Friday, February 27, 2009

Amber's Update

Hi Everyone

Sorry I haven't been in contact much. I've been quite busy, and also quite tired. Anyway, just so you know, this is an update of how I'm going.

Polytechnic (aka TAFE) I am finding most of my classes stimulating. I like group work the best. Our group is 'Divine Pantomime' and we work really well together.

We have a really bad teacher for our accounting class which I find frustrating. I can do the work so I won't fail but many others can't. Last lesson about ten people walked out of class in despair.

Socially I am getting on fairly well with the other mature age students. There are a couple of younger ones who talk to us and a few that don't. I have become less worried about this.

Jessie (the cat) Jessie is settling in to her new home. She is very affectionate to me but susses visitors out a lot more than Kaffy did.

Jessie would really like to go outside and hopefully I'll have the chicken wire up in about a week so she can.

Jessie coped well with me being away for the conference.

Mental Health Basically I am coping extremely well in terms of my mental health. Occasionally I get a bit stressed or paranoid but I haven't got depressed or psychotic at all since I've been on my new medication (clozapine).

Please pray that I will continue to be healthy mentally.

Physical Health and Exercise Although I am eating more healthily and exercising more regularly my physical health continues to be a problem.

I have vitamin deficiencies, a fast pulse rate and asthma. I really need to give up smoking.

I am also exhausted at the end of each day and need about 10-12 hours sleep.

Please pray for me in this area.

Spirituality/Religion I am attending church and praying regularly but I want to do my personal Bible study each day. On many days I don't get around to it.

Please pray that I will do my daily Bible Study and that I will enjoy it.

I am enjoying serving the church in the position of secretary and I am gradually getting the hang of it.

Cleanliness I have been able to clean at least once a week which is a vast improvement. Pray that I will continue this and gradually move to 2-3 times a week as I get more energy.

Anyway that's all from me for now.

God Bless


Monday, February 23, 2009

The Body (Church Conference)

Hi Everyone

Last weekend ie the last few days my church had a conference at Orford on the East Coast of Tasmania. The conference title was 'The Body'.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Christian terms 'The Body of Christ' is a symbol of all believers working together to do Christ's work on earth. All Christian's are seen as part of 'The Body' and are told to use their unique gifts to do Christ's work on earth.

Our pastor, Dan Shepheard, did three sermons on the topic. In the first talk he talked about unity, diversity and equality. He read 1 Corinthians 12: 12-31 where it talks about all 'body parts' being indispensible. He emphasised that there are not 'successful' and 'unsuccessful' Christians - all are equal parts of the body.

In his second sermon Dan emphasised that all should use their gifts for the 'common good' and that Christians should celebrate diversity rather than argue and divide over differences.

In the third sermon Dan talked about growing to maturity in Christ. He also made a great point about not disempowering people and doing everything in love. He read from the popular passage in 1 Corinthians 13 about how love is the most necessary of any gifts and if we use our gifts without love we are, at best, achieving nothing and, at worst, sinning.

Dan was supported in his talks by some excellent MCing by Tim Hansard. Tim had obviously worked hard on this role and was equipped with jokes, information and encouragement.

Speaking of encouragement I did an elective on it with Gwyd Jones. He emphasised Ephesians 4:29 which tells us to build each other up with words. The seminar emphasised that people don't open up because they fear rejection. Gwyd emphasised that the gospel trait of putting others before ourselves was necessary for the ministry of encouragement.

We also completed a 'spiritual gifts' survey. I listed my gifts as: reading and writing, evangelism, theatre, administration and analytical thinking. The most popular gifts were reading and cooking.

I had a great time at the conference even though it was tiring. I felt 'part of the Body' even though I am probably a 'weaker part'. Thank you to all who contributed to the conference including those mentioned above and Jake Tuit with the food and the band.

God Bless you all


Friday, February 20, 2009

A Play about Suicide

Hi Everyone

On Wednesday night I went to see a short play that was being workshopped at the Backspace theatre.

It started off as a comedy. There were three male characters. One was called Garry and it was in his house that the scenes took place. He was funny and sarcastic, and didn't let out a lot of personal information.

His two friends were a serial monogomist who perved on women on the TV and a younger University student.

There were many great jokes - the one that stood out was an elaborate toilet joke. It really captured the essence of male friendship ie lots of jokes, not much personal stuff.

Gradually the 'flat' got messier and Gary got more withdrawn - but it was amidst jokes and sarcasm so I, like a lot of the audience, missed the 'signs'.

The play ended with the two friends discussing Gary's suicide.

I thought this was a sensitive and engaging portrayal of male depression/suicide. Statistically more men commit suicide and more women attempt suicide. I think this is because women are more open about their feelings whereas depression in men often goes unnoticed.

The times that I attempted suicide were mostly spur of the moment but once, on my most serious attempt in Alice Springs, it was planned. Suicide does appear selfish to outsiders, and perhaps it is. But, for me, when I attempted suicide I 1) Thought it was the best alternative to my problems and 2) Was feeling so depressed I couldn't think of other people.

I think the play shows that we need to all look out for friends and family and learn to pick up subtle hints that show someone is not 'all right'. We also need to know who to refer them to. In Tasmania it is the Mental Health Helpline.

God Bless you all


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day for Singles

"Suffering borne in union with Christ is His suffering, inserted in the great work of Redemption and bearing fruit in it."

Blessed Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Hi Everyone

So yesterday was Valentine's Day - the day when we singles are reminded of our singleness. Everywhere I went there were couples smooching and advertisements in shop windows.

I read some blog posts on Valentine's Day for singles where they said to spoil yourself for the day. I took their advice and bought myself some shoes and a hairbrush for under $20. That was nice but it still doesn't make up for the fact that I am not 'qualified' to share the day.

Don't get me wrong I am happy for all those people who have happy relationships and marriages, and who have children. I am pleased for my friends and relatives who have such things.

But I think it is hard to be single. My friend Tracey asked me if I was lonely. I don't think lonely is the right word. I have a beautiful cat and lots of friends. I am always busy socialising. But there is a part of me that yearns for a happy relationship.

I also know that my mental illness prevents me from attracting stable guys. Hopefully now that I am stable that will change but it takes a long time to change people's perceptions.

Lastly I know that Jesus was single. He would have, no doubt, yearned for intimacy. He will understand my dilemma. I can trust Him and pray to Him. As the quote says my sufferings link with His in the great work of redemption. The Apostle Paul says something similar in one of his letters. This means, I think, that my present sufferings are all part of God's great redemptive plan.

God Bless you all and take heart all you fellow singles.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Club Funk and the Divine Pantomime

Hi Everyone

Yesterday was my first day of classes at the Polytechnic. We did team work. We were put into teams by drawing out of a hat. After we were in our teams we had to invent a business.

We had to develop a team name, business name, business motto, logo and colour scheme and the type of business. Our team developed all of these whereas the other teams only got about halfway through. Go Club Funk!

Anyway our team name is 'Club Funk' because many of us liked dancing/clubbing and we liked the word 'Funk'. We decided we were a costume and accessories shop for theatre productions. The business is called 'The Divine Pantomime'. The word 'divine' is in rainbow colours and the word 'pantomime' is in black and white. The motto is 'From dreams to reality' and the logo is a black and white pantomime mask with the previous rainbow colours streaming through as lights.

I really enjoyed this exercise and thought our team worked well together. I was able to relate a bit better to the younger members of the group.

However, some of the young girls that were not in my group continue to ignore me during breaks. This is a bit hurtful for me. Please pray that I will remain positive despite this.

God Bless you all


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Induction Day at the Polytechnic

Hi Everyone

As most of you know yesterday was my induction day at the Polytechnic. Today will be my first day of class.

I was nervous and excited. I didn't know what to expect.

At the start of the induction I went to the wrong room. This was frustrating because they didn't have me registered. Thankfully they worked out I was in the wrong place and put me in the right one.

I was a bit intimidated by some of the other students as they were very young and very fashionably dressed. I hope this will wear off as I get to know them. There is only one man in the course - the rest are women.

We went through a lot of information about the course. They were very strict about things like missing classes or lateness and I have to tell them in advance about the one day I will miss by being at the Melbourne comedy festival.

Assessment is good - they give you up to four goes to get each assignment right which is much more generous than Uni. They have some alternative types of assessment such as role plays and teamwork.

We also were shown around the building to different classrooms, the fire exit and the library. I liked the library - it was really comfortable and you can bring in drinks.

After I got home I went to sleep which is a bit of a worry - I was sooo tired.

Please pray that I have the energy for this course and that I get on with my classmates.

God Bless you all


Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Blessed House

Hi Everyone

Yesterday I went to my very first housing blessing.

My friend Edwina (pictured) has just moved in with a Catholic flatmate, Robyn (also pictured). Robyn wanted Father Gerald Quinn (centre of picture) to bless the house and Edwina invited me to watch.

I first encountered Father Gerald Quinn at the Royal Hobart Hospital, where he is one of the hospital chaplains. He is a lovely man - geniune and warm with a smile that lights up the room. The last time I saw him was about two years ago when he conducted the funeral of my good friend Simon Turner.

Father Quinn gave Robyn a crucifix and a medal. Robyn explained to me that the medal was from World War two. A Catholic soldier was shot and the medal saved him.

Father Quinn said lots of prayers - the Lord's prayer, protection from demons/devils and prayers that the home would be filled with love and peace. As he was praying I felt a curious sense of peace descend on me.

He poured some water into a jug and some salt into a cup. He blessed the salt and then the water, then mixed them together. After a few more prayers he sprinkled the water around the house.

I am not sure what my fellow Protestants feel about the blessing of houses but I think it is a nice idea - if not holy water and relics just some prayer from pastors/elders when people move is a good idea I think.

God Bless you all


Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Hi Everyone.

Last night I went to see 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' at the Botanical Gardens. In 2003 I was in the play so it was interesting to see what they did differently.

Here is a brief blurb in case anyone doesn't know the story. The story starts with Hermia. Hermia is in love with Lysander but her father wants her to marry Demetrius. Meanwhile Hermia's friend, Helena, is in love with Demetrius.

Lysander suggests to Hermia that they escape her father and go into the forest. Hermia tells Helena of her plan and Helena and Demetrius also go into the forest.

Meanwhile, in fairyland, the fairy king and queen, Oberon and Titania, are fighting over a mortal boy who Titania wants to keep. Oberon orders his offsider, the mischievious Puck, to get a flower to put on Titania's eye so that she will fall in love with the next person/animal she sees. He also orders Puck to put the flower on Demetrius so he will love Helena.

And, in the next sub-plot, a group of weird tradesmen are practicing for a play for the Duke's wedding. Puck turns their leader, Bottom, into a donkey/ass and the other tradesmen leave in fright. Titania awakes from her sleep, sees Bottom, and drags him into her bedroom.

That's enough plot for now - I don't want to wreck the ending.

Now - for an analysis. The outstanding feature of this play was the guy who played Oberon (man with blue body paint in the picture). He was confident, had stage presence and spoke clearly. Second in line was the wonderful Puck - the actor was cheeky, earthy and funny.

The energy of the play was exceptional. It also had quite a lot of jokes and music. I liked how the show ended - with a rendition of Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' and all the actors dancing like zombies.

I didn't like the fairies costumes. They are pictured - white face masks and black gowns. However, the fairies' acting and cooing was effective.

The opposite went for the mechanicals. They looked wonderful - costuming was great but they were rude rather than funny. The guy who was Bottom did not pull the part off well, which made it hard for the others to be funny.

The lovers were reasonable but not brilliant. The fighting scenes were great but they were not convincingly 'in love'.

Despite all that it was a great night out - the costumes, music and energy made up for what was lacking in the acting and characterisation.

Hope you will enjoy the show!

God Bless


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Back to Work

Hi Everyone

Today I had the awesome opportunity of re-starting work in the Crossroads Church office. I previously worked as one of the secretaries for a couple of years, but that came to an end following my long hospitalisation last year.

But now - it's time for a fresh start. There was a lot to do. I went stationery shopping (I actually find this fun - go figure!) and got the usher guidelines laminated from the Xerox shop. I watched them laminate. They are so precise with the laminator and the guillotine. I was envious - I see crookedly and always stuff up those sort of jobs.

I sent out the 'Weekly Announce Email' - I love doing this, not sure why but I do. There were three points - Evangelism, Scripture under Scrutiny (SUS) which is a course for people wanting to find out about Christianity and the upcoming conference on 'The Body'.

I also whipped up a few personal/business emails and updated some computer files. I didn't finish everything but I put what I didn't finish into the 'Projects' and 'To Do' computer documents. In the office there is a special way to organise information. 'Projects' is for tasks with more than one action whereas 'To Do' is for straight forward, one action tasks.

Mikey supervised me most of the day which was good. He helped clarify some of the stuff I didn't understand.

I think today proved that I am suitable for this work and, therefore, am doing the right course at the Polytechnic (formerly TAFE). Here's to a fabulous career in administration!

God Bless you all


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

An Aspiring Day

Hi Everyone

Today I am going to write a little bit about my rehabilition provider Aspire. I joined Aspire about a year or so ago as I wanted some support with daily living, studying and working. I had previously been with the Commonwealth Rehabilition Service (CRS) but found that they pushed me too hard and set off my stress levels. I was without a rehab provider for a while but one day at the church office I looked up Aspire on the internet and, in a likely coincidence, they were having an information session that afternoon.

At the information session I met Travis, who is now my support worker. We discussed writing and I told him one of my long term goals was to write a novel and do some post-graduate study in creative writing. As most of you know I do have a degree majoring in English but that was mainly critical analysis of other people's work (ie essays) not my own imaginative work.

It was not long after I had started work with Travis that I was hospitalised for four months. Travis came in to see me regularly during my hospitalisation, even though he was scared of all the security. I appreciated his honesty in admitting he was scared!

Once I was well Travis introduced me to NanoWrimo, an American competition to write a novel in a month. He said he'd do it too. I didn't have a computer at the time and I nearly wore their computer out getting that novel done! But I did it! Aspire staff are now reading the novel - I hope you all like it.

This year Travis came with me to an appointment with Jan (the disability officer at the Polytechnic - formerly TAFE) and we discussed ways Jan and Travis could support me during my studies this year.

Anyway the reason I am featuring Aspire today (Ok it sometimes takes me a long time to get to the point!) is that a group of we 'mental health consumers' had to review their progress. We were mainly positive and a fair few of us commented on the support and encouragement and enhanced self esteem that has come from being involved with Aspire - not to mention friendships with other participants.

After the review we had yummy sandwiches and cakes and then we had the 'Book Club' - I reviewed Seven Ways to Change the World by Jim Wallis (see previous post for the sort of things I said).

We then read a short story by the much loved Australian author Tim Winton. The story was called 'The Defender'. I thought the story was fantastic - it used some of the techniques used in 'Whodunits' to unveil the character of Vic, and his past and his relationships. It has an ending with a twist (but I'll let you read it).

All in all I had a great day.

If you want to find out more about Aspire their website is:

God Bless you all


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Movie Review - Closing the Ring

Hi Everyone

Today I went to see a free movie at the Casino called "Closing the Ring".

In its blurb it says: "In 1941 Branagan, Michigan, the beautiful Ethel Anne (Mischa Barton) captures the hearts of three young airmen going to war; Teddy, Jack and Chuck. It's Teddy she chooses, and they marry in secret on the eve of his departure. Teddy makes Chuck promise that if he doesn't come back, Chuck will take care of Ethel."

The movie starts in 1991 where Chuck and Ethel's daughter is giving the eulogy at her father's funeral. Many of the ex servicemen are there, including Jack.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, a man has been digging up the remains of a forty year old air smash that killed Teddy. The young man helping him finds the wedding ring of Ethel and Teddy.

As the story progresses it is clear that the now older Ethel (played by Shirley McLaine) is mourning Teddy rather than Chuck. This angers her daughter who moves out of home.

Meanshile the young Irish boy contacts Ethel and they arrange to meet.

I won't tell you the rest because it will spoil it - but, it does have a happy ending.

The story was a bit confusing being in two locations with lots of flashbacks but I sort of 'got it' by the end. The stand out feature for me was the innocence and enthusiasm of the young Irish boy.

I wouldn't mind seeing it again just so I can 'get it' completely - any takers?

God Bless you all