Monthly Archives: March 2018

Accepting Our Mistakes…

“Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.”

Vincent Van Gogh

As a parent, I frequently find myself encouraging the kids not to give up when they make mistakes.After all, making mistakes doesn’t mean you’re innately hopeless at the task. Rather, your mistake could just be a stepping stone to greater things further down the  track. There are also some tasks which just need to be done, mastered and you can’t just quit and give up. You have to persevere.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Calvin Coolidge

Knowing how to get back on your feet and without letting your mistakes get you down, is as important as growing taller and going through all the usual steps which growing up entails. Indeed, overcoming mistakes and starting over builds resilience… that magic ingredient, which almost guarantees you a happy life if you listen to the so-called experts.

However, does all this psychological mumbo jumbo mean you have to like making these mistakes?

I don’t think so.

Last night, former Australian Cricket Captain, Steve Smith and bowler Cameron Bancroft apologised on national television for their roles in the ball tampering fiasco which took place in South Africa. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone on TV as broken and contrite as these men, and it was painful to watch. Australians are fanatical about their cricket and it’s so easy for lounge room experts to criticize and judge. Something big went on over there. Something which caused three men in the team who from my knowledge, have always towed the line and been exemplary men. They desperately begged for forgiveness. Yes, I know they’ve been labelled cheats, but they are clearly exceptionally sorry. That’s enough for me.  I also hope those men come to forgive themselves, and that perhaps some good will come out of it, although it’s hard to see a sunny side now. Indeed, you have to be concerned. Will they be okay?

Fortunately, most of us don’t have to face the world for any of our mistakes. We can quietly hide away within our anonymity at home. Most of our mistakes aren’t as monumental either. Yet, it’s also important not to be swept away by the proverbial storm in a tea cup. It’s all too easy to cry over spilled milk, a burned bamboo steamer or even eggs that won’t separate.

This morning, our 12 year old daughter had an accident in the kitchen and burned the bamboo steamer. To be honest, she did a good job of it and over 12 hours later, the stench is still hanging round. Indeed, when you start thinking of burning wood, your mind does jump towards the worst case scenario and the potential dangers of cooking.

However, I didn’t want her to think she’s a bad cook, and that that’s an inherent, indelible part of her character. All she needs is more cooking lessons and to follow the cookbook. So, I told her about my own disasters in the kitchen, including burning the base off my mother’s saucepan making rice.

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery”.

-James Joyce

DSC_9257.JPG

This pep talk with my daughter this morning set me in good stead for my own cooking dramas tonight. We’ll be heading down to my parents’ place for an Easter dinner and I offered to bring a pavlova. I am well known for my pavlovas, which are made from scratch and are crunchy on the outside with lush marshmallow inside. Yum! Normally, I can whip up these pavs in no time at all, but tonight I just couldn’t separate the eggs and I went through something like twelve eggs to get six. Then to top off my troubles, when I successfully separated the final egg, I drop the yolk into the pond of 5 perfect egg whites. I’m surprised I didn’t scream.

DSC_9261

 

My husband always says that a sign of a good tradesman is that they know how to fix or cover-up their mistakes. So, there I was desperate to remove that offending egg yolk without even a smear of yolk being left behind (because otherwise the egg whites won’t beat up). I fished the egg yolk out with a large skimmer spoon. That went pretty well, but there was still egg yolk left behind. So, I spooned out what I could, and tried putting the whites through a tea strainer. That’s didn’t look good either and was seemingly too efficient. By now, I could only try beating them up and if it didn’t work, start over. Phew, it worked and the pavlova actually made it into the oven.

DSC_9263

My Miracle Pavlova…All’s well that ends well. 

Sometimes, you can only laugh at your mistakes and no one else will be none the wiser. The pavlova looks spectacular and I am still the reigning Pavlova Queen. I can walk through the door showing off the pavlova with pride and it looks like we’ll be having pancakes beforehand to use up the eggs.

How do you overcome your mistakes? Have you written any posts sharing your cooking mistakes. I’d love to hear from you!

xx Rowena

 

Surry Hills, Sydney… Through the Lens.

If people can walk and text, then I can walk and do photography simultaneously. Or, so the theory goes, although my daughter just told me that I kept stopping, with the implication (of course) that it wasn’t appreciated. I should also be more careful. Looking through the lens instead of where our feet are going, renders photographers easy prey for accidents. Indeed, I’m lucky that the cracked and bumpy footpaths of Sydney’s Surry Hills didn’t swallow me up. I was only seeing in 6 x 4.

Yesterday, my daughter had an audition in Sydney’s Surry Hills, and either side of that we managed to walk the streets with my Nikon SLR dangling round my neck like an elephant truck with it’s extra-long lens.

Surry Hills is a photographer’s dream. While it used to be a rough slum area, like many urban residential areas, it’s been gentrified and prices have gone through the roof. It has a strong gay community and is arty, a bit lateral, alternative and it’s also a dog’s paradise. That has to be a good endorsement. Oh yes! I shouldn’t leave out the cats. There’s even a cat cafe in Foveaux Street.

DSC_9132

We spotted this man wearing  an American flag running down Crown Street.

 

Although I’ve been to Surry Hills many times before and this is just the latest installment, I wanted to share what I’ll describe as a random cast of characters, who roamed the streets.

DSC_9130

My daughter called out and said someone was wearing a box on their head. On closer inspection, it turned out to be the Easter Bunny. 

DSC_9084

DSC_9137

I guess too many dogs can be a bad thing!

We also spotted a cat cafe in Foveaux Street:

All of these unconventional sightings, all made me feel like packing up my bags and moving to the Surry Hills, or elsewhere in the inner West. I used to live not far from here in various terrace houses in Glebe and Chippendale culminating in a loft apartment in a converted warehouse. However, I also love the beach and the clean, fresh air and being able to spread my wings (and park my car). I also wonder whether I would notice all these details if I lived here all the time. Or, whether you need the eyes of the interloper or visitor to truly take it all in. What are your thoughts?

Stay tuned for dinner off Broadway.

xx Rowena

 

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party… Friday Fictioneers.

What a day to be Acting Police Commissioner! An entire children’s birthday party had vanished…mum, dad, ten kids, and all the food. Forensics couldn’t even find a crumb. No footprints. Nothing. Whoever abducted this lot, came in from the air. Vacuumed them up. A man of science and hard logic, alien abduction had even crossed his mind. What was he going to tell the families?

Meanwhile, the party goers watched on in horror. “Alice, where’s the antidote? Please tell us, you packed the antidote!!”

The cloak of invisibility had worked too well. They couldn’t get back from Wonderland.

99 words.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. Every week, we have the opportunity to write up to 100 words to a photo prompt. This week’s photo prompt kindly came from © Fatima Fakier Deria

My daughter had a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for her 5th Birthday. What a cake!

 

Theme Reveal…Blogging A-Z Challenge.

On April 1st, the 2018 Blogging A-Z Challenge launches and with it, I shut off from the real world and immerse myself in yet another uber-ambitious theme. Something that not only requires a lot of research, but also having my thinking cap switched onto “Genius”,. This could be dangerous. Two years ago, when my theme was “Letters To Dead Poets”, my brain went into overdrive. Steam and sparks were flying out my ears. My circuits blew up. By the end of the month,  I was a zombie staring blankly at an empty screen. So, to prevent an all-systems collapse, I’m trying to get as much down before it starts.

If I was being true to myself, my theme would be “Ways of Procrastinating” using all 26 letters of the alphabet. After all, this weekend alone, I have:

  1. Bought new stationery for the challenge.
  2. I also bought a cork board with a world map printed onto it so I can pin the relevant places and link them up with red string as we go.
  3. I’ve cleaned my desk, including my desk drawers and vacated a drawer especially for my April Challenge material.
  4. Last night, I watched a couple of old movies…The Jackal and Play Misty For Me.
  5. Today, I took my daughter shopping to spend her birthday money.
  6. I also took the dog for a walk…another proven procrastination strategy.

However, that ISN’T my theme for 2018.

Rather, following on from the success of Letters to Dead Poets, this time I’ll be writing…

Letter-from-Vincent-van-G-001

Letters to Dead Artists!

For those of you who aren’t aware, I’m Australian and so I’ll be featuring a number of Australian Artists you might not have heard of, but art is universal. However, I have diverse tastes and I’ve managed to include an artist from all five inhabited continents.

“A picture is a poem without words.”

Horace

I’m not going to ruin the suspense by listing all the artists now. However, the point of this series is that I’ll be writing to artists who have impacted on me personally and where there’s some kind of history, memories, a story. These stories revisit 9 months I backpacked through Europe in 1992, travels through Australia and also my undergraduate History Honours thesis: The Cult of Ugliness The Modernist Threat to the Bush Legend.

“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.”

Winston Churchill

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

Edgar Degas

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

Pablo Picasso

So, stay tuned for the launch on April 1st and I hope you’ll also share some of your thoughts and passions about these artists in the comments.

Wish me luck!

xx Rowena

Caution & Risk…Friday Fictioneers.

After much coercion, Ingrid reluctantly agreed to join Klaus on a precarious bus trip through the Peruvian Andes to Huaraz.

Known as “Captain Risk”, Klaus embraced extreme sports, and would jump off a cliff attached to a rubber band. Meanwhile, Ingrid was “Captain Caution”… scared of heights and nauseous on a Ferris wheel.

Yet, she was still a photographer.  As the magnificent condor soared majestically across the canyon, Ingrid saw nothing else. Indeed, she didn’t see the sign until Klaus grabbed her by the wrist, saving her life.

That, she wrote in her journal, was better than a proposal.

99 Words

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers Hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields . This week’s PHOTO PROMPT © Björn Rudberg.

 

 

Blow My Candles Out! Carrot Ranch Fiction.

“Happy Birthday, Honey. I’ve checked all the ingredients. Even your cardiologist says it’s fine…gluten free, sugar free, fat free.” Sue tried hard to smile. “So, you can have your cake and eat it too.”

“So, what IS in it?” Richard growled, longing for Nigella’s Nutella Cake instead. As much as he loved his wife and family, he wasn’t sure it was worth coming back for this new life with all its restrictions. He couldn’t even breathe without asking for permission first.

“Carrot cake? I am NOT a horse! I’m off to the pub. You can blow my candles out!”

……

Every week, Charli over at Carrot Ranch hosts a flash fiction challenge where you write 99 words to a prompt.

March 16, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about carrot cake. It can be classic or unusual. Why is there cake? How does it feature in the story. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by March 20, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published March 21). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

 

Weekend Coffee Share… 19th March, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How was your week? Oops! By now, I’ll also have to ask about your weekend. Perhaps, in the interests of brutal honesty, I should really be calling this “Monday Night Coffee Share”. However, as I’ve mentioned before, I usually take advantage of other time zones to sneak in under the radar. I just won’t verify the time in the Sandwich Islands.

My apologies for my evident neglect. However, weekends can get pretty flat out here and it can be easier to post on Mondays.

This week, I’m going to do something a bit different and run backwards through the week.

Amelia YIPA Photo

Yesterday, we saw our daughter perform her ballet solo for the first time on stage, when she auditioned for a local Youth in Performing Arts Mentorship program (YIPA). This is open for youth aged from 1st year high school (12-13 years) through to 21 years. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure exactly what getting through actually means but there will be a series of concerts in May.

However, that’s only the business side of things and that wasn’t on my mind as I watched our daughter dance. I was spellbound. She was like a real life incarnation of that little plastic ballerina twirling around in my childhood jewelry box to the tune of “Love Story”. She had such elegance and poise and moved like a real, live, mini ballerina. How was that so? It was an absolute miracle. Well, after so much practice, dedication and natural ability, she didn’t just pop out of a cereal box. It’s been a long journey which all started out as a tiny little girl, and the very same teacher who has helped bring our little dancer out. I’m simply her taxi and officially trip over both feet. Well, I am a lot more than that. It takes a lot more than driving a taxi to encourage and mentor your children.

You can read more about her performance Here: The Unbelievable Lightness of Being

DSC_8468.JPG

Gosford Sailing Club, NSW, Australia.

Rewinding to Saturday, we went out for dinner at the sailing club with my parents for a belated celebration of the kids’ birthdays. The sailing club has knockout water views, which sort of goes without saying. My parents managed to see Mr’s boat out on the grass, not quite the same as in the water, but better than nothing. We enjoyed watching the sunset and darkness sweep across the marina and the lights come out. There was also an engagement party in the adjacent party room and we had great fun watching the fashion parade go past. Been awhile since I’ve been to one of those. 

Last week, I got stuck into my application to have my recent NDIS plan reviewed and it’s almost ready to send off. The NDIS is Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme and was intended to improve the quality of life of people living with disabilities. However, in the usual way of government programs, it has also promised a lot and delivered a lot of headaches. When I received last year’s plan, I was over the moon. I couldn’t believe how generous it was. In many ways it was, but when it came to providing much needed equipment, participants across the board have experienced extensive delays only to have the equipment knocked back despite genuine professional reports from Occupational Therapists. I was guttered when my request for an electronic chair was knocked back. It was knocked back because I can walk, ignoring specifics of my muscle weakness which make it difficult to get out of chairs, particularly comfy chairs. So, the social activist in me, is fighting back.

My battles with the NDIS put a big dent in my mood last week. I’ve been having to delve into the darkest depths of my complex medical diagnosis and document the lot. It’s no time for positive thinking, post-traumatic growth or pushing myself beyond the beyond, which is my usual modus operandi. While I wouldn’t say that I’d reached dangerous mental territory, I knew I wasn’t okay. That’s when I heard the words of a young woman Dolly Everitt who took her life in January in response to cyber-bullying: “Stand up. Speak even though your voice is shaking.” I realized that these words cover so many situations and contain such truth. That its hard to tell others when you’re not okay, and it’s equally hard to know what to say or do, when you know someone is not okay as well. So, I guess the thing is, to push beyond all of that and it doesn’t matter if it all comes out wrong. That a shaking voice is better than no voice at all.

I probably should apologize for getting deep, serious and drifting towards the dark side of the moon. However, most of us spend too long skirting round the edges and perhaps it’s time to dive in. Or, perhaps that should read dive out. Reach in… and reach out? Clearly, I’m writing and thinking at the same time and should possibly think first and write late. However, by then it would be time for next week’s coffee share.

DSC_8389

Meanwhile, the pups are providing comic entertainment. Pups are notorious for pulling on the lead. While Rosie and Zac are pretty docile at home, put the lead on and some deep sled dog instinct fires up and they take off like bats out of hell. It takes a really strong hand to keep them in line, and so I take Lady and our son takes one or both pups. This afternoon, our son popped into the supermarket and let his mate and I outside with the dogs. Zac couldn’t cope and starting howling and leaping trying to catch up to him. From our perspective, it was sweet he loved him so much. However, we got quite a few judgmental stares from passersby who clearly thought the dog was mad and we weren’t controlling him well enough. If you’ve ever had a two year old throw a tanty in the supermarket you’ll know the gist of it.

camera-ted-strutz

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

Lastly, thought I’d just mention this week’s contribution to Friday Fictioneers: Capturing the Moon

Well, that at least sums up the last week. How was your week? Hope you had a great one.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli.

xx Rowena

 

 

The Unbelievable Lightness of Being.

“The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man’s body.The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?”
Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Today, our daughter performed a ballet solo for the very first time on stage.

DSC_8506

 

As a self-confessed thundering elephant, it is hard to believe that any child of mine could possibly move with grace, poise and become a ballerina, even if she is still just a Ballerina-in-Progress and she’s dancing with L plates. That said, when our Miss dances, she’s as light as a feather, almost lighter than air.

“I am a dancer. I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living…. In each it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes in some area an athlete of God.”
― Martha Graham

It’s funny thinking of that because our home life is anything but “light” and she carries a huge emotional burden thanks to a devil of an auto-immune disease called dermatomyositis, which was triggered by her birth. So, all her life, I haven’t been well, although that said, we’ve re-calibrated “well” and have our own definition.

It is incredible to think of all that humans have achieved despite, or perhaps even because of, the great burden they carry. You hear endless stories of rugged survival, and yet too often we focus on the negative. That said, I don’t know how you go through a trauma and come out with post-traumatic growth, NOT post-traumatic stress. That intrigues me.

“Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion. ”
― Martha Graham

Anyway, I find watching dance very cathartic, especially contemporary dance. In many ways, this isn’t surprising because the choreography is based on the contractions of childbirth…contract and release and this provides a great vehicle for dealing with any negative emotion as well. You scrunch it up tight like a ball of paper, and then you throw it across the room. Well, I couldn’t be entirely sure that’s exactly what choreographer, Martha Graham, had in mind but it seems cathartic to me.

When I was younger, I self-published an anthology of poetry called: Locked Inside An Inner Labyrinth. Fortunately, I haven’t been locked in there for the last thirty years, and escaped some time ago. Yet, watching dance also provides an outlet. Moreover, whenever I am lucky enough to dip my big toe into dancing at the adult classes, I also get to extend that further. Given my limited mobility and health issues, I appreciate the ability to move unimpeded so much more. My limbs don’t go into flights of fancy unless I’ve tripped over a crack in the footpath and crash landed.

DSC_8503

Getting back to my daughter’s performance today, it’s quite strange when you know this beautiful, elegant dancer off-stage and she’s just a kid. At least, she was just a kid. As I looked through the lens today, it was hard to see my girl through the tutu, the makeup, the hair and it was like she’d slipped inside a second skin and was playing dress ups. Well, that’s sort of true because I also know that the ballerina, is now a part of her and has somehow melted in.

Yet, as much as her performance exuded poise and elegance, there’s always behind the scenes. We couldn’t find her music CD and tore her room apart multiple times trying to find it and we didn’t. Teachers are a wonderful thing!

Another funny moment, was when she sat beside me in the theatre. I don’t know if you’ve ever sat next to someone wearing a tutu? They might look pretty, poised and elegant, but they also take up three seats and heaven help you if you sit on the tutu! Then, you could well meet Grumpy Ballerina.

I don’t know where any of this is heading and I try not to think too far ahead. The plan at the moment is to get some audition practice, which will stand her in good stead for whatever she ends up doing. These build up both your skills and resilience and also help get your mother (or whatever taxi you depend on) organized.

Do you enjoying dancing yourself? Or, are you more part of the audience? Or, perhaps dance feels rather foreign and is not your thing. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

The featured image comes from the YIPA Facebook page.

 

 

“Speak even if your voice is shaking”…

The terrible thing is that for every person who takes their life, there are others just hanging on to the very edge of the abyss by the skin of their fingertips. Moreover, we often don’t find out who they are until it’s too late.

On January 3, 2018 a young Australian teenager “Dolly” Everett tragically took her life in response to cyber bullying.

At the time, I was quite surprised that this young woman would be a victim of any kind of bullying, let alone something bad enough that this was her only escape. She was a very attractive young woman, who had modeled for Akubra Hats. I don’t know. I guess it just goes to show that nobody’s immune to being bullied or its consequences.

In the days before she passed, Dolly drew a young dancer with the heading: “Speak even if your voice is shaking” and these words are now being used in a media campaign to tackle cyberbullying and bullying in general.

However, Dolly’s words came back to me today in a different context. That her advice doesn’t just apply to people experiencing bullying, but about also enduring other trials and bottling their feelings up.

After all, it’s not easy to find the words to express yourself when you’re stuck in a labyrinth. It’s not easy to reach out and say you’re not okay. To go beyond that socially acceptable “fine”, when someone asks you how you are, even when you’re feeling shattered.

I try to laugh about it
Cover it all up with lies
I try and laugh about it
Hiding the tears in my eyes
Because boys don’t cry
Boys don’t cry…

The Cure

I don’t know whether we ourselves are holding it all in, or whether it’s what society expects. Turning back the clock a bit, there was that classic song by The CureBoys Don’t Cry However, while our society has encouraged men to be more emotional, I suspect it’s also pushed women to be more controlled and to adopt the stiff upper lip. What do you think? I certainly don’t want to break down and cry. No, I’ll soldier on. Keep smiling… sunny side up. I don’t know whether it’s a case of denial or acceptance, but there isn’t a manual for how to keep living year after year with a severe life-threatening medical condition either from my own point of view, or from that of my family. We just keep going, because we have to and because we want to. I don’t want to die before I’m dead!!

DSC_9074

Yet, through Dolly’s words, I’ve also realized that I’ve been silent. That I haven’t been speaking up, and we as a family haven’t spoken about the elephant in the room for quite awhile. After all, we’ve been living with it for 12 years now, and it’s starting to look like we’ve established some kind of mutual stand off. That it has its part of the house, while we have ours. Yet, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. That it’s not here and sometimes moves so close that I can feel it’s breath against my skin. I start to scream. Feel my life slipping away. Then, somehow the storm has passed, and we’ve back to calm seas and endless blue skies.

Yet, as hard as it is to speak when your voice is shaking, it’s not always easy to write about it either. Indeed, for the past couple of nights, I’ve been typing randomly into my computer hoping to unravel the wound up spring inside. Work out what’s eating me alive, when everyone else is asleep. What’s wrong.

Rowena sun

Here I am at Railway Park, Byron Bay.

 

It always seems to come back to this. I live with a neuro-muscular, autoimmune disease called Dermatomyositis, which has spread to my lungs causing fibrosis. I look perfectly fine most of the time on the outside. However, if my lungs were my face, you’d barely see my eyes through the scar tissue. Yet, I breathe. I walk. Play the violin and sometimes dance. I also love and hug my husband , my children, my Mum and Dad and the puppy dogs. I have a rich and beautiful life jam packed with love. More over, I am also able to give and care for those around me. Put my arms around the broken-hearted, and shelter them from life’s storms. Try to help them feel loved. Indeed, even in the face of all my health issues, I strongly feel that my time on the planet has only just begun, and couldn’t be about to end any time soon.

DSC_9054

But these are the words, the feelings, the fears, I carry on my shoulders like Atlas, because I don’t want anyone else to worry. I don’t want them to be afraid. I especially don’t want my kids growing up wondering when Mummy’s going to die. It’s much better to keep those thoughts to myself, although given my frequent coughing attacks, they must also have their doubts. I’ve been stuck gasping for air too many times and desperately holding onto that Ventolin for them not to be freaking out.

Yet, how long is a piece of string? No one knows. Not even those who think they know, get it right. Dying seems to be a very complex equation. Indeed, this week we saw death’s contrariness personified in the death of Stephen Hawking at 78 years of age, when he was supposed to die in his twenties.

DSC_9040

So, there is no crystal ball. You can’t predict when your number’s going to come up and to me, it’s all starting to look rather random.

So, what can we do?

I guess that’s where I thoroughly believe in Carpe Diem…Seize the Day. You need to be thankful for what’s going well and you do need to find an outlet, some way you can share those challenging days and emotions and know that your concerns will be taken seriously, respected and that someone will respond in exactly the way that is right for you…be it a hug, a bunch of flowers, a card, a poem.

DSC_8981

Now, I’m going to turn this around and throw the challenge back to you the bystander…”Speak even when your voice is shaking”. I have also been in the situation many times where someone I’m close to is sailing way too close to the wind.When  I know life is excruciatingly painful, and they could well pull the pin. Again, there seems to be no manual for what to say in this instance either. If you’re anything like me, you can get tied up in knots trying to think of the right thing to say. What to do. “I dunno!” Surely, something is better than nothing. A stutter or an awkward stumble, is better than silence.

In Australia, we have “R U OK Day”. This is a fantastic idea because it at least provides some kind of way to start that awkward conversation.

DSC_9003

That said, once we’ve asked the question, we need to be able to leave room for the consequences. Make sure we have enough time to listen. Moreover,  I believe most of us should have some basic understanding of how to handle a mental health crisis. Anyone of us could be that first responder and you’re not always in a position to call 000 or 911. I have been in this situation and I must admit that I had the peace of God around me at the time, because I am not a calm person.

As a parent of teenagers, this is a huge concern. Not just for me, but all parents of teens and all who love and care for them.

This takes me back to something Dolly Everitt’s Dad said:

“Be honest with your kids. If you can’t connect with them for whatever reason that may be, find someone that can. They’ll always have a mate they’ll always have a little buddy somewhere that knows more than mum and dad.”

– Tick Everitt

DSC_9056.JPG

So, I apologise that my thoughts have wandered but I don’t profess to have the answers. I just have the questions. Yet, I’m thinking. I’m trying to find a better way to handle my own hard yards, and also to reach out and be there for those within my sphere. After all, I’m only human. The rest is in God’s hands.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments, but if something is troubling you, I encourage you to turn to someone where you live who can truly be there for you.

Love and best wishes,

Rowena

PS You would think that by broadcasting my thoughts on the World Wide Web that those closest to me emotionally and also in proximity would also be the wiser. That they’d read my confessional on my blog and know what’s in my heart and mind. However, there is that cyber divide and my family rarely reads my blog. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if they knew a very different me, and for those of you who also blog extensively, that this is the same for you. This is important for us to keep in mind, just as it is for parents to be aware that they don’t know what they’re children are sharing online or how they’re being treated. There are two worlds.

More About the Photos

The photos which appear in this post were taken in August, 2011 in the Railway Park at Byron Bay, NSW. Byron Bay is a stunning coastal town with such amazing natural beauty, a striking lighthouse and since the 60s, it’s been a magnet for hippies and alternative lifestylers. People who are troubled, searching and potentially experiencing mental health issues go to Byron Bay to clear their head and yet their issues only follow.

We have taken our kids to the climbing tree whenever we’ve gone to Byron Bay to stay with Geoff’s sister and family. It is our home away from home. Or, at least it was when we could get away more often.

This climbing tree is rather special because it’s fallen on its side so kids can climb it easily and given the hippy vibe of the area, it’s not surprising that people tie scarves and ribbons in the tree. We’ve even found an empty milk crate suspended from a rope.

However, on two separate occasions many years apart, we met  a lady, Mama Dee who was painting the tables and chairs and decorating the tree as a tribute to local youth who had taken their lives. Indeed, her son had accidentally died in the park through an overdose of prescription drugs. She wanted to honour all these precious young people and also brighten up the park for children and make the place happy.

I hope her gift of love will also touch your hearts as it has moved mine.

 

Capturing the Moon…Friday Fictioneers.

“Doesn’t everyone want to capture the moon?” She smiled enchanted by some kind of magic. “I wish I could just reach up into the sky with a magic, butterfly net. Bring the moon down to earth and hold it in my hands… a dazzling, golden ball of mystery.

“That’s what I do through the lens,” he replied. “It’s the closest I can get to taking it home.”

Meanwhile, the moon retained it’s secrets… watching, waiting, longing for the humans to return. It was so lonely just hanging up there in the sky.

“All I have left is their footprints”.

…..

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishof Fields.  PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz