong place.  But that book-in-the-wrong-place led me to a whole obsession with spirituality and metaphysics.

I took it as a message from the universe. I was meant to find the book and my bizarre dream of being greedy with the hash browns was somehow connected.   How?  Why?   I have no idea.

I began to believe that the whole purpose of the too-frequent Julian McMahon dreams was to get me interested in dreams, spirituality, metaphysics, the occult.....whatever you want to call it.

I then read the Robert Moss book and found out that coincidentally he came from the same country as McMahon.

By reading Moss's book and other material, I learned about all kinds of crazy things: higher selves, astral travel, out of body experiences, etc.   It sounded very interesting and I wanted to know more.  I started to do online research. I found a website with writings by a guy named Robert Bruce. Guess where he lives?

You got it!

I joined a community on Livejournal called Astralsociety. Guess where it is based?

You got it!

I don't want to exaggerate the situation. I did read books that did NOT have a connection to Australia. I read stuff by Robert Monroe, Jane Roberts, and Brian Weiss. As far as I can remember, they had no Australian connections.

I did read stuff by the somewhat controversial American Mediums—Alison Dubois and John Edwards. I personally loved both their books, and I personally believe they're genuine. Their books gave me a lot of spiritual guidance and hope.

In both Dubois book and Edwards book, they talk about visiting Australia and loving it.

Australia. Australia. Australia.

In my spiritual quest, I was bombarded by Australia.

Have you ever read a book or a passage from a book that came at the perfect time? It's as if you felt the author was talking to you directly--as delusional as that sounds?

Well, I had been having a rough time with Jack on a holiday to Disney World. I was in extreme emotional despair. I felt hopeless and hated myself. I felt incredibly alone.

I read the last chapter of the Dubois book and it felt like someone was reading my mind. The book was like an angel when I needed it most. (yes, I know how corny that sounds).

In part of the last chapter, she talks about Sydney Harbor and how beautiful it is. She says something like It seems to come straight out of a child's dream. That phrase gave me total goosebumps. Yeah, I know she didn't mean it literally. But I had started to connect my past special childhood dream with Sydney Harbor. I don't know. It was weird.

Oh and another weird Sydney Harbor story:

In June 2006, I went to NYC by myself. My first holiday without Jack.

At the airport, when I stood in line to get a taxi, I was told to go to cab number 13. Usually, I don't remember the taxi numbers, but that one stood out.

I got to the hotel and was given a room on the 13th floor. And yeah that stood out to me--seeing that most hotels don't even have a 13th floor.

A few days later, I was walking in the West Village. When I got to West 13th street, I suddenly wondered if anything weird would happen here. Would the pattern of 13 continue?

It did.  A homeless man verbally attacked me. And I turned the corner to find a sign that mentioned words that have very personal spiritual significance for me.

I was all into signs-from-the-universe at this point and figured 13 had some kind of meaning for me.

Several days later, I was reading this book called Sista Chicks Down Under. It takes place in New Zealand. I suddenly thought of the 13 thing of NYC, and thought maybe I should pay attention to the thirteenth chapter of each book I read.

Maybe it would give me a message.

I turned to the 13th chapter and it was in this chapter that the "sista chicks" fly to Australia and visit Sydney Harbor.

I guess it would have been a bigger deal if the book wasn't even related to Oceania and suddenly Australia was mentioned in chapter thirteen.

But I like to believe my coincidences still have some kind of significance.

Maybe it's a message, but maybe it's a very simple message.

Maybe the powers-that-be were just trying to tell me that I would totally love Sydney Harbor and I should go there on a holiday one day.

They were right. I did end up loving Sydney Harbor. On our second day in Australia, I walked alone up to the Circular Quay area and saw the Opera House for the first time. I usually don't give a crap about famous monuments or architecture, but seeing the Opera House was one of the most thrilling moments of my life.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Scary Place

There is one place in Australia that I don't like.


Simple reason.

It's evil.

It looks lovely from far away.

Who couldn't love an amusement park?

But when you get close up, you realize you have to walk through an evil looking clown to get to the rides.

What the hell is THAT all about?

For those who are lost, I'm talking about Luna Park in Sydney.

That place is just plain wicked.

There's something sinister there.

The first time we went....not so bad.

We felt relatively safe and secure--creeped out in a fun way. So we came back.

This time Jack got injured on the big slide. A slight little ouch. We thought it was a fluke and he got bravely back on the horse. The second injury was enough to bring tears from Jack and a decision from both of us. No more slide.

We then watched as other children were injured. Something was happening towards the end of the slide....the children were catching on something. Maybe a sticky spot? The burlap rugs had too many holes? Instead of having enough momentum to go down the big humps of the slide, they stopped and slid in a weird fashion.

One young teenager came out of the experience limping and crying.

I tried talking to the staff. None of them would listen to me.

We left the funhouse and then went on one last ride on the Ferris Wheel. I had never liked Ferris Wheels before. You know... the whole heights thing. But I figured I had climbed the Harbor Bridge. I'm brave now! Then suddenly I was sitting there high up in the air and I thought, if the slide has a malfunction why not the Ferris Wheel?

Time to fake a smile for Jack's sake while praying fervently.

We survived.

Okay, the other thing about Luna Park.... If the clown in the entrance isn't frightening enough, there's these carnival games with really creepy clowns. You throw balls into their mouth.

Tonight, we watched Mcleod's Daughters and they had the same clowns.

I turned to Tim and said. It must be an Australia thing.

What is it with the clowns, people???


My only guess is that Australians have never seen the movie Poltergeist. Okay? Go watch that movie and you will see why clowns are sinister evil creatures. They are not to be trusted. Nor should we ever be asked to walk inside their mouth!

As an American with a strong interest in Australia, I now have two goals.

1. Find an Australian to buy back Vegemite so it's not owned by an evil American Corporation

2. Remove all clowns from Australian amusement parks.

Come on! Come up with something better. Something that says Australia. How about a giant Koala mouth? Or a Wombat? A Duck Billed Platypus might be cute.

No more clowns!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

No Pollution Here. Move Along!

I finally finished reading a book about Australia written by Jean-Michel Cousteau.

It's an excellent book, by the way--if any of you can manage to get your hands on it. It's well written, informative, and has beautiful photographs. An absolute treasure.

There's a story in the book about the authors and his team visiting Burnie, Tasmania.

Through out the book, they investigate various environmental concerns. They've been warned about a pulp mill in Burnie which pumps smoke out of it's smokestacks. Rumors have it that the pollution goes into the ocean. When the residents of Burnie swim in the nearby beach, they end up with rashes.

When Cousteau and his gang get to the factory, there is no ugly smoke anywhere. It's clean.

Those damn environmentalist hippies had been lying, right?

Nope. Some reliable sources told the gang that the mill had been shut down because the mill villains knew some writers, scientists, and photographers were going to be snooping.

Cousteau and the others returned unannounced a few days later and got to see the smoke for themselves.

Not only were the town's people grievances heard and believed, they were recorded inside a book that an American girl ended up reading.

Lately, because of a website I found, I'm all into this thing called invalidation.
Invalidation is basically telling someone their feelings are wrong.

We ALL do it to some extent.


We don't like negative feelings.

Essentially, we want everyone to be happy. And we want everyone to be happy all of the time.

I think lying is one major form of invalidation. Lying and denial. Just pretend something didn't happen. AKA covering your own ass.

If Cousteau never returned unannounced to uncover the dirty trick, the Burnie people not only would have to deal with ocean water that caused rashes, but also with people thinking they were a bunch of liars. What would the book have said then? We went to Burnie to investigate these claims of pollution only to find the air is clean. What in their damaged psych makes these townspeople lie? We may never know.I once read a blog of a young woman who was raped. After a few weeks, she started questioning herself. Maybe it wasn't really rape. Maybe I was wrong to call it rape.

What probably happened is people invalidated her experience. They might have said things like well, did you say no loud enough? Did you lead him on? Did you try to fight him off? Are you sure you didn't want it and then change your mind?

I think inappropriate questions are another form of invalidation.

An example besides the rape would be the way some of us would respond if we heard, "My best friend died."

We might ask. "How long did you know him?"

Yeah, it MIGHT be just curiosity, but for someone grieving it may feel like invalidation. It might give the grieving person the sense that if they didn't know their friend long enough, they don't need to be as sad.

Invalidation comes in all different forms. Some of it is more harmful than others. And some people are more easily harmed by it. Some of us are extremely sensitive to it.

A lot of us use invalidation on a regular basis and see nothing wrong with it. We think we're helping someone instead of hurting someone.

It also might depend on the situation.
My grandmother once had knee surgery and my little sister wrote her a card saying Don't Worry. Be Happy.
My grandma loved it and said it cheered her up.

Don't worry. Be Happy
is very invalidating. It's telling someone they shouldn't be feeling what they are feeling. They should be feeling a more socially acceptable emotion.
In some cases, it can be reassuring though. I think it probably depends on who is saying it. If I have a tumor and the radiologist says Don't worry. Be happy! I take that as pretty optimistic news.
If I already HAVE cancer and I'm dying, a friend saying Don't worry. Be happy is going to make me want to scream.

We live in a complex world with complex problems and we have complex emotions. I think we would all feel better if we faced these emotions instead of being afraid of them.
If someone says I wish I was dead, I personally think the appropriate thing to say is Sorry your life sucks right now. I hope you feel better. Do you want to talk about it?Instead what we mostly say is You don't really wish that! Look at how great your life is. Think about everyone that loves you. You'd destroy people's lives if you killed yourself. How could you even think of something that selfish? Come on! It's not that bad.

Yeah, that's going to make someone feel better!

The problem with invalidation is that it often doesn't remove the negative feelings. It just adds MORE negative feelings. The person now not only feels sad, but wrong and guilty for having their emotions.
The more I learn and think about invalidation, the more I hate it. I want to stop using it on other people and I want to avoid people who use it on me.

In my opinion, invalidation is like pollution. Pollution is often invisible and we don't know we're being effected by it. Slowly, it creeps into our lives and slowly it makes us sick. We often don't even know it was the pollution that made us sick. Some people are more effected by it than others. Those with power often deny the harm that it causes or say we're making a big deal out of nothing.
I think it is a big deal and I think it can cause a tremendous amount of harm.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Man in the Picture

Before we went to Australia, I had an hallucination.

Now don't go worrying about my mental health. Oh wait. Wrong. You probably SHOULD worry about my mental health. But not because of the hallucination.

I think the hallucination was a healthy and normal just-coming-out-of-a-dream kind of thing. The scientific term is hypnagogia--in case any of you are interested.

I have a lot of photos saved on my computer, and I use them all in a slideshow for my screensaver.

Anyway, so I woke up from my nap on the rocking chair and saw a photo of the Sydney Opera House followed by a photo of the Harbor.

And in both photos, I see an image of a giant shadow man.

It startled me, freaked me out, and then was gone before I could think of calling Mulder and Scully. Help! I have a possessed screensaver.

Of course, I believe everything in life has some kind of deep inner meaning. I thought it was a message about our upcoming trip to Australia.

Man? A man? We will meet a man? Australia is going to be attacked by a giant shadow?

I now think it was all about Manly.

The ghosts in my computer were telling us to go to Manly.

The first time I went to Manly was for the shark dive. It was our 9th day in Australia. I think I had Manly scheduled for that day only. The plan was that I'd do the shark dive; then Tim and Jack would meet me later in the morning. We'd have fun, leave in the early evening, and probably never go back again.

I got to the shark dive too early and spent the some time alone walking. I kept thinking This is the most beautiful place I've ever seen.

Jack and Tim ended up loving it too.

We loved it so much we kept coming back. We scratched other places off the agenda. Oh yeah. Seen one Sydney neighborhood, you've seen them all. Come on. Let's go back to Manly.

It was almost like an addiction.

Once we took the thirty minute ferry ride all the way over there just for ice-cream. We loved this place called Royal Copenhagen. You get your ice-cream and then on the counter they have all these free toppings to put on your ice-cream. We thought it was the coolest thing.

On days that were too chilly for Ice-cream, we'd have a treat at Max Brenners. Sometimes we ended up getting treats at both places. Oops. Pretend you didn't just read that. Okay? Hey? Yeah. Well, we were on holiday. Give us a break.

We loved the beach. We had gone mostly on the weekdays and so it wasn't that crowded.

There were some surfing school kids. So awesome. It would be too cool to email my family back in America. Okay. Well I must go. I got to walk with Jack to his surfing lesson (Yes. Because in my fantasies we're rich enough to afford a house walking distance from the beach)

The ocean was a bit crazy--not like anything we've ever experienced. I've been to beaches before and I've never experienced anything like the sea in Australia.

The water is wild and wants to either push you down flat on your face, or kidnap you and drag you into the middle of the ocean.

Manly waves are persuasive and a bit pushy. They let you know who is boss, but are still somewhat gentle. Bondi waves are downright abusive. I think they wanted to kill us because we didn't have nice tans and perfect bikini bodies.

Still.....we had fun playing in the water and building sandcastles. These adorable little blond twins attached themselves to Jack and me. We played with them in the water and felt loved.

Then there was the materialistic pleasures of Manly. Souvenirs. Now I have been trying to buy less stuff, and I've done a good job of it. But I did want to buy some Australia junk--since I'm so in love and obsessed.

Manly souvenirs are much cheaper than those in Sydney so we used some of our time there to buy t-shirts and other stuff.

I also found a lovely used bookstore; bought a nice handful of books and had a nice chat with the shopkeeper and a customer.

Jack's favorite thing at Manly, besides the treats and sandcastles, was this little escalator in the mall. I think he thought it was made especially for children. Almost every time we walked past it, he'd insist on going up and down. He didn't have to fight hard for the opportunity. I actually loved watching him go up and down. It was cute.

When we weren't busy doing the beach thing, shopping, or stuffing our faces....we'd take some walks. I'm trying to figure out the name of the park we walked in, but can't figure it out because my brain is fried from all the hallucinations.

Anyway, it's located near the wharf and Oceanworld. ????

Tim, Jack, and I would walk and talk. Jack would complain about being tired and hungry. I would talk about how we should move to Australia. Twice I pointed to houses and said, We should move there. Both of those times we got a closer look and realized the houses were for sale.

See, something in the universe was telling me we need to move to Manly.

Last, but definitely not least.

The ferry ride. We loved it. I think when we said Let's go all the way to Manly for ice-cream, it wasn't just about needing a sugar high. I think in some ways we wanted an excuse to go on the ferry.

It is a beautiful ride. I'm not good at describing scenery, so you'll just have to go and see for yourself.

It was just lovely ....and a little adventurous when you get to the rocky/wavy part of the ride.

Jack and I would sit there reading his book about dangerous animals. Tim would stand outside taking photos of the Opera House.

Maybe one day my wish will come true and we'll move there. In the meantime, we're planning on spending a week in Manly on our next Australia holiday.

Jack fretted about this preventing us from taking the ferry there. I reassured him that we'd take the ferry plenty of times. I'm sure we'll come up with some good excuse about why we need to ride into Sydney. And once we're staying in Sydney, we'll probably make excuses to go back to Manly.

If I can't figure out what to do, I'll wait for a message from my screensaver photos.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Whose Side is The Robot On?

Another episode of Jack's McLeod's Daughters:

It started with Tess and Claire putting a stink bomb in Peter Johnson's car. The plan was that Peter would assume the stink came from Claire herself and Peter would lose interest in Claire.

Claire would be free from Peter's obsessive and manipulative love!

Meanwhile, Liz Ryan came over to Tess to apologize for her previous outburst regarding Tess spilling the big family secret.

For some people, an apology has quite the emotional tole. Poor Liz fell to the ground in what looked to be a heart attack. But no! It was some kind of metaphysical occurrence. With Tess as a witness, Liz reincarnated and morphed into a one-year-old baby. She asked for a name, and then crawled away.

Back to Peter Johnson and his sinister ways. He schemed and came up with the ultimate plan. What do you do if the one you love isn't perfect? You make a robot version of them!

He made Rob0t-Claire; then programmed her to ride horses and say I love you.

It worked for awhile, but then the robot rebelled and killed Peter Johnson by poking him in the eye.

The girls of Drovers Run now have a new ally.

Monday, August 11, 2008

That Feeling

I once wrote down this dream on Livejournal. It involved flying and gardens--fun and beautiful things. I got a nice amount of comments--complimenting me on my fantastic dream.

But I commented back that the dream actually wasn't all that great. It SOUNDED great. It had all the elements of a fantastic dream. I didn't like it though. It didn't give me that FEELING.

What feeling?

I have no idea how to describe it or explain it.

Maybe it's like getting high on really good drugs. Although I'm never gotten high on any drugs, so I don't know if that analogy actually works or not.

I have a few dreams a year with a little twinge of the feeling. But I've had only about 4-5 dreams in my life with a major dose of the feeling.

One dream involved Anthony Hopkins throwing me into a pool. And I know that doesn't sound exciting or wonderful. But there was something about that dream. It had the feeling.

The dream with the most of the feeling is one I barely remember. I have a vague sense of eating breakfast. And a sense of a body of water--and a swimming race.

I don't remember when I even had the dream. All I really know is it totally had the feeling.

Then we watched Finding Nemo and the movie showed Sydney Harbor. It reminded me so much of my dream--where they had the swimming races.

And that was the other thing....besides being haunted by Julian McMahon, that made me obsessed with Australia.

I did Google research to find out if there were any swimming races in the harbor. There is one, but I don't know how old it is. Well, yeah because I thought maybe in a past life I swam in the race and that's why I'm now obsessed with Australia.

Honestly though. I don't go much for the past life theory too much. If I had been in Australia in a past life, who cares? Why would I need to go back there in this life?

I THINK what happened is I was supposed to be Australian in this life and someone messed up the paperwork.

Anyway, the most awesome thing is I just looked at the harbor race dates and it looks like it happens in the first week of March. We'll be in Sydney! I hope they don't change the dates because I would love to watch it.

Maybe it will make me feel like I'm in my dream.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Surviving Australia

Okay, I have to be honest here. It wasn't just the long plane ride that deterred me from going to Australia. It was all the danger.

At one point, during my not-yet-totally-obsessed-with-Australia stage, I picked up a children's book at the bargain section of a bookstore. It was about dangerous animals—maybe specifically Australian dangerous animals. I don't remember. But the idea I got from the book is that Australia is likely to kill you.

At that point, I was really into safety and.....well, not dying.

By the time, we made the decision to go to Australia, I had less fears of dying and more courage.

I did buy a book called Surviving Australia: A Practical Guide To Staying Alive And I swear it wasn't because I was still paranoid. I was just eager to grab ANY book related to Australia.

The book actually made me relax. I realized the places we were headed to did not have much danger. We'd probably be safe in Sydney and likely nothing horrible would happen to us in Port Stephens.

We weren't going to Northern Queensland where crocodiles might have us for lunch. We weren't taking any long outback rides where we might end up with no water and a stalled car. We weren't swimming any place where we might meet up with the dreaded Irukandji jellyfish.

I did later find out that the most dangerous spider in the world is called the SYDNEY Funnel Web spider. But I put my fears to rest when I read that they have an antidote for its venom.

Once we got to Australia, Jack and I became actual fans of the whole dangerous animal thing. We loved going through Sydney Wildlife World and Sydney Aquarium, pointing out all the deadly fauna I bought Jack a Stephen Parrish book called Australia's Deadly and Dangerous Animals.

We learned that although these animals are not the type you want to take to bed and cuddle, they haven't really caused that many deaths.

It ends up I hadn't risked my child's life by taking him to Australia.

Or had I?

One foggy day we took a tour up to the Blue Mountains. I didn't want to do it. It's all Tim's fault. I'm not a mountain girl. I'm a beach girl. But since he had agreed to go to Australia with me, I figured the least I could do was go on this tour.

I actually ended up enjoying it. Tim and our friend Greg fell asleep for a big chunk of the bus ride. Maybe Jack did too? I stayed awake-- glued to every word the tour guide said.

It was a lovely tour. We visited Featherdale Wildlife park and got a bunch of koala cling-on toys. We saw the Three Sisters. We went to a famous candy shop. We visited the eerie vacant location of the 2000 Olympics. (It's not in the Blue Mountains. But the tour stopped there on the way back).

But at some point, we came close to death. No there wasn't a rogue crocodile in the candy store. No. Someone did not stick a live jellyfish in my bowl of soup.

And Laura....No, I'm not referring to that terrifying train ride.

While riding the bus, the fog became worse.

Let me just add here that I am scared of driving on mountains. I remember family vacations with my dad driving and me very sure that we were going to fly off the mountain and die.

But I TRUST professional bus drivers. I figure they know what they're doing. I put my faith in them.

While I was sitting there comfortable in my faith and love of life, the bus driver said something like "Can any of you see anything? Because I can't see a thing!"

We were on a mountain!

Then with a chuckle he told us that recently he had taken the wrong road and ended up in someone's private roadway or something. Oops! Maybe we'll now take the wrong road and end up tumbling to our deaths.

How fun! Where's Rudolph when you need him?

I didn't freak out. I didn't start crying or screaming. I didn't beg for them to let me off the bus. I sat there totally relaxed. I figured maybe it was my fate to not just visit Australia. Maybe I was supposed to die in Australia.

I just think though if that's supposed to happen, can't I have something more exciting? Stung to death by bull ants? Maybe a Great White Shark kind of thing? Yeah. I like the shark thing. Potentially very good for the environment since there's likely not to be much of a body to bury or cremate.

I really don't mind dying in Australia.

I just prefer it not be by an incompetent bus driver. Although I shouldn't say that. The bus driver was really sweet, funny, and I loved all his stories. And hey....we DID survive. So, I should give him credit for that as well.

Do I look scared?