Monthly Archives: December 2014

A New Year’s Wish: Ask what you can do for your world!

The countdown is ticking: 10,9,8,7,6,5,,3,2,1..Happy New Year!

In the light of recent tragic events, I sub-consciously found myself reworking the words of President John F. Kennedy. Indeed, in  this rogue terrorist era where there seems to be no respect for national boundaries, this variation seems far more appropriate:

“Ask not what the world can do for you, ask what you can do for your world- Rowena.

It is my heartfelt desire that we now extend our vision way beyond our own back pockets. As overwhelming as it may feel at times, somehow we need to attain a more global perspective and not just switch off because it’s” happening somewhere “over there .  We need to switch on to both the good and the bad of what’s happening elsewhere and have a heart. It is our world and it’s the only world we’ve got. Moreover, both spiritually and environmentally, it’s pretty obvious that it’s long past time to act. Our world is gasping  for breath with a breaking heart but we still have hope.

This is a big paradigm shift for me personally. I’m more of a “think local” sort and there is always more than enough to do here but that no longer means switching off to the bigger picture but somehow just stretching my boundaries a little. That’s what growth’s about.

The baddies have always been out there somewhere.

The baddies have always been out there somewhere.

Meanwhile, the “baddies” are still out there. Moreover, as recent events have shown, they’re no longer over there but also over here.

As much as we would like to believe that we are well-camouflaged among the hundreds and thousands, who’s to say we or someone we love dearly won’t suddenly be plucked out of the multitude? Be one of the unfortunate “chosen ones”?

Hero-victim of the Lindt Cafe Siege Katrina Dawson was just going out for a morning hot chocolate with a colleague and friend. Tori Johnson, was just going to work just like Principal Tahira Qazi who was shot a day later in in Pakistan. These were just ordinary people leading ordinary lives. Eight children died in Cairns seemingly murdered by their mother and aunt…just ordinary kids.

Who is immune?Who?

Me, of course.

Statistically-speaking,  it would have to be a particularly stupid terrorist to see our place as any kind of target. It’s certainly not the Taj Mahal or the Sydney Opera House. The only way a terrorist would get here was if they got lost.  Indeed, they’d have to be very lost. They wouldn’t  even bother knocking on my door for directions to somewhere strategic. We’re a long way off the beaten track unless perhaps they’re heading to the beach.

That said, I won’t be staying home forever. At the moment, our whole family in on holidays living in some blissful state of suspended animation. The kids are currently playing with the dogs and I would be spending some time at the beach if it weren’t for the broken foot and the mega cough. Very few of us live in a concrete bunker and neither do those we love. We catch the train. Enjoy a show at the Opera House and might even pause for a hot chocolate and a chat with a friend.

Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed vaccine against evil or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In 2014, we have witnessed yet again the harm that one or the few can inflict on the many. It is my heartfelt prayer for 2015 that the good of this world can come together and have a truly transformative impact. Turn the mountain of evil on its head so humanity can learn what it is to love and be loved on a global scale. Surely, this doesn’t have to be a rosy-coloured fantasy? That together, we can all join hands and somehow make it happen. After all, it’s amazing what people will do to achieve profit and greed! Just imagine how our world would change if we also applied that strength, focus and determination to being nice to each other instead?!!

The power of love.

The power of love. Photo: Rowena

The Golden Rule: Treat Others As You Would Like to be Treated!

However, that change isn’t going to come easily. It will come at a personal cost. Starting out small, it begins with you and me. The trouble is that despite our best intentions, we are still only human. Made of yin and yang. Let’s hope and pray that if we each make just a few small changes, the forces of good could gain enough momentum to turn things around. After all, just as one person has done so much harm, one person can do so much good!!


Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste,

it is better that you should leave your

work and sit at the gate of the temple

and take alms of those who work with joy.

Khalil Gibran

Be the change. Photo: Rowena

Be the change. Photo: Rowena

However, when it comes to making these changes myself, I am more than aware of my own feet of clay…one of which is currently broken too, by the way. For me, all these good intentions begin at home with my husband and kids. It is easy to wax lyrically writing lofty, philosophical principles. It is so much harder to walk the talk 24/7.My house is a mess and I struggle to teach my own kids the golden rule, even through my own example. However, that doesn’t mean that I should just give up.  Throw my hands in the air or fall in the mud on my sword. Like all of us, I just need to keep walking with God in my heart and “Try! Try! Try!”


2015 is the UN International Year of Light and Light Based Technologies. After the moral darkness of the last weeks, this seemed like quite the antidote. We have been through the darkness and now we are heading for the light. Well, this theme seems to  be focusing more on the physical not metaphorical properties of light but perhaps we can adopt our own slant. I am certainly going to light a candle or two and let the light shine through the darkness.


Love. Photo: Rowena

Through this blog, I have really managed to connect with a whole range of people around the world. Through the eyes of a little white dog, I have experienced a touch of Hawaii. I have been to India and enjoyed a meal. I have been to Ireland connected with a families all over the world. Shared words, art, photography and walked in so many different pairs of shoes and I’m sure I’ve become more enlightened by stretching my boundaries getting to know all these incredible, intelligent and thoughtful people.You have changed me and my world.

Now, let’s back to writing down those resolutions.

Hmm…It looks like giving up chocolate can wait. Now, in 2015, just being plain nice is so much more important!

Arnott's Nice Biscuit

Arnott’s Nice Biscuit

Infinite Love…MH17.

Following the horrific events of last week and as 2014 draws to a close, I decided to reblog a post I wrote following the awful shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. Our family made some red love hearts and sent them to the victims families and schools connected to the tragedy. I am wondering where we go to now. How can we as average Joes make some lasting tribute to those who have lost their lives as civilians to terrorism? xx Rowena

Beyond the Flow

Our family would like to send our love to all those affected by the horrific shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 17. We feel so much love for you and we also want to express our outrage at this heinous crime.

Last Saturday, our children made red love hearts, which we taped onto paddle pop sticks and we sent these to some of the schools affected by the tragedy. This was something that I felt inspired to do. In other words, this wasn’t an idea that came from myself.

The children making the love hearts. The children making the love hearts.

I suspect these hearts were inspired by the red poppies the children make every ANZAC Day at school to honor our service people who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. The children draw poppies onto red paper and then cut them out and sticky tape them onto paddlepop sticks. A poppy from each…

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A Request for The Three Knots

I wanted to In the share this beautiful story about how love and commitment triumphed over cultural differences and expectations to reach acceptance. In the light of last week, it is a very timely story xx Rowena

Another Voice

Thaali My Mangalsutra/Thaali/Mangalyam

According to Hindu wedding rituals the act of marriage, akin to the exchange of rings, is sealed in the tying of the Mangalsutra literally translated from Sanskrit as the ‘Sacred’ (mangala) ‘Thread’ (sutra). It’s also known as Thaali or Mangalyam. It consists of a pendant – a gold ornament containing holy symbols or symbols extolling womanhood (could be interpreted as the female form of divinity), and chains on either side made of black beads strung together using thick gold string or just a plain gold. Usually (and this depends on the community you belong to), during the wedding ceremony the ornament is strung on a thin cotton rope covered in turmeric paste by priests, who go on to perform many homa-s (rituals), get the people attending the wedding to bless it and finally, about 2 hours in, the groom is asked to hold…

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Our Border Collie Bilbo out on the mud flats. No doubt he is looking for his tennis ball. He doesn't care about the view and certainly tries to avoid the water.

The Thinker: Our Border Collie Bilbo out walking at low tide.

I AM FOREVER walking upon these shores,
Betwixt the sand and the foam,
The high tide will erase my foot-prints,
And the wind will blow away the foam.
But the sea and the shore will remain

Kahlil Gibran.

Secret Santa Time: The gift of compassion, self-preservation and freedom

2015 is going to be the Year of Light. Let us be the light in the world and start creating a new Earth xx Rowena


Secret Santa Time: The gift of compassion, self-preservation and freedom


I am not a hugger as many people proclaim me to be. However, I am, indeed a gift-giver. I love celebrating birthdays, Halloween and Christmas. What I love most about those occasions is the act of giving gifts to all those around me.

I love figuring out what people like and how I can find a gift that can fit their personality. Throughout the years, I have gotten quite good at it. The last six years or so, I have had a team of anywhere between 10 to 16 people big. I study them closely and learn their musical tastes, their cocktail preferences and their fashion sense.   For the most part, I have bought near perfect gifts. Occasionally, I don’t hit the mark.   I don’t own those mistakes, though. Usually , when I am off the mark, it is because…

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Peace, love and understanding wrapped up in my treasured folk-art piece

Christmas is a time for catching up with family and perhaps not always feeling that direct connection, that commonality perhaps we desperately desire. This touching post share how her Mum tried to step into her daughter “foreign” world of art xx Rowena


Peace, love and understanding wrapped up in my treasured folk-art piece


As a poor girl growing up in the South Bronx, I didn’t have much. I definitely didn’t have much that was of monetary value.  I didn’t really have that many toys; which may be why I have gone a bit overboard with the gift-giving for my son.  About 18 years ago, I started collecting art. I was actually gifted many art pieces. I made jokes that I now had things I could pawn off if my financial situation ever necessitated it.  I know, my sense of humor is a bit twisted.  Now the majority of the walls of my house have art work adorning them: many gifted, some purchased and some won at silent auctions. I love local art, folk art and grand art. I guess that comes from having gone to Vassar College where Art History 101…

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Merry Christmas from Santa and Our Kids.

Merry Christmas from Santa and Our Kids.

Well,we all know how Santa gets around…especially now he’s given up his sleigh and has allegedly bought himself a Jeep!!

So here he is Sydney, Australia.

My mother took the kids off to get their photo taken with Santa. While it was an improvement on the days when our daughter screamed blue murder and refused to go within a mile of the dreaded beast, it was a struggle and you know how it is they have fabulous clothes and shoes and here she is…Humph! Felt like photo shopping out those shoes… Kids!!

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and a Ho! Ho! Ho!


Rowena, Geoff, Mister, Miss, Bilbo & Lady

Max’s Favorite Silent Night

Silent Night is sacred all around the world. Loved this post although don’t think the canine version quite falls under the “sacred” banner but had me in stiches xx Rowena


Of all the seasonal songs, my favorite is Silent Night. I enjoy listening to the song sung in different languages and admit to singing along when alone with the windows closed and a sweatshirt stuffed under the door to muffle any chance of my voice being overheard. It’s that bad.

My all time favorite, perhaps not surprisingly, is to hear Silent Night in Hawaiian. There is a gentleness to that language, a lilt and melody that just appeals to me. My second place winner is Gaelic.

What’s your favorite version? Link to it in the comments!

Oh yeah, Max has his favorite, too. Is it the Pavarotti version that sends chills up my spine? Perhaps the Polish Children’s Choir or Douce Nuit sung in the Toulouse Night Market?

Nahhhh…Max likes the singing dogs and here they are!

Now, for those who’d like to hear Silent Night in Hawaiian, here is…

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Poi Dog

Continuing a bit of a theme of Christmas around the world, here is Max the Dog shopping for Christmas dog treats in Hawaii. xx Rowena


Max is a good shopper who stands in line to wait his turn. That's the AJF on the right. Max is a good shopper who stands in line to wait his turn. That’s the AJF on the right.

Max likes to gift his doggie friends with poi products at Christmas time.

That’s the reason we headed a few miles mauka of our home to visit the Hawaii Doggie Bakery in lovely, misty Manoa Valley.

Max loves this bakery which specializes in dog treats, gifts and paraphernalia with a distinctly Hawaii touch.

Their selection of local goodies includes fish & poi gingerbread men, Christmas “Pawty” cookies, sweet potato snowflake biscuits and a variety of muffins and cupcakes.

Here's the good stuff. Here’s the good stuff.

For Christmas, Max is distributing to his boon companions gift boxes which contain a bag of chicken & poi cookies, a poi & honey candy cane and a roll of poop bags for post prandial clean up.

Max is a dog who likes his poi but he is not a poi…

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The Santa Quandary

Sadly, my days as Santa are over too. I had to confess the other night. It’s been a rough week and in a way I am pleased things have been simplified. Santa has big boots to fill.


biker santaThis will undoubtedly be my ten year-old daughter’s last year as a believer in the fat man in red. She’s already informed me that apart from her usual letter to Santa, she’s written him a secret letter, just in case her friends at school are right and Santa is, in fact, a big sham perpetrated by her parents.

“You think Santa doesn’t know what you’re up to?” I asked her.

But she wasn’t buying it.

Already, she’s decided that the Tooth Fairy is bogus, the Easter Bunny is “SO obviously” her mom and dad, and don’t even get me started on leprechauns and St. Patrick’s day. This one I actually made up. Not the leprechauns part, of course, but the fact that chocolates fall out of leprechaun’s pockets as they scamper around the yard early morning on St. Paddy’s Day. Don’t ask me why I invented yet another fictional creature…

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