Tag Archives: anxiety

Yummy Marshmallow Mud Toastie.

Easter is the perfect time for experimenting with marshmallows and chocolate. The oozier the better.

While I’m not sure whether Isaac Newton would agree, that placing marshmallows and chocolate in between two slices of brioche and applying heat and pressure constitutes a scientific experiment.

However, although he’s obviously not around to ask, I’m sure he’d be licking his fingers and declaring the results: “scrumidillyumptious”!

As for myself, I concluded that further experimentation is required.

marshmallow mud toastie

Ingredients

2 slices of brioche loaf (I get mine from Aldi)

Chocolate (I chose Cadbury Dairy Milk)

Marshmallows (I chose pink).

Here are the Basic Directions:

Place a single slice of brioche in the sandwich press for each person.

Arrange pink marshmallows and your choice of chocolate as desired on top of the brioche. You will observe in the photo below that I prefer a rather oozy, messy outcome. On the other hand, our daughter wanted to minimise the ooze and even placed hers in the fridge for a bit to firm it up a bit.

Cover with a second slice of Brioche (the lid) and close the sandwich press.

Remove toastie using lifter when golden brown and contents have melted. Watch out for hot melted contents  and the risk of burns.

I started out by simply melting Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate in between two slices of brioche.

That was just begging for a few marshmallows.

Finding that combination rather sweet, I added a few blueberries for a bit of tang.

I’m now planning to try a rocky road version with nuts and glace cherries to balance out the very sweet chocolate and marshmallows.

Personally, I can see the Marshmallow Mud Toastie satisfying those late night chocolate cravings without creating a huge mess.

Well, let’s just say the mess is contained to your face and fingers.

Of course, I understand that these innocent  Marshmallow Mud Toasties will have their critics. That puritanical do-gooder wowsers, will shoot them down. Slam their insane sugar and calorie content and the evils of “food therapy”.

However, personally I believe scoffing one of these oozy treats, is a hell of a lot better for you than some other cures for depression or a rough trot.

Therefore, I don’t believe I’m stretching the truth too far, to say these scrummy treats are actually “healthy”.

What do you think?

xx Rowena

 

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“Healthy” is all a matter of perspective and while they have their critics, retail and food therapy can be a lot better for you than some of the alternatives.

Keep Breathing…Friday Fictioneers.

“All my life,” Melissa sighed to her therapist. “I’ve been peering through the keyhole too afraid to live.”

Phillippa was trying hard not to yawn. Dumping clients was hard. Never mentioned the “F” word.  It was all about “finding a better fit”.  Being a “therapy drop out” wasn’t good for their self-esteem.

“Anyway…”

Suddenly, Melissa became strangely animated, even possessed. “I finally attended a writer’s group this week and read one of my poems. Thought I was gunna die. Then, I heard you counting and this other voice saying: “Breathe, Melissa. Breathe. You can do it.”

“It was actually me.”

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s image was provided by © Shaktiki Sharma.

This week, I’ve spent a bit of time researching my grandmother who was a concert pianist and I’ve been thinking about that experience I had as a child of almost looking through the keyhole into her adult world. There was definitely a “them” and “us” policy and children should be not seen AND not heard. That suited us and we’d round up change for lollies from the adults and disappear with our stash.

Yet, there were those times I distinctly remember peering into this adult world and watching through that metaphorical keyhole. Nothing quite like being a spy!

By the way, I’d also encourage comments about when therapy doesn’t work and what that was like. Personally, I’m a lousy one for taking action but I’m currently working through that with my physio. Or, should I say, I’m “walking” it out.

Hope you’ve had a great week!

xx Rowena

 

 

That Christmas Black Rain Cloud.

“There is a little black rain cloud,
Hovering over my Christmas tree.
There is a little black rain cloud
paying too much attention to little me.”

Words adapted by Rowena Curtin  and sung to Winnie The Pooh – Little Black Rain Cloud.

Is it just me? Or, are you also feeling that despite all the joy, Christmas cheer, tinsel and flashing lights, there’s something not quite right with your “Ho! Ho! Ho!” That you’re struggling to squeeze into the spirit of Christmas and it doesn’t quite fit.

Not that I’m all dark, gloomy or in anyway Scrooge or Grinch-like. It’s just that sometimes, I can get really annoyed with Christmas. I don’t know whether there’s a term like “Christmas Rage”, or the “Christmas Depths”, and that’s before I even get to absent friends. Of course, no one likes an empty seat or any form of change at Christmas, even if it is only the discontinuation of Molly O’Rourke’s famous Irish Whisky Cakes 1945-2014 RIP.

Anyway, today I thought I’d just  run through a few of the dark shadows, which can jump out and bite us  at Christmas:

A Few Shadows of Christmas.

Christmas OCD

This describes that desperate pursuit of the perfect Christmas. It’s characterised by that uber-achieving Christmas newsletter, mowed lawns, dogs washed, groomed and teeth brushed; tree with matching decorations, colour-coordinated Christmas clothes. You get the drift.

CDOCD- Christmas Decoration OCD.

This relates to the meticulous selection and placement of Christmas decorations, particularly in the Christmas tree. Generally characterised by having a colour theme and having one decorator in charge, while the rest of the household spectates or evacuates to watch TV.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

No one likes an empty seat at Christmas.

SAD- Seasonal Affective Disorder.

This is where your mood is affected by the seasons. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s due to the shortened hours of day length. In Australia, it’s caused by excessive sun baking, insufficient sunscreen leaving your skin redder than a Santa suit.

Failure

Christmas is a really difficult time of year to be unemployed, sick, homeless, dumped or even just being your little old self. Having to face family and friends when you’re feeling like @#$% can be the last straw. Been there. Done that. Sort of stuck in this gear and have now acclimatized, but would still love to be a Big Shot or at least get a book published. At this point, even A Little Golden Book would do.

Silent Night

Unfortunately, this relates to so much more than the Christmas carol. There’s the silence of not being able to find your CD of Christmas carols. Then there’s the silence of spending Christmas alone. Worse still, there are those broken relationships where the walls have become so high, that even the Spirit of Christmas can’t get through.

Stickytape-Itis

On a much lighter note, after finishing off my wrapping today, I’m adding Stickytape-Itis to the list.

Does stickytape-itis need any introductions or explanations? Of course not. We’ve all battled to find the stickytape, cellotape or whatever you might call that stuff which sticks to your fingers and just about everything else except the wrapping tape. Meanwhile, the end of the sticky tape goes missing and you’re going round and round in circles like a dog chasing its tail.

It’s enough to drive you crazy and could very well be that tipping point, which pushes a normally sane and sensible person over the edge of madness.

……

So having brought up all these issues, I guess you’re wanting me to come up with some preventative measures or kind of treatment. However, I’m sorry. I’m just the messenger and I have no psychological credentials whatsoever.

However, what I can suggest is letting all the expectations go…just like a helium balloon floating way across the sky until it’s out of sight. This might take a bit of practice, but you’ll soon find out that you won’t die if someone adds a green decoration to your purple and silver themed tree. That it’s not the end of the world when the dog eats your handmade Christmas Cake leaving you nothing but crumbs. That is doesn’t matter if you neither give nor receive Christmas Cards, presents, pudding whatever. I am thankful that God sent us Jesus at Christmas time and I am also mindful that we can’t take the ones we love for granted. That while it might be hard to focus on each other every single day, that we can at least be more conscious of family and friends at Christmas and truly savour the people who mean the world to us.

Life is too short to let anything get in the way of that.

We but not only carpe diem seize the day but also make the most of each other.

Love & Blessings for Christmas and the New Year,

Rowena

PS When it comes to dealing with little black rain clouds, especially ones hanging over our special moments like Christmas, perhaps we should simply borrow cupid’s bow and arrow and shoot the darned thing down. One pop…and it’s gone!

 

Christmas By the Pool.

If I could write a letter from my 7 year old self to my 47 year old alter ego refusing to dip a toe in the swimming pool, it would be pretty direct:

“Dive in, you idiot!! Stop that crazed chicken dance and get wet. You’re soooo embarrassing!”

When I’ve waxed lyrically about how Australians spend Christmas in the pool, you probably haven’t noticed a certain lack of photographic proof. That you’ve never seen ME in the pool. Or, maybe you have and you’ve kept quiet.

Perhaps, you’ve assumed that as a photographer, that person eternally living life vicariously through the lens in lieu of living it, I simply haven’t been photographed.

Or, that I’m too self-conscious. That I don’t  want a photo of me in my swimming costume all over the World Wide Web.

Well, you’d be barking up the wrong tree!

You see, when it comes to the pool, I’m more of an observer. I’m not mad keen on getting wet and no matter how stinking hot it might be out of the pool, it’s always freezing in.

So, if by some miracle I do find myself getting into the pool, much to my acute embarrassment, I’m that old lady edging into the pool.  Is there anything worse?

I distinctly remember tell myself as a kid, that was never going to be me. That I was never going to become that person.

Now, I have.

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Despite buying myself a pink flamingo pool toy for Christmas, getting into the pool is still torturous…worse than going to the dentist.

So, well you might ask why I bought myself a pink flamingo pool toy for Christmas if I had intention of getting wet? That’s an excellent question.

For some reason, I was so dazzled by all that flamingo, that I didn’t notice the body was shaped into a donut with a huge hole to fall through.So, this flamingo isn’t one of those luxurious lounging around, stay-dry pool toys. You know the ones when you can just drift along in like a princess sipping on your glass of champagne. (Indeed, we have a bottle of Moet this Christmas thanks to Geoff’s work.)

So, there I was standing in the shallow end with my feet clinging to the top step. Geoff has the video camera rolling and the kids are also watching. Indeed, all eyes  were focused on me and I’d become the backyard entertainment. Hip! Hip! Hurray!

DSC_5110.JPG

Some people actually get left alone each Christmas with no one stretching and stretching them out of their comfort zone and filming every cruel chicken step along the way.

Yet, as much as I might hanker after peace and quiet this time of year, this is Christmas and for the first time in many years, I’ll be packing my swimmers and with a very full stomach, heading for the bottle of my aunt’s swimming pool.

How do you plan to spend Christmas Day?

xx Rowena

Paris Syndrome…Beyond Hypochondria.

If you have been following Beyond the Flow lately, you’ll know I’ve been retracing my steps through Paris back in the European Summer of 1992. I have photos, diaries and letters from the trip, which have been incredibly useful. However, I can now cross-reference these with Google and retrace my steps online on Google maps. Consequently, this return journey has been very intriguing, rather intense and the creative juices have been dripping all over the place.

Aside from the poetry reading I did at the famous Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, my time in Paris was overshadowed by matters of the heart. Unfortunately, we’re not talking about romance but what is known as “the Paris Dumper”(a favourite band of mind whose songs include: “A One Sided Love Affair”.)

Patisserie Paris

The sweet side of Paris.

I can testify that being dumped in Paris is so much worse than being dumped just about anywhere else. After all, Paris isn’t just the City of Lights. Above all, it’s the City of Love. Can’t you just see Cupid flying over the Eiffel Tower sporting his bow and arrow? Indeed, I was quite surprised to find out that the air in Paris wasn’t pink. That Paris wasn’t a city of rose-eyed visions. Of course, if I’d ever read the fine print before falling in love, I should’ve known that heartbreak is a known side-effect and to keep a better eye out for the early signs.  So, when you’ve been dumped in Paris, you find yourself falling  from Cloud 9 straight on top of your sword. Ouch! It hurts!

writing in Paris

Being dumped in Paris wasn’t the end of my disillusionment with Paris either. Of course, I fell in love with the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the sensational Luxembourg Gardens but Paris was very noisy, over-crowded, dirty and even back in 1992 there was a very seedy, dark undercurrent. That’s before I even get to the unparalleled rudeness of the French. I don’t think they expected me to understand all the swearing!

After yet another stroll through Google last night, this sense of total and utter disillusionment with Paris even has a name…Paris Syndrome. I don’t know whether you’ll find it in the DSM IV manual but it’s not just something Google made up. The BBC has also covered it: Paris Syndrome.

Paris syndrome (French: Syndrome de Paris, Japanese: パリ症候群, Pari shōkōgun) is a transient psychological disorder exhibited by some individuals when visiting or vacationing to Paris, as a result of extreme shock resulting from their finding out that Paris is not what they had expected it to be. It is characterized by a number of psychiatric symptoms such as acute delusional states, hallucinations, feelings of persecution (perceptions of being a victim of prejudice, aggression, or hostility from others), derealization, depersonalization, anxiety, and also psychosomatic manifestations such as dizziness, tachycardia, sweating, and others, such as vomiting- Wikipaedia.

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Relaxing in the Luxenbourg Gardens, Paris. These stunning gardens and green space was an urban oasis.

While Paris Syndrome is particularly linked to Japanese tourists, I distinctly remember being let down by my first impressions of Paris. As a very impressionable young Australian with a head full of dreams and expectations, I’m sure I experienced Paris Syndrome when I was there. That after studying French for six years at school, the reality was a disappointment. Couldn’t live up to the fantasy.

No doubt the effects are worse for those living some distance from Paris, where we can’t just pop over for a look-see.

Have you ever been to Paris or somewhere else where your high expectations were dashed by reality?Please share your experiences with me.

xx Rowena

 

 

Working Class Boy-Jimmy Barnes.

This morning, I finally finished reading Jimmy Barnes’s harrowing memoir: Working Class Boy. As much as I could write about the book, Jimmy Barnes summed up his reasons for writing the book so well:

“I want people to read this because I know there are other people out there, just like me. People who think they’re alone in life and that their cards have been dealt and that there is nothing they can do to change anything. That’s how I felt too for a long, long time. I nearly killed myself because of it. But now I know there’s always time for change and there’s always a better path. You just have to look for it.

This book was my first real step in looking for hope.

Peace and love

Jimmy”[1]

In many ways, Working Class Boy echoes Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes and it has been a great read with meaningful insights on living with adversity. Jimmy’s world was brutal. Not that he throws blame. It was what it was and he shares that journey with a dark wit and philosophical insight you’d hope for from a songwriter, who releases the cry of the heart through music. Working Class Boy covers the ins and outs of his tough and brutal childhood and is something of a prelude to his second book, which will cover his career.

family-with-jimmy-barnes

Our family meeting Jimmy Barnes at our local bookshop, Book Bazaar.

Jimmy Barnes was born as James Swan on the  28th April 1956 in Cowcaddens, Glasgow, Scotland and went on to find success as the front man for Australian rock band Cold Chisel. From there, he has also had  a very successful career as a solo artist.  He grew up in a violent, impoverished family where his father blew his pay packet on alcohol, leaving his mother scratching to feed the family with whatever she could find. Not that she was an angel.  She could throw a punch along with the best of them and was as tough as nails. He writes:

“Mum was tough, too. Sometimes I think that she thought she was tougher than Dad, which might have been a mistake. When she physically fought with my dad after he came home drunk with no money to feed us, she was the one who wouldn’t back down. She would throw herself at him, hitting him with anything she could get her hands on. Night after night she was the one who ended up battered and bruised on the floor, not him. But she just kept getting up.[2]

She even did childbirth tough:

“I was born in that very kitchen. My granny made my mum scrub the floor with a brush to take her mind of the contractions. It killed two birds with one stone. She didn’t notice the pain as much as she had a clean floor. [3]

In 1962, when Jimmy was 6 years old, his family immigrated to Australia settling in Adelaide. Unfortunately, things for the family didn’t improve with a change of scenery and their battles continued. His mother left his father but finally returned marrying Reg Barnes, the guardian angel who stepped in and loved those children like his own.

Yet, his demons pursued him and he was gripped with fear. He takes us into this space throughout the book but most poignantly in the Prologue:

“From the moment I start to drink, I feel absolutely nothing. When I first started taking drugs and drinking, I found the fear that had filled me since I was small almost disappeared. The fear of not being wanted. The fear of letting my guard down. The fear of letting anyone in. The fear of being found out. The fear of not being worthy. The fear of looking into my own eyes. It was gone. All of it. As long as I stayed smashed.[4]

While the book definitely delves into his dark side, there was also love joy, and family and it wasn’t all bad. There does seem to be a glimmer of hope there somewhere, which may just be the fact we know “Barnsy”not only survived but also had a great career and family. He became a success.

So, the book has a very strong tension between the public success of his music career juxtaposed against a brutal childhood Barnes was blessed to survive. It is probably this tension which gives the book much of its force a long with Barnsy’s down to earth, personable wit. After all, you feel like you’re sitting down having a yarn together as you read his story and get to know the man inside the rock legend.

book-signing-jimmy-barnes

At the book signing.

While I would recommend Working Class Boy to anyone, I would particularly recommend it to men battling with depression or adversity. Despite its horrors, it really is an uplighting story of success against incredible odds…a great Christmas gift.

Have you read Working Class Boy or have a Cold Chisel of Barnsy story? I’d  love to hear from you.

xx Rowena

 References

[1] Jimmy Barnes, Working Class Boy, Harper Collins, Sydney, 2016 p 358.

[2] Ibid p. 11.

[3] Ibid p 13.

[4] Ibid p I.

Rejection…It’s a Short Story.

Rejection..it’s the ugly side of being a writer.Not only that, it hurts…like a knife stabbed deep in our heart and twisted round and round and round by some sadist who doesn’t care about our fragile self-esteem.

Anyway, as much as we hate it and as much as it hurts, we are not on our own. Indeed, tales abound of very successful authors receiving multitudinous rejections. William Golding published his first novel, Lord of the Flies, after 21 rejections. Beatrix Potter decided to self-publish The Tale of Peter Rabbit after rejection letters started to pile up. The original run was 250 copies; the book has now sold over 45 million copies.  J.K. Rowling, the great literary success story, failed to sell Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to 12 different publishers until the daughter of an editor at Bloomsbury Publishing took an interest in it. Harry Potter is now worth at least $15 billion. Stephen King sounds downright proud of the number of times he was rejected as a young writer. In his On Writing, he says he pinned every rejection letter he received to his wall with a nail. “By the time I was fourteen,” he continues, “the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”

 

So, when I share my heartfelt angst over my latest rejection, at least I know I’m not alone and I keep some pretty good company.

balmain2

The Actual Murder Scene.

A few months ago, I entered a local short story competition. I only had a few days to put my entry together and decided to base it on a murder story I’d stumbled across doing my family history research.It’s set in the Sydney Harbour suburb of Balmain, which was historically quite a rough, working class suburb. I still haven’t been able to establish whether I’m related to these people thanks to a very frustrating dead end I’m unable to shift.

Anyway, after waiting several months for the outcome of the competition, the award ceremony was held yesterday and a room full of hopefuls all sat in their seats with great expectations and for most of us, pending disappointment.

However, I wasn’t expecting disappointment or rejection. I was pretty pleased with my entry and thought I was a strong contender. I was sitting in my seat with sweaty palms and almost making myself ill with stress. I wondered whether it would be better to win a Highly Commended just to put me out of my misery. The list of winners was thinning out and someone else’s name was read out instead of my own, I was gutted. Emotionally kicked in the guts.

While many would say my heartbroken angst was an over-reaction, and that I should have taken it as a sign of failure as a writer, but when you’re trying to make it on the international scene and you can’t crack the local market, you’re hardly going to be all smiles doing the happy dance, are you?!!

Well, to be fair to myself, I don’t write short stories and I had to get my entry together in a couple of days. So, I clearly could’ve used more time. Moreover, once I’d got home and looked up characteristics of the short story, I realised that my story actually needed a lot of work, especially when it came to structure. I’m quite the panster (person who writes by the seat of their pants and by contrast isn’t a planner) and a bit of structure and planning could well be added to the mix.

I posted the story today in its original format today and you can read it here: The Secret. I’d really appreciate your feedback. I’ve decided to make quite a few changes so please don’t hold back.

How do you deal with writing rejection?

Personally, I’m trying my best to be pro-active and learn from the experience. Rework it. Not just file it in the waste paper basket out of hurt disgust and despair.

After all, there’s always next year.

xx Rowena

PS if you want to see a great image for rejection, click here: http://rejectiondigest.weebly.com/