Category Archives: Australia

Dire Straits – Friday Fictioneers 29th June, 2022.

“We were written in the stars,” Sadie beamed. “We met at the Dire Straits concert in 1986. What were the chances? Richard was sitting beside me. Love at first sight!”

Luck and hard work had served them well, and they owned a thriving floristry business in Lismore.

However, then their luck turned.

On the 28th February, 2022; Lismore, their home and their business were all wiped out in the floods. Devastated, yet grateful they’d made it out alive, and relieved they’d salvaged the truck.

On that rock, they would forge their new empire; starting with a tiny house.

…99 words PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share 27th June, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Well, how about we shift a pile or two of paraphernalia off the couch so you can sit down, and I’ll return with your choice of beverage and a plate of one of my favourite supermarket indulges…Ginger Kisses. These are a two biscuits of ginger sponge sandwiched together with a lux cream filling. I go through phases with my late night snack, and these are a returning addiction. Don’t know what they put in them, but they’re irresistible. However, just when I reached a point where I couldn’t live without them, they abruptly disappeared from the supermarket shelves and I had to go without. Being a resourceful woman, I hit the other local supermarkets and on my third hit, I stuck gold and bought all four packets (which by the way was all they had!) So, I hope you feel privileged that I’m actually sharing my stash with you, even if it’s virtual.

Do you have food shortages where you are? While relative to how things are going in some parts of the world, we still have it very good here. However, the cost and availability of fruit and veg is skyrocketing. Even the humble choko which used to be dirt cheap, is now $9.00 a kilo. As for iceberg lettuce, it’s overtaken toilet paper in discussions here. The crop was wiped out in the recent floods and Coles is now asking for $6.00 but it’s been up to around $10.00 in places. KFC, as only one example, has been substituting cabbage for lettuce on their burgers. It’s a tough life for some, and while I’m talking about prices, there’s the obvious increase in fuel prices. I wonder how people are getting on…

Well, I should’ve been keeping a closer eye on the time. I jumped on here to get this post written (or at least my link in place) before link up closed, but I got too engrossed in the price of lettuce and while I was rabbiting on, time ran away. Oh well.

My troubles with missing this wretched deadline is that I have historically written my post on Monday nights Sydney time and written about my weekend. On the other hand, most people seem to write about their week and they’re sharing on the weekend. I haven’t adapted to this change in mindset, and this week I’m rather under the weather. I had my fourth covid vaccine on Friday and I’ve been feeling sluggish over the weekend and my lungs haven’t been in their A1 condition. So, this week being late will just have to suffice and I’ll try again next week.

My big news this week, is that I finally enrolled in a freelance journalism course with the Australian Writers’ Centre online: Freelance Writing Stage 1. I first heard about this course about 8 years ago via my friend Shelley but didn’t follow it up. However, the course has now moved online and I’ve also come to realise that freelancing could give me the flexible income I’m looking for. Moreover, with Miss still at school and her dance and cheer commitments, I’d be stretched to juggle regular employmentin addition to my health issues.

Lady Reading frankie Magazine.

I have now completed my first assignment which involved analysing a magazine. I chose frankie. Have you heard of it? It’s a quirky magazine geared towards up and coming creatives, artisans and like-minded peoples. I don’t know whether my fellow students absorbed their magazines quite to the level I did and I probably went well beyond and above the scope of the assignment by checking out all the featured artisans. I had a ball. It was like visiting an enthralling artisan market from home. Understandably, however, it took me a little longer to actually get the assignment done and unbelievably the deadline started getting close. It was only a simple assessment, and I could’ve polished it off earlier if I hadn’t been so thorough and I was also a bit confused about how to pick out freelance contributions. However, I’ve also picked up Caravanning Australia as a magazine of interest, and eliminated Great Walks (this should be named exhausting never-ending hikes or Are We There yet? It’s way beyond my meagre fitness level). So, my market research has begun. The group also has an line chat function we’ve already begun bouncing ideas off each other.

Meanwhile, the Miss has been busy. Yesterday, she completed in the State Cheer and Aerobics Championships and her team were the State Champions and gold medallists. She also placed third and received a bronze medal for her individual cheer performance. This means she’s off to Nationals on the Gold Coast, which is very exciting and a bit of a what the? I’m not used to our family competing at that level on the sporting front. Meanwhile, on Thursday, she’s off to the Sydney Eisteddfod to compete with her ballet solo and lyrical number. Wow! She’s a busy girl and we are by default. Wish her luck. It’s the classical ballet solo which really matters!

Anyway, I might head off now. I managed to sleep through the first half of the day and jumped on here before I’d had breakfast or even my first cup of tea for the day. So, I’d better reverse engineer my day and get on with it.

So, I hope you have a great week ahead.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Australian Winter Wanderlust.

Today, I unwittingly marked the Winter Solstice with a drive, which could at a serious stretch be described as a “trip to the country”.

I hadn’t ventured far, when I came across a stand of stunning Autumn trees (which I must admit I’ve stopped to photograph before many moons ago in that haze now simply referred to as “before covid”.) Of course, I immediately pulled over and instantly regretted not packing my SLR. However, I had my phone. Now, what seems to suffice for mere mortals, had to be good enough for me.

A crunchy carpet of Autumn leaves.

By the way, this little drive of mine was all in aid of Miss getting her eyelash extensions done. Well, at least that’s what propelled me off the lounge driving 20 minutes up the hill to Kariong. The whole procedure usually takes about an hour. While she’s there, I usually walk around the Mt Penang Parklands. However, I was only there two weeks ago, and today I was seemingly swept up in a gust of wanderlust and I decided to venture further afield to Somersby, where I might find a nursery or some Autumn trees. Whatever else I ended up doing on this expedition, I was mindful that I needed to go for a walk and get some exercise. My back has been a rusty gate of late and my step counter has been swearing at me. So I really needed to get those steps up and my heart rate moving!

Once again, I was reminded how easy it is to live in our little bubbles and forget what’s just around the corner, or even only slightly further afield. There I was driving along Wiseman’s Ferry Road when I spot a familiar row of Autumn trees resplendent in their crimson and golden splendour glowing in the muted sun. They were absolutely magnificent, especially for me. We live right near the beach and there aren’t that many deciduous trees around here. Our native Australian trees are evergreen, and as much as I often feel these trees are out of place here, I adore them.

Meanwhile, admiring and photographing these gorgeous beauties has taken me down yet another research rabbit warren…trying to identify the leaves. However, I guess I ought to be thankful. In the course of my quest, I stumbled across a post by another beleaguered tree hugger who was trying to identify trees with only their barren skeletons and the texture of their bark to go on. So, it seems I’m decidedly better off, and should be feeling grateful instead.

Well, I am grateful. Truly, I am.

I’m grateful that I had the time to drive out to the trees, park beside the road and stop. I’m grateful that someone had the foresight umpteen years ago to plant those trees, and for whoever owns them now to do whatever they’re doing to nurture and maintain them, while putting up with voyeurs like myself pulling up and disturbing their patch of soil under the sun. I don’t know whether they have to do a lot of raking. However, looking at the number of trees, the volume of leaves they’re losing is staggering which makes me grateful I get all the joys and none of the responsibilities.

The cows were an added bonus and helped authenticate the country experience.

So I guess this brings me back to waiting for Miss, and whether I’m cranky and resent the time I’m waiting around and could be getting on with so, so many things. Or, do I actually appreciate the breathing space and the opportunity to get out of my little neck of the woods and stretch my legs and my photographic-eye a little further afield? It is a choice, and I’ve even surprised myself. I don’t complain. I always find something mind-blowingly wonderful.

What are the seasons up to in your neck of the woods? What have you been exploring? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I managed to clock up 2,197 steps. Not a personal best but the brutally honest stepcounter doesn’t mess around and told me : “You took 1,699 more steps yesterday than the day before”. Well, at least it’s an improvement!

Weekend Coffee Share – 19th June, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How have you been? I missed last week. I was flat out and before I knew it, it was Monday afternoon. So, here I am on Sunday afternoon trying to get ahead of myself this week. By the way, I can offer you some home baked Chocolate & Pecan Cookies, which are pretty scrumptious along with a cup of tea, coffee or even something random if you like. We’ll look after you here. However, I should warn you that we have three dogs and they make things rather lively for unsuspecting visitors.

Before I go any further, I would like to invite you to check out a conference held in Sydney for Young People called Standing Tall. They had a day of speakers and the day was livestreamed and available online for three months. I watched in myself and really found myself changed at the end of the day and having faith that I can actually make my dreams happen. Wrote a post which includes links to other motivational videos posted by the speakers. I was stunned at the amount of really good quality talks available free online. While the program is geared towards young people, it’s suitable for all ages. It’s not often I say this, but I challenge you to check it out here via my post: Learning to Dream Again After Standing Tall.

It’s Winter here. However, the weather has been glorious lately albeit a little chilly at times. Last weekend, Geoff and I were finally able to visit my parents in Sydney after a 12 month break due to covid lockdowns and ongoing cautious isolation. My parents have a glorious, well-established cottage garden. The camellias are flowering and they have these massive camellia reticulatas whose flowers are as big as saucers and even stunning when they’ve fallen from the tree into the groundcover down below. https://www.camelliagrove.com.au/

We also went whale watching last weekend, which was more about water watching instead. We might have seen the odd flicker in the water, but that was it. However, as you’ve no doubt heard before, it’s more about the journey than the destination. I was proud of myself for getting up the hill and onto the headland, especially as the track was pretty rugged with plenty of rounded rocks just waiting to trip me up. Unfortunately, I haven’t been walking too much over the last couple of days and need to catch up. Apparently, I’ve only taken 110 steps today. That isn’t entirely true. I’ve been sorting things out at home and have physically exerted myself but didn’t have my phone on me.

Lately, I’ve stepped up more with my writing and have entered two competitions. There was a 500 word piece for a Furious Fiction competition run by the Australian Writers’ Centre, and I also entered a 250 word competition out in Mudgee in Western NSW which had to be based on a photo and you have include the photo. Note that I said “include” and not “attach”. They wanted everything hard copy and there will be an exhibition. I only found out about the competition the night before so I had to work pretty hard turning all that around and getting it in the post in time, and am rather chuffed that I pulled it off. I now have a list of upcoming competitions and am putting myself out there. Of course, everyone wants to win, but entering in itself is a win of sorts and far better to throw your hat in the ring and lose, than not having a go.

Collapsing uer the weight of my new book haul with Zac the dog on my lap. I think he was sitting beside the books and you can see his black ear sticking up.

Well, we’ve been beavering away on the house, and it’s starting to pay off. We have way too much stuff, and we are trying to downsize but temptation keeps crossing my path. Yesterday, I just happened to find myself at another second-hand book sale. This time I didn’t count my haul, but it must be close to 50. That might sound insane, but when you consider I paid $25.00 for them, it makes a lot of sense. The only issue is how am I going to read them all? Anyway, I touched on all of this is my previous post for What’s On My Bookshelf? for June.

How has your week been? I hope it’s gone well.

Anyway, this has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Natalie the Explorer.

Best wishes,

Rowena

What’s On Your Bookshelf? – June, 2022.

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Well, today’s question isn’t so much what’s on my bookshelf, but what’s in the green shopping bag beside my reading chair and what’s in the car boot, which I haven’t quite owned up to yet?

Confession time…again!!!

My last confession came after I brought 38 books at the Pearl Beach Books Sale.

This confession comes after raiding the local PCYC Book Sale, which included leftovers from the Pearl Beach Book Sale. For a book addict like myself, I was in seventh heaven fossicking through a hall full of books.

I’m sure I don’t need to explain to you how tempting it was, especially as the books were only $2.50 each and my stash came under the “bulk deals” category. I paid $30.00 for my two bags full including ($5.00 worth of home made slice and rather tempting chocolate cupcakes. Yum!!)

A selfie with my new book stash today and the dog’s ear in the foreground. I think Zac was beside the book pile not underneath it.

I haven’t done a head count yet, and am still in denial. (I’ve been doing such a good job of clearing out at home and like a true addict, I’ve gone and undone it all again. However, I am still sticking to what I said after raiding the last book sale. I’m going to read them and pass them on.)

Here are just some of the titles I’ve bought home:

Frank Reid: The Romance of the Great Barrier Reef (1954), David Lodge: Thinks, Margaret Atwood: The Edible Woman; Antoine de Saint-Exupery: Le Petit Prince (in French), DH Lawrence’s: Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Harold Lewis: Crow On A Barbed Wire Fence; Simon Tolkein: The Inheritance; Elizabeth Jolly: Cabin Fever; and My Father’s Moon; Rosie Batty: A Mother’s Story; Wendy McCarthy: Don’t Fence Me In; Michael Caulfield: The Vietnam Years; New York New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The City in Art and Literature; Mark Marix Evans: Over The Top: Great Battles of The First World War; Alice Pung: Unpolished Gem.

As you might appreciate, there’s quite an eclectic selection there which is one of the beauties of second-hand book sales. They’re so stimulating taking your thoughts all sorts of directions across the globe and through time. I also appreciate picking up quite a few Australian works. As much as I love to discover the world, I also love seeing my world reflected back at me in print.

Meanwhile, I’m reading Kerri Maher’s: The Paris Bookseller. It’s essentially based on the life story of Sylvia Beach who founded the original Shakespeare and Company Bookshop in Paris. However, it also follows James Joyce very closing, especially the banning of Ulysses. It’s a wonderful read, especially for anyone who has been to Paris and visited Shakespeare and Company. I went there when I was in Paris in July 1992, and had heard they held poetry readings there. I mustn’t have known too much about the legendary status of the place because I went and approached the legendary George Whitman whether I could do a reading and blow me down after reading my self-published anthology, he agreed. I didn’t know that at age 23 I was reaching the pinnacle of my performance poetry career. I went corporate when I came home, because while it was okay to take one year off and wander through the nooks and crannies of Europe, it wasn’t meant to become a way of life. As it turned out, my health went pear-shaped and we’ve also decided/needed to focus on our kids, but this has also given me the space and freedom to write which I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Humph! I am getting a better understanding why I’m such a slow reader. I keep writing instead.

So, what have you been reading lately and what’s on your bookshelf? I’d love to hear from you!

This has been a contribution to What’s On Your Bookshelf?

Best wishes,

Rowena

A Winter Camellia Wonderland.

Yesterday, I visited my parents for the first time in a year. Geoff was going down to work, and so he dropped me off on the way, and I was expecting to be there for a good six hours. Well, I can assure you that even after not seeing me for a year, my Dad didn’t think he could talk for that long, although their was the possibility my mother could, but she sleeps irregular hours and so she was also a bit of an unknown quantity. The other thing I came to consider, is that they’ve had very little face-to-face contact with anyone since Sydney went into lockdown last June and so even having their dearest daughter land on their doorstep for the day might’ve been overwhelming, and my Dad recently had an operation as well and so isn’t in prime form either. I guess it suffices to say they’re in their late 70’s and have slowed down a bit.

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I packed a book and my journal and looked forward to playing the piano. However, it was a glorious sunny day and they have a magnificent cottage style garden which is quite a camellia wonderland. Indeed, now in the depths of Winter, the camellias are in flower and were absolutely beautiful. As you walk down their driveway, there’s what I think is a Ted Craig Reticulata which is 15 centimetres in diameter and absolutely magnificent. To use a classic quote from Kath & Kim, it’s shouting out: “Look at me! Look at me!” it’s hard not to.

Their garden also has quite a few deciduous trees and there was some stunning yellow Autumn leavers out the front and the neighbours have a towering Liquid Amber which is now mostly a skeleton of branches and all those leaves have fallen somewhere and been swept or raked away. I dare say, many of them have dropped in my parents’ garden and while I was there, I found myself sweeping the front steps until I found myself down on the driveway. It was alright when I started out. I seemed to be making progress. However, a wind had come along and it was literally snowing leaves and they were almost falling faster than I could sweep them away. Of course, I started to see a sort of futility in all of this. Do I end up becoming a sweeper just to keep up with the never-ending tide of leaves or do I simply leave them be? Well, it’s easy for me to say, because I don’t live there and we don’t have any deciduous trees here, except our jacaranda but it rains purple flowers instead. That’s why I guess sweeping up all those Autumn leaves was such a thought-provoking novelty. It’s not something I usually think about.

Anyway, I wanted to share that going round and working on your parents’ garden can be a great way of spending time with or around them while not being underfoot or tiring them out too much. My uncle showed me the way here. He used to go round and work on my grandfather’s garden. This way you can have a chat and a cup of tea, do some gardening. Have another chat and maybe even talk about the garden or they could sit out their with you too.

Their Driveway

By the way, I should also mention that I took over some Date and Apricot All Bran Muffins which they love. Home baked treats also keep to make a visit special.

Are you into gardening at all? Or perhaps you have elderly parents. What enhances your visits? It would be great to share some ideas and special memories.

Best wishes,

Rowena

A Winter Walk.

It’s Winter here. While all too easy to complain about the cold, and sink into a melancholy barrenness, I challenged myself to look out for flowers, colour and inspiration when I went on my regular walk around the Mt Penang Parklands near Gosford, North of Sydney. While Winters here are generally fairly mild without any sign of snow and ice, it’s still a season of slumber, hibernation and low expectations.

Candlestick Banksia

Early on in my walk, I was delighted to stumble across the golden Candlestick Banksia. It felt like a proof of concept that there’s always something positive, you just need to seek it out and not only focus on doom and gloom…or what’s missing. You just need to keep your eyes open and be careful what you filter in and out.

That said, I must admit I was disappointed to see the state of the water lilies which were in the last throws of seasonal death. When I was there last, they were just past their peak, but I had such a wonderful time photographing them and I even filmed them swaying around in the wind. They were magnificent and almost seemed to come to life. However, while the lilies were no longer beautiful in the conventional sense, they were still quite photogenic with their striking wiry forms, even if they weren’t instantly recognisable in the photos. A bit of intrigue and abstraction is good.

Water Lilies

Anyway, I’ve been trying to get out for more walks and I do try to mix it up a bit. It’s also really good to be able to get outside again after months and months of rain. What with avoiding crowds and shops etc to avoid covid and not being able to exercise outdoors for such long stretches of time, I noticed an impact on my mood but even more so on my neurological functioning. I’ve been actively fighting back against that, but it hasn’t been easy and I’m finally starting to feel I’m turning the corner.

Anyway, please stay tuned as I have more walks to come. Meanwhile, have you been on any interesting walks lately? I’d love to hear from you and put a few links in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Reflections in the pond.

Learning to “Dream Again” After “Standing Tall”.

Today, I am standing taller after watching Standing Tall, a powerfully inspiring event geared towards bringing out the best in our youth, helping them soar towards their dreams, and ultimately help them resist the notorious pitfalls lurking around. Acknowledging the “challenges” of the past two years, this year’s theme was “Dream Again”, which was very apt.

Okay, I can hear you saying that even in the wildest realms of my imagination, I am not a 16 year old schoolgirl like our inimitable Miss. “Who do you think you are? Go and take a look in the mirror and grow up!”

Well, in my defence, I want to make it clear that I wasn’t just watching Standing Tall for my own benefit. Yet, my motives were not purely altruistic either. I have a heartfelt passion and concern for our young people, especially after the last two years of covid and extended lockdowns. In that time, so many dreams and realities have sunk like stones, seemingly to the very depth of the abyss never to return. Moreover, two weeks ago, I attended a two day course given by Lifeline covering suicide intervention. As a parent of teens, I did this with particular thought to the young people who cross my path, hop in my car or occasionally sleep on our couch. Yet, there’s a space well before despair sets in where the seeds of self-confidence, hope, and hard work can grow and bear fruit. After all, we might never know what a difference a smile or a few words of encouragement can make to someone else’s life. This is where Standing Tall fits in.

Anyway, although covid is still around and has been joined by a nasty flu, the tide has turned and we have new beginnings. In recognition of these renewed hopes, the theme for Stand Tall 2022 is Dream Again, which is good for all of us.

So, I’m going to recommend straight up that after you finish this post, you go straight to the live stream replay. If you know some young people, especially living in Australia, see if you can get them to watch it too. It will be available free online for the next three months. By the way, if you can’t get them to watch it, watch it yourself and try to drop a few of these golden seeds of wisdom and encouragement into conversation.

“Every student has the capacity to make someone else’s experience of school better.”

Hon. Jason Clare, Minister for Education at Standing Tall 2022

Now turning to Standing Tall, each of the speakers encouraged me enormously. As I mentioned earlier, my interest in Standing Tall wasn’t purely altruistic. I’ve been in a state of extended limbo after having chemo to treat my muscle-wasting auto-immune disease. It took me quite a long time to get back on my feet, the family had been through a lot, and I also wasn’t the same person that I was before. I didn’t want to go back. I wasn’t well enough to move forward, and certainly I wasn’t too keen to fast-forward too far ahead either. I didn’t expect to be here. However, thankfully that hasn’t come to pass, and ironically I’ve actually been a lot better since covid came along. I haven’t caught so many chest infections and I haven’t caught covid.

So, to use Facebook parlance, my journey has been “complicated”.

I have also given a few motivational talks myself. I’ve also written numerous posts here on Beyond the Flow touching on things. However, I haven’t written the book, and considering I’m a writer, it becomes more of a sin of omission than for someone else. Yet, at the same time, as my writing lecturer at university, Michael Wilding, used to say: “writing is a thinking process”. So, when those thoughts are incredibly traumatic, it’s no wonder the writing process pauses or even stops.

“What you are going through doesn’t define you.”

Duku Foré

Now, getting back to Standing Tall, the first speaker, Duku Foré, really hit me right between the eyes. Duku was born in a refugee camp in Uganda and lived there with his family for ten years. His life changed abruptly when his family came to Australia as refugees. However, in many regards Australia wasn’t the promised land. It wasn’t easy starting out in a new country. For many years, he was the only black child in his class and also had a severe speech impediment. He was bullied at school, and also got into trouble himself. Despite all of this, he set out to inspire others through motivational speaking, and at 19 represented Australia at the United Nations. If you would like to hear more about his story, here’s another interview.

“Do something today that your future self would be proud of…”

Michael Crossland

I’m not going to go into every speaker or I’d be writing for a year. However, I also wanted to mention humanitarian and cancer survivor Michael Crossland. His journey is particularly relevant to me as he has overcome numerous life-threatening health issues, and is still here to tell the tale. Although he’s told this story many times before, he spoke with an emotional rawness as though he was telling his story for the very first time. However, his story wasn’t just about recounting his traumas. Rather, he has made what would be considered extraordinary achievements for the average Joe, and yet he has ongoing, diabolical health issues. How is it so? I don’t know but his mother also has this extraordinary fighting spirit. Grit. Tenacity. Supernatural strength and optimism. Michael is also a humanitarian and has given back, which includes buying a house for his mum. My words feel dreadfully inadequate. So, here’s a direct link to another motivational talk which overlaps with his talk at Standing Tall.

Another speaker I found particularly interesting was model and blogger Harmony Butcher. She spoke the dangers for young people about self-image on social media. Indeed, she wrote this enlightening post about self-image on her blog. As she spoke, she mentioned a statistic that 25% of people feel they need to change some aspect of their appearance to be feel acceptable on social media. Being a bit more mature in years, I found this statistic staggering. Yet, I just realized that I’m guilty of this myself. It’s exceptionally rare for me to have any photos taken of me wearing my glasses, although I wear them all the time. Indeed, although I’ve been posting here at Beyond the Flow for ten years and fairly open, how many of you have seen me in my glasses? Sure, it’s only a small alteration, but so is airbrushing out pimples, freckles or wrinkles. To be fair, this what we do with makeup anyway, and who really puts their real, undoctored physical self out there anyway? Well, let me assure you that aside from the glasses, what you see of me here is what you get. I rarely wear makeup in real or online life, but I’m also currently living the quiet life.

“Some people would do anything to have your bad day.”

Michael Crossland

I also wanted to share the story of Danny and Leyla Abdullah. On the 1st February, 2020 their lives were shattered and changed forever when a drunk driver mounted the footpath and killed three of their six children: Antony 13, Angelina 12, and Sienna 8, along with their cousin Veronique Sakr 11. The randomness of the accident and that one family would experience such a catastrophic loss, especially due to a drunk driver, was devastating. How could they go on? Understandably, there was strong community outrage towards the driver. Yet, a few days after the accident, Leyla Abdullah publicly forgave him. How could this be? Indeed, in her talk, she emphasized that she forgave the driver before he apologised. Extraordinary. She also said that “forgiveness is a choice. It’s like a muscle. The more you practice it, the better you get.”

Danny and Leila Abdullah didn’t stop there. They have created a national day of forgiveness, i4give Day, to remember the loss of their children and niece, and for everyone to think about someone they can forgive or ask for forgiveness. Forgiving others is critical, releasing our hearts from the toxic poison of hate, resentment and revenge.

The Abdullahs also had a special surprise at Standing Tall. It was their little bundle of joy and hope…their 10 week old baby girl, Selina. Of course, she doesn’t take the place of her lost siblings, but seeing a new life created out of the ashes was so encouraging. Indeed, I was jumping for joy in my chair.

“You can’t silence fear, but you can turn up the volume of hope and faith and drown it out”.”

Eloise Wellings

Next up, was Olympian and long-distance runner, Eloise Wellings, who is also the co-founder of the Love Mercy Foundation. Eloise had some really good things to say, which focused on overcoming setbacks and disappointment, believing in your potential and to keep going. She also mentioned something I’ve observed, and that some young people had developed a culture where it is better not to try than to fail. That they use the term “to be a sweat” to knock down people who apply themselves. When I was at school, the term was “swot”. Eloise was really encouraging and said: “you won’t regret trying.” She also advised focusing on the process rather than the big goal. “Get the next step done.” Talk about good advice, and certainly applies to me and the book project.

Bella Taylor Smith deserves an extra-special mention as she not only spoke but also performed. For those of you who may not know Bella, she won The Voice Australia 2021. Bella has her own story of overcoming adversity and is now touring with Guy Sebastian.

Think about whose footprints you’re following.

“It’s not what happens to you. It’s who you choose to become”.

Alex Noble.

Last, but not least, there was 19 year old Alex Noble On Sunday the 21st of October 2018 16 year old Alex Noble was doing what he loved best – playing rugby. As a rising sports star he was training with the Under-17 NSW Rugby Sevens youth selection squad. Tragically he was badly injured on the field, breaking his neck and severely damaging his spinal cord. Since then, Alex has poured all the tenacity and resilience he’d applied to his rugby training into his recovery and has made incredible progress. He has also started the Alex Noble Foundation whose motto is “I fight you fight”. (I’m looking back at my notes now and I see the phrase “We are unbreakable” circled. I know from personal experience what it’s like to experience a gruelling physical setback and barely be able to move myself. However, thanks to a reasonable diagnosis with treatment among other things, I am now doing remarkably well!)

So, what were the take homes from this extraordinary day?

I think the bottom line was that even the most extraordinary dreams are possible if we work hard, persevere, and develop the resilience to be able to bounce back from setbacks. At the same time, we might also have to find a new pathway when our dream sinks, regroup and find another. Secondly, we are not alone in our triumphs or tribulations. When we triumph, think about others around you and pitch in. If you’re at rock bottom, you are not alone. Help is at hand. It is also possible that while you’re at rock bottom, you will meet others who aren’t being reached. So, even in the depths of your own despair, you can offer hope to others. Well, I added that bit, but I know it to be true. This is another of my own observations… we need to keep ourselves in good physical, mental and spiritual shape because we don’t know when adversity is going to hit and the bumps will be less intense if we’re in good shape. As the Scout motto says: “Be prepared!”

Standing Taller after watching the live stream and going for a walk along the beach.

I hope this encourages you to check out the live stream so you can absorb and apply their wisdom and zest for an abundant life, and I would personally like to thank everyone who contributed towards the day for having such a big impact on me and my family.

Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from you, especially if you attended Standing Tall or like me tuned into the live stream.

Best wishes,

Rowena Curtin

Carpe Diem – Friday Fictioneers: 8th June, 2022

Jane wasn’t one to complain. However, this new-fangled motivational seminar was the last straw. She only attended under duress.

“We’re librarians. We don’t need all that motivational mumbo-jumbo?” She grumbled over morning tea. “What about all the potholes? It’s roadworks who need a rocket up the arse.”

“Must be the new mayor,” Daphne groaned. “He’s so positive, he’s painful. Doesn’t he realize we librarians prefer our adventures in books, NOT in real life?!”

Not anymore. Jane resigned. Booked a one-way ticket to Bali. She was last seen kayaking off a waterfall, and wasn’t alone.

She was finally living her dreams.

………

100 words PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

When I showed my husband this week’s prompt, he showed me photos of dare-devils kayaking off waterfalls. I must say them very impressive, reckless and also potentially stupid. Of course, I could ever do anything like that, only write about it. However, today I attended an motivational seminar via livestream called Standing Tall. It’s actually for teenagers. However, I wanted to see what it was about. I’d signed my kids up for it, and also thought I might benefit myself. After all, you’re never too old to learn. The livestream will be available for the next three months and I highly recommend you check it out. Here’s the link: https://www.standtallevent.com/online

It’s a few years ago now…kayaking with Bilbo and Lady at Palm Beach.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields at https://rochellewisoff.com/ We’d love you to join us!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 6th June, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Let me offer you a warming tea, coffee or perhaps even a mug of hot chocolate. It’s freezing here, and it’s feeling like we’re down in the snow country, although I’m still able to move my fingers, so I shouldn’t be complaining too much. I’m just waiting to drive our daughter to school and filling in a few minutes, and I’m grateful for the warmth of Zac the dog on my lap who is no doubt reciprocating.

How was your week, and what did you get up to?

The highlight of my week was going to an art exhibition opening on Saturday afternoon at La Carta Art Gallery in Wyong, My friend’s teenaged daughter, TP, was among the exhibiting artists, which is what took me there. I love her work and it’s so good to see an artist in the making, and watch her insights and talent evolve. We rarely get that opportunity and usually only see the finished product, and by this stage, it’s usually well beyond our price range. During the week, I’d already seized the day, and had bought her charcoal sketch: The Cat. . It was funny because people seemed to assume I’m a cat person. However, as most of you know, we’re dog people here and have three lively dogs of our own. Besides, that wasn’t why I bought it. I thought the perspective was very clever and I loved the expression on the cat’s face and it’s huge, wide eyes. I wonder what it was looking at…

The Prayer – Lena Nimmo

Meanwhile, I also fell in love with the work of another artist, Lena Nimmo, who is more around my vintage. She had quite a number of paintings in the exhibition, including many people. Should I be calling these portraits? I don’t know. I was captivated by quite a number of them, especially a woman with dark hair and some kind of look in her eyes. I’m not an art critic. I just found the woman intriguing and was drawn in. I almost could’ve bought that painting, along another painting of a young woman playing the piano. Pianos have been such a part of our family life, but I have so many of my own photos and the same old problem of limited wall space. However, then I spotted a painting of a woman praying, The Prayer, which had been inspired by a 1914 work by Felice Casorati. To be honest, I much prefer Lena’s version. It’s absolutely exquisite, and I’m giving it to my mum. It was her birthday on Saturday, and she is a woman of faith who always starts the day by reading her Bible.

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By the way, I really enjoyed myself, and I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to immerse myself back in the art world again after being in lockdown and isolation for most of the last year, along with the year before. It gave me a bit of a jolt. This is what I’ve been missing out on. It inspired me to venture out further. Embrace more of living However, covid is still around, and it’s Winter and flu season here. I’m planning to get my fourth covid vax and the flu vax this week. Apparently, you can get them together which sounds practical, but I wonder how I’ll feel afterwards. Yet, there’s part of me that wouldn’t mind a few days in bed with a good book. One of the downsides of getting back to our so called “normal” is driving all over the place again. Some days I feel like a buzzing bee.

Over the weekend, I also submitted a 500 word short story into a Furious Fiction competition held by the Australian Writer’s Centre. I’m not sure quite what I can mention about my story online. However, I wrote about a family grappling with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. There are two sisters who find out they are carriers after Sally’s son is diagnosed at age four. Bridget has a daughter and because Duchenne’s is largely passed on to males, she’s okay but could be a carrier. The story is set just over a year after Sally’s son has died, and his massive electric wheelchair is still taking up most of their loungeroom, and they haven’t been able to part with it. I guess part of what I was looking at was that pressure to move on and what to hold onto and what to let go. As I worked on the story, I added in that he’d played boccia, which is a variation on bocce, which is played by severely disabled people, providing a sporting outlet. In my story, he’d been part of a fictional Australian team who’d won gold in Rio. In part, the story was inspired by Australian Paralympic gold medallist, Kurt Fearnley . I’ve heard him speak and he’s also written a very inspirational book Pushing the Limits: Life, Marathons & Kokoda. Many of you, would not be aware that following the birth of our 16 year old daughter, I was struck down by a muscle-wasting autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis, and spent eight weeks in hospital and rehab trying to get back on my feet. I was very debilitated, and to be perfectly honest with you, don’t know how I’m still here or how I’m doing so well these days. It’s a real testimony to the motto; “never give up”, because there were many times it was tempting, which at the same time, I fought like a bat out f hell to survive. I know that might sound contradictory, but that’s what it’s like with real emotions when the rubber hits the road. It’s tough. Of course, you’d rather be at the beach and chilling out. It is what it is, and I can’t describe the relief, especially now that the worst of covid has passed and we have a vaccine and anti-virals.

I also wanted to share my latest adventure via Google Earth. This time I checked out Windhoek in Namibia. Here’s the link: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2022/06/03/wandering-over-to-windhoek-namibia/

Well, that’s about enough from me for this week. However, I thought I’d share with you the link through to the past winners of the Furious Fiction competition because their stories have been published and the judges have also provided feedback, which is very helpful: https://www.writerscentre.com.au/blog/category/furious-fiction/

Anyway, this has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Natalie the Explorer: https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena