All Posts By:Waz

Starting again

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’ve spent a large chunk of my life demotivated by fear. Theology isn’t the only thing I’ve avoided discussing because of fear, and it’s not the only thing I’ve avoided doing.

The truth is, I’m highly skilled at procrastination, and when you combine that with fear, it’s a winning* combination.

With that prize in hand, I didn’t end up writing about theology, and now almost five months have passed. Mind you, given my paradigm shift over the past few weeks, it’s probably better that I never got around to it; that shift, however, is a subject for another post.

Over the past few months I’ve been considering the role of fear, and I’ve come to realise just how much it’s held me back for most of my life. I decided that the only way forward was to start confronting my fears – but I was almost completely drowning in a sea of anxiety, and it was only getting worse. I was constantly exhausted, and completely unmotivated to do anything beyond the bare necessities to keep our family life ticking over.

Then a moment of clarity, and I knew what I had to do… and I was afraid.

I’ve previously written of my dislike of chemical assistance, but I’ve had to accept that my brain doesn’t quite work the way it should. It seems to either not produce enough of whatever chemicals it needs for me to maintain a healthy frame of mind, or it’s consuming them way too fast. Either way, I needed help, beyond just the regular visits to the psychologist.

I wear glasses. I don’t like wearing glasses, but the alternative is to give up driving, squint at everything, and generally have a miserable day-to-day experience; thus I choose to wear my glasses. Why should my brain chemistry be any different? I’ve been struggling along for months and having a generally miserable day-to-day experience, and quite frankly, I wasn’t much fun to be around.

So six weeks ago, I swallowed my fear and my first low-dose antidepressant… and things have definitely improved. Fortunately, it seems to be without any severe side-effects, and I’ve already been told by my beloved that she “got her funny husband back”.

As the anxiety receded, I realised just how exhausted I was. I think the human body isn’t designed to constantly be in fight-or-flight mode and constantly flooded with adrenaline, and with the removal of the trigger for me to be in that state, I just wanted to sleep all the time.

In this somewhat exhausted frame of mind, I found myself staring at a tweet from Jon Acuff. He was “looking for 24 people to go on an adventure”; I followed through to the blog post, and read it. No details, just “if you’re willing to take the chance, and punch fear in the face, send your address and contact details via email”. I thought about it for a few seconds, and then closed the browser. The idea of saying yes frightened the shit out of me.

But it ate at me.

“Really? You’re all about facing your fears now, and when faced with something that causes you fear, you walk away?”

After half an hour of this internal needling, I reloaded the page and emailed Jon…

That’s how I found myself as part of the “Start Experiment”. Our goal: to punch fear in the face – mainly by facing our fears, and by publicly risking pursuing a dream.

As per usual, I may have overcommitted, but it has started me blogging again – because that’s one of the things I’m risking. I don’t love writing, but I do love having written something that’s touched someone else’s life.

So here goes… I’m starting again.

*Winning as redefined by Charlie Sheen, as opposed to actual winning, like a medal or something.

Finding myself…

When I was in my late teens, a Church Army Officer took me under his wing. When we first met (as he later described it to me), I only knew how to talk about three things: God, Star Trek, and computers. If I joined a conversation that wasn’t about one of these things, it very quickly became about one of these things.

This was before the internet, and before geek ever became ‘chic’; between my family and my obsessions, I was a pretty isolated kid.

My Star Trek obsession was laid to rest many years ago; I work full time in IT, so I get to talk about computers all day with like-minded folks.

But the God and faith? That’s been a long journey. Reading back through my posts on the blog, I’ve touched on it a few times, and addressed it directly a couple of times, but I haven’t explored it in any great detail in writing. I’ve tweeted about it a bit, and had some interesting conversations, but the ephemeral nature of Twitter means that those conversations tend to melt away like an early-morning mist on a hot summer’s day.

Honestly, I like that. I’ve gotten to talk about God, and explore bits and pieces of theology with people; I’ve managed to (for the most part) avoid getting into any arguments. It’s often the same kind of topics I enjoy discussing over food or coffee with a few friends in particular; however, for all the conversations I’ve had with people, I’ve rarely written about theology. A couple of weeks ago, one of those friends pointedly told me that I should be writing about it.

Writing about God and theology on a blog is an entirely different kettle of fish, because I hate confrontation; there’s few things I’ve seen in the blogosphere that can be as divisive as talking about God or theology. Truth is, I’d rather have a root canal than an argument; I fear getting into an argument more than I fear spiders.

Fear is a fantastic demotivator, and it’s pretty much the major reason I’ve avoided writing about something that’s so central to my life.

Over the years I’ve met more than a few people who are apparently VERY sure of what they believe. Since what they believe is the only true and correct thing to believe, they’ve then smashed away at me until I was little more than a pulpy bloody mess; some even insisted that unless I agreed with them, then and there, I’ll spend eternity in hell.

The problem is: I’m a theological mutt. I think a big part of this is because we moved around from church to church so often while I grew up, I picked up a lot of theological baggage along the way; often theology from one church stream doesn’t play well with theology from another stream.

Eventually, I got to the point where the cognitive dissonance was too much; I had too much contradictory theology in my head. For instance, a few years ago I got so wrapped up in trying to un-knot a particular aspect of Reformed theology, it sent me into a two month major depressive episode. Seriously. Somehow, this doesn’t sound a lot like “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”.

So, I’m going to start blogging about my faith, as I start picking through it.

Some of my theology is wrong. I know that. I don’t know which bits yet, and I’m pretty sure I won’t get all that sorted out until I reach the other side. You know what else? Chances are some of what you believe is wrong too.

Both I, and my faith, are a work in progress, and I want to start exploring that here; as I blog about my faith, please realise this, and accept it. I want to work out what it is that I believe and explore some of my questions and doubts. Assuming anyone actually ends up reading what I write, I’d say the chances are pretty good that there’s going to be something that you, my wonderful reader, disagree with. I’m OK with that; there are things I used to believe that I disagree with now, even some things I believe right now that I think I disagree with. Work with me here, OK?

I want to lay down some ground rules for commenting going forward; it’s my blog, so I figure I get to decide how to play this.

I’m not going to moderate comments just because someone disagrees with me; it all hinges on *how* you disagree. If you want to beat me up or abuse me (or other commenters) I’ll happily make your comment go away.

Given the mix of people I know, chances are pretty good that  you’re probably either an atheist or a Christian. I’m cool with both, but let me break it down how I’m going to handle comments:

If you’re an atheist, I respect your non-belief. I tried atheism, and it didn’t work for me. I’ve found that I’m unable to stop believing in God. I know this probably seems ridiculous to you, but there it is. I do, however, understand why you don’t see the need for a deity, and I’m absolutely not interested in trying to convince you that you’re wrong. If you’re absolutely sure that you’re right, and I’m wrong, and you really want to convince me I’m wrong, stop and seriously consider what it would take to convince you that you’re wrong. Yeah, that’s where I’m at on believing in the existence of God. It seems to be hard-wired in there. Yes, I’ve heard lots of the arguments, and no, I don’t have answers for all of them. Best bet, if you’re convinced I’m wrong, and it really irritates you, just do us both a favour and skip my posts about faith.

If you’re a Christian, and if you’re absolutely convinced that you’re right and I’m utterly wrong, and you MUST convince me of this, please go and pray about it, and ask that God will open my eyes to my error; preferably through someone with lots of grace and who’s willing to walk the path with me. At this point in my life, I’ve taken enough theological beatings from people who are convinced they’re right and are determined to show me the error of my ways, that I tend not to react very well, and can end up in a very bad place emotionally.

I’ll probably look at this tomorrow and see a dozen things I want to change, but I also need to get into the habit of writing more frequently, so I’m going to run with it for now.

Onwards and upwards.

The exhaustion of depression

This is why depression is so exhausting. You either:

a. Give in to the emotions and find yourself feeling like you’re trapped bring thrashed around underwater in rough seas, unable to breathe and hanging on to the hope that you wash up on a beach before you drown…


b. Expend all your energy trying to separate what is real, and what is true; because, in spite of the crushing emotional weight on your chest and the sense that absolutely everything is falling apart… your brain is lying to you.

The emotions are absolutely real…

…they’re just not true.

The BIG Picture: Part II

“Sticks and stones will break my bones,
But words will never hurt me.”

I remember being told this from the time I was very young… but it’s an insidious lie. Sticks can leave scars, and stones can leave bruises, but words can burrow deep into your bones, infecting your soul and festering for years.

For some insane reason, there seems to be this belief that the best way to help someone to lose weight is to shame them into it. Point out how unattractive it is to be overweight (not everyone feels that way), or how obesity will inevitably lead to health problems (not necessarily), or state how obvious it is that you don’t care about yourself.

Shame doesn’t work. If you self-medicate with food, and someone shames you about your weight, how do you deal with that?

You eat. Because eating makes you feel better.

You Just Need Motivation!

I’ve tried to lose weight many times over the years, but I was very rarely successful; until the last few years I had never managed to maintain a weight loss long term (more on that later). I tried very hard to find things to keep me motivated.

17 years old seeks girlfriend: I “knew” that girls weren’t interested in fat guys. I tried an extreme caloric restriction diet, with Allan Borushek’s little Calorie Counter book. I lost 12-15kg; I don’t remember exactly. I do remember that put it back on, and then some.

21 year old has fiancee, is getting married: Surely getting married would be the thing that finally got me on the thin and narrow? Who wants to look fat in their wedding photos? I didn’t want to, but there I am, round of face and rosy of cheek (largely due to severe sunburn from a Sydney Harbour ferry ride the day before…)

23 year old has first child on the way: Before my eldest son was born in 1997, I started in a group weight loss session with the hospital-based dietician. I didn’t want to be a fat dad; I wanted to be able to run and play soccer with my kids. I failed. All three times.

If I’m on the hook for a gym membership…: I attempted several gym memberships, but invariably I’d overdo it and injure myself or get sick. I’ve wasted a lot of money on iron-clad-no-way-out-buddy gym contracts.

This book will set you free: The Zone, Beyond The Zone, Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution. So many books. So much mixed advice. Who do you trust?

My weight just kept yo-yoing, but the trend was always up. The depression was an extra millstone around my neck. Did my weight cause the depression or vice-versa? Does it really matter?

Rejected by the girls I had crushes on at high school, told I was repulsive by a woman I loved, I’d been laughed at and shamed, I’d failed time and time again at losing weight.

It was a battle royale; fighting myself, with each win a pyhrric victory, each loss confirming that I was a failure… every failure fuelling my self-hatred.

One day the hate exploded.

The Argument

I don’t know what triggered it. I’m loathe to apportion blame, because it was just one of those things. A hormonal pregnant wife, and a depressed, obese self-hating husband.

Whatever triggered that argument in the middle of 2003, it escalated out of control. For us that kind of argument is incredibly rare, but we both crossed the line that day; the one where you forget why you were arguing and just start lobbing grenades at each other, just to hurt the other. And then she said it…

“You don’t care about your weight. You’re happy being fat.”

All the years of self-hate exploded into one moment of irrational violence. I shoved past her, grabbed a steak knife out of the drawer and screamed at her “I hate my fat! I’ll show you how much I hate it!”

One. Two. Three. Four.

Four self-inflicted stab wounds with a steak-knife. In my gut. At least once to the hilt.

And I ruined my favourite t-shirt.

I wasn’t trying to kill myself. No, really. Believe me, I had fun trying to explain that to the hospital-appointed mental-health expert. In those few seconds of insanity I felt every moment of shame, every rejection, every failure to lose weight. In that moment, the fat around my middle signified everything that was wrong with me and my life and I despised it beyond any rationality or sense of self-preservation.

Surely this would be the final motivator? Crossing that line and almost destroying my life?

No. It didn’t.

I got some counselling, and learnt how not to berate and hate myself constantly, but it didn’t take away the beast gnawing away at my insides; it could be temporarily mollified with food, but like Audrey II, it just kept screaming “FEED ME!”

The cycle continued.

In 2007 our family doctor started working with me to try and help me lose weight. She identified that I had sleep apnoea, causing a vicious cycle of sleep apnoea -> poor sleep -> depression -> emotional eating -> increased weight -> worsening sleep apneoa -> and so on. She arranged for me to see some specialists.

As a result, in July of 2008 I was booked in for surgery to remove my golf-ball sized tonsils; they had to weigh me so they could dose me with the right amount of anasthetic. I was 174.8kg (385.4lbs). It was the largest I’d ever been.

A week later I went in for surgery, which began with pre-surgery counselling. As I sat with my wife, a breeze gently cooling my exposed nether regions as in my hospital gown designed for someone half my size, the surgeon asked if anyone had explained that due to my weight there was an increased chance I could die on the operating table.

Suddenly my weight presented a clear and present danger.

My life had been on the line because of my weight, but it still wasn’t enough to motivate me to commit. I did try a little bit, and managed to lose a few kilos between then and November, getting down to 170kgs, but it was so very, very difficult, and I still felt so powerless.

Something’s wrong!

Over the years, I’d experienced something that my dad had called “the shakes”. Sometimes, I’d just become really REALLY jittery, and feel like my brain was on the fritz. When he got the shakes, he’d eat something and it would go away. I tried the same thing, except I tended to eat UNTIL it went away. I never bothered seeing a doctor, but because I couldn’t identify the trigger and I felt it was too weird to try and explain.

The “shakes” came and went, but were pretty uncommon. Then, in November of 2008, I had three severe onsets in a fortnight. I felt the second one coming on, and tried to pull some cash out of an ATM to buy some food. I put my card into the machine and then realised I couldn’t work out how to operate the ATM. I stood there for what seemed like an eternity; I started to lose my temper and freak out a little, but then in a moment of clarity, remembered how to withdraw cash.

See, it appears that what I was experiencing was hypoglycaemia. People have been arrested for being drunk and disorderly during hypos. After the third attack, I finally made an appointment with a doctor, who explained his suspicions and ordered blood and insulin response tests.

Although I’d had several blood tests over the years, and my blood sugar levels were always fine, I’d never had my insulin response tested. The results were disturbing. I was producing ten times the amount of insulin I should be. I was diagnosed with “Insulin Resistance Syndrome” (aka Metabolic Syndrome) – or to put it another way: I’m pre-diabetic.

When I asked him what the chances of developing diabetes was, he looked me in the eye and said “100%. You will develop diabetes. Your pancreas cannot keep producing insulin at this rate. It will eventually give out, and you will then have Type 2 diabetes”. This was a big motivator, but it wasn’t the thing that got me on the path to losing weight.

He sent me home and told me to look up the Atkins Diet, and start doing that. His explanation was that in my case, the best way of avoiding a massive insulin response, causing my body to store all that excess energy as fat was to avoid the carbohydrates that cause that response in the first place. I went home, researched Atkins, and decided…

“Hell no. This is crazy.”

What I did do, however, was to take his idea about the carb response, and look at alternatives. I ended up with a low-carb/low-GI/high protein idea, and worked from there. I started exercising regularly, tracking my calories and eating just the number of calories I needed to eat (based on some things I’d learned from the guys on the Fat2Fit Radio Podcast). He insisted on seeing me every fortnight; on the next visit I explained my decision to him – and I’d lost weight. He felt my plan was acceptable.

It was like the weight was falling off; between November 2008 and August 12, 2009 I lost 33.2kg (73.2lbs), giving me a total loss of 38kg (83.7lbs).

And then I gave up.

I don’t know why, but I just did. I stopped doing the things that worked, and slacked off. I still did a few of the things, but started eating a lot more carbs than I should have been, and exercising sporadically and generally not caring.

Over the following few months, my weight went back up to around 145kg, and then hit a plateau. I’d go up and down within a ten kilo range, but that was where it stayed. I continued like that until January of this year. Although I had successfully maintained a loss of 23+ kgs at worst, for over 2 years, it still felt like failure.


Last year sucked, to put it mildly. I’d been toying with the idea of trying to lose weight again. My physical reaction to refined carbs was getting worse, and I just wasn’t happy with my size. I’m tired of being uncomfortable, of not having the energy to play with my children, of not being able to buy clothes without getting my credit limit extended.

For me, it was time. I knew what to do to successfully lose weight. I decided  that I wanted 2012 to be a better year than 2011, and that 2012 is the year I get healthy – and for me, a big part of being healthy is losing the weight I’ve carried all these years. It’s not a New Year’s resolution, but a decision to finish what I started at the end of 2008.

So it was that #LessWaz was born. I weighed in on the morning of January 3rd at 149.6kg, and I recorded my first vlog, and started tweeting about it using the #LessWaz hashtag.

This morning, a bit over ten weeks later, I’ve lost a total of 18.6kg. I am the lightest I’ve been this century. I’m starting to wear clothes that haven’t been able to wear since before my daughter was born – eight years ago.

I don’t think Fat-shaming should ever be considered part of the “solution”. If someone is happy with their body, then shaming them brings pain without purpose; if they are already ashamed of their weight and find their solace in eating, then shaming just further disempowers them and may push them to seek comfort in food.

There are a lot of different factors that play into successfully losing weight and maintaining that loss; it’s a complex alchemy of motivations, self-discipline, self-image and experience. Above all else, it requires accepting your body for the beautiful, wonderful creation it is, and empowering yourself to look after it the best way you can.


If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. I’m sorry, I know it was a long read.

Part III will be the nitty-gritty of the how and what I’m doing, the theories I’m working with and some links to resources. I can’t guarantee that what I’m doing will work for someone else, but I’ve had a lot of people asking me what I’m doing, so this is the easiest way to explain.

The BIG Picture: Part I

“I’m fat, I’m fat, you know it, I’m fat.” – Fat, Weird Al Yankovic

I’ve been trying to write the following post for the last few weeks, but I’ve not been able to finish it. I had some ideas I was kicking around in my head about fundraising and the like, but wasn’t sure how I’d set them up. Then Mike goes and trumps me, in this blog post (it’ll open in a new window). That’ll teach me to procrastinate. There will be another couple of blog posts about how and why I’m losing weight, but right now I wanted to talk about how I got fat, and life as a fat person.

How Did I Get Here?

I’m fat. Actually, if you want to go by the World Health Organisation’s Body Mass Index (and I suggest you don’t), I’m “obese class II”.

I started putting on weight around the age of eight. I started kindergarten as a clumsy, skinny, hyper-sensitive kid, and consequently got picked on mercilessly. I found solace in food. By the time I hit eight, I was coming home after school, overeating, and sitting in my bedroom reading. I became a clumsy, fat, hyper-sensitive kid. As you can imagine, getting fat did nothing to help with being bullied incessantly. They just had a larger target to aim for.

This is a large part of why I hated school – and a lot of the people I went to school with. I’m pretty sure I’ve forgiven most of them, although from time to time, I find I still need to work on that.

Soothing my emotional pain with food became a vicious circle that I’ve been in for nearly 30 years; I didn’t matter what I ate, nothing would fill that gaping maw inside me – although damn if I didn’t keep trying. Once you’re in that downward spiral, it feels like there’s little hope of escape. When your solace is food, and it feeds the very thing you’re ashamed of? It’s a constant slow-burning fire consuming everything inside of you. If you add depression to the mix… is it the cause? is it a symptom? Whatever it is, it’s sandbags on the scales of any attempts to lose weight.

Can I have a side of shame with that?

I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t ashamed of my body. I remember being told by my mother “girls don’t like fat boys”; that really set me up for success with the ladies. There was the time a three year old boy walked up to me in the produce section of the local supermarket and yells out “MUM! THAT MAN IS REALLY FAT!”. Out of the mouths of babes, as they say.

In all my life though, there’s nothing like the searing shame of having a woman tell you “I’m sorry, but I just find your fat repulsive”.

You live with people’s stares at you as you walk past, or hear them whisper comments to their friends and start snickering. You wear baggy clothes to try and hide, but you’re not fooling anyone; on the other hand, you sure as hell better not wear form-fitting clothes. That’s much, much worse.

Shopping for clothes when you’re obese is a special kind of hell (all of these things actually happened):

“Oh… this 5XL shirt is getting a bit tight. I have to go to 6XL. Great.”
“Look… 6XL! I have the choice of the bright pink shirt, or the bright yellow shirt!”
“Thank you for this gift of clothing!” (I shall now put it in the cupboard and never be able to wear it)
“Oh crap. This 7XL shirt is getting too small.” (Target don’t go past 7XL).

Eventually, if you don’t find a way to reign in your weight-gain (and I didn’t), you need to give up on shopping at Target or K-mart. The only clothes you’ll find in a shopping mall that will fit you are shoes and hats, and some of the underwear – unless they have a “big-and-tall”-type store. Then you’ll pay way too much for a basic black T-shirt. What other choice do you have? Not only are you failing to lose weight, you’re getting bigger.

You get used to the idea of never finding something “fashionable” – after all, fat people don’t want to look good, do they? Obviously, if they did, they wouldn’t be fat.

Fat is bad.

Stigmatising fat people may be the last acceptable bigotry. We all know it’s wrong to judge someone by their gender, or their sexual orientation, or the colour of their skin. You can’t judge someone by something they have no control over.

But us fat people? Obviously we CAN control it. If you don’t believe it, check out the comments on any news site article about obesity. You’ll see comments, sometimes numbering into the hundreds, explaining how fat people should just lose weight. They should just eat less, and exercise more.

Because if you do, you can conform to “normal”, saving “normal” healthy people from the terrible offence of having to look at overweight people.

What’s more, if fat people can’t be bothered losing weight, apparently “normal” people should feel comfortable in shaming overweight people; publicly, if necessary. Give me a withering glance. Comment far too loudly to your slender beautiful friends “How COULD he let himself GET like that? Why doesn’t he just get stop eating?” “Shhh, he’ll hear you!”

Don’t worry, I heard you. In fact, half the bloody food court heard your stage whisper. It had never occurred to me that I might need to lose some weight. I’m fat?!? Why didn’t anyone tell me?!? Thanks for that gentle, subtle advice. I shall head straight for the gym, and work out until I’m thin and beautiful like you!

Maybe I’m just unfortunate; I suspect most overweight folks have stories like these.

Here’s another idea: put the fatties on TV. Turn losing weight into a competition. Present them with torturous “challenges”, cut their calorie intake to insane, unsustainable levels, provide them with personal trainers to drive them to spend hours every day constantly exercising, and then make them vote each other off until only the most supposedly virtuous and committed remain. Throw the failures back into the outside world where they have to try and keep losing weight for the big finale, because they signed a contract.

Get the contestants worked up, and them whack away at them until they burst into tears and spill their pain like a pinata spilling candy. These shows eat confessions like those up, and shit them out as ratings gold. “Roll up, roll up, hear the secret shame of the obese!”

With every ratings-laden episode you can send messages like “The only thing that matters is being thin” or “Do you want to be accepted by society? Cut the fat!”

Then there’s the insidious, reprehensible theme of 2012’s Australian Biggest Loser: “Do you want to find someone to love you? Lose the weight, because thin people are the ones who find love.”

Look, I don’t know whether losing weight will help these people find love, but I suspect it’s a symptom, not a cause. If they’re anything like me, then the underlying factors driving someone to find solace in food aren’t likely to be the most conducive environment for a successful relationship.

So… what now? What’s with #LessWaz?

Some overweight people have chosen the path of fat acceptance. More power to them. I think what they do is important, because not all fat people are unhealthy and unfit, and not all slender folks are the epitome of good health.

I’m not judging those who choose a different path, but in my case I’ve been neither fit nor healthy. I respect those working for fat acceptance, but for me… it’s not something I can do. Even if I could somehow accept my body the way it is, and shed the shame, I haven’t been fit or healthy.

So, at the beginning of 2012, I changed my life because I need to – before things go from bad to worse.

More about that in Part II…

Standing on the outside…

“I’m standing on the outside looking in
I’m standing on the outside looking in…”
– Cold Chisel, Standing on the Outside

Over on her blog Grit & Glory, Alece wrote a post today about friendship. I wanted to comment, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep it short – she challenged me to write it up, so here it is. The first line in her post was this “I moved to Nashville to chase down community.”

Although not a driving factor for us, I was hoping that I’d be able to chase down the same thing when we moved to Melbourne in 2005. The church we left when we moved here was a medium sized church in a relatively small town. It was a pentecostal church that felt like it was leaning towards fundamentalism. I was increasingly struggling with questions that challenged that theology and with the depression that I was suffering on and off, I wasn’t a very happy part of that church community. By the time we moved, I was attending church sporadically, at best.

Growing up, my family was pretty insular. Part of our “spiritual journey” as a family was attending churches for two or three years at most, then moving on. So between staying away from non-Christians and moving from church to church. It makes it hard to really connect with people when they’re gone from your life after a couple of years.

On top of that, there was my near-complete inability to understand how friendships actually work. I’ve spent most of my life feeling like I’m standing outside the window, peering in at people who seem to intuitively understand how to relate, like some shared unspoken language.

To me, the move to Melbourne presented a fresh start. I thought it was a chance to make new friends, in a large enough place where I could meet lots of new people and connect with some of them, and maybe become part of a community.


It hasn’t really worked out like I’d hoped. We started attending a church; it was fairly small, and… maybe a little bit too similar to our previous church. There were a few young families, and a many lovely older folks, and quite a few youth. Not long after, most of the youth left. Then several of the people we’d connected to and started building relationships with left the church or moved away; excepting a couple of people, I struggled to really connect to those who remained. The church itself was changing too; not in a “bad” way – but I was reacting badly. I now understand why I was reacting, but the upshot is this: I think it’s difficult, or maybe even impossible to be part of a community when you’re reacting to the very things that drive that community, and/or when you’re questioning beliefs that the community considers to be their core beliefs.

As I drifted away from that community, I started spending time with the CafeChurch community. They’re a fantastic group of people, and for the first time in a very long time I felt like I was in a place where I could safely ask questions and not feel threatened or like I’d be driven away with torches and pitchforks (or “prophecies” and “biblical” smackdowns).

I have a family, and we live in Melbourne’s outer suburbs. CafeChurch is in the inner suburbs on Tuesday nights. I’m grateful for the friendships I made there, but the way our life works as a family just didn’t mesh well, and I didn’t feel like on my own I could be an active part of their core community.

We’ve been at our current church for a bit over a year, but I still feel like I’m disconnected, and I don’t understand why. I find myself wondering “Is there something I’m not doing or saying? Is it because these people have established relationships over many years, and we’re newcomers? What is the piece of the puzzle that I’m missing here?” – and what effect will my struggle with faith have?

The ‘how’ of friendships still mystifies me; I’m not sure what to do to make deep, long-lasting friendships with the people around me. Over the years, I’ve developed a few good, long term friendships, but I have no idea how they came to be, and most of those friends are geographically distant. For the friends who are geographically closer, I don’t know what the practical things are to do with the friendship to keep building it. Maybe everyone feels just like this. I just don’t know.

The truth is, I really don’t understand how I came to be friends with these wonderful people – I’m just grateful for their friendship.

A few weeks ago, @LosWhit posted this photo to Twitter, and I recognised a few of the people I follow on Twitter. I had a visceral reaction to that photo; I long for friendships that feel like that photo looks – but how do I get from here to there?


My front yard as a metaphor for my life.

We rent. I’d love to own again, but circumstances (and consequences of some poor decisions on my part) have not been conducive.

Unfortunately, one of the possibilities of renting is being asked to being given notice to vacate. Of the two houses we’ve lived in since we moved to Melbourne, the first we had to leave because a real-estate agent (apparently) didn’t report anything that we reported back to the landlord – and a switch to a new landlord didn’t end well when the file contained none of the wear and tear we’d reported. Lesson learnt: Small children cause damage, and when you report it, ALWAYS put it in writing.

The second time, it seems the landlord got caught out by the GFC and had to sell. We got the notice to vacate two days after Jessica’s funeral. Timing was pretty poor, but could have been much worse, if it weren’t for our rental agents being particularly awesome and going in to bat for us with the landlord.

We landed on our feet when we got this place. It ticked almost every checkbox we had, and we got to stay with our current rental agents. But the front yard…

An exercise in missing the point

Today the Federal Government Department of Health and Ageing announced their “Stronger Immunisation Incentives” policy.

The text can be found here.

This sounds like an excellent idea. Finally, the government steps up; they will cut off Family Tax Benefit bonus payments to those who refuse to immunise their children, endangering not only their children’s lives, but also the lives of those children who are too young to be immunised. If you don’t immunise your kids, you don’t get the full family tax benefit.

This is great, right? Wrong.

A question of loss.

What can you say after a year like this?

If everything had gone to plan, at this point of the year, I’d be cuddling up with my six month old daughter, watching her roll noises around in her mouth and attempt to make words with them; battling with my wife and kids over who changes the next nappy, and wondering how long it would be before we’d need to start putting baby gates up around the house. Excitedly awaiting her first Christmas.

Instead, I live with the loss; I’ve lost more than I expected.

There’s been other things happen, mostly good, a few not so good. Nothing in the order of what happened with our little Jessica. Although we laid her tiny body in the ground on that hot summer’s morning in January, I didn’t realise until much later that I’d taken something away with me too. A seed of doubt, planted by questions thrust upon me by circumstances outside my control.

Oh, I’ve tried to ignore them, to push them away, to drown them. But they refuse to leave me alone, to go away quietly. They nag at me, nipping at my heels.


It’s now mid-August. I want to write, but I haven’t been writing.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. I haven’t been writing as much as I would like to. When I do write, I can’t finish the posts. They just ramble off into nothing.

I’ve been tweeting too, but maybe I’ve been wasting my words in 140 character bursts.

But that’s not even the entirety of it. I’ve been grasping at words for months. They won’t come, at least not in coherent paragraphs.

They’re unformed, ephemeral. When they do come, it’s at the most inopportune times. When I should be working, or when I’m trying to fall asleep (and I’ve been struggling to sleep for months), or when I’m in the car, with both hands on the wheel.