Category Archives: Parenting

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!

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

The Silent Type – Friday Fictioneers: 1st June, 2022.

The coast was clear. Max crept up the fire escape, through the open window into Gorjess’s bedroom. Wrapping himself in her pink sheet, he inhaled her sweet scent.

“OMG! I can’t even speak to her at school. Yet, here I am in her inner sanctum”.

“What the hell?!!” Jess screamed.

Caught in the act, Max ran. Wednesday 5.00pm…she was supposed to be at netball.

Soon, the cops turned up.

“Breaking and entering… what were you thinking?”

“Dunno,” he shrugged. “I just wanted to be near her.”

“I don’t get the next generation,” the Sergeant groaned. “Whatever happened to saying hello?”

……

100 words PHOTO PROMPT © Lisa Fox

This story was inspired by Chase Holfelder’s reinterpretation of The Police’s: Every Breath You Take in a minor key. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PLNsymQi3Y&list=PLP0d0-9sxH8YBXAVGNPo_0WuHZPhIjIyH&index=6 I’d love to hear your thoughts. It’s so creepy!

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by our intrepid leader, Rochelle Wishoff-Fields at https://rochellewisoff.com/

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Thought this photo my daughter doctored of me on the weekend might give you a laugh.

Weekend Coffee Share – 29th May, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Wow! I can’t believe I actually went somewhere. In fact, I’ve even been to somewheres. It’s been an exceptionally busy week, but so very rewarding.

I’m going to get the ball rolling, by sharing what I’ve been up to first.

Firstly, on Thursday and Friday last week, I attended a Suicide Intervention Course called ASIST, which is put together by a telephone crisis service called Lifeline. The course usually costs $600.00 but they were offering it free of charge to locals thanks to Rotary sponsorship. I know that doing two solid days of this must sound incredibly heavy. There were parts where my hand turned noticeably red, and I gathered I’d got a bit too worked out. However, my overall feeling was that doing the course was more uplifting than heavy going since the training helped me feel much more capable and empowered.

Yesterday, we drove down to Sydney for Miss to compete in a lyrical troupe dance at the Sydney Eisteddfod. Because we’ve seen the dance before and it was going to cost $50.00 to attend, we decided to go out for an early dinner at an adjacent Vietnamese restaurant instead. We had been there almost precisely a year ago when she competed in last year’s Eisteddfod and we hadn’t been able to get back due to covid lockdowns and being cautious. So, this felt like quite a treat and I was so excited to enjoy scrumptious crispy chicken and prawn pancake known as Bánh xèo. it was so good. We also managed to check out an exhibition of street art, and we also came across two of the massive inflatable gnomes which are in Chatswood at the moment, and we also found an exquisite bakery and bought a chocolate mouse cake shaped like a very cute puppy dog and a mango coconut mouse cup. Yum.

Today, we ended up pointing the car in the opposite direction and driving to Newcastle for Miss to compete in the School Aerobics Championships where she competed in cheer and aerobics. Everybody did really well and they all made it through to the State competition which will be held in St Ives, Sydney in a month’s time. If they get through that, it’s off to the Gold Coast for Nationals.

Look wat the dreaded Miss did to me!

Afterwards, we drove down to The Junction, a popular part of Newcastle where Mum’s cousin’s family owns a wonderful restaurant, Tallulah, but it had just close when we turned up, and so we headed across the road to the Grumpy Baker. Well, the baker might be grumpy, but we can assure you, none of the patrons were grumpy indulging in their scrumptious sensations. Even their sausage rolls had been elevated to highly delicious heights and we were most disappointed that we missed out on seconds after someone else bought the last two from under our noses. Golly, it all made a very strong argument for heading back North up the freeway.

Anyway, I need to head off now.

Hope you’ve had a great week.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 22nd May, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

It’s Sunday night here, and I thought you might like to join me watching Masterchef. Thank goodness, I’ve already had dinner or I’d be salivating like a blood hound all over the keyboard and the dog blissfully sleeping underneath. Tonight, they’re fusing two cultures together, and I just saw the most divine lobster dish along with an incredible dessert which personified was pure indulgence. Sorry, I can’t remember what was in it, but since none of us can actually sample these dishes perhaps that’s possibly a good thing. Despite the judges’ rapturous praise, we’ll just convince ourselves it all tastes like cardboard or some equally bland substance.

How was your week?

The big news here in Australia is that we voted in our Federal Election yesterday and we have a change of government. Prime Minister Mr Scott Morrison from the Liberal Party has been replaced by Mr Anthony Albanese of the Labor Party. It’s still early days but the analysts are busy. I must admit I feel sorry for people who have lost their seats, regardless of their political persuasion.

Last week for me, revolved around our daughter’s dance performance in a series of concerts featuring young talent aged 13-21 on the NSW Central Coast. It’s not easy to land yourself a spot and Miss had 2-3 previous attempts. So, this was a huge celebration. There’s also relief because she wants to be a professional ballerina, and getting through this year was a sign she’s on the right track. She was doing her contemporary dance, which involved picking up a rose with her feet and transferring it around which doing all her “tricks”. I’m not usually anxious watching her, and you’d think I might’ve been sitting there proud as a peacock especially wearing my fancy new scarf. Instead, I kept worrying she was going to drop the rose, or else would go wrong. We’d had a stressful afternoon chasing up a few requirements last minute and catching every red light in town when time was of the essence. I could mention something about Murphy’s Law, except that her performance went so well, that I’m just grateful.

Miss in Flight

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading a great new book, which I guess could well be deemed a diversion as I’m already reading a few books and need to get back to my WWI research and analysis. However, I popped into my local bookshop looking for a book of short stories by Tony Birch: Dark As Last Night. I needed to order that one in, but as one who has no capacity to resist temptation in bookshops, I had the most fleeting glance at the shelves and came home with Kerri Maher’s: The Paris Bookseller. It’s “inspired” by the story of Sylvia Beach who found the iconic English-speaking bookstore: Shakespeare and Company. It just so happens that I did a solo poetry reading there in 1992 as an impressionable 23 year old. So, the book is incredibly personal for me. However, so far the plot focuses around James Joyce and the banning of Ulysses, which feels quite relevant these days with what’s been going on in many political circles. I also finished Irish philosopher, Michael Harding’s: A Cloud Where The Birds Rise. It’s made up of excerpts from his reflection on life published via his weekly column in the Irish Times.

My Poetry Reading Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, Paris 1992.

In other news here, we’re trying to have some kind of radical clean-up. I don’t really like the term “declutter”, which is just so dismissive and disrespectful about your precious treasures. An excess of books, for example, is not clutter. It’s inspiration, education, transformation all within those printed pages, and in too many cases, too difficult to part with. However, at least I’m getting through a few books atm, but I don’t think I’ll be able to part with any of these They’re all keepers! Yet, I at least had some success in the bathroom and cleared out a garbage bag of potions and Miss has thrown out four bags of stuff from her room. All of that barely scratches the surface, but it’s progress.

Feet and Shadows at the Beach last week.

Lastly, Miss and I went for a few brief visits to the beach to destress last week. Couldn’t resist photographing our feet in front of the view.

We also spotted some inspirational words painted onto rocks at the far end of the beach:

Well, that’s all folks.

This is another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Natalie the Explorer at: https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Driving The Tutu Taxi.

Frankly, parenting can take you down some wild and random roads, and I never quite know where I’m going to end up. Or, what death-defying challenge I’m going to be facing next. How I’m going to be stretched right out of my comfort zone. Stretched, and stretched and stretched until breaking point feels like blessed relief.

Geoff and I waiting for the concert to start.

Just as a bit of background, I’ll share that when our son was in kindergarten aged five, a friend and I cottoned on that what you really want as a parent, is an average kid. After all, academically the school system caters best for a child of average intelligence, and you don’t need to be Einstein to realize that if your progeny has any kind of talent, you’ll not only be driving from here to Timbuctoo, you’ll also need a second or third job to pay for it.

However, at the same time both my friend and I couldn’t resist booking our kids into enriching after-school activities, and we paid the price. Her son went on to excel in soccer, and she ended up driving out to the farthest reaches of the state, and almost into the outback. Meanwhile, we’ve driven to the ends of the earth for dance, sailing, and scouts. I have to be honest and say that in some ways being locked down for a few years gave us blessed relief. We could actually stay home. Yet, at the same time, we missed watching them, being part of these communities ourselves, and seeing our friends there as well. It hasn’t all been a one way street.

Anyway, this brings me to the actual good news, and that was that our daughter was accepted into the Youth in the Performing Arts Concerts (YIPA) held locally. It’s held annually for young people aged 13 to 21 years. Being selected was a significant achievement, and an indication that she’s climbed a few extra rungs up the ladder. Wow! Where the ladder is heading at this stage, we don’t know. However, progress is progress.

Photograph: Emily Stoddart.

However, the downside of these performances is all the work which goes on behind the scenes. Today, I spent the afternoon dashing around like a maniac chasing last minute paraphernalia she required, but we actually got her there, on time, in one piece, and she performed to perfection. We were so proud of her, but I’ve got to be honest and say I was just relieved it went without a hitch, especially given how she incorporates the rose into her incredible tricks. It always goes without a hitch. However, since I can barely walk with a mug of tea without spilling it, my own anxiety an run wild. Indeed, I spent most of this performance fixated on that rose and praying nothing would go wrong. Dance, is after all, a nerve-wracking business.

Yes! It all went brilliantly!

Notice the rose in her feet – photo Emily Stoddart.

Anyway, last night’s performance was breath-taking. We very proud of her…and relieved. I am now looking forward to watching her performance again on the video in the comfort of our lounge. Phew! Pure joy!

Does this trigger any memories for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Here’s a flash back to her first YIPA audition 2019. Aged 13.

Swim Between The Flags, Terrigal – Thursday Doors

Miss is now 16 and learning to drive. Not only that, she’s also found going for an extended late-night drive, can be rather relaxing. So, we regularly head out together in the Forrester together bound for Terrigal, which is a pretty hip and happening place on a Friday and Saturday night, and not just with the young folk either.

Anyway, that’s where my contribution for Thursday Doors came from this week.

I spotted this truck parked beside the Terrigal Surf Lifesaving Club. Australia is famous for our surf lifesavers who are unpaid volunteers who patrol our beach saving lives. The iconic red and yellow flags you see painted on the back of the door, feature on our patrolled beaches, and on an official level signify where it is safe to swim, and that this section of beach is being patrolled. However, the flags are also helpful for meeting friends at the beach, and “see you between the flags” is common parlance. I also park my gear under a flag, because I’m as blind as a bat and that way I’ll find it again.

Seagulls Terrigal Beach a few years ago.

Here are a few photos of how Terrigal Beach looks by day. Yes, it is pretty stunning, but it’s a bit like the Surfers’ Paradise of the Central Coast. Well, that’s probably exaggerating things, but I tend to prefer a more relaxed or even outdoorsy pace these days, which is probably a sure sign I’m getting old.

Meanwhile, I was struggling to find any really good photos of Terrigal so I might have to head back there again and recapture the place through my lens.

Anyway, this has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Dan Antion at No Facilities: https://nofacilities.com/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Rocks Speaking Wisdom…Umina Beach, Australia.

Today, Miss was being plagued by a grouchy stomach, and left school early and we tried everything to try to get her through her afternoon nursing TAFE course and off to ballet tonight. It didn’t work, but here are some photos taken from our short walk along the beach. I’d hoped a bit of sunshine, vitamin D stretching her legs and the sea air might make a difference. An eternal optimist, I will keep trying.

Umina Beach. These photos were taken on the far left, which doesn’t appear in this photograph.

However, before we head off to the rocks, I wanted to set the scene and share a few views of the bigger picture.

Anyway, we came across a few uplifting words on rocks, and thought I’d pass them on. I hope they give you a bit of a smile.

To finish up, here we are in shadow.

The Miss and I.

Best wishes,

Rowena