Great Get Together Goes Global #MoreInCommon

Lately, I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed by the latest terror attacks in the UK, which as we all know too well, are simply the latest chapters in a much longer story. Despite believing in the power of the pen to overcome the sword and in the power of the individual to change the world, or at least influence the world around them, I am starting to doubt. These attacks are so random and unpredictable and the victims ordinary people…it’s all becoming quite impossible to fathom.

Coffee french

For those of you who have been following my blog for some time, you’ll know that I’ve been part of a global blogging group 1000 Voices for Compassion, which started up after the attacks on Paris. However, I’d already been speaking out against terrorism  following the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in the Ukraine and the Lindt Cafe Siege in Sydney. Journalists covering the MH17 disaster, brought back sunflower seeds from the crash site to give to families and friends of the victims. I had written to many of these victims and we sent them red hearts on paddlepop sticks which the kids had made to acknowledge their loss. It wasn’t much, it came from the heart. When I heard that they were offering the sunflower seeds, I put my hat in the ring not expecting anything. However, a few months later, a package arrived in the mail with a tin of seeds, a photo and a beautiful letter wishing: “May your sunflowers bloom.”

may your sunflowers bloom

A personal message from journalist Paul McGeogh & Kate Geraghty who sent me the sunflowers.

It took me a year to find the courage to plant those seeds. I am not a great gardener and I didn’t want to destroy something so precious, especially through my usual neglect. However, I was contacted by the cousin of the pilot of the plane who had lost her seeds and I thought I finally had to have a go. Have some faith. As these seedling were growing, I managed to take them to a few local schools to talk about compassion, the love of a stranger and the need to take a stand not only against terrorism, but also to simply treat each other better. These are simple truths. Not rocket science but when we think of changing the world, we usually think so big that we feel overwhelmed and do nothing. It’s so easy to forget that a simple cup of tea can be a stepping stone towards something momentous.

So, tonight when I heard about The Great Get Together which is being held across the UK to honor the life of slain MP Jo Cox, I wanted to get onboard, even though I’m in Australia on the other side of the world. After all, why not take Jo’s message global.

In her maiden speech in Parliament, Jo said: “We have far more in common than that which divides us.”

So, I’d like to invite you to join me for a cup of tea or coffee, toast and Vegemite and even a chocolate Tim Tam. I’d like you to share a bit about yourself and let’s see if we can help join the dots right around the globe.

So, here are our conversation starters. Please leave your answers in the comments below and I ask you to reblog this please. Let’s get the party started!

  • Which country do you live in? How about the city or town you live in?
  • What do you like about where you live? What’s a favourite spot?
  • What is your favourite novel? Why?
  • What is your favourite film? Why?
  • Do you prefer tea or coffee? Why?
  • Introduce your blog and provide a link.

Here are my responses:

I live in Australia with my husband Geoff, our two kids Mr who is 13 and Miss who is 11 and our two dogs. We live in Greater Sydney on Broken Bay a stone’s throw from the beach and a short drive to Brisbane Water, which is protected and ideal for sailing and kayaking. So, we have the best of both worlds, although I tend to appreciate our local area more as a walker with and without the dogs.

What I love most about where we live, is the relaxed atmosphere and the proximity to the hussle and bussle of Sydney, without being in it. Initially, we moved here due to more affordable real estate. However, being away from the thick of it is a real drawcard, which we’re appreciating more and more. My husband commutes to Sydney by train and Sydney is only a train trip away and I also do enjoy that proximity to catch up with family and also get to arty places like Surry Hills.

My Favourite novel. I’m not much of a novel reader. My favourite books are more inspirational and philosophical such as Kilail Gibran’s The Prophet, Mitch Albom’s Tuesday’s With Morrie and Daniel Gottlieb’s Letters to Sam. If you haven’t read these, I highly recommend them.

My favourite film: Casablanca. Years lately, I still go to jelly with so many of those lines and feel a dreadful heartache as I watch the plane take off.

Tea or coffee: I mostly drink decaf tea because I’d be flying if I drank coffee of full strength tea all day. I start the day with a medium strength expresso and will have another if I go to a cafe. I generally have a full strength English Breakfast tea to backup the coffee in the mornind another in the afternoon.

I started Beyond the Flow five years ago as a stepping stone to getting my writing out into the world.My focus at the time was on getting published in the mainstream media and to write and publish books. However, the blog gained a life and purpose of its own, which has also helped me find my voice. This voice surprised me as it was very different to what I’d expected. In the five years I’ve been blogging, there have been many twists and turns. Most notably, there’s been the ups and downs of living with my chronic health conditions…hydrocephalus or fluid on the brain and dermatomyositis, which included a stint of chemo and the uncertainies which go with all of that. I’ve been in remission for 3.5 years now, which hasn’t been smooth sailing. It’s been a very long road for me to find my feet again but I am almost there. My blog is very much about my role as a parent and aspects of that journey with our kids who were 8 and 6 and are now 13 and 11 years old. We have also added another dog to the family. I love how the blog has documented these moments.

Best wishes and I look forward to getting together,

xx Rowena

26 thoughts on “Great Get Together Goes Global #MoreInCommon

  1. Tails Around the Ranch

    A brilliant way to opening a dialog for sharing what makes us more similar than what makes us different.
    Which country do you live in? US How about the city or town you live in? We live in the Mile High City (aka Denver, CO) at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.
    What do you like about where you live? Love the proximity to downtown and the large tree-lined streets. What’s a favourite spot? My front garden that always prompts comments from the frequent passersby.
    What is your favourite novel? Too many to list
    What is your favourite film? Just re-watched Same Time, Next Year last night. Still love that charming film and performances of the main actors (Alan Alda & Ellen Burstyn). The theme song by Johnny Mathis is the perfect accompaniment.
    Do you prefer tea or coffee? Definitely coffee. Why? Just love the rich taste and smell of coffee. Like a liquid hug
    Introduce your blog and provide a link. My blog is Tails Around the Ranch where I share the antics and experiences of a pet therapy dog (Sam) and now showcase some adventures of his new sister, Elsa the Ninja poodle who was rescued from a puppy mill. Swing by at http://tailsaroundtheranch.wordpress.com. We ❤︎ visitors.
    Many thanks for penning this invitation to a conversation, Rowena. Totally ‘pawsome!’

  2. Sascha Darlington

    Rowena, this is a beautiful thoughtful piece and I really wish there were more people like you–everywhere!

    Which country do you live in? How about the city or town you live in?
    I live in Washington, DC, US
    What do you like about where you live? What’s a favourite spot?
    I like the proximity to the beach and mountains, both contain my most favorite spots. Around town, I like the parks and rivers, and prefer being in nature places.
    What is your favourite novel? Why?
    Right now it is Beartown by Fredrik Backman. You can find out why I like it so much here: https://saschadarlington.me/2017/05/15/review-of-beartown/
    What is your favourite film? Why?
    I’m hard-pressed to come up with one. I watch the original Die Hard whenever it’s on; I liked the Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightly. I love Audrey and Katharine Hepburn movies.
    Do you prefer tea or coffee? Why?
    Tea first thing in the morning and then a really nice coffee midday.
    Introduce your blog and provide a link.
    I’m Sascha Darlington, a book blogging writer or a writing book blogger, probably more the former. My intention when I started my blog was to break out of a rut, so to speak, and, while it didn’t go in the direction I expected, it has become immensely satisfying to me. You can find me here: https://saschadarlington.me.
    Thanks, Rowena. I am off to reblog.
    🙂

  3. Midwestern Plant Girl

    Wonderful way to share ourselves and get to know each other as humans 😃
    I live in Northern Illinois, a hop from Wisconsin. We have unique geology here from the glaciers, with many forest preserves to view it from.
    Fav Book: Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe. Lots of practical info in there…
    Movie: 5th Element – Well directed
    I like both coffee & tea. However, coffee is 1st in the AM.
    Hello 😃 I’m Ilex from Midwestern Plants. I mostly post photos of plants that are in bloom, along with horticultural tips. I sprinkle a few border collie posts and camping posts among those.
    Click on the pretty flower to get to me. 😊

  4. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much for popping round Sascha, taking part and reblogging. I’m sure the organizers of the Great Get Together will be pleased it has spread to USA and Australia. I also love Audrey and Katherine Hepburn. My daughter has looked quite a lot like Audrey Hepburn and I particularly love “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.
    I really understand the need to bust out of a rut. I think it’s something we have to fight constantly on so many levels. It’s hard to keep all cyclinders firing and keep stepping out there beyond our comfort zones.
    xx Rowena

  5. Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

    Thanks for getting the ball rolling around the world with this Rowena

    Which country do you live in? How about the city or town you live in?
    I live on the Country Wexford Coast for the last year.. Near to Gorey.
    What do you like about where you live? What’s a favourite spot?
    Peace, quiet, wildlife (even the locals on a Saturday night) all the amenities on the doorstep and wonderful friendly people.
    What is your favourite novel? Why?
    Tough one.. but if I was to choose it would be Clan of the Cave Bear and the subsequent books by Jean M Auel …
    What is your favourite film? Why?
    Definitely Last of the Mohicans. Fantastic novel and brilliant production.
    Do you prefer tea or coffee? Why?
    I like coffee but Tea likes me better!
    Introduce your blog and provide a link.
    Smorgasbord covers a wide number of topics from health, humour author promotion and creative writing.https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

  6. drewdog2060drewdog2060

    I live in London (United Kingdom), near Crystal Palace, which is one of the greenest parts of London.
    I love the fact that I am close to an historic park and woodland, called the Lawns which was a pleasure garden in the 19th century.
    I am blind so tend to enjoy audio described films. I like traditional comedies such as the “Carry On” films, together with dramatisations of novels.
    I have re-read “Wuthering Heights” several times and I’m also a huge fan of poetry.
    My blog, newauthoronline.com contains many of my poems together with links to my published works.
    I like both tea and coffee. Real coffee is my favourite, however I tend to drink instant at home and enjoy the real thing in restaurants.
    Thank you for your post. Kevin

  7. Léa

    Brilliant Rowena! I shall contribute what I can.
    An ex-pat, I left California for a small village (pop: 700) in the south of France, Durban Corbieres. The peace, serenity and the safety I never found before I have here not to mention the kindest of neighbors. My favourite spot, impossible. One day it might be the waterfalls especially after rain, one day it is the botanic gardens, most often it is just anywhere in the village. I can have all the peace and quiet this introvert needs and I can walk out my door and be part of one or more of the constant variety of activities year around. My favorite novel? Oh dear, I can’t do just one… anything by George Orwell, Jasper Fforde and of course Lamb by Christopher Moore.
    Films, I am a foreign film junkie and I shall try to keep this to the top four, Antonia’s Line, Zelary, Kolya and Barbarian Invasions. There are many more but…The first two are about amazingly strong women, the second a beautiful musician who takes in a small boy after the boys mother leaves him and the last one is about beautiful relationships and healing.
    Coffee without a doubt.
    I have had two blogs for over five years. One is about France and for the most part, not your typical tourists France and the second is a bit of poetry, photos and some rants/musings. The links are as follows: http://foundinfrance.wordpress.com and the second http://poetryphotosandmusingsohmy.wordpress.com Unfortunately, both blogs have suffered from a lack of attention as I was without a computer for several months but beware, I’m back.!

  8. Rowena Post author

    Great to hear from you, Lea and we’ve lost touch for some time. I’m really pleased to hear our gathering has now jumped over to France. I really wanted to drop some biscuits round to our elderly neighbours today for it, but it got too late. Will be dropping them off tomorrow. They were born in London prior to WWII and tell some amazing stories of being sent to the country as kids. He came back and ended up dogding bombs. One hit his school killing many children. I am about to interview him and write up some of his stories. They’re a good reminder of why we need to fight terrorism and anyting approaching war. Build buildes with our neighbours instead. I’ll be popping round to check out your blogs.
    xx Rowena

  9. robbiesinspiration

    This is a lovely idea, Rowena. My name is Robbie and I live in Johannesburg, South Africa with my husband and two sons, aged fourteen and eleven years old. My parents live on the same property but in a separate cottage. We have lovely warm weather most of the time here in Johannesburg and my favourite place is my garden. During the summer my mom gardens like a demon and everywhere you look is a profusion of colourful flowers. My favourite novel is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and my favourite children’s book (currently) is Mary Poppins by PL Travers. I don’t watch movies at all so I don’t have a favourite unless The Sound of Music counts which was my favourite as a child. I drink a lot of Indian tea, the nectar of my youth. I blog at robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com and many post short stories, poetry and recipes.

  10. TanGental

    Which country do you live in? How about the city or town you live in? The UK, South London, leafy Dulwich if you want to narrow it down
    What do you like about where you live? It is a village within a city, due to greedy landowners –
    some times have a history of richbastardy can be a good thing. Here’s a post on it https://geofflepard.com/2016/04/05/d-is-for-dulwich-atozchallenge/ What’s a favourite spot? Erm, my desk unless my wife is reading this wen it’s wherever the next chore is…
    What is your favourite novel? Why? Gosh, not sure I can answer that. The only one I’ve read 3 times is Lord of the Rings but that’s probably because I didn’t understand it the first two…
    What is your favourite film? Why? Groundhog Day or Love Actually — cheesy I know…
    Do you prefer tea or coffee? Why? neither and both depending on the time of day
    Introduce your blog and provide a link. I blog about all sorts – short stories, my memoirs, travel, walks, and a lot of silliness. https://geofflepard.com/
    Row, a lovely idea this.

  11. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Geoff. Knew you’ll like it. I can appreciate your desk being your favourite spot and the difficulties faced trying to sit down, write and enjoy it for a bit with a chore surfacing out of the ether. I really loved The Hobbit but I think my interpretation of it was rather simplistic back in year 5 and I didn’t quite grasp the Lord of the Rings either and found the movies to scary to watch. They terrified me.
    Did you hear of anybody holding a get to gether nearby? I haven’t been swamped with visitors here but we have been having a respectable gathering and it has become global.
    xx Ro

  12. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much for popping by, Robbie and I’ll pop round and check out your blog shortly. Your garden sounds absolutely spectacular. The Sound of Music is special for reasons for me which are deeply grounded in nostalgia. It was dusted off here last year when my daughter auditioned for the role of the second youngest Von Trapp in the Sydney Production. I wrote a post about our antics here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/the-house-is-alive-with-the-sound-of-music/
    Nothing ever goes smoothly here.
    I am looking forward to reading your blog.
    xx Rowena

  13. Rowena Post author

    Hi Kevin,
    I Googled the Crystal Palace and was intrigued. They would be enough true stories from the building to sustain you for a lifetime, let alone the ones you could make up.
    I went to an author talk with Molly Ringwald of Breakfast Club movie fame. Her father was blind and as a child, she’d go to the movies with him and explain what was happening to him. She writes beautifully and she said it was this experience with her Dad which gave her such powerful powers of observation and a way with words.
    BTW, Sydney also had an exhibtion building called the Garden Palace, which was modelled on London’s Crystal Palace but it too burned down: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/sydneys-garden-palace-the-most-beautiful-building-youve-never-heard-of/news-story/e78e750c728e83fe0cd0278ee65e24fe
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

  14. Light Writes

    Reblogged this on Light Writes and commented:
    Just popping in to share this post, as it follows so nicely from ‘The Forgiving Woman’. This is a very thoughtful way of bringing the blogging community together, and it’s such a beautiful piece of writing – how could I resist? I’m sure Rowena would appreciate you leaving your comments on her blog and sharing this with your own communities too. Enjoy everyone ❤

  15. New Journey

    hello…..as you know I am in the USA, Yuma Arizona part of the time and Santa Rosa, California the other part…..we are in the dry, hot desert for my husbands lung disease and its helping….to many books and films to choose just one…I do prefer paranormal books/stories and mysteries and if they are a series all the better….and movies, hummmm no horror, comedy, sci-fi for sure and just good wholesome movies…coffee, tea, and I love smoothies….my blog is about my journey to weight loss and better health…lots of ups and downs, but I have found that just getting to be part of this great community is the best part of blogging… my name is Kathy and my blog is https://timenomatter.wordpress.com

  16. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much for joining us, Kathy. I must’ve lost about 5 kilos lately. I’ve been running round like a maniac sorting out the house and I keep forgetting to weigh myself. I also had to buy myself a set of scales. Did that and I still haven’t got to them. I haven’t photographed the before and after with sorting out the house either. I’m a bit disappointed but I was just thinking of getting rid of it by that point. The house is almost getting presentable. I am hoping to invite a few people over soon.
    Hope you’re going well.
    xx Ro

  17. Rowena Post author

    Thank you so much for sharing this and your encouraging words. They’re much appreciated.
    best wishes,
    Rowena

  18. New Journey

    feels good to unload doesn’t it….I have been trying to live with less is best in all aspects of my life…LOL nothing like a good clean out to set yourself right…..xxkat

  19. Rowena Post author

    I’m hoping the clean out works. I do think it’s helping. The trouble is that there’s that terrible interim period where al you see more clearly is all the mess. My in-laws were telling me that when they ignore it, they’re fine, but as soon as they start sorting it out, the to do list goes ballistic.
    The other problem is the leftovers. I don’t know about you, but after O sort everything and there are the various piles of op shop, rubbish, put away, there’s the homeless. For example, I’ve decided that everything on the sideboard has to be old as I have what I’ll call “Grandma’s china” type stuff and yet I also like modern ceramics and have made a fair bit myself. So, I’m now needing to find a place for that, which reminds me that I’ve never featured any of my ceramics work on the blog. I did if before Geoff and I got married and it’s been yet another casualty of life after kids. Also, we used to live next door to the studio and there isn’t anywhere locally where I can get it fired etc. xx Ro

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