Lately, I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed by the latest terror attacks in the UK, which as we all know too well, are simply the latest chapters in a much longer story. Despite believing in the power of the pen to overcome the sword and in the power of the individual to change the world, or at least influence the world around them, I am starting to doubt. These attacks are so random and unpredictable and the victims ordinary people…it’s all becoming quite impossible to fathom.
For those of you who have been following my blog for some time, you’ll know that I’ve been part of a global blogging group 1000 Voices for Compassion, which started up after the attacks on Paris. However, I’d already been speaking out against terrorism following the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in the Ukraine and the Lindt Cafe Siege in Sydney. Journalists covering the MH17 disaster, brought back sunflower seeds from the crash site to give to families and friends of the victims. I had written to many of these victims and we sent them red hearts on paddlepop sticks which the kids had made to acknowledge their loss. It wasn’t much, it came from the heart. When I heard that they were offering the sunflower seeds, I put my hat in the ring not expecting anything. However, a few months later, a package arrived in the mail with a tin of seeds, a photo and a beautiful letter wishing: “May your sunflowers bloom.”
It took me a year to find the courage to plant those seeds. I am not a great gardener and I didn’t want to destroy something so precious, especially through my usual neglect. However, I was contacted by the cousin of the pilot of the plane who had lost her seeds and I thought I finally had to have a go. Have some faith. As these seedling were growing, I managed to take them to a few local schools to talk about compassion, the love of a stranger and the need to take a stand not only against terrorism, but also to simply treat each other better. These are simple truths. Not rocket science but when we think of changing the world, we usually think so big that we feel overwhelmed and do nothing. It’s so easy to forget that a simple cup of tea can be a stepping stone towards something momentous.
So, tonight when I heard about The Great Get Together which is being held across the UK to honor the life of slain MP Jo Cox, I wanted to get onboard, even though I’m in Australia on the other side of the world. After all, why not take Jo’s message global.
In her maiden speech in Parliament, Jo said: “We have far more in common than that which divides us.”
So, I’d like to invite you to join me for a cup of tea or coffee, toast and Vegemite and even a chocolate Tim Tam. I’d like you to share a bit about yourself and let’s see if we can help join the dots right around the globe.
So, here are our conversation starters. Please leave your answers in the comments below and I ask you to reblog this please. Let’s get the party started!
- Which country do you live in? How about the city or town you live in?
- What do you like about where you live? What’s a favourite spot?
- What is your favourite novel? Why?
- What is your favourite film? Why?
- Do you prefer tea or coffee? Why?
- Introduce your blog and provide a link.
Here are my responses:
I live in Australia with my husband Geoff, our two kids Mr who is 13 and Miss who is 11 and our two dogs. We live in Greater Sydney on Broken Bay a stone’s throw from the beach and a short drive to Brisbane Water, which is protected and ideal for sailing and kayaking. So, we have the best of both worlds, although I tend to appreciate our local area more as a walker with and without the dogs.
What I love most about where we live, is the relaxed atmosphere and the proximity to the hussle and bussle of Sydney, without being in it. Initially, we moved here due to more affordable real estate. However, being away from the thick of it is a real drawcard, which we’re appreciating more and more. My husband commutes to Sydney by train and Sydney is only a train trip away and I also do enjoy that proximity to catch up with family and also get to arty places like Surry Hills.
My Favourite novel. I’m not much of a novel reader. My favourite books are more inspirational and philosophical such as Kilail Gibran’s The Prophet, Mitch Albom’s Tuesday’s With Morrie and Daniel Gottlieb’s Letters to Sam. If you haven’t read these, I highly recommend them.
My favourite film: Casablanca. Years lately, I still go to jelly with so many of those lines and feel a dreadful heartache as I watch the plane take off.
Tea or coffee: I mostly drink decaf tea because I’d be flying if I drank coffee of full strength tea all day. I start the day with a medium strength expresso and will have another if I go to a cafe. I generally have a full strength English Breakfast tea to backup the coffee in the mornind another in the afternoon.
I started Beyond the Flow five years ago as a stepping stone to getting my writing out into the world.My focus at the time was on getting published in the mainstream media and to write and publish books. However, the blog gained a life and purpose of its own, which has also helped me find my voice. This voice surprised me as it was very different to what I’d expected. In the five years I’ve been blogging, there have been many twists and turns. Most notably, there’s been the ups and downs of living with my chronic health conditions…hydrocephalus or fluid on the brain and dermatomyositis, which included a stint of chemo and the uncertainies which go with all of that. I’ve been in remission for 3.5 years now, which hasn’t been smooth sailing. It’s been a very long road for me to find my feet again but I am almost there. My blog is very much about my role as a parent and aspects of that journey with our kids who were 8 and 6 and are now 13 and 11 years old. We have also added another dog to the family. I love how the blog has documented these moments.
Best wishes and I look forward to getting together,
“The real voyage of discovery, as Marcel Proust famously said, consists not in seeing new sights, but in looking with new eyes. And of course, once you have new eyes, even the old sights, even your home become something different.”
-Pico Iyer, Where Is Home? TEDGlobal 2013.
Welcome to Day 8 of our Alphabetical Tour Around Tasmania for the A-Z April Challenge.
Today, we’re going “Home”.
Not that you’ll find “Home” on the map.
Indeed, the more I think about it, so many of us have moved around so much, that pinpointing “Home”on the map, is almost impossible.
Yet, we still carry that core of where we grew up somewhere deep inside us, whether we acknowledge it or not. Not that I’m suggesting that we’re controlled by our environment or pre-programmed in some way. However, place does have an undeniable influence.
For us, so many of these notions about Home came to a head while we were travelling around Tasmania.
As I’ve mentioned before, my husband Geoff is Tasmanian and was born and raised in Scottsdale in the North-East.
So, as we were travelling around Tassie and people asked us where he came from, I was quite surprised, when he referred to our current home on the Mainland instead. After all, when we’re back at our home, he says he’s from Tasmania.
So what’s the story?
I guess it gets back to what I said about “Home” being complex, and much more of a composite of several different places, than just where we were born.
My dear friend Google, introduced me to an insightful TED Talk by Pico Iyer: Where Is Home? Here’s some of what he says about home:
“…when I go to Hong Kong or Sydney or Vancouver, most of the kids I meet are much more international and multi-cultured than I am. And they have one home associated with their parents, but another associated with their partners, a third connected maybe with the place where they happen to be, a fourth connected with the place they dream of being, and many more besides. And their whole life will be spent taking pieces of many different places and putting them together into a stained glass whole. Home for them is really a work in progress. It’s like a project on which they’re constantly adding upgrades and improvements and corrections. And for more and more of us, home has really less to do with a piece of soil than, you could say, with a piece of soul. If somebody suddenly asks me, “Where’s your home?” I think about my sweetheart or my closest friends or the songs that travel with me wherever I happen to be. And I’d always felt this way, but it really came home to me, as it were, some years ago when I was climbing up the stairs in my parents’ house in California, and I looked through the living room windows and I saw that we were encircled by 70-foot flames, one of those wildfires that regularly tear through the hills of California and many other such places. And three hours later, that fire had reduced my home and every last thing in it except for me to ash. And when I woke up the next morning, I was sleeping on a friend’s floor, the only thing I had in the world was a toothbrush I had just bought from an all-night supermarket. Of course, if anybody asked me then, “Where is your home?” I literally couldn’t point to any physical construction. My home would have to be whatever I carried around inside me. And in so many ways, I think this is a terrific liberation. Because when my grandparents were born, they pretty much had their sense of home, their sense of community, even their sense of enmity, assigned to them at birth, and didn’t have much chance of stepping outside of that. And nowadays, at least some of us can choose our sense of home, create our sense of community, fashion our sense of self, and in so doing maybe step a little beyond some of the black and white divisions of our grandparents’ age.”
Anyway, moving forward from these semantic and philosophical wonderings, welcome to Scottsdale.
I’m not quite sure how long Geoff’s mother’s family has lived in Scottsdale, but his parents, grandparents and Great Grandparents are all buried in Scottsdale Cemetery. I’m not sure if that’s a measure of being a local. It’s been about 30 years since Geoff and his immediate family left Tasmania and although he has a number of cousins living in the district, I don’t believe the ones in the cemetery still count.
Yet, Geoff can still go into town and ask for a “Curley”, which is local lingo for a Cornish Pasty, a local delicacy as far as Geoff’s concerned. According to him, you can’t buy an authentic Cornish Pasty anywhere else. Indeed, we bought at least a dozen, which we froze to take home. That is, to our current home.
Anyway, Geoff was born at the local hospital and grew up in a white, weatherboard farm house set on 10 acres on the edge of town. By the time he’d arrived on the scene as the much youngest of four, his mum had learned to drive and had a car. She’d also stopped milking, so Geoff was spared that “joy” growing up. He swung from the walnut tree out the back, fought off allergies to the masses of farm cats and longed for the time he’d be old enough to drive his brother’s old car.
So, not unsurprisingly, the family home was our first port of call in Scottsdale. It was a very powerful and emotional time for the four of us. Geoff has shared so much of his time in Scottsdale with the kids, and this was the first time they were old enough to acknowledge: “That was Daddy’s house”. You could almost sense a solemn silence, a reverence. Of course, we paused for photos out the front, hoping the current owners weren’t home. Isn’t it funny how you still feel you “own” the family home generations after you’ve moved away? That is, even after the house has changed hands a couple of times and the Newton era has all but been erased.
After stopping off for Cornish Pasties, we drove into town and drove up and down the aptly named Main Street. I could hear Geoff’s Aunty Joy and Geoff’s sisters talking as we walked past the Lyric Theatre, where his mother sung Gilbert & Sullivan and school speech nights were held. He drove to check out the Scottsdale Football Club where his Dad had played and the trotting track with horse hoofs still indented in the grass. We even managed to go on a tour around Scottsdale High School, where Geoff and his siblings, cousins and his mother and her siblings all went to school. We walked also walked along the old railway track which ran behind the house where his mother grew up in. Geoff told the kids about how his mother had nightmares about getting the cows stuck on the line in front of the oncoming train. I remembered Aunty Joy telling me about how the family sold cream and butter back in the Depression to make ends meet and how proud she was to have home-baked bread and hand-knitted jumpers. I also remember laughing because I remembered how Geoff loathed having a hand-knitted jumper when he went to school and yearned for a machine-knitted jumper like everyone else. Times had changed.
The only trouble was that these weren’t Geoff’s memories. They weren’t what he knew as “home”. Indeed, he ended up telling me that he rarely went into town and spent most of his time at mate’s places. It also sounded like there was quite a bit of time flogging that Datsun 120Y to nearly to death on dirt roads. Roads which I suspect were a lot more rugged than those in the John Denver’s Classic.
So, this leaves us with a concept of home which is far more complex and not very concrete at all.
Indeed, it just leaves me confused. It’s much easier to relate and connect to these buildings I can see, than the intangible experiences of an 18 year old male…a world I’ve never known, and can’t step into no matter how much I try. Geoff can’t experience it anymore either. He turned 50 last year and is hardly 18 himself anymore.
I guess this is what I like about that saying: “Home is Where the Heart is”. That’s because home ultimately is something within….be it in our hearts, our heads, our souls. It’s not caught up in a house, building, people, experiences or memories. Rather, it’s some mysterious and magical infusion or concoction of the lot…some kind of alchemy.
On that note, I’ll leave you with the words of -Pico Iyer, Where Is Home? TEDGlobal 2013:
“Movement is a fantastic privilege, and it allows us to do so much that our grandparents could never have dreamed of doing. But movement, ultimately, only has a meaning if you have a home to go back to. And home, in the end, is of course not just the place where you sleep. It’s the place where you stand.”
What about you? What are your thoughts of “home”? Where does it take you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
 Pico Iyer
 Pico Iyer
Thought you might like to join me at this blogging party over at Dream Big. I’m about to start visiting some of the other blogs while I escape from the heat outside. It’s another scorcher!!
It’s the Meet and Greet weekend everyone!! Strap on your party shoes and join the fun!
Ok so here are the rules:
- Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
- Reblog this post. It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!
- Edit your reblog post and add tags.
Feel free to leave your link multiple times! It is okay to update your link for more exposure every day if you want. It is up to you!
- Share this post on social media. Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new blogs to follow.
See ya on Monday!!
Yesterday, I found out that my brother’s cat was bitten by a tick and tragically died.
Well to be perfectly honest, Archie wasn’t exactly my brother’s cat. Archie’s official residence was actually across the road. However, Archie and my brother formed a special connection where the distinctions between human and cat disappeared.
“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.”
Not that Archie was a particularly friendly, smoochy kind of cat. Rather, he was actually quite timid, reserved and you could even say aloof. Mum and my brother would often pander to his latest food interest and leave him bits of cheese or gourmet ham to tempt him in. However, any loud noises, and he’d disappear into the darkness.
This reminds me that Archie usually turned up after dark. On our visits, the kids used to look out for him scampering down the driveway and there’d be loud whispers that “the cat had arrived”. He was like rock star royalty turning up…a very much loved, cherished and anticipated feline super star. Probably that’s because he wasn’t our cat and he came and went as he pleased. There were no guarantees he was going to turn up, making us ever so happy and grateful to see him.
“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”
Robert A. Heinlein
In this regard, you could say he was a typical cat. Indeed, I’m sure that’s what my dogs would say. If you want a loyal friend who’s always thrilled to see you, why would you ever get a cat when you could have a dog?!!
“I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”
The strange thing was that for many years we didn’t know Archie by name and he was simply “the cat”. We didn’t know the neighbours across the road either. I can’t remember quite how they broke the ice but eventually we found out his name was Archie and that their other cat, was dying after eating lillies from a funeral. So, Archie officially moved into my parents’ place, while the other cat slowly passed away.
It was probably during the death of the other cat, that the two families came together and the walls of suburbia started crumbling down. That our shared love of Archie brought us all together. Mum and Archie’s other Mum would chat beyond Archie, developing a special friendship where love extended beyond ownership, fences and modern busyness.
There was never any mention of jealousy or he’s “my cat” and the neighbours were more than happy to share Archie with us. No one ever accused Archie of infidelity either.
Now, Archie is gone.
There’s a void. Such a void.
While you could say that a cat is just a cat and you could go out to a farm and easily pick up a handful of them, Archie wasn’t any ordinary cat. No pet is. They have their own personality, quirks and habits. They’re a one off.
Initially, I thought my brother should get another cat. It might seem callous, disloyal but it reminds me of a cheeky saying from back in my single, dating days:
“If you can’t have the one you love, then love the one you’re with. If you can’t love the one you’re with, turn off the light.”
Not good advice, especially when you get dumped all over again.
Moreover, every cat is different and Archie can’t be replaced.
“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”
― J.M. Barrie,
So, we say farewell to our feline fella.
Goodbye and Good night. Archie, you were one of a kind.
Anyway, I thought Memory from Cats would be a fitting tribute to Archie.
A first-hand insight into homeless, which everyone should read. It could be you. It could be me.
Hot sun heats the metal beyond touching comfortably. The playground equipment squats at the mouth of a giant coulee, as if poised to be devoured. No children run across the taupe grit where soap suds lap at the water’s edge. Soap Lake gets its name from those minerailzed suds, and a few adults wade out into its tepid waters. What do they hope to be healed of?
The town of Soap Lake is as gritty as the sand. Houses built of black basalt are void of green lawns. Small businesses based on an alternative healing niche line a short main street. A few resorts boast of healing waters piped to rooms. Locals 30 miles away in Moses Lake warn me of biting red bugs in the water and tweakers in the desert.
It looks as inhospitable as a homeless shelter must feel to a child.
That we even have homeless…
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Overcoming severe adversity is a major challenge. Yet, we hear so many stories about survivors overcoming monumental hurdles to achieve the seemingly impossible and others who turn their grief into action. They bring about change so no one else will know their anguish.
Mary Batty, Australian of the Year 2015, was a classic example. She has pulled off monumental changes in legislation after her beloved son was killed by his father through domestic violence.
Intrigues me how people can function after such loss and I quite liked this little parable I came across during the week. It somehow seems to explain how people respond using a very simple analogy but offers great insight.
Well, at least I think it does.
Here it is:
Once upon a time a daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed. Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire.
Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot and ground coffee beans in the third pot. He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter. The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. After twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup.
Turning to her, he asked. “Daughter, what do you see?” “Potatoes, eggs and coffee,” she hastily replied.
“Look closer”, he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft.
He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.
“Father, what does this mean?” she asked.
He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity-the boiling water. However, each one reacted differently. The potato went in strong, hard and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak. The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard. However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.
“Which one are you?” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”
Any thoughts? I’ve been a potato, egg and a coffee bean at different times…as much as I would like to say I was always the coffee bean!
Hope you are having a great week!