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:
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.


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.

220 thoughts on “About

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Sitting Special – Life was meant to be easy by Rowena Newton- Beyond the Flow | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Wednesday 25th July 2018 – Victoria Zigler and Robbie and Michael Cheadle, Best Regards from Far and Rowena of Beyond the Flow. | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  3. the novelist

    Hi. I read a comment of yours hat you have some health challenges and sorry to hear. I know what that’s like to live with chronic illness. But I was grateful to come into something that’s been helping me severe debilitating health issues and thousands of others across the globe. I posted something about it recently. Perhaps you can take a look into it on my recent post. Wishing you well.

  4. Gary A Wilson

    Hi Rowena. I was thinking about you today and am still hoping that all is well as everyone around you it seems must be fighting the fires somehow. Be safe and throw out a ping from time to time to let us know that all is well or how you’d like prayers in your behalf packaged. Blessings.

  5. Rowena Post author

    I don’t expect you to. I’m an extrovert who has been in isolation way too long and the family have different interests to mine to some extent. My husband is interested in history but he’s working full time. I don’t feel lonely at all but finding someone with similar interests through the blog is always such a blessing.

  6. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much, Trish. Thanks for popping round and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to your comment. I’ve been in lala land a bit lately.
    Best wishes,

  7. Dave Vagg

    This was cool to find and read. It’s a cottage my late father drew in many iterations (Circa 1980’s) eg pencil, ink etc, albeit I don’t have an original copy, but at least one friend does. I eventually got to see, go inside and took some photos, in 2005. And without connecting the two, at least at the time, I took a photo of the WSO monument on Oconnell Street, Dublin in 2009. This year, out the front of my unit, someone had left a copy of a book called ‘The Isle of dead’ which documents the graves etc, including those from Port Arthur, but I digress. But, how small is the world [?] especially when you take a step back, breath in and take notice!

    I hope all is well, with you and yours!

  8. Ann Curthoys

    Dear Rowena. Are you aware of the half hour ABC TV programme named Spotlight, in which Eunice Gardiner was one of the panel of three people interviewing African American singer, Paul Robeson, recorded on 5 November 1960 and broadcast on 13 November 1960? It is available through the ABC Archives. Eunice asks several questions and comes across as a very warm person. It is a wonderful interview.
    Ann Curthoys

  9. Rowena Post author

    Great to touch base, Dave. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. Your comment didn’t end up in my comment feed.
    Best wishes,

  10. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much, Ann. I really appreciate you getting in touch. Sorry for the delayed response. It didn’t show up in my direct comment feed.
    Eunice is an enigma. She absolutely adored her pupils and was incredibly encouraging and I think there was this synergy between them which was well beyond me. My mother was actually Eunice’s pupil and that was how my parents met. She said Eunice gave her so much love, that she wondered how she could have anything left when she went home. Eunice married my grandfather and there was a grand piano on their wedding cake and she kept performing after marriage and had three sons and left for New York in 1948 and left them at home with her mother and a housekeeper. The older two boys went to boarding school aged 5 and six and my dad aged 3 was at home. She was very much ahead of her time. She ended up with seven children and she always performed, worked as a music critic or taught at the conservatorium. I studied women’s history at Sydney Uni and it was very hard to put the pieces together. She was so exceptional.
    Eunice also interviewed and was close friends with Beth Dean and her husband Victor Carell. Eunice reviewed Corroboree for The Telegraph. My aunt, Dr Anna Haebich, was able to meet with Beth Dean and interview her.
    Anyway, there’s a good story or two there.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena Curtin

  11. Philip Saggers

    Rowena I accidentally came across a reference to Eunice Gardiner while searching something else. I zeroed in and eventually landed here because she and Bob Curtin were friends and contemporaries of my parents.

    Dad was a dentist and, like your grandfather, had a practice in Macquarie St before the War. Eunice dazzled their circle by all reports – my mother, who had been a nurse at St Vincent’s smiled affectionately whenever they were mentioned. They were all part of a sparkling social scene. Dad moved to the country some years after the war – which had not been a great experience for him – and practiced there – near where my mother’s family all farmed.

    I had some talent very early on on the piano and so Eunice was often mentioned in the context of encouraging me to work hard at it. I never met your grandparents but I know Mum and Dad would catch up with them on our annual Summer visits to Sydney. I have no information which could add to your trove of research but I’m so glad I was able to read everything you have gathered about Eunice. It is quite a tale. Well done.

    Philip Saggers

  12. Rowena Post author

    Hi Philip,
    So lovely to hear from you. I’ve just returned home from a month away and I actually had message from one of my grandfather’s former dental nurses as well tonight. Have you done any research Trove looking at the old newspapers online your parents appear a few times n reference to their massive turkey farming operation. My dad, Derek, bred turkeys in the backyard in Lindfield and he used to sell the end product to his mother for the dinner table. There’s a story that one of the turkeys was rather bossy and territorial and my grandfather gave it a boot up the rear and an express trip to the dinner table complete with bruise. Not the sort of thing we probably talk about these days, but I guess even turkeys were expected to be seen and not heard back in the day.
    By the way, my notes her are a fraction of what I’ve gathered about Eunice. She appeared frequently in the press and I collated what probably isn’t the lot and this reminds me I ought to print it out.
    The wars did incredible harm to generations. I have been researching soldiers’ letters WWI, which became a bigger than Ben Hur covid lockdown project after trying to put my Great Great Uncle’s story. Recently, I was researching my Great Uncle’s service in New Guinea during WWII It’s so much harder than I’d expected. Anyway, if you’d like to email me my address is rowenanewton@outlook.com and I’ll check if Dad remembers your parents. They could well have inspired his turkey empire.
    Best wishes,

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