Chola-Style, Religious Iconography and Me

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I’ve become fascinated by California and LA lately. This is largely to do with the music I love – rock, pop and soul. This led me to the book City of Style by Melissa Magsasay, about LA style.

I was surprised to be most drawn to Chola style and have been adapting the look for my own use, as suitable for someone of my age. The Chola look is based on Chicano gang girls’ style – working class Mexican immigrants from the 1920s onwards. It is characterised, today, by arched eyebrows, ruby lips, big hoop earrings, bandanas, checked shirts, tattoos, skinny jeans and converse trainers. In pop culture terms think of Gwen Stefani, Fergie, Amy Winehouse and Kat Von D.

At my age I can do without the tattoos but pretty much everything else is a great look for any age – strong, sexy but not slutty, tomboyish yet also girly. What’s not to love? I picked up a fabulous grey checked shirt, complete with pearly buttons, and it fits perfectly, from an incredibly scruffy charity shop in my home town – that originally came from a Los Angeles’ shop. A bargain at £1.00. What gold lies in them there hills! I wore the ‘look’ at church BBQ this evening. We humans have to wear clothes – might as well make it fun!

Cholas use a lot of religious jewellery in their attire too, albeit, Roman Catholic-related. Well, I’m not a Catholic but it’s refreshing to see faith worn as fashion when it has a direct link to someone’s heritage and beliefs rather than just in the way that crucifixes are  often worn with no thought as to what that symbol means.

Love Poem Creeps Me Out

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Platonic friend just sent me this poem. How on earth do you respond to this? I mean, is it meant as a message? Is it just ‘sharing’. God knows? And he’s not telling. I have responded by saying that it is not my scene. I even used the word ‘creepy’. I would not have even sent this to my husband. A well  seized upon song lyric is more my style.

Here is the poem:

“Yes, yours, my love, is the right human face.
I in my mind had waited for this long,
Seeing the false and searching for the true,
Then found you as a traveller finds a place
Of welcome suddenly amid the wrong
Valleys and rocks and twisting roads. But you,
What shall I call you? A fountain in a waste,
A well of water in a country dry,
Or anything that’s honest and good, an eye
That makes the whole world seem bright. Your open heart,
Simple with giving, gives the primal deed,
The first good world, the blossom, the blowing seed,
The hearth, the steadfast land, the wandering sea.
Not beautiful or rare in every part.
But like yourself, as they were meant to be.”

Edwin Muir

A Hostage to Technology

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New Male Friend helped to fix me up with a desktop computer a few months ago via this tech guy he knows It worked brilliantly for about 7 months then went berserk. I had it fixed at PC World but it’s collapsed and died again.

Blow this. I’ve ended up ditching it and buying a flippin’ new laptop. I hate being tied to tech but when your work is computer-based PLUS you have a chronic illness you are massively reliant on technology for money making and for socialising, research and creativity.

This is my first blog post on the new machine. Thank you, God, for my mum, who’s going to pay something towards it for me.

The Prodigal Son in Modern Life by James Tissot

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tissot

This evening’s message (sermon) was on Praying for Prodigals, i.e., praying for those who have been Christians but abandoned a Christian life and who have gone AWOL. Quite a complex subject, especially for me as I don’t know any prodigals. I have either Christian friends or non-Christian friends, on account of coming to the church relatively late in life.

I’m sure my non-Christian friends would see this as an ethical matter, saying, we have free will and it’;s up to us what we do or believe whereas my Christian ones see it as a spiritual crisis that must be prayed for.

Not sure where I stand. I have non-Christian friends whose actions are Christ-like (they just don’t know it or know God) and I see some Christians who are judgemental and small-minded! But I also see some great Christians and some pretty awful non-Christians.

There Was a Time for Emotional Release

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I am a big fan of rock music and throughout my separation and divorce I have been deeply affected by various songs.

One such is ‘Frail’ by Jars of Clay, a Christian band known to many. The song reminds me of Richard Hawley’s ‘The Ocean’. It is extremely haunting.

But the song that truly gets to me is called ‘There Was a Time’ by the ‘new’ Guns and Roses (2008). It’s from Chinese Democracy, a hugely underrated albumand is considered a masterpiece in all its angst-ridden, full-blown glory. The music is incredible. Would love to send this song to my ex but he’d scoff or it wouldn’t register with him that this is how I feel. It wouldn’t be a wise thing to do anyway as one should work on detachment. But… it’s the best song about hurt, betrayal, sadness and regret.

However, here are the lyrics, though you need to match them with the music for the cathartic effect. And tell me of your ’emotional’ songs.

“There Was A Time”
Broken glass and cigarettes
Writin’ on the wall
It was a bargain for the summer
And I thought I had it all
I was the one who gave you everything
The one who took the fall
You were the one who would do anything
The one who can’t recall
Where she was while she was sleepin’
In another women’s bed
Or the doctor’s or the lawyer’s
Or the stranger that she met
If there’s nothin’ that I can gain from this
Or anything at all
It’d be the knowledge that you gave me
When I thought I’d heard it all

It was a long time for you
(It was a long time)
It was a long time for me
(It was a long time)
It’d be a long time for anyone but
(It was a long time)
Looks like it’s meant to be

Social class and registers
Cocaine in the hall
All the way from California
On the way to your next call
To those non-negotiations
To stimulate a cause
For the betterment of evils
And your ways around the laws
That keep you up and sitting pretty
On a pedestal or bed
And now you’re sleeping like an angel
Never mind who gave you head
If there’s somethin’ I can make of this
Or anything at all
It’d be the devil hates a loser
And you thought you had it all

It was the wrong time for you
(It was a long time)
It was the wrong time for me
(It was a long time)
It was the wrong time for anyone but
(It was a long time)
Looks like I’m ’bout to see for myself

If I could go back in time
To the place in my soul
There all alone
Lonely teardrops ooh
Are callin’ you
But I don’t want to know it now
Cause knowin’ you
It won’t change a damn thing
But there was a time
Yeah there was a time
Didn’t want ta know it all…
Didn’t wanna know it all…
N’ I don’t wanna know it now
Yeah there was a time
Didn’t want ta know it all…
Didn’t wanna know it all…
N’ I don’t wanna know it now
Oh

Oh I would do anything for you
There was a time
I would do anything for you
I would do anything for you
There was a time

There was a time
I would do anything for you
Ooh…
Yeah, there was a time
Didn’t want ta know it all…
Didn’t wanna know it all…
Ooh…
N’ I don’t wanna know it now
I would do…
Didn’t want to know at all…
Anything for you
Didn’t wanna know at all…
N’ I don’t wanna know it now

There was a time…
There was a time

Rose, Huge, Stinson

How ‘An Education’ Reveals That Mental Maturity and Emotional Maturity Are Not the Same

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English: Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard at...

English: Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard, October 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve just re-watched the BBC film An Education, [2008] starring the wonderful Carey Mulligan. I enjoyed it much more than the first time I saw it. Perhaps my head is in a different place.

Although I am not as clever as the Carey Mulligan character, (Jenny) who is based on the writer of the memoir, Lynn Barber, the school she attends really reminded me of the grammar school I went to in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Even the insistence on the fastening of that top button of one’s school blouse…

It almost beggars belief that Jenny’s parents could be taken in by smooth talking David, the older, glamorous man, but when I look back my own parents were equally naive. Not that I was getting up to anything outrageous but I’m sure that they trusted me far too much. In effect, their trust, while flattering, could almost be seen as a benign neglect.

But when you are in the top class at school, singing songs in Latin in the choir, and articulate, you are trusted. Yet this does not mean that you are emotionally mature – not at all. This is the lesson that Jenny learns through her dalliance with David. She may have seen Paris and the insides of jazz clubs but she’s just a child playing dress up.

Incidentally, it was through going to church of England schools and singing in choirs that I always had some tenuous relationship with Christianity. Okay, I didn’t truly understand what it was I was singing about but the ground was prepared.

The Best Thing About Being Single Is…

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I don’t really evangelise such but what I do is ‘testify’ – in other words, I talk to non-Christian friends about how I became a Christian and involved with my church when they ask me.

When they can see that you have not turned into a nutter they take you more seriously. My personality hasn’t changed greatly but my behaviour has, on the whole. My beliefs haven’t changed too much – rather they become more my own beliefs. I think before my beliefs were very heavily influenced by those of my husband, who is a man of very strong opinion. Only through becoming single have I been able to work out what it is I actually do believe and don’t believe about all sorts of things.

This discovering who you are is the best thing about being single after a long marriage or relationship has ended.

Beyond Belief (album)

Beyond Belief (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Where’s God on Days Like This?

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No. 1 in Heaven

No. 1 in Heaven (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s hard to believe when things go wrong – like today.

  1. Lost the flat that was perfect for me to buy. (Buying due to divorce). It truly was great and I thought I had it in the bag.
  2. Left my landline handset out in the rain. Now it is a dead line not a land line phone.
  3. Aged dog vomiting blood. Can see that she is heading for the heavens – dog heaven. Am heartbroken about this.
  4. Trailed around numerous estate agents – nothing doing.
  5. All this only exacerbates my chronic illness. Terrific.
  6. Guy-friend has proved to be a real let down. And possibly insane.

“God has a plan and purpsoe for your life,” they say. Mmm. Not convinced. Unless the plan is to be constantly thwarted.
Heaven knows, I’m miserable now! I’ll try praying, maybe.

Scrabble in the Playground

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New Game :) What does a Scrabble game you play...

New Game 🙂 What does a Scrabble game you played in tell about yourself? (Photo credit: garlandcannon)

I’ve been continuing with my adventures in Scrabble. Online it’s going well; in the real world, pretty dire. Mind you, I have only played four games IRL in my entire adult life. I should not be this hard on myself!

The main reason I wanted to play is because of the people involved. I have known these people for about seven years, though not intimately. They are younger than me – about 20 years younger – grammar school educated and just nice, polite, interesting types. I tend to have a good time when I am with them.  Now, of course, I want to play Scrabble well too. It’s going to be along haul!

Entering into a friend group can can make you feel like the new kid at school. It’s quite a vulnerable thing to put yourself through, especially with younger people.  And I am using up some energy I have put into my church activities to do this Scrabble. But when you want to form new friendships you have to put in the effort. Once you are more established you can move in and out of the group. Missing my church stuff actually but I have a few things booked in there too over the coming weeks.

 

 

Facebook Fast Observations

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The fast continues, though I have fallen off the wagon at times. I have to log into FB to play Scrabble (that’s another story) and hence can not help seeing some posts. I felt compelled to respond to posts about two untimely deaths plus the illness of a church friend who is out in Peru.

However, being less welded to FB has led to greater happiness as one is not sucked into the hyped-up ‘Look at me and my great life’ vortex that Facebook can very often be. I have felt slightly on the outside at times but nothing major.

Ironically I have just been made an Admin for my church’s public Facebook page.

Lima - Peru

Lima – Peru (Photo credit: Martintoy)

 

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TS Eliot and The Road to Emmaus

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I’ve been rereading some T S Eliot recently. Studied him at uni. Have loved ‘The Wasteland‘ ever since. I have found the passage that alludes to the Road to Emmaus very moving lately. It comes near the end of the poem. The hope of new life after the dry, dry desert, the  monotony and banality of city life… and then some! I love that bit about ‘the white road’:

Robert Zünd, 1877

Robert Zünd, 1877 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Who is the third who walks always beside you?

When I count, there are only you and I together

But when I look ahead up the white road

There is always another one walking beside you

Gliding wrapped in a brown mantle, hooded

I do not know whether a man or a woman

–But who is that on the other side of you?”

 

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On a Facebook Fast

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I am on a fast from Facebook! No liking, sharing, posting, commenting except on my business page or the pages of clients. It’s harder than I thought. I aim for two weeks.

Will be interesting to see what else I do with the time I would be frittering away on Facebook. I could be resting, praying, working, blogging or talking to the dog.

facebook engancha

facebook engancha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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A Gal With a Plan

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Plan A

Plan A (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite the fact that this has been a humungously rubbish day health-wise I am beginning to formulate a plan for moving forward. Some of it won’t please my church-going chums but I’ll keep my own counsel and do it anyway.

Here’s a brief gist:

  1. Have more or less decided where I want to live. And it’s not in this town.
  2. Get house in tip-top shape for potential sale down the line. How I am going to do this with little money and poor health I don’t know but I shall find a way.
  3. Get back on antidepressants if doctor agrees. Would prefer ones that don’t make me gain weight ‘cos since my op I have lost lots of weight. One of the keys has been being AD-free. It’s a tough choice. Thin  and miserable or fat and happy. Great!
  4. Get some good photos done of myself. Might ask a semi-professional I know. Failing that a camera-happy friend. This would boost my self-esteem.
  5. Keeping working on myself in all ways.
  6. Keep redefining what I want in my life.
  7. Maintain my own path – don’t be swayed by what others think or detractors if I know that it is not truly ‘me’. However, seek advice when it is called for.

 

 

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Five A Week Challenge is HARD!

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Boris Kustodiev's Pascha Greetings (1912) show...

Boris Kustodiev’s Pascha Greetings (1912) shows traditional Russian khristosovanie (exchanging a triple kiss), with such foods as red eggs, kulich and paskha in the background (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Meet Five a Week Challenge as recommended by Dr Henry Cloud is ridiculously hard! I have done a lot of smiling and saying hello at men – old, young, but not got into any conversations with any apart from museum cool younger dude who was probably gay anyway.

Easter was filled with men in couples. No joy there then! The only men who ever talk to me are either much older, granddad types who are just nice and chatty or much younger men who appear to find me vaguely intriguing but who ultimately will be looking for same-age partners.

 

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Quit With the Promises, Dude!

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Red flags

Red flags (Photo credit: rvw)

I have had a Disappointment in Love but now I am just angry! I have thought back over the 2 – 3  years I have known This Church Guy and written down all the red flags I’ve sensed which have stopped me properly falling for him. I’ve come up with more than ten!! And they are big red flags too!

My discernment is back in tact. Whether friend or potential love interest this dude needs to earn my long-term respect, quit with the promises and follow through with action.
The b**ch is back! (Sorry, non-swearing readers.)
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Date! Didn’t Work Out!

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A Man With No Morals ...No More Rolls

A Man With No Morals …No More Rolls (Photo credit: Lady Wulfrun)

Went on a date via Christian Connection. He approached me a week ago. I did not think I would fancy this guy, having seen his pictures, but his profile words and his emails were brilliant and I decided that maybe I find him attractive if he was a beautiful person. He’d been a real high flyer too.

Sadly, it did not work out. He was a warm, lively person and intelligent but he did do a few rum things! He’s 60 years old and has very obviously dyed hair, in that Just for Men kind of way. Black. No grey. Bad idea. He looked like how I imagine Ken Worthington, sidekick of comedian John Shuttleworth, would look. He was also very short. Now I am a sucker for little guys but not this one.

He asked virtually no questions of me. He told me we weren’t a match. (No surprise there). And then he asked me to split the bill!!! For coffee and cake! This is a big no-no in the Christian world! The man is expected to be chivalrous. And he is very comfortably off (I am not). Then he told me I was nicer looking in real life than in my profile pics as in one I look “a little hard”! Thanks, man!

It was pretty dispiriting really but fortunately I can laugh about it now. I guess I’m not wondering. I doubt I shall find love online. It’s not the best place when you have a chronic illness cos people do judge you on that info whereas in real life they get to know you in a rounded way…

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I Am a Woman. Not ‘one of the lads’.

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The Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am following a health programme and one essential is to deal with emotions as they arise rather than letting them fester. With this in mind allow me to emote!

Friendly Guy – my friend in the church. He’s gone outside of the church to find a relationship (and succeeded) because, in his words, “There’s no-one for me at this church.” This he has told me three times.

Sorry, love, but that’s a rubbish thing to say to a woman even if she is not your type/age/remotely of interest to you. I’m still a woman. Not a bloke. Not “one of the lads”. Not invisible.

Another friend, let’s call him D, who is (or was) like a nephew to me met his now wife on one of the naffest websites known to daters. He was bound to succeed cos he has everything going for him – as does his now wife. Some people will be snapped up immediately. As D got into his new relationship I was dropped like a stone! Maybe that’s how it should be. I don’t know. But it did hurt.

Friendly Guy has already turned from  being the most sociable and proactive church group member to one who is focused on new love. That kind of hurts too ‘cos we, the ones left behind, are who accompanied him on his difficult journey.

I am being selfish. We should be prepared to let our brother go – and, like a family, be there for him when the difficult times come or if it doesn’t work out, or be there to celebrate with him when it all goes brilliantly. That’s how it should be.

What’s the underlying emotion here that I am feeling? Resentment. Hey. Just getting it out there!

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Chained No More – Release the Fetters!

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A broad metal chain.

A broad metal chain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have started a new course at church called Chained No More. It is for the adult children of divorced parents and helps participants to explore and address issues that arise within us ‘children’ (even though we are grownup) resulting from that divorce and other childhood brokenness.

While my own divorce is still throwing up issues I realised that really it is pain and confusion from my childhood that

  1. led me to marry my STBX spouse in the first place and
  2. is impacting greatly on my own ability to recover from the separation and move on effectively.

See http://robynbministries.com/chainednomore for more details.

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“I Seek Wife in Yonder Valley”

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Mountain

Mountain (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

One of my church guy-friends, who I met through the divorce group, has just started dating.

We have known each other for a few years and we have become closer this year. This man has got it all – looks, a lovely demeanour, godly, witty, quietly confident, part of a great family… I could go on! He is 14 years younger than me; we are in the ‘friendzone’

He has met someone through a Christian dating website. Now, this guy is such a great catch that the minute he was ready to meet another woman I knew he would be snapped up. And she has.

Mmmm… I am a little disappointed that he went online to find a potential partner. This is due, partly, to my own issues and lack of confidence that I will ever meet someone else BUT there’s more to it than that.  Going online seems almost primitive/feudal/fairy-tale-like. Village’s favourite son turns back on the womenfolk of his parish and travels across high mountain to yonder valley to seek wife.

I find it hard to believe that he could not find someone to date from within our large church. But maybe I am talking about dating – i.e., going out  a few times with someone, hanging out, getting used to being with someone of the opposite sex again (but with no sex involved). Maybe he is looking for something more serious.

But here’s the thing: there are many more single women in our church than there are single men. If the few men that remain go online to find a partner that could push us women to have to go online too. I really don’t want to do that. (See my next post for reasons).

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