Why the World is not in Union

“There’s a dream, I feel
So rare, so real
The world in union
The world as one”

Recently I listened to the track “World in Union” from the Rugby world cup.  It broke my heart.  It’s such a beautiful song; musically very powerful and lyrically impacting, but it made me burst into tears.  And I mean real life, man sized tears.

I often can get emotional listening to music – it is after all the biggest trigger for emotion.  This is why music gets used in cinema, in television and in theatre. The use of music guides how we connect emotionally to what is taking place in front of our eyes, bringing comfort and creating tension with the various swells and pulses of the melody.  The right chord progression mixed with powerful words can reduce me to tears in a heartbeat with just the sheer brilliance of it.

But I didn’t cry in awe of this song, nor did I cry because of its powerful message. 

This song tore me to shreds because everything it spoke of, every positive word and encouraging phrase is so far removed from how the world actually is.  I sat there and asked the question “is this what we’re heading towards?” and it crushed me when I realised the answer was no. 

I recently watched the movie “Maleficent”. Right at the start of the movie, the narrator says something about the two kingdoms being united by either a great hero, or a great villain. There’s an imbalance in the world, I feel, because the people who think they are the heroes can’t unite people behind them based on their own perception of who they are, so they create great villains and rally others to support their cause.  Nothing unites people faster than a common enemy!

So what is it that is missing from the human condition that stops us being united?  It seems so easy.  I think predominantly most people want this.  Anger and hatred are such cumbersome feelings to carry around, so why aren’t we making it easier on ourselves, what is holding us back from such an amazing step forward?

Having spent the last twenty four hours really dwelling on it, I’ve come to one conclusion:

What is missing is tolerance.

This is difficult for me to understand because my parents raised my brother and I to never judge anyone, to respect everyone’s decisions and choices and to realise that ultimately we are all the same underneath.  My dad told me once that he knew he had taught us well when we had been watching a news report that was highlighting racism. I was quite young, so there’s a good chance it was related to apartheid in South Africa.  Dad said my brother and I had both watched whatever the story was and then had asked him to explain why it was happening.  When dad told us that one group of people was being mistreated because of the colour of their skin, my brother and I were shocked and both said “but they’re just the same as everyone else, they’re all people”.

But intolerance isn’t confined to the colour of skin sadly.  Disunity in the world rears its head in so many different forms lately that something seems to have been forgotten.

 We’re all people.

Tolerance is essential.  I’m not going to stand by my childish naivety and say we’re all the same, because we’re not.  We are, inherently, different.  Not everyone is born into the world with the same opportunities, no matter how many people tell you that we are.  Kate, Duchess of Cornwall and my sister-in-law are both currently expecting babies and I can guarantee that those children will have vastly different opportunities and experiences in life.  Every child is born into different circumstances, with different cultural backgrounds, different religious backgrounds and different social backgrounds. But every child can be taught the value of humanity.  Every child can be taught acceptance, justice, respect, compassion and most importantly, love.  Once we can, the world over, teach our children that, despite our differences, humanity is equal, we can begin to not only accept the differences, but celebrate them.

It takes more though than teaching our children these values.  They have to be modelled by those in leadership and this is where, currently, the system has broken down.  Should I ever have children, I can teach them tolerance, but as long as outdated and archaic laws and practices are in place, the world will never change and perhaps my children will sit as heartbroken as I am by a message in a song someday that seems so far out of reach.

2013 - A reflection

So, like most people I was considering updating my facebook status to reflect the year gone by and hint at some sort of excitement about the approaching year.  But I don't think I can possibly sum it all up in one short sentence.

So, here we are. 

This might be more of a cathartic experience for me to write, than an interesting story for anyone to read, but I'm okay with that.  It might also be a departure from the attempts I make at humour considering what this year has been like, but we'll see what we can do about that.

January was a quiet month. My Dad went over to England to spend some time with his dad who wasn't well. He had cancer and was getting into the final stages, so dad went over to say his farewells.  

In the meantime, a dance teacher friend of mine rang up asking if I was interested in teaching some classes in Lara.  At first I was reluctant because I was quite happily retired from all that.  However, the classes were going to be just down the road from where I lived and I would know most of the kids from Lara Lake, so I considered it.  I had concerns that there would be an end of year concert that would clash with Lara Carols, but was assured that the concerts were early in December and relatively low stress, so I ultimately said yes.

The same night my dad got back from England in early Feb, I went up to Queensland with my friend Matt and some other friends.  Having only been up a few months prior, I knew what to expect and had a fair idea of what we'd be doing.  Got to hit up many a theme park and learn a little bit more about people's character!  It turns out my friend Hannah is solar powered as she is fairly chilled during the day, but as soon as it gets dark she comes alive and is on a constant sugar high.  I really enjoyed getting to know Hannah a bit better on that trip.  I did manage to acquire some really severe sunburn on day 2 of the trip that lasted a horribly long time after!  Lesson learned.

Although the holiday was fun, it was on my mind all the time that my Grandad could slip away at any moment, so I made a deal with my family that I didn't want to know about it whilst I was on holiday as there would be nothing I could do anyway, and so I didn't take my phone.  As it turned out, it was only a few days after we got back that he passed away with the family in the room with him.

This was a particularly sad time as I felt very far away and disconnected.  As most of our family live in England, I hadn't seen my grandad since 2009, and still in some way I won't really notice his absence unless I go back there.  That said, my Grandad was a very special man.  His kindness and generosity have shaped a lot of who I am and how I approach things. He was always working to help people or causes and was very much engaged in his community.  I don't think I'll ever be half the man he was when it comes to those things, and I may not ever achieve the things he did, but it's still an amazing aspiration to have - to be like him.  Family was of course his number one priority which is evident by how close we all are despite the distance we all are seperated by.  The McCabe family is very tight knit and loving.

The dance classes started, but I realised quickly how out of practice and outdated I had become in a 6 year absence.  But I still got to be my dorky self in teaching and so hopefully that translated into what I was teaching.

In April our family was magnificently blessed by the arrival of my nephew Caeden Patrick McCabe, Patrick being my grandad's name.  I think the intention had always been to have him named after grandad, so it was a shame that he didn't live quite long enough to know about it.  

My niece, Jaycie, and Caeden are just the best things to happen in my life.  I savour every single minute I have with them and love them beyond anything.  They just bring so much joy to our family and I cannot get enough of them.  Jaycie turned 2 this year and she is all go go go!  She loves Hi-5, which is good since I know a lot of the songs, so we get to sing a bit together.  Caeden is keenly observant I think. He sits and takes everything in and examines everything up close.  It's too early to really say, but I sense a bit of a kindred spirit in Caeden.  I think he might be a bit like me personality wise - happy to sit back and watch things happen.  Jaycie, is not quite like that.  She assesses a situation and once she's comfortable, she becomes the star of the show!  She amazed me with her intelligence, being barely older than 18 months, but quite capable of operating an iphone and being able to search out pictures of herself!  

I spend many quiet moments wondering what Jaycie and Caeden will become.  Seeing all that potential ahead of them has given me such a fresh perspective on so many things.

At around the same time Caeden was born I was offered a job, just one day a week at the High School doing some Chaplaincy in addition to my 2 days at Lara Lake.  This was a really exciting time and something I have enjoyed doing ever since.  The role expanded a little later as I headed up the Hands on Learning program at the school which I will continue into next year.  So having gone from only working 2 days per week at the start of the year, I finished up working full time in the schools, teaching dance and on top of that teaching some singing and piano from home.  

The interesting part of all that was that years ago I had prayed to know what hardship was like so that I would not make bad choices in tough times.  I then forgot that I had done that.  So at the end of 2012, I prayed that I wouldn't have to endure that anymore and asked God to provide me with a steady income instead.  I never once applied for any of the positions I was offered in 2013, they just came to me and then expanded at just the right moments (the best example being the high school increasing me from 1 to 3 days right as I was about to move into my own place).  It affirmed my faith in God and in the power of prayer. I also think that He rewarded me in some way for my faithfulness because there were many times I had considered leaving Lara Lake and seeking full time employment, but something kept telling me that it was the wrong thing to do. So I stayed and went through the lean times.

As it turned out, staying at Lara Lake became a huge necessity, not for me, but for the support I could provide to families who were in need or were going to be in need.  This year I walked a journey with two young families who both lost a parent to cancer.  I think it was the first time I really understood what my role as Chaplain was because it was a really tough time for all those involved and even pretty harrowing for me, but I knew that God had put me where He needed me to be at that time.  To be able to work with kids as they prepare for the dreadful day when they lose a parent, to support them in their grief and do the best I can to be a listening ear, and to be an understanding friend brings with it a sense of gratification.  I know that sounds possibly insensitive. Of course I would prefer that these kids would never EVER have to experience such hardship and sadness at their age, but I also find purpose in being able to help people when they need it and place a high importance on being there for them, so that's where the sense of gratification comes in.  I felt like I was up to the job.

So whilst my job was challenging, but the work was increasing, my brother and dad both lost their positions when they axe fell at Target in June.  It was unexpected and particularly difficult given that Caeden was only a couple of months old and my parents new home had begun construction.  Luckily, they both got jobs fairly quickly and I don't think my brother has ever been happier in his work, so that was a bit of a bonus.

In 2013 we said goodbye to our beloved family dog Sally.  She was old and unwell and the gutwrenching decision to put her out of her pain had to be made.  I went with mum and dad and held her in those final moments.  It was very sad and I still miss her.  Eventually, when my schedule becomes less hectic and I can devote more time to being at home, I will get a dog of my own as the love and loyalty that came from Sally was something truly special.

Towards the end of the year everyone started getting married and I watched 3 very good friends walk down the aisle, including my best friend Michael.  It certainly raised feelings in me that I had long laid to rest - to get married and start a family of my own.  But to see three amazing young couples begin their journey's together definitely brought a great sense of happiness for me.

Whilst that longing for a family of my own raised it's head, it was only fleeting.  I have resigned myself now to the fact that it's not going to happen, but I'm not too upset about it.  If I've learned anything this year it's that I place such a high value on being the support person that people can rely on, then having to direct my attention to something else would render me ineffective and so I have to sacrifice what I want in some ways, in order to be sure that I can go on doing what I'm doing.  Cue the martyrdom right there!  But that's not it at all.  As I've already stated, I get an immense gratification in doing what I do, and I completely understand the importance of it, so the sadness that might come from knowing that I can't have what I want is quickly replaced with the satisfaction of knowing I'm fulfilling a purpose.

That said, my faith this year has taken a bit of a battering.  I've never been one to accept things just because I'm told them, and have always had an inquiring mind.  Never has this been so prevalent than this year when I sit down and think about how the church represents, or misrepresents God.  I've made no secret of the fact that I believe the modern church is not the greatest representation of the character of God as we have 2000 years of "filter" through which to view Him, and much of that history is blood spattered and largely about the pursuit of man's desires - power, posession, sex, territory and wealth rather than the pursuit of getting to know God's desires.  So whilst my faith in God is as strong as ever, my faith in the church (and by this I mean the worldwide church) has become a little less stable.  

After months of questioning how our morality is determined and wondering who has imposed all this legalistic conditioning of Christianity, I boiled it down to a simple concept.  Jesus walked the earth, comforting people, healing people, never judging people and loving people.  That's all I need to do, that's all I need to be.  Sadly a lot of church people haven't grasped this concept and I have become increasingly frustrated at self-serving churches where they try and draw a community to them, rather than heading into the community to make themselves available. Don't get me wrong, I don't think the church is a bad thing....the basic ideas of Christianity are ingrained in there somewhere and their intentions are good, but there is so much politics and so much red tape that now in order to help someone in our community, you have to go through a committee.  So whilst I still attend church every week, I walk in very conflicted. On the one hand I feel traitorous and disobedient to the church because of how I feel. On the other I feel God looks at the church and what it has become and is disappointed, and so I feel that it doesn't matter.

Is there an answer to this?  I don't think so, at least not yet. So for now I will persevere and see where it takes me and continue to seek God's desire for this world and not the church's.

To wrap up, December arrived bringing with it all the usual chaos.  It turns out dance concerts are quite stressful (and I say that with guilt knowing that what I had to do for it was a tiny fraction of what others had to do). Combine that with trying to ensure Lara Carols happened, make sure Youth happened, make sure my high school program happened and get through the end of the year stuff at the primary school, well I'm sad to say that balls got dropped.  Luckily nothing major or terrible, but I would have liked my focus to not be so split.  I knew as the pressure mounted that something was going to have to give and was preparing myself to hand in resignations at any moment.  But, I decided to wait until everything was over and done with then think about it rationally and not emotionally.  Fortunately the decision was made for me (Thank you God) and in having to change my hours slightly next year at the high school, I won't be able to continue with the dance classes.  So once again I can slip quietly into retirement!

In looking back on this year there can only be one word to describe it:


Nobody is really in the same position they were 12 months ago.  We have suffered tremendous loss in losing Grandad.  Nobody in my family is in the same house or same job that we were 12 months ago, but we all seem better for it.  The arrival of Caeden has definitely been the highlight of the year and coupled with the arrival of Jaycie in 2011, the definite highlight of my whole life.

So with all that behind and now looking forward, I hope that 2014 brings stability, assurance and calm.  

Oh and I want to lose 10kgs.

The night I nearly died (but actually didn't)

Every time I get out in the sun for a short while, or even sometimes when I’m a little hot and bothered, the same question invariably gets asked of me:

“What did you do to your head?”

“Um, when I was 9, I fell head first through a glass door”

See, I have a huge scar and a lump on the upper left side of my forehead that seems to glow red whenever my face develops some colour.  It gives the appearance of a very fresh wound, despite the fact it is now almpst 24 years old.

So, despite the fact that I have already entered the biopic “Creation of the Mangina” regarding one of my other scars, in a further attempt to make my life sound drastically more interesting than it actually is, I am going to regale you with the tale of how I got this technicolour head wound.

So, way way back in 1989, on the May day bank holiday, my parents were upstairs doing some painting or, more likely, some wall papering of some description.  My brother and I were downstairs playing and for whatever reason, we were spinning around as fast as we could trying to make ourselves as dizzy as possible.


Why is not a question you ask of a 9 and a 7 year old; we have no motivation; we just DO.

So we were spinning frantically and I thought I needed to sit down, so I stumbled towards the couch.  The couch was at a right angle to the entrance to our lounge room, which was a double door sort of arrangement, with both doors containing two frosted glass panels.
I approached the couch, but my dizziness threw me off course and I careened head first into the bottom panel of the glass door. 

This is when time slowed down a bit, or at the very least got oddly specific.  I remember pulling my head back out of the door and seeing a very large pane of glass slide down in front of my face, guillotine style, and then standing up and screaming. 

I remember standing at the bottom of the stairs, still screaming and seeing my mum and dad bolting down the stairs as fast as they could.  The thought entered my head that I was going to be in BIG TROUBLE for smashing the door so I ran away from them screaming “call an ambulance!” in a bid to startle them enough that they would show sympathy rather than anger towards me. 

My brother clearly had the same thought in his head (does this reflect badly on our parents) as he was yelling “HE DID IT! HE BROKE THE DOOR NOT ME!”

Vile betrayer!

Anyway, I’m still running around with my dad chasing me and I become suddenly aware that my mum IS on the phone, calling an ambulance and I remember thinking to myself “Really?? I only have a tiny cut on my finger, it’s not that bad!” when out of nowhere a tea-towel flicks past my head and a hand comes reaching around the front of me, catching the towel and then pulling my head back.

As I crashed backwards into my dad, the tea-towel firmly squeezed around my head, a torrent of blood flooded past my eyes and that was the first moment I thought “oh wow, I might be in trouble here”

Mum told me years later that she had never seen my dad so terrified, sitting on the couch with me on the floor in front of him, pulling that tea towel tight around my head, shaking and white.

The neighbours came over to see what was going on and if they could help.  I have a feeling they might have taken my brother over to their place as I have no memory of him that night once he’d sold me out!

Then the ambulance came and I was excessively chatty, which for me is normal, but for others it is highly irritating.  The paramedic kept telling me to be quiet, to lie back, and to relax, to which I took mighty offence and made secret evil plots against him!

Once we got to the hospital they put me on a bed, but still out in the waiting room.  A lot of people were looking at me and making comments, but I didn’t really know what they were talking about.
My grandparents showed up and in true grandmother fashion, my nana said to my mum that she just knew something bad was going to happen with those glass doors and only days earlier she’d been thinking about it.  I really must ask her what she thinks next week’s lottery numbers will be!

I don’t think we had to wait all that long and once we were in a room, the nurse went to take the bandage off my head that the paramedics had put on.  I remember her very clearly saying “Let’s just have a look and see if the bleeding has stopped…….Woah! Oops, let’s just put that back on shall we?”

The doctor came a little while later to stitch me up, but whilst giving me the local anaesthetic for the wound, he miscalculated and stuck the needle in the top middle of my head, nowhere near where I was cut!  Astute readers will remember that approximately 15 years later, again when getting a local anaesthetic, that doctor snapped the needle off IN the wound. So I guess I’m cursed never to have anaesthetic go well!

Anyway, after all that only 6 stitches and off home we went.  My grandparents must have driven us because both mum and dad came in the ambulance.

And now back at home, I was sent up for a bath and for the first time saw my reflection.  Now I knew why my dad was shaking, why the paramedic wanted me to be quiet and lie down, why people were staring at me in the waiting room and why the nurse put that bandage back on so quickly…….My white blonde hair was now completely Russet brown and very crusty and my face was not really visible beneath the dried on blood.  It was so gross. 

The reason my scar glows red though still remains a mystery. However, at least now everyone can know how I got it and can rest assured I have not recently headbutted anyone or anything.

Day 5 - Movie World!!

Once again up very early and back for a run. Went a little bit further today and did not get tired one little bit. Could have done a Forrest Gump and run forever. I have decided I am solar powered as I seem to run better in the sun.

STILL deaf in one ear, highly frustrating I can tell you!

Everyone was up and bustling about quite early today as we were going to MOVIEWORLD. The girls were very excited at the prospect of getting lots of photos taken with the characters. Jarrad was mostly excited about the stunt show, but Mike and I just wanted to hit the rides.

We got there nice and early and didn't have to queue up too long outside. We got ourselves a locker and headed off to the Looney Tunes Village to do the nice little warm up roller coaster....

But none of the rides opened until 10.30 - a half hour wait!!

So the girls managed to squeeze in a few shots of themselves with the characters and we slipped into the Shrek 4-D show which to be honest was kinda boring, but then we were OUTTA there. We did the warm up kiddie roller coaster, good fun, and then went for the big ones. 

Straight to the Superman Escape.

Oh my gosh!! All other rollercoasters are now officially crap by comparison to this ride. I went on with Janet and let's just say - If I hadn't been deaf in one ear BEFORE I went on the ride, I would almost certainly have been deaf after. She has a very impressive lung capacity that Janet!!

From there it was off to the new Batman ride which is like the giant drop, but in reverse. Like his wife, Jarrad had a nice big scream, but I found it a little lacklustre, the most "thrilling" part being the sheer panic at not being able to get my harness off at the end of the ride and 
Jarrad casually walking away and leaving me to struggle with it!

Then it was off to Wild Wild West where we got absolutely drenched and subsequently spent the rest of the day smelling like mouldy old pondwater. Then Scooby Doo which had previously been my favourite, but as I already mentioned, now paled by comparison to the Superman Escape.

Then it was off to lunch and to watch the stunt show. Not my cup of tea really, but the drivers were very impressive. When they were driving round on two wheels there was a small part of me that wanted to see a car over balance, but I'm sadistic like that!

From there it was off to the river ride, the highlight of which was seeing Elmer Fudd on his hands and knees peering down a hole looking not unlike he was having a giant spew!

Then Lethal Weapon. This ride is ALMOST as good as Superman, except for the ear-bashing you get on the cork screw part of it. Everyone got off feeling a little punch drunk I think and we were a bit wobbly on our legs, but still good fun. 

We saw a little bit of the Batman street show (terrible dancers pretending to be Martial Artists - PAHAHAHAHA!) and then went back and did all the rides again, but this time intentionally being total posers for the photos, which we did in fact purchase. 

 Naughty dancers!!

All up I think Mike and I hit the Superman ride 5 times, always endeavouring to get to the front, but never quite getting there (although we did get on the front on our second shot at Lethal Weapon).

Back at home and we hit up the pool again which was surprisingly warm whilst those lovely girls whipped up a very delicious spaghetti bolognaise for tea.

For dessert we decided to venture down the street to Baskin + Robbins, but lo, the heavens did open up and it did pour down rain on us! Nice warm rain though.

Glad it held off til then though.....

They shut the Superman Ride when it rains!

Day 4 of our Queensland Adventure

Another insanely bright and early morning, but I didn't feel like running, so I walked down to the little convenience store (believe me, you pay for the convenience) and bought some milk and cotton buds because my ears were waterlogged. I then sat out on the balcony and just read my book, which incidentally I was not really enjoying, but ploughed on through regardless whilst I waited for everyone else to get up

Mike and I were hoping our fitness fanaticism would be infectious, but to no avail. Jarrad point blank refused and the girls were still getting ready (possibly still getting ready from Sunday!!). To her credit, Janet did smash out a few sit ups with us!

Today we went into Surfer's Paradise to have a general look around. Jarrad dropped us off and then went out to a Dick Johnson racing thing that he wanted to go to. He came back with some dvd's and some photos of cars so I think he had a good time.

The girls wanted to do a day spa sort of thing so Mike and I left them, and went for a wander around town. We checked out a live shooting range, but it was a bit expensive and the guys in there looked like they would much rather shoot us in the face than have us shooting at targets.

We found the most EPIC Timezone and decided we would come back there later on with everyone else, but did stay long enough to jump in those massage chairs. They were very good, although I'm not too sure what was going on in the butt department. All I know is Mike and I both burst out laughing at the exact same time, so whatever was happening to me, was obviously happening to him too.

We found a nice little Irish pub. Actually, it wasn't that hard to find as there are about 3000 Irish pubs on the main street of Surfer's Paradise. We went inside after being greeted at the door by two bikini clad meter maids, and got ourselves a pint of Kilkenny to wash down the Gelati we had previously had (mine was lime - a tad surreal). It was very relaxing just sitting out on the balcony with a pint looking down onto the street and watching everyone ferreting around. 

We then went for a walk around town and took some photos of the sights.  It was nice and cruisy really.

We met up with Jarrad and went to find the girls but they were STILL getting pampered (their massage chairs cost considerably more than ours did!!) so we manly men headed off to Dracula's Haunted Mansion!!

It was very cool.

It's basically 4 levels of scary stuff that you walk through. Kind of like Infinity, but with more of a horror feel. One of the coolest features was getting into the elevator and with lighting effects and a small window, you get the impression that you are going down when you are in fact going up. I had figured this out in my head, but I imagine the shock of walking down all the stairs when you are in there, after thinking you've gone down the elevator and then coming out at the place you started is probably quite startling for some.

Truth be told it wasn't THAT scary, although I think fear of the unknown is probably the worst part of the gimmick. Nothing really jumps out at you, it's just lots of skeltons and prosthetic monsters. And it's very dark too. The coolest thing was the guy getting smashed up by a circular saw. It was just a dummy, but it screamed and thrashed around whilst this circular saw kept swining all over it! Jarrad would never admit it publicly, but he was a little bit hesitant about going round corners first.

We went back to that Irish pub for lunch (possibly. There were a lot of Irish pubs) and then we went across to Timezone. We played some pretty cool games, rode a porcelain horse, failed miserably at getting six of us in a photo booth so compromised and did a quick dash to swap over from boys to girls in between photos! Despite being massively buff and super strong, Mike and I did NOT beat the record on the strength tester machine. Clearly it is rigged. We walked out of there with a cool ball to play with in the pool and this air dart gun thing that was actually kinda nifty.

We hit up a supermarket and I had my first Red Eye for 2009. For those who know me well, you understand that my feelings towards Red Eye border on sexual (they don't really) and therefore understand that this was a momentous occasion for me.

Before leaving, Amy got one of those technicolour worm thingos put in her hair. It looked good, although a little stiff at first and looked not unlike a wonky antenna until she got it wet!

Back home to the pool where my ear got waterlogged again and this time would NOT go away. Very frustrating being completely deaf in one ear!

Then we went to Sizzler for tea. Why they got rid of Sizzler in Geelong is quite beyond me. It ROCKS! Seriously, it is fantastic and I loved the food. Great value for money because of the all you can eat salad bar, which includes everything from salad (obviously) to soup, pasta, and nachos! Bring it on! Can we please start a facebook group petitioning the return of Sizzler to our fair town?!! That said, Leah's steak was not cooked properly, but they were very nice about it and gave her a full refund even though she didn't ask for one.

We were all pretty pooped that night so we crashed at home and watched an X-Men movie and ate some of the popcorn we'd bought, but it was with great excitement that we all fell asleep that night.....

.... For the very next day we were going to.....