Ghosts In The Rubbish

I could see their faces, right there in the pile of rubbish at the dump. They were looking through the window of the broken playhouse, smiling pure joy at me – the joy of a child with a small space to go in and a world to look out at. I hadn’t expected them here, though. I was just doing a bit of spring cleaning, not ghost hunting. But even with rubbish all around it, that window was the frame of priceless memories painted in such vivid colour I could hear them laughing and calling “Daddy! Look at me!” through every one of its faded cracks. 

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You Can Influence People More Than This Blog Post Can

Language is a flowing river, and our individual words are carried along in the current. Some meanings float along the surface, slowly morphing with time, while others remain lodged in the riverbed, unchanging for generations. Sometimes, though, a word that had been static for centuries suddenly breaks free and rushes to the top, changing more in a month than it did in the previous millennium. So it is with the word “influencer”.

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The Girl On The Roof

I was on the train home after a long day’s work in the city. I settled into the seat and pulled out my phone instinctively, as if to check the headlines or dip my toes in the constant stream of social media, but when I saw the screen wake up, something in my mind woke with it and said, “Don’t you see the window?”

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Trails Are For Following, Not Just Blazing

It seemed like a good idea at the time. We were tired, and ready to get back to camp after a day of hiking. The map indicated that a straight cut had been made through the forest for the sake of power lines, and it looked like the perfect shortcut to bring us to our tents and dinners. We left the trail. It wasn’t long before we regretted it. The forest had been cut at some point, yes, but it was doing a good job of coming back. As we picked our way through the brambles and saplings, we didn’t notice the hornet’s nest, but they noticed us. To make matters worse, we lost our bearings in the unexpected undergrowth and missed the place where we had intended to rejoin the trail, heading off in the wrong direction without even realising it. Eventually, we discovered our error and limped the long way back to camp with our scrapes and stings – and a new appreciation for trails.

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Stolen Moments

A few years ago, when the children were smaller, time together just as a couple was a rare treasure, even harder to find than it is now. There were always little voices and little people, with their sound effects and observations about dinosaurs and bodily functions, effectively preventing any completed adult conversation (unless it had to do with snacks). Stealing time away from the children was no easy task. That’s why we were so excited to finally get the chance to have a lunch date. Continue reading Stolen Moments

The Small Choices Shape The Big Ones

They say life is full of choices, and they couldn’t be more right. Every moment we’re awake, we’re making a choice of some kind or another: a choice to do what we’re doing instead of something else, to do it joyfully or bitterly, to notice the people around us or use them, to say something or not, to say it one way or another, to wait in silence or fill the time with social media, what to eat, what to wear, how fast to walk, how fast to drive, and so on and on and on. But in the midst of all this half-conscious choosing, a few choices stand out. We know them well. They are The Big Ones:

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The Nutritional Relational Value Of Food (Why Our Family Eats Together)

There’s hardly anything more common than eating. It takes time, money, and effort, but that doesn’t stop us from doing it multiple times a day. In fact, we shape our lives around our need for food: companies and schools build lunch breaks into the schedule, holidays are celebrated with feasts, friends meet at coffee shops, and lovers woo over candlelit dinners. Clearly, there’s more going on here than simply keeping our bodies functioning. And don’t forget the gym memberships and diet programmes designed to compensate for our meals – you might say our relationship with food is complicated. Whatever else you say about it, though, you have to admit that food is powerful. Beyond it’s nutritional value, it packs an extremely high relational value as well (although it often seems that the foods with the least nutritional value have the most relational value, like ice cream and chocolate and cheesecake and pretty much every other dessert).

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Exotic Escapes And Ordinary Days

Summertime. The beaches are calling, and the exotic places of Earth are waiting for me to take a selfie with them. This is the season when we carve out time to put ordinary life on hold, put to-do lists in time out, and let responsibilities rest. For a few days, or a couple of weeks if we can get them, we are free.

…until it’s time to go home and return to ordinary days full of ordinary people and ordinary jobs and food and conversations about traffic and plans for the next holiday. Holidays can be so nice that they can tempt us to see the months and weeks of regular work in between as just a preparation for our next chance to get away. But what if all of this ordinary stuff in between is more than just a savings plan for another escape? What if it’s actually our life? And what are we missing by wishing it away?

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Some Things Are Worth Doing Poorly

I have a greater appreciation for my mother, now that my children are learning piano. When I was a kid, it never crossed my mind that my mom might not thoroughly enjoy hearing the same simple songs played poorly over and over again. She made me practice, so she must want to hear it, right? I thought I was the only reluctant one, until my own children started playing those same simple songs, with the same mistakes, over and over again. It’s not always been very pleasant. And yet I really do like to hear it – not because of the repetitive wrong notes, but because of what they are leading to. Now that a few years have passed, the things my children play on the piano are much nicer to hear. If they keep at it, the things they’ll play in a few more years will be even better. It’s the only way forward. No one masters piano overnight. And what’s true for the instrument is also true for life:

If you want to do something well, the best way to start is by doing it poorly. Continue reading Some Things Are Worth Doing Poorly