I saw ‘Blue Valentine, starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams last night with a group of friends. It’s the sort of film that makes me think ‘I hope my kids haven’t seen this,’ then I think ‘I don’t think my mum would want me to see this’ and then I decide it’s actually the type of film that I really like. I like these films because even though it bears little resemblance to my life it does portray life in a way that is raw, real and unscripted (or seemingly so).

We discussed this at length after the film over dinner but first we shared snippets of the year that has just passed. Sometimes with girlfriends a year can slide by without really getting together. This is the reality of life. Yet girlfriends have a unique way of folding back the layers to show what is beneath the surface. Sometimes there are literal wounds that have been covered by silk and lace creating the illusion that all is wonderful. This is the dilemma of ageing and we share our concerns and offer advice and places to go for scans and consultations.

Sometimes the wounds are emotional; fears for our children, thoughts about marriage and the direction of our careers. It’s the stuff of our hearts that begins to seep after champagne, Thai food or desserts with tea and coffee, late into the evening. For me this is life, rich and raw and wonderful.

Sometimes my heart is so wounded I don’t want to socialize, I worry that I will seep too much and overflow like the dam that the little Dutch boy could not stop with his finger.

The truth is that this week has been a good week for me (which is a result of a good week for Sam actually) and it is getting easier to brave the social interactions that my personality craves. As I sit amongst friends I discover common interests such as this pretty blog of the birthday girl (the reason we are together) and this website of another friend who I haven’t seen in so long. I hear that my friend has been into a detention centre and dressed girls for a formal and my heart is stirred to participate in getting more dresses for next year’s dance – so that all the girls can have options of what to wear. Maybe you have a dress to donate?

As we reflected on the film, the bits that went over my head (I’m slow sometimes) and we pieced it together: what we thought might happen next, or why what happened did happen, as we examined the characters; their flaws and the things we loved, we all decided that life is made up of moments. Some of these moments are so intensely beautiful they take your breath away.

For me, my favourite scene was when Dean (Ryan Gosling) was working as a removalist. He moved an old man Walter into a retirement home but rather than just delivering the furniture and all the paraphernalia he actually spent the day preparing the room. He hung fairy lights in the window, he put a wedding portrait on the dresser, he displayed a collection of matchboxes on the wall, he hung American flag bunting – it was the most touching moment to watch him gather the pieces of this old man’s life and create a montage of beauty. In doing so he placed value on this man and celebrated all the seemingly insignificant moments. He created order where there was previously just a jumbled mess of discarded pieces.

I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing a lot these last two weeks. I’ve been swimming in the sea pool and feeling a little bit lost without the rope that marks the boundary for my lane and the line at the bottom of the water that directs my path. With every sidewards turn for breath; I take in more than just oxygen. I take in the beauty of the rock wall and the chains along the boardwalk silhouetted against the blue summer sky. I listen to the voices of children who splash along the edges but I must find focus because without that rope to guide me I quickly find myself swimming diagonally from lane 8 to lane 2. Then there’s the woman walking in the white hat who doesn’t get out of my way though I am sure she saw me coming before I saw her.

At the end of each lap I cast an eye over to the direction of the wall and wish that I had seen the person who was previously swimming there hop out so that I can claim that spot. I want the wall. I want the direction it provides so that I can swim without distraction, the way I do in the Olympic pool. But life is like the sea pool mostly. Sometimes there is not a whole lot of direction or vision or purpose. Sometimes in the agony of dealing with all the things we fear (what lurks beneath in the seaweed?) we do what it says in Proverbs 29:28 – we cast off restraint. We begin to think our life doesn’t matter, that it is just an insignificant dot on a page that nobody else can see.

Returning from the pool the other day I walked in to hear my son hammering, redecorating his room. I’m pretty relaxed about the kids redecorating. Sometimes it’s a nightmare of black chalkboard paint, badly prepared architraves and spills on the carpet but mostly they do a good job. In the end when everything is tidy and neat, we stand back and admire their handwork. Jack’s wall is an ever-changing dialogue of vintage finds, quotes and posters.

Jack's room

Champagne Chairs

Watching Ryan Gosling, I smiled and whispered to my friend that Jack would like that room! I smiled thinking of the little boats my son has made from torn up penguins, the rows of champagne chairs he’s made from lids and wire that he has foraged from my parties and the collage of chalkboard messages written by friends. The other day he was mounting old timber boxes for shelves to display more collections.

Emma's room

Emma’s room depicts her goals to travel; maps and postcards from Paris and India intermingled with invitations to 21st’s, engagement parties and such. Sam’s room is a collection of simple images, clocks and shelves of books – this too evolves as time passes.

Sam's room

Time passes doesn’t it! Ever so quickly and sometimes it looks like everything may just fall apart in a moment. This is why I hold on to the knowledge that in spite of my many insecurities and all of my brokenness it is God who hung the stars. They look like dots on a midnight page to me, awe inspiring but fragile from my vantage point. Yet they hang in perfect balance and like the things that may seem insignificant to anybody else – my deals, your deals – are hugely significant to God.

I like the words of Don Miller, ‘There is something beautiful about a billion stars held steady by a God who knows what He is doing. They hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free-form verse, silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz.’ And every time I relinquish control to Him, he brings all the order and compassion, significance and wonder, hope and direction, dreams and vision to my little life. Because of this I step into 2011 with wonderful goals knowing He will ordain my steps.

Proverbs 16:9
The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.

Tell me about you? What is your blue – deeply wonderful or a little sad today?



Filed under Life

13 responses to “Blue

  1. And once again you have managed to bring a tear to my eye, just like the movie… Except last night it was dark and today I’m crying in daylight!
    I can’t stop thinking about Blue Valentine, it certainly moved me.
    Life is a journey not a destination and if you spend your life waiting to arrive, you miss the out on the beauty of the path you walk.

    • Clare Froggatt

      It was so powerfully moving and unsettling, beautiful and all at once terrifyingly poignant. Such a joy to see you and hear about the amazing things you are doing. I think we should start something with the dress drive. Do we know anyone clever who could create a ‘button’ or something for our blogs?

  2. kira Mcleod

    Your words are thought provoking and so very true. I have been seeking a strong sense of self. I guess this would be my blue moment, really trying to understand my purpose. I want to be impactful in my daily life, even more so with all the changes occurring around me. Recently people have passed away, and it has left me shocked, numb, and unsure. I try to stay strong in my faith, because I know there can be no doubt in faith. I trust and believe that beyond this world is a place far greater. My mother says that this life is the hardest part living day to day, but your contribution to this world is important and needed to sustain life. We may question our purpose but we all have been blessed with a voice , a gift, to share with those around us. I know my purpose it to write what’s in my heart. Words fill my head constantly. Every image so vastly beautiful is a perfect piece of imagery that inspires me to write. I know in moments like this that feeling blue makes no sense, because there is great work to do in this world while your here, and God has insured your destiny. I find comfort that those I have loved and who are no longer here are at peace, with me always.

    I have not seen Blue Valentine yet, wanting too badly, You should see Rabbit Hole with Nicole Kidman, amazing! I too love film. It is amazing how a scene seeks to provoke emotion, can create dialogue and can challenge our thinking. I will continue to follow you on Twitter, your blog is awesome. Stay strong and remember that the moments of doubt and “feeling blue” will be apart of life, but they are temporary moments we need to go through. They make us stronger. They challenge our very being, and they allow us to reach farther in ourselves for understanding.

    • Clare Froggatt

      Thankyou Kira, I am looking forward to you launching your blog so that I can peek into your world and share the rhythm of your words. SO much of lufe makes no sense to me. How thankful I am that in the core of our being there is an intimacy and ability to connect – through words, images and film – or whatever the medium and to somehow find solace in that connection.

      I really appreciate you stopping by and for saying hello.


      • kira Mcleod

        I am looking to have blog site up and running soon. I am working with a friend who is helping me finalize details in reference to layout. Until then I have just been writing, and can’t wait to post. I am so thrilled you will check my blog out, hopefully it will be good, I am optimistic. And yes, I love how how there are so many planes for people to connect and form great friendships along with common experiences. It is my hope that the words I seek to create, just like the words you seemingly share will ultimately provide solace or atleast allows someone to feel connected. Keep posting I enjoy reading!!

  3. Cara Wiggins

    Hi Clare,
    Thank you for writing your blog, I find myself nodding along in agreement and denning on your word pictures.
    My shade of blue today is reflected in the date being the due date of a baby I lost during a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy and also the date I got my period, a double-whammer of disappointment and heartache.
    So I guess I’m in the little sad hue of blue.

    I am also thinking of a young friend of mine who has recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness, still awaiting full test results. Life is certainly a tapestry – not enjoying the weaving of the darker threads at all – but deep down I’m sure God has everything in his hands – even on days like today when the temptation to doubt that is so strong.

    God bless you xx

    • Clare Froggatt

      Oh Cara, I am so, so sorry to hear that. Someone asked me the other day whether Sam was my only child, as if having two other would have made any substitute if we had lost her…sometimes there are no words to express how tremendously difficult it is to lose, or even come close to the possibility of loosing a child. There is no greater loss. I am blue with you. x

  4. Susan Calder

    Words were never my strong point but I guess I am grateful to read and understand others lives, loves and loses.

    My “blue” is that so many live through so much without the best friend anyone could have. So many try to find meaning without looking to the maker of meaning and look for answers where there is no voice.

    Prayers for warm treatment and infections “at bay” are Sam’s.

    • Clare Froggatt

      You say that words are not your strong point yet you always find words to encourage me. I am so grateful to have found the best friend that you speak of, the one who links our lives and builds friendship between people who have never even met. I do wish we had known each other when you were in Sydney. I have been listening to John Dickson lately on my ipod – I believe you are friends? Maybe this year we will have that cup of tea?

  5. Uncle James

    Sam – my niece

    I sit and think of Sam – my niece,
    I trust and pray that Sam has peace.
    Sam is Beautiful, both inside and out,
    Sam always has been, there is no doubt.
    Sam is strong, courageous, smart and tough,
    Part in life – still pretty rough.
    First steps in life, were towards me,
    How proud could an uncle be.

    There are so many memories, I remember them well,
    Like building sandcastles, in a blue plastic shell.
    We built a cubby house once, and it stood strong,
    Looking back now, Sam could do no wrong.
    Sam has been Blessed by God, for all to see,
    Treasured by friends and family.

    When Sam was a baby, I held her in arm,
    So precious, so gentle, and always calm.
    I remember thinking, how Beautiful Sam will be,
    How true this is, for the world to see.
    An Angel from God, He must surely miss,
    As an Angel from God, He sends down His kiss.

    I see Sam’s strength, much stronger than I,
    I see Sam on mountains, I can see Sam fly.
    No hurdle to high, nor to great,
    Not only my niece, I call her my mate.

    The stories Sam will speak of, the stories Sam will share,
    Life’s unscripted troubles, that Sam had to bare.
    But Sam stands strong, Sam will conquer them all,
    Sam should be praised, for Sam stands tall.
    Sam’s smile is infectious, all inspiring,
    Sam has been Blessed, by our most high King.

    We must remember that life is not a race,
    It is a journey, so set your own pace.
    Take each day as it comes, for the miracle is near,
    For you will hear these words – “you are all clear”.

    Sam: God took His time when he made you,
    He worked overtime, so obvious, so true.
    As I write these words, I send you true peace,
    I am truly blessed, for you are Sam – my niece.

    • Clare Froggatt

      Hey Uncle James, What beautiful words and memories you have woven together. I will never forget Sam’s first steps towards you in the lounge room at mum’s, all the way across that flokati carpet (it’s a wonder she didn’t trip). It’s our delight now to watch Tahlia grow…so excited that she is up to kisses. Blowing them back to you xxx

  6. Sandra

    Heh Clare, I love visiting your blog. I relate to a lot of what you say, the mystery of life. God’s seeming to be so close and the longing in our hearts for surety and to know more.The sea pool illustrates that well. I have the same difficulty with sea pools! My small blue today is knowing that my son and his wife are going away o/seas to live in London for up to two years in 12 days time. As a parent, no matter how old they become, it’s the constant letting go and trusting God with them. We used to be very close and our r/ship has had to undergo necessary change. But I miss him.And now he will be bodily out side of my immediate world. We had a quick lunch the other day. He sat across from me and became, in my eyes, for a moment a little boy again. Looking into his eyes I saw the anxious, sensitive young Eli.
    And then he became the man again. Setting out on the adventure that has been beckoning for some time now. And that is it isn’t it? God beckoning us on to more…letting go, trusting, opening up our heart to adventure and not having it all ‘safe’.
    love Sandra x

    • Clare Froggatt

      Thanks Sandra for telling me about Eli. I can totally relate to that sense of seeing them as the child even though the adult sits in front of you. We do so desparately want them to have these grand adventures but letting go is hard. I hope Eli’s adventure opens a door for you to be able to visit them in London. I would say that it would make it very much worth the heartache and distance? Thanks for commenting, I love people’s stories xxx

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