Tag Archives: conformity

Jonathan Livingstone Seagull: Three Day Quote Challenge

“Why, Jon, why?” his mother asked. “Why is it so hard to be like the rest of the flock, Jon? Why can’t you leave low flying to the pelicans, the alhatross? Why don’t you eat? Son, you’re bone and feathers!” “I don’t mind being bone and feathers mom. I just want to know what I can do in the air and what I can’t, that’s all. I just want to know.”
Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Having so many favourite quotes, I turned to Richard Bach’s  Jonathan Livingston Seagull for my first quote, because seagulls live right around the world and mean something to everyone. Yet, although they’re a common bird and they can get pretty annoying when you’re trying to eat your fish and chips, I can’t help loving them. They’re such a part of going to the beach.

I chose this particular quote because more than once in my life I’ve been asked: “Why can’t you be normal?”  I’m a bit disappointed that it took me more than 40 years to ask: “Why would I want to be?” We’re not all meant to be the same!

Seagulls

I would like to thank Olive Ole from https://travelmuch.net/  for nominating for the «3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge».

Olive lives in Denmark and produces a stunning travel blog with some very striking images. Being Australian, I really appreciate being able to explore other parts of the world with her.  So don’t hang around here – go check her out!Let me talk you through the rules of the challenge:

  1. Three quotes for three days.
  2. Three nominees each day (no repetition).
  3. Thank the person who nominated you.
  4. Inform the nominees.

I am nominating three people who have encouraged me as I’ve flown my own path:

1) Kat from Time No Matter

2) Geoff Le Pard from https://geofflepard.com/

3) Monika from Tails Around the Ranch

Hope you feel inspired through this bit of inspiration.

xx Rowena

Photos: Rowena Curtin

Battling for A Little Respect…

Whether you call it disability, chronic illness, race, poverty, being different, special or unique; there’s no excuse for bullying, bashing and being outright rude.

You would think that supposed “weakness” would bring out the best in people with outpourings of love, compassion and support. That we would take those people doing it tough, usually through no fault of their own, into our hearts and just love them. Water them with the essence of human kindness so they could be strengthened, encouraged and nurtured to maximise an inner strength and shine like the radiant sunflowers, they, I mean, WE are.

Indeed, so many people I know who are living with chronic illness or disability, have an inner strength and determination which would humble an ox.

Yet, too often they are written off.

Or, they become celebrated for their incredible achievements as individuals. However, when you look around people living with chronic illness or disability, these feats are not uncommon. Indeed, they/we push ourselves so much further than the average Joe.

However, it seems to me that too many people take delight in bashing and putting down anybody who doesn’t fit into the straight-jacket of the perceived social norm.

You don’t even really need to be disabled…just having a bad day.

For so many, there is no “margin of error”. No compassion for difference or even an understanding that we all have different strengths and weaknesses.

We must all squeeze into that social straight-jacket no matter who we are or what’s going on and not flinch.
But tell me, who really fits into these suffocating confines and doesn’t twitch or suddenly feel the impulse to wriggle, scratch an itch or just plain run away?!!

Yesterday, I took my daughter to the movies to see the latest Disney classic: Inside Out. While this should have been a simple outing, as is often the case with me, it unraveled completely and I was freaking out.

For some reason, although I can write well and be an ideas person, I seriously struggle with the detailed nitty gritty. While trying to simply buy the movie tickets, I came unstuck. Indeed, as bad luck conspired against me, I sank deeper and deeper into what was rapidly becoming a never-ending abyss.

An incredible movie: A must See!!!

An incredible movie: A must See!!!

For starters, our son was also supposed to come to the movie but couldn’t get himself together in time and was left behind. Our daughter misses out on enough and I was determined to get her there no matter what. I’d promised to take her to this movie and after being sick all holidays, time was almost up. Nothing was going to stand in our way!!

So, while I’m standing in the queue, I check my wallet and realise the $50.00 note I’d expected to be there had gone up in flames and I had no notes. Not immediately concerned, I went to the coins. They can quickly add up. However, it was just my typical @#$% rotten luck that a very tiny paper receipt had wedged itself into the zipper and even applying brute force, I couldn’t rip it open. This is a very special handmade wallet I’d bought at Byron Bay so I wasn’t wanting to wreck it but with all this frustration, I was fuming.

Just to put you in the picture, we weren’t at some huge mega cinema in the heart of Sydney with extensive queues pouring out onto George Street. Rather, we were at our small, local independent cinema and there were only a handful of people in the queue with two people serving. It’s a very relaxed, chilled place with personalised service…everything but a pianist playing before the start of the movie.

By this stage, we were at the counter and I was funneling coins through the gap in the zip and was standing there like a kid who’d just tipped their moneybox all over the counter rather than a 40 something Mum, who isn’t on the poverty line.

In retrospect, I certainly wasn’t doing my deep breathing exercises…just the reverse. My stress levels had blown a gasket and I was all but paralysed and couldn’t think straight. My mind went absolutely blank and non function mentis. This is just the point in time where you are praying for someone, anyone, to come to your rescue. Ask: “Can I help you?”

Instead, this @#$% woman calls out from the queue: “Can’t you just hurry up?”

I explained, I think, politely that I have a disability and flashed my disability Companion Card and I can’t remember what she said next but I can assure you that there wasn’t one ounce of compassion in that @#$% and she told me I was making a fool of myself. To which I replied (thank you to three years of blogging which have sharpened my ability to express myself): “You don’t know how hard it is for me just to take my daughter to the cinema.” The girl serving directed the woman to the other counter where I’m sure she was quickly served.

At this point, I realised I was going to have to use EFTPOS. This should have been a no-brainer right from the start but there was a $20.00 minimum withdrawal and the ticket cost $13.00, which meant spending $7.00 on lollies. While I might spend that on chocolate at the supermarket, the thought of blowing so much money at the cinema just so I could get our tickets, flummoxed me. With the fumbling and foggy brain only getting worse, I resorted to EFTPOS and bought my daughter the Inside Out Combo. This includes a drink, popcorn and chocolate bar for some ungodly sum. She then chooses water as her drink, which might have been healthy but it’s the most expensive glass of water we’ve ever had.

Meanwhile, the woman who’d argued with me came and made a sincere apology, which helped but even an hour after the movie had ended, I was still feeling teary and shattered. Sometimes, it’s not just a matter of forgiveness. There is damage. She might not have swung a punch but her words were a form of assault and I was left feeling battered and bruised…not to mention DEFECTIVE.!!

Saying sorry can’t always undo the damage. It is done.

That said, perhaps she also has her struggles. Who am I to make presumptions… as tempting as it might be?!!
This isn’t the first time I’ve had trouble and it won’t be the last. While I could go underground, I will get back out there again. Have another go. That said, not everyone does. They’d much rather stay home and I really get that. It can all be too hard. There are just too many obstacles to fight.

When you reach out and touch someone's hand, you are really warming their soul.

When you reach out and touch someone’s hand, you are really warming their soul.

Well, if that’s you, I send you my love and an enormous hug. Together, I pray that each day with small, even tentative moves that we can find our way over the gap…even if it is just to remind people that you don’t need to be perfect to be a valued part of the human race!

You just are!

Love and blessings,
Rowena

Photoshopping the Future

While I was was frantically cooking dinner with my head poised over a hot pan, my daughter approached me with this statement…this wish:

“I wish I could Photoshop the Future!”

Miss, Aged 9, Monday 22nd June, 2015.

Photoshopping the future…I’d never thought about that.

Sure, all of us have photoshopped the past, more particularly OUR past, in some way or another…a bit of a snip here deleting the past from a photograph. Journals burned. Moving to another city or even country to start over.

Yes, we’ve all done a bit of that.

However, photoshopping the future had me thinking…What did she mean?

Of course, she’s at school while I’m trying to nut this out and perhaps my musings and interpretations are more profound than her intentions but we do use photoshop at home. Usually, it’s just to give an image that lift that you used to get in the photo lab back in the day. However, we also have a bit of fun changing the colours and upping or downing the hue and saturation. This is where you can totally alter your reality and end up in a world of lurid fairy floss, dazzling skies and it seems anything is possible!!

Is this what she meant? Did she want to live in this way out, psychedelic world of the imagination where anything was possible with the touch of a mouse? A world that is creative, fun and stretches (if not breaks) all the rules?

Or, was she perhaps seeking a perfect world where there is no sickness, no death, where everyone is nice and there are no bullies and everyone is your friend? Knowing her and how she also wants to be Queen of Australia when Australia finally becomes a republic, she probably wants all of that and I’ll put my order in too.

Why shouldn’t we photoshop the future and start turning the world into a safe and happy place for everyone, despite those old divides of gender, race and class?

I’d also like to add a new divide: difference. “Difference” embraces all those who don’t easily fit into any box and struggle to find a friend or a soul mate. This also includes those who could well be perceived as part of the group and yet keenly feel that sense of difference. Even though they might fit in on the outside,they don’t fit in on the inside. They’re extremely conscious of being on a different wavelength and not fitting in, not connecting with the herd. They might not want to fit in either…or just now and then but in some way that doesn’t involve completely selling out.

Feeling the need to blend in and conform to a set of rules and ideals, is something I’ve experienced myself. Like trying on a new pair of jeans, I’ve felt the rules restrict and constrain as I try to squeeze in and force the zipper shut against the odds. On the other hand, the jeans have also been too big and they’ve fallen down, swimming by my ankles. Yes, we do need social rules, the law and some sort of social boundaries, but we also need to love and offer acceptance to a broader concept of what it means to be human, “one of us”, part of the herd.

At best, the alternative is a dull grey or poo brown world where all the diversity and colour has either been mix in so much it disappears or it is left out entirely.

That’s not a world I want to live in. How about you?

We, therefore, need to become the change, stepping out of our comfort zones and building bridges towards those we have perhaps ostracised in the past and look for what we have in common, instead of what divides.

After all, right around the world, we have already experienced evil at it’s ugliest worst.

It is up to us to be the spark which creates, or indeed, “Photoshops” a new, much brighter future.

Love & God Bless,

Rowena

PS I have Photoshopped the rainbow painting used in this post in keeping with the theme. The original photo had a bit of glare and so I started Photoshopping that out as well but before I knew it, I was also Photoshopping out the brushstrokes, which gave it character and individuality as well as imperfection. So, after doing the blue, I stopped. This gives you an appreciation of the effects of conformity and using the machine to standardise and perfect whereas the other colours show a more “slapdash and expressionist” approach. Indeed, when it comes to describing my painting style, that’s actually a perfect description!

Quirky’s Quest for Connection.

I don’t know if anyone feels truly connected…as snug as a bug in a rug within the community blanket. As much as I would love to, sometimes even I find myself standing back quite content to watch from the sidelines lest I am somehow consumed or engulfed by the need or pressure to conform. After all, some of us don’t play by the rules and while this can be problematic, it can also be much of our appeal. After all, you can get a bit bored or sick of the same old same old.

Not all of us were designed to conform and toe the line.

Not all of us were designed to conform and toe the line.

Yet, being an extroverted social butterfly, I can’t help myself. As much as I might withdraw to write, I am soon back out into the social throng.

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

-Babe Ruth

That said, at times, connecting has been very difficult fore me due to my ongoing health issues. Having any kind of disability or chronic illness, can make it difficult to access certain places and events. It can make long excursions out of the house difficult. Moreover, when you are unstable on your feet and unwell and trying to communicate that with friends and loved ones when you appear perfectly fine, it is easy to start feeling disconnected. That you don’t belong. You can feel like crawling deep inside your “shell”, your “cave” and not coming out.

This is why I truly value and appreciate blogging because it somehow seems to bring together and unite all sorts of people…just like hundreds and thousands…into an online world which has quite different criterion for belonging. Yes, we too have our benchmarks and expectations but as long as you can write and read other blogs, you’ll fit in fine. Oh yes! You also need to have something to write about so you do need to be at least somewhat interesting or have some interesting stuff around you…or a good imagination! At least, in my experience people aren’t judging you by how you look. What you wear, age or other more superficial benchmarks. They are meeting you. Perhaps not all of you and I know that even though I probably come across as an open book, what you see here really is a thin edge of the wedge. After all, this is my blog not my journal and my husband and kids need to be respected.

In addition to blogging, I also stay connected with people who share my condition through an online Facebook community. I have never met most of these people in person and would only pop in on average about once a month but I do know they’re there and I have become personal Facebook friends with a few people from the forum who I’ve come to consider friends.

“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.”

-Marcus Aurelius

Our community faces some difficult challenges when it comes to staying connected. We all live with an auto-immune disease which falls under the umbrella of “myositis” and I have dermatomyositis. The incidence of myositis is rare at about 1 in 100,000 and living in Australia, I’m not swamped with “colleagues” and we’re geographically scattered and often immobile. This makes online forums an excellent way of becoming connected. Although being small in number, our group has been very keen to get the word out to promote Myositis in the community and to connect.

With this in mind, Wally Wombat was somehow conceived in the UK and came out to Australia via continental Europe to raise awareness. Wally is a small, blue stuffed toy wombat with a Union Jack around his neck and he has a red rose..a tribute to the girlfriend he left back in the UK.

Miss enjoying Easter breakfast with Wally.

Miss enjoying Easter breakfast with Wally.

Wally has been living with our family and I’ve taken him on quite a tour explaining who he is as we’ve moved around. Most people who know me know I have “something” but trying to expect anyone to remember the name “dermatomyositis” let alone what it’s about is a tall order. I know I’m very much speaking another language.

Wally had a close encounter with Lady.

Wally had a close encounter with Lady.

However, Wally opened many doors for me to share a quick blurb about myositis. Unfortunately, this probably isn’t going to put Myositis on the front page any time soon but perhaps it’s left an impression…an understanding or at the very least an appreciation of what it’s like to live with a rare condition…a “What????”

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

-Helen Keller

I have written about Wally’s trip to the Sydney Opera House in more detail here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/sydney-opera-house-new-perspectives/ So here are a few photos of Wally’s Rowena Tour and I’ll be giving you a spelling test at the end. That’s right! How do you spell dermatomyositis???!!

This post was written as part of 1000 Voices for Compassion, founded by Yvonne Spence and Lizzi Rogers. This month’s topic was “connection”. To read this month’s contributions click here for the link-up:http://new.inlinkz.com/view.php?id=527278

xx Rowena

Wally’s Rowena Tour

Wally seeking wisdom from an Aboriginal elder at Whale Beach.

Wally seeking wisdom from an Aboriginal elder at Whale Beach.

Wally sought help from the Force and consulted Yoda.

Wally sought help from the Force and consulted Yoda.

Wally was glad he wasn't a dog and did wonder about the scorch marks on the sign.

Wally was glad he wasn’t a dog and did wonder about the scorch marks on the sign.

Wally pictured with Alf from Homer & Away.

Wally pictured with Alf from Homer & Away.

Wally in Summer Bay, where Home & Away is filmed.

Wally in Summer Bay, where Home & Away is filmed.

Wally climbing the Opera House.

Wally climbing the Opera House.

Wally & I with the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Taken beside the Sydney Opera House.

Wally & I with the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Taken beside the Sydney Opera House.

Wally at the Lindeman's Estate in the Hunter Valley.

Wally at the Lindeman’s Estate in the Hunter Valley.

Wally flew in on a cup and saucer.

Wally flew in on a cup and saucer.

Wally catching the boat.

Wally catching the boat.

Wally was picked up by a magic carpet and has moved onto his next destination. He has been connecting people with myositis from all around the world together.

Wally was picked up by a magic carpet and has moved onto his next destination. He has been connecting people with myositis from all around the world together.