About

Welcome to Beyond the Flow

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

Beyond the Flow is about being a bit quirky, creative and not quite conforming to the mainstream…whatever that might be.
Kooky stuff also happen to me, undermining all my attempts and best efforts to go with the flow. Blend in. Be “normal”. You’ll notice this certain je ne sais quoi when you read about my efforts to teach the kids how to cook pizza. You wouldn’t believe it but the yeast initially flew away and during the kneading process, our son transformed into the “Abominable Doughman” with his hands caked in dough. However, like most of our craziness,  it all worked out in the end with a perfect meal.
Beyond the Flow documents our journey through life’s ups and downs from a fairly philosophical and hopefully humourous perspective so hopefully you’ll laugh, cry and think a bit as you share in our adventures.
Based on the Australian East-Coast just North of Sydney, this motley cast and crew features:
Myself-Rowena
2012...Writing at the snow

2012…Writing at the snow

I am a mid-40s writer, blogger, wife, mother and I’ve been working in marketing communications with a focus on the non-profit sector. I’ve worked on issues such as: water conservation, science promotion, HIV/AIDS, Industrial Relations and have been the Marketing Manager of a local  IT company for a few years. I have also been on the Status of Women’s Committee for our local council, which organises the local march for International Women’s Day. In addition to my writing, I usually don’t go far without my Nikon SLR in tow and am frequently deemed “the papparazzi” by family and friends. I even took photos at our fairly formal wedding reception and a friend joked about me having a camera concealed in my bouquet but that was in the days pre-digital. It would have been a “must-have” otherwise.
You see what I mean about being “beyond the flow”.
A major part of my journey involves my ongoing battle with a severe life-threatening auto-immune disease, called dermatomyositis. To put it very simply, my muscles attack themselves resulting in muscle loss and it also affects my skin and more recently my lungs. It was triggered almost 9 years ago by our daughter’s birth which threw my immune system into overdrive. Dermatomyositis affects roughly 1 in 100,000 and is similar to Muscular Dystrophy except that it ideally flares and goes into remission. Most of the time, I am fairly well and walk around OK. Fortunately, I have an absolutely incredible medical team behind me. Actually, they’re in front of me and somehow they keep pulling rabbits out of that proverbial hat. It’s been a very contradictory journey as we carpe diem seize the day and continue living while grappling with medical appointments, treatments and the usual family stuff. This journey is certainly “beyond the flow”.
Three years ago, just before I started the blog, we found out that the inflammation had started to cause fibrosis in my lungs. We received this news just before the Christmas break when Australia basically goes to sleep for a few months and it took me about 4 weeks to get an appointment with my lung specialist. Of course,  that was an agonising wait…especially  over Christmas. Once we saw the specialist, there was conservatively good news and we could get on with it.
During that four week waiting period, I had a fairly major let’s call it “existential crisis”. I was absolutely emotionally wiped out and devastated as I thought about my kids losing their mum. They were only 7 and 5 at the time and our daughter was still at that age when little kids hug you round the legs or hide behind your skirt. Our son had had a particularly difficult year at school and he needed me just as much. Those 4 weeks were cripplingly heartbreaking but we got through. We prayed and family and friends encouraged…hoped for the best.
Just because something turns out to be a storm in a teacup, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t change your life. Of course, it does. There’s that proverbial line in the sand.
In the very tentative aftermath of that heartache, my brother-in-law advised me just to focus on what I could change about my life. I revisited the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Reinholdt Niebuhr
However, what can you change? What is so etched in stone or so immovable that nothing on this entire planet will make it budge?
As perhaps you can now appreciate, there was a lot of fine print and indeed a lot left out of the Serenity Prayer. I could actually change a lot more than I ever believed possible and I wasn’t etched in stone either. Through neuroplasticity, we are all able to rewire our brains…at least to some extent. However, even then we will ultimately reach the outer limits. There will ultimately has to be a full stop. At least, I think so.
What the serenity prayer fails to address and I feel this is the critical issue is: What or who changes us?
On my personal journey, our kids and my desire to be an active, loving, interactive part of their lives and not just a shadow or “asleep” has taken me so far beyond what I ever thought possible. This includes learning to play the violin and to ski, which really was against all odds. I would never have thought it possible. Yet, small step by small step, I achieved the impossible. I might not be playing my violin at the Sydney Opera House and you won’t see me skiing at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang either but I am living my dreams. I write. I photograph. Read. Moreover,  my son will tell you that I talk…a lot!!
In December 2013, that storm regarding the fibrosis in my lungs jumped out of the tea cup. The lightening flashed and how those grey clouds rumbled  and I was looking pretty much fried.
Yet, as I said, my doctors are a step ahead and I had infusions of chemo and prednisone through Christmas and January last year and hey presto, I’m back in remission again. However, it’s been much, much harder to get my life back on track than after other flares as the effects of chemo brain have been quite severe. I also have hydrocephalus and perhaps that has magnified the effects but I’m still finding it difficult to multitask. I struggle to have any concept of time and am developing more and more infrastructure to manage the kids and their numerous activities and school stuff. This will supposedly improve and I know all about the power of changing those neuropathways. However,  even though I have conquered so many hurdles, everything is so much easier in hindsight.
I soldier on! Carpe diem: seize the day although I have to admit that the black dog gets me now and then. I’m only human and at times I can feel like Atlas, carrying the world on my shoulders.
It is my hope that our journey will particularly encourage others who are living with adversity of whatever kind and although you might not be able to change the situation you are in, perhaps you can change the surroundings or just find better ways of dealing with your lot. Or, at least not feel alone.
Meanwhile, there are some other characters I would like to introduce.
Geoff and Bilbo out in the kayak at Palm Beach, Sydney 2014.

Geoff and Bilbo out in the kayak at Palm Beach, Sydney 2014.

There’s my husband Geoff.  He gets mentioned throughout the blog but without getting personal. It’s my blog…not his and the same goes for the kids. my business isn’t their business. Just because I’ve decided to put my innermost thoughts on the world wide web, it doesn’t mean they want to be  a part of it. They are their own people.  That said, I’ve put their photos on the blog and they love it!
Our son loves sailing and being oout on the yacht.

Our son loves sailing and being out on the yacht 2014

Our Dancing Queen

Our Dancing Queen in 2011

We have two children. I simply refer to our kids as “Mr” and “Miss”. That’s what we usually call them at home and sort of conforms to family tradition. My grandparents’ cat was always called “Puss” despite living with a highly creative family. I like the simplicity. Mister is almost 11 and Miss almost 9.
We also have two much loved canine critters in residence.
Our Philosophical Dog walking along beside the tide. He doesn't like getting wet paws.

Our Philosophical Dog walking along beside the tide. He doesn’t like getting wet paws.

Bilbo is an 8 year old Border Collie. He was an only dog who really hadn’t had a lot of interaction with other dogs aside from Alfie the Blue Heeler who used to live next door. I think it was actually Alfie who trained him to bark ferociously at the postman and more likely… people riding bicycles. Alfie almost combusted whenever a bike went past.  Despite our intermittent efforts at exercise and diet reduction, Bilbo has remained very much all of his self. In the last 12 months, Bilbo has undergone his own personal development process and has gone from being the backyard wonder to sailing, kayaking and he even managed to get his paws wet and swim out to Mister on his kayak and climb on board. Well, actually he capsized the thing and boy and dog found themselves in the water. Funny to some but I still haven’t been forgiven for laughing.
Lady

Lady

Around September 2014, we welcomed our latest dog addition to the family. Lady is a mischievous two- year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel x Border Collie. Her Dad was a ruby cavalier and her mum was the border collie so that’s a story in itself. Lady is almost pure black with the silky soft cavalier fur and floppy ears but has a patch of white fur on her chest and her black paws. She’s quite adept at getting lost in the dark when I go to put her to bed. Lady is also quite a food thief and has been found standing on our kitchen table eating our dinner. Well, that hasn’t happened since.
Lady at Sunset

Lady at Sunset

I hope you enjoy Beyond the Flow!

xx Rowena

 

Our family at Yoda celebrating my birthday in July, 2014

Our family at Yoda celebrating my birthday in July, 2014

2015 A to Z Survivor Badge

PS About Success: I made this comment about being focused on success on another blog and have stuck it here for later consideration:

Great tips but I have also experienced incredible growth by pursuing unexpected possibilities and opportunities which have included learning the violin and how to ski despite a severe medical condition. I would never have believed either of these paths were open to me but gave them ago due to family involvement and I’m so pleased I did. I could write all day every day but it’s also important to diversify and have intimate relationships in our lives and these by their very nature will, at least to some extent, derail us and indeed, they should. There is so much more to life than just the goal.

197 thoughts on “About

  1. roweeee Post author

    Thank you very much, Alison. Adversity isn’t something you choose for yourself or anyone else but it is something so many of us experience and I guess what is now important to me is that people don’t feel alone and they also feel they can overcome or at least improve their situation. I include myself in needing reinforcement and reminders of these things as well. xx Rowena

  2. Pingback: Daily Moments March 5-16 ~ chocolat c’est bon! (haibun) – Tournesol dans un Jardin

  3. Harlon

    Hello, how wonderful to have found your blog and your story really resonated with me. It’s great to read about someone and how they present their version of “about me” and to feel connected. So happy to meet someone who shares similar perspectives and experiences. Looking forward to going with the flow with you. Peace, Harlon

  4. Linda

    Lovely to meet you, Rowena 🙂 I dropped by for a visit via the A to Z challenge and I am so happy that I did; I, too, am also quirky, live with a chronic condition (MS) and seem to have kooky stuff happening to me all the time. It seems to be how I roll and the best way I know how to cope with life’s ups and downs is to find the bright and humourous side in everything. Looking forward to getting to know you ‘beyond the flow’.

    Linda K
    @_theheadcabbage from
    Tales from the Cabbage Patch

  5. roweeee Post author

    Hi Linda,
    I’m so sorry that it’s taken me so long to reply to your comment. I’ve had a few technical difficulties accessing some of my comments. So, now I’ve finally got them open I’m sitting here until they’re done.
    I agree with you about humour helping you to roll with the punches. In the past, I’ve found the darker things are, the funnier I get and I could almost move into stand-up comedy.
    I am currently taking part in the blogging A-Z April Challenge where I’m writing letters to dead poets who have inspired me along the road. I was absolutely blown away by Roald Dahl’s story. He endured such tragedy but didn’t give up. Here’s the link: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/d-roald-dahl-letters-to-dead-poets-atozchallenge/
    Hope you’re having a great weekend!
    xx Rowena

  6. Linda

    No worries; I know how life can distract us from the things we really want to do. I’m going to head over to check out your letter to Roald Dahl. I read some of his books to my sons when they were wee ones.

  7. Marje @ Kyrosmagica

    You sound like an inspiration – skiing wow, that truly is amazing given your health issues. Thanks for stopping by Kyrosmagica and leaving such a long and friendly comment. It’s lovely to see you and your lovely family (including your doggies!!) too.

  8. KB Garst

    I always forget this part of the Serenity Prayer: Living one day at a time, accepting hardships as the pathway to Peace, taking as He did, this world as it is, not as I would have it. Thank you for your lovely comment on my coffee share! Talk to you soon!

  9. Gary

    Found your blog from a blog that was found from a blog that was found from a blog that was found on Twitter…odd, coincidental or destiny…not that that’s relevant….I digress, lovely blog you have and this post was a fine read….hope you don’t mind a new follower 😊

  10. Gary

    You are most welcome 😊 I ask the question out of courtesy…so far every blogger I’ve met has been rather wonderful….have to say, when I started in January, I so did not expect that 🙃 x

  11. thecoffeebeanbrain

    Today I am glad I found your page. I am still overwhelmed with the many beautiful souls sharing themselves as I start my journey in the blogging world. I hope to find time and visit your posts often. Blessings to you and your lovely family.

  12. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much. I have met and become really close to so many beautiful bloggers. It’s been such a wonderful experience!

  13. Rowena Post author

    So sorry it’s taken me so log to reply to your message. It ended up in a deeper level of comments and I struggle to access these at times so I tend to go through them in one long hit.
    I totally agree with you about all the lovely people I’ve met through my blog and I also love chatting to people from all around the world and have really felt my understanding of the world as a global community has changed so much. Now, I’m conscious that when it’s Summer here, it’s winter in the Northern hemisphere as a conscious thing and not just something I read in a book or a fact. I can feel it. I’ve picked up on so many bits and pieces and cultural things and I hope learned more about people and to be a better person along the way.
    Take care and I hope you’ve had a great weekend.
    xx Rowena

  14. thecoffeebeanbrain

    No worries, Ro. I honestly forget the comments I write sometimes, like this one for example, but thanks for taking the time to reply. I agree with you on how blogging opens up my mind about the world and the different people kind enough to share and connect from wherever they are. I recently ‘met’ one from the Netherlands and halfway through our comments we were exchanging notes on our time differences. I’ve often thought how wonderful it would be to travel and meet fellow bloggers at the same time. Now that would make exciting posts one meeting at a time 🙂

  15. Rowena Post author

    I would desperately like to get over to London for the Bloggers’ Bash and I’ve also noticed how those bloggers have connected and become a club of sorts. But, your idea of travelling to different places and meeting one blogger at a time takes that up a notch and I love the idea.

  16. sandisslant

    Hi Rowena: after reading your description, I feel like I know you. I have a panic disorder and I am autistic, so my maladies are in no way related, but I think we all get dealt our cards and how we play them is what it is all about. You have such a lovely, positive attitude, and I try to keep the same. I could complain, but what good would that do? And in my case, it actually might make it worse. I have followed you, so I will be around more. Hope to get to know you better. -Sandi

  17. Rowena Post author

    Glad you have followed me Sandi. I understand panic disorder too well from personal experience so I get that entirely!! I know and am related to people on the spectrum so I get that to some extent too so I hope I can be there for you in some way. I know what it is to struggle to find motivation and a ray of sunshine at times but I also know what it is to push through and feel on top of the world. Bless you and I look forward to getting to know you better xx Rowena

  18. litadoolan

    Your strength, power and optimism shines bright Rowena. What an inspiration. Love the photographs. It’s great to connect to your writing via your site. Look forward to exploring more and reading your work. I am enjoying the wise quotes you pick out too. With all good regards x Lita

  19. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Lita. Years ago, I remember thinking about how I wanted my children to remember me and it was swinging from the chandeliers and really living life. It’s not always possible but it’s a good place to aim.
    I love quotes, BTW. I’m starting to work on a quote project and am really loving it. xx Rowena

  20. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much, Anisha. It’s very important for me to do what I can to help people who are going through hard times. You can feel so alone and it helps to feel that someone else at least tries to understand. xx Rowena

  21. moondustwriter

    I’d love to sit down with you over a cuppa – think we would go through many …
    Been up and through a similar valley – given 3 months to live on one jaunt , 1 year when I met my hubby.
    You hang in there and feel the love!!!

  22. Kate Loveton

    It was really something to read your ‘about’ post. You have a lovely family. I wish you peace, strength, courage and happiness as you ‘carpe diem’ and soldier on, Valiant Heart.

  23. my one life. today

    Definitely a humorous and at the same time thoughtful blog. No wonder, you have a lot to chew on. All the more uplifting how you digest all of that in your blog posts. I laughed out loud quite a few times.

  24. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much and I’ve just popped round to your blog before replying to get a feel for where you’re coming from.
    I was quite surprised when the humour started flowing through my blog, because I’ve always been very sensitive and there’s been much adversity. However, I think this adversity has made me realise how strange and freaky things are. That many of our darkest moments have humour in them. There’s that tension between whether to laugh or cry. I don’t know if you read the post about my battle with the clothes horse, but even though that was a simple household incident, I thought it was something I could turn into entertainment. Who hasn’t struggled with something like this? We expend so much energy and effort trying to be perfect and yet we’re all human and when we see that in someone else, I’m sure there’s a collective “phew!” I’m not the only one.
    xx Rowena

  25. my one life. today

    I love that post about your battle with the clothes horse. It was precisely the reason I thought your blog was humorous. I do find my dark moments freaky, yet have trouble finding the humor in it. Also I do sometimes feel like laughing anyhow…. Maybe that’s how it starts.

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