Monsieur Albert Rides to Glory

One really fun period of my life was working at the late, great Adyar Bookshop under the management of Peter Smith. He was (is) a gentle, adventurous soul and he managed us all with great good humour and indulgence. I well remember a quite mad woman lodging a complaint about me ("I don't like that fat man! He is sarcastic!") on my first day working for him, and he defended me gallantly, thereby assuring my undying loyalty.
He was an inveterate traveller (doing a Mongolia trip while I worked for him) and a committed cyclist, having undergone lunatic feats of physical endurance like cycling around Vietnam at the height of Summer! 
Little did I know that he was also a poet! Peter has just released his first children's book, Monsieur Albert Rides to Glory, illustrated by no less a luminary than Bob Graham, one of the most celebrated and beloved children's book illustrators in the world.

What's even more extraordinary is that the book was written no less than 30 years ago. It was shelved while both men pursued their separate careers but, recognising the growing popularity of cycling as a sport, they dusted off their old manuscript about the Tour de France and have released it to a delighted public.
Of course, some changes had to be made. M. Albert is a little older, but a little sleeker than in the original drawings. He has also dropped a couple of unfortunate habits, notably smoking and drinking. But he remains an unlikely hero, and one that children between 6 and 8 will relate to with great pleasure.
So, congratulations my old friend, and if you are looking for a delightful, inspiring and utterly unique Christmas gift for the children in your llife, look no further than Monsieur Albert Rides to Glory.

Oh, and if you live in Sydney and want an autographed copy, here's a tip - head to Abbey's Bookshop in the City.

Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson

Many of you know that this Christmas the Moderator of the Metropolitan Community Churches (i.e. the top dog!), the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, will be coming to Sydney to lead a number of services.

The Metropolitan Community Church was founded by the Rev. Troy Perry to minister specifically to the gay and lesbian community, though it has always been open to everyone. Troy and the MCC were fundamental parts of the gay liberation movement in the States in the 1970s and 80s.
Here is Rev. Nancy's biography:

 Rev. Wilson was elected to the position of Moderator of MCC in 2005, following the retirement of the Founder of MCC, Rev. Elder Troy Perry and in July 2010, she was re-elected for a term of six years.  Her office is in Sarasota, Florida.

Rev. Wilson obtained her B.A. from Allegheny College, her M.Div. from St. Cyril and Methodius Seminary and is a D.Min. from Episcopal Divinity School.

She served as pastor of Church of the Trinity MCC in Sarasota, Florida from 2001 to 2005 and was previously pastor of MCC Los Angeles from 1986 until 2001, the church founded by Troy Perry in 1968.  Rev. Wilson joined MCC as Associate Pastor of MCC Boston in 1972 at 22 years of age.  She served as Pastor of MCC Detroit from 1975 to 1979. She was elected Elder of MCC of 1976 and served as Vice-Moderator from 1993 to 2001.

Rev. Wilson served as Clerk of the Board of Elders for ten years; and became MCC’s first Chief Ecumenical Officer, a post she held for 23 years.  She has been the official delegate of MCC to the World Council of Churches General Assemblies in Canberra, Australia (1991); Harare, Zimbabwe (1998) and Porto Alegre, Brazil (2006).

Rev. Wilson is an Associate Minister with The Fellowship and in 2011 was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Her published works include:  Our Tribe:  Queer Folks, God, Jesus and the Bible (Alamo Press); with Fr. Malcolm Boyd, Amazing Grace; and her prayers and poems are included in Race and Prayer edited by Malcolm Boyd and Chester Talton (Morehouse Press).  She is a popular preacher and speaker; has been honored with the first “Lazarus Award” from the Presbyterian Church and was invited to preach at the Earl Lectures at Pacific School of Religion in 2002.

We are so privileged to have Rev. Nancy here over Christmas. She will be leading services at various Metropolitan Community Churches across the city and at the Christmas Eve Service at Sydney Town Hall.

The Modern Pilgrim

Eremos have organised a really fascinating event about pilgrimage for early in 2013.
Do book in early, as I have a feeling this is going to be a very popular afternoon. Details:

The Modern Pilgrim

Join two modern pilgrims as they discuss the growth in popularity of pilgrimage, its meaning and its history. 

Authors Rosamund Burton (Castles, Follies and Four-Leaf Clovers) and Walter Mason (Destination Saigon) talk about the meaning of pilgrimage in an age of mass tourism. 

MC for the afternoon will be writer and psychotherapist Sharon Snir.

Sunday 3 March 2013, 3pm-5pm,
Paddington RSL, 220-232 Oxford St, Paddington. Register via the Eremos website or contact for more information.

Name Dropping the Personal

I might seem to give away a lot in my writing, but in fact I am a shy and private person – even secretive. I was born under the sign of Scorpio, after all.

 Paradoxically, I use my written confessions to control what people know about me.

People are surprised occasionally by just exactly what I tell. For example, a writer friend, once expressed surprise that I did a blog post about the offerings I make to Guan Di, a Chinese deity. “Aren’t you afraid,” she said, “that some people will judge you for it?”

I write about my friends, and I worry constantly about how much of them I should be exposing. Is it even ethical? Being a writer is about betraying everyone around you – your friends, your family. How do we live with ourselves? And I get anxious when other writer friends tell me they are recording our encounters. This year I travelled to Thailand with a writer friend from Cambodia and he was planning to turn the whole journey into a book. This made me increasingly uneasy until I finally asked him: "Please, could you use a pseudonym for me?" An outrageous request, I know, considering how many of my friends end up in my own writing.

Perhaps, also, in our personal writing we are confessing to the parts of ourself that we would like to be more significant. In my writing I am slightly more daring, more dangerous, than I would seem in real life. And the friends I discuss in my writing are always the most outrageous, the most extreme – drunks and criminals being express favourites of mine, a la Jean Genet. My poor dull and respectable acquaintances barely get a look in.

People want to know how they can make their personal writing more interesting, and I’d like to give the following two tips:

1)    Name drop. Secretly we are all snobs- those that deny it are the worst snobs of all. If you have encounters, no matter how limited, with the great and famous, get it all down in writing. People will always be fascinated by this. The same goes for great, historic events. E.F. Benson, one of my favourite name-droppers, did it brilliantly in his memoir of the Victorian era, As We Were. He is constantly alluding to literary celebrities, aristocrats and politicians, even if he only saw them talking to friends at a party. But of course, this kind of gossip is absolutely delicious, and makes the book dazzle.

2)    Write about festivals and holidays that most of your readers share. That way you get your own unique perspective on things across, but also give your reader a way in, something they can compare their own experiences with. My friend Sharon Snir, for example, in her Little Book of Everyday Miracles writes about the way she used to experience Christmas, particularly waiting for the arrival of Santa Claus. Readers can either recognise their own similar experiences and so feel comforted, or they can say, "Oh, my experience of Santa Claus was nothing like that," and so become more involved in Sharon's story that way.

Don't forget that in November I am speaking on a panel on this very subject at the Emerging Writers' Festival one-day Sydney roadshow at the NSW Writers' Centre. More info here.

More Oscar Wilde in As We Were by E.F. Benson

E. F. Benson, a closeted gay man, was quite scathing in his view of Wilde, who he saw as effeminate and unnecessarily flamboyant. In a passage where he is discussing the great convesationalists of the 1890s, Benson writes:

"Oscar Wilde...seldom joined in general conversation because he conducted the most of it himself."

E.F. Benson, As We Were, p. 203

Of course, by the time Benson got around to writing this memoir (in 1932) Wilde was long dead and so he didn't have to worry about the repurcussions of what he was saying.
But for most of us who write memoir the feelings of friends and family are still very much to be considered. How much of ourselves do we give away, and how much of our friends do we expose? Tricky questions indeed.
Next month I am on a panel at the Emerging Writers' Festival one-day roadshow in Sydney at the NSW Writers' Centre discussing exactly these issues. If you are interested in writing memoir (or anything else, for that matter) I think you would find the whole day terrifically interesting and inspiring, so do consider coming along. More details here.

My Instagram Life

It occurs to me that I haven't done an Instagram post in ages. Here is my October thus far, as viewed through the ubiquitous Instagram filters:

I taught at the Eremos retreat which was hosted at the Sisters of Mercy retreat centre in Bathurst.

Eating empanadas at La Paula Chilean bakery in Fairfield.

The Moon Festival in Cabramatta.

Enjoying Ramen Raff's red velvet cupcakes at Home Cafe in the Lower Ground Floor of the Queen Victoria Building

On the train, always on the train...

Spring is here, and I doscovered this gorgeous little collection of flowers in an alleyway in Strathfield.

The Sacred, Science and Sustainability

A  4 week lunchtime dialogue Thursdays 12.30-1.30pm
Oct 11, 18, 25, Nov 1
264 Pitt Street, Sydney

As science is revealing a new understanding of the universe,  we are challenged to look afresh at our understanding of our relationships to all of creation and deepen our sense of the sacredness and Mystery of God in creation. This may challenge old images of God but also offers new ways to  see  how the Spirit of God is moving in an unfolding, evolving universe. It can guide us towards creating a more sustainable future and a more contemplative way of being, one which sees connections, affirms life and can transform the way we live.

In these  introductory  sessions we will use the guidance of theologians including ThomasBerry,  Bruce Sanguin, and  Michael & Connie  Barlow who have brought together understandings from science and religion,  to give a challenging  vision of living in a sacred  interconnected universe.

Facilitated by: Janet O’Sullivan, retreat facilitator with Eremos and Aust. ChristianMeditation Community, Isobel Bishop (Pitt Street UC)

Donation to cover costs.

Medium Jade-Sky on Living Your Purpose

Australian "Everyday Medium" Jade-Sky, acclaimed intuitive and the author of several books, including Psychic Secrets, was kind enough to send me a few answers to some burning questions I had for her.

Jade-Sky's down-to-earth wisdom and advice is just wonderful, and I am so excited to be able to share this with you:

Q1. I have just finished reading "The No Excuses Guide to Uncovering Your Purpose," the wonderful and very inspiring book you wrote with Stacey De Marco. How long have you felt you were living your purpose, and when did you realise it? 

My purpose is to be a mother but also a connector. I feel like I have been really living my purpose in the past 18 years. I first became a mother 14 years ago and as a connector 19 years ago. I started to connect people with information, and as a psychic medium I connect them with their spirit guides and passed loved ones.
Even though I have been born as a connector and psychic medium I didn’t realise that this was in fact my purpose until around 12 years ago. I knew that I wanted to help people and knew that I had a gift for doing readings for people but I wasn’t sure exactly what my purpose was besides being a Mum and a psychic medium. Being a connector is more than that it is about connecting to all different energies and connecting people to what they need.

Q2. If I could do something this month, or a series of things, to help me realise my life's purpose, what do you think it should be?

The first thing I would suggest you to do is to find out what in life gives you the most joy, what is something you love to do that you lose time doing? I would also get you to do the exercises in our book . One of the most powerful exercises is the sticky note exercise, it may sound simple but it is amazing to see how clear people become after they answer the questions and really look at what it is they do like, what they originally wanted to be or do when they were a child and things that really do make their heart sing.

Q3. Your have written a popular book called "Psychic Secrets" - can you tell us one of those secrets? And if people, like me, don't feel like they are particularly intuitive, what is one thing you could recommend they do to help awaken their psychic intuition?

The biggest secret of all is that you don’t have to have a huge Aladdin moment with a genie jumping out of a bottle telling you that you are psychic. Every person is born with their own intuition, it’s just that some people develop their intuition more or are predisposed to having stronger psychic ability.
To awaken your own intuition you need to start sensing and feeling and exploring the world around you without just using what you see visually. The biggest thing is to ask for signs even if you don’t think you are intuitive or don’t know who your spirit guides are. Ask for signs, signs always come to me in three different ways all with the same message.

Q.4. I know that you believe in past lives. What would you say to someone who was sceptical about the concept? What have you seen/become aware of that has convinced you of the truth of this?

Past lives are a passion of mine, I understand that many people may be sceptical about the concept but there are many universities around the world, and in particular in India, that have been vigorously studying the area of past lives. These universities  have studied children who have memories of their past lives and they have gone on to give great detail of their previous lives without having any access to this information. These children have come from remote villages in India without technology all the way to children from the USA, and the UK.
Recollection of past lives is not limited to any one culture or race but there are some cultures who are more open to the concept and have had it be part of their spiritual practice for thousands of years.
Over the past 20 years in my own practice as a psychic medium I have read many people and have seen their past lives and shared with them particular details that have made complete sense to them and even explained to them why they have such a strong like or dislike to someone or something or an unexplained injury or birthmark that has come through from a past life.
I have experienced many past life recollections myself, as well as witnessed some past life skills in my youngest child, my six year old daughter. My daughter has the same psychic gift as I do but since she was a toddler she has been very drawn to particular things my other children haven’t been. For example my daughter has blonde/light brown hair and brown eyes, she is Caucasian, but ever since she was tiny she has always been drawn to dolls that have very tan or dark skin, dark curly hair and dark eyes. She used always draw pictures of herself with dark skin and very dark hair and would not realise that this is not what she actually looked like.  She is only just realising this now that she is six and has started school. There are many more examples, far too many to write here but I encourage you to look into past lives - they are very interesting.

Q. 5. Can you give some pieces of advice to someone who wants to take the leap and explore their own creativity?

To take the leap and explore your own creativity you first need to free your mind of any preconceived ideas or guilt about what you should be doing. Often creative people feel guilty for taking time out of their so-called normal working hours to do something that they love or to create something.
Your creativity is about opening up to what you are feeling and sensing and just going with the flow. Do not let your mind take over and stop your flow.
Also do not be limited by what other people think you should be doing. Being creative means different things to different people, but I take it as living the life that you want and be able to feel and sense and enjoy your passion. It goes back to doing something that you love!


Medium and author Jade-Sky
Jade-Sky is an author and psychic who has appeared on Channel 7's Sunrise and who, over the past 18 years, has fine tuned her natural skills in the areas of Tarot and Oracle card reading, psychometry, mediumship/channeling and past lives.
Jade-Sky's books Psychic Secrets and The No-Excuses Guide to Uncovering Your Purpose (with co-author Stacey De Marco) are published by Rockpool Publishing.
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