Tag Archives: creativity

A Philosophical Sunday Afternoon.

Writing letters to dead poets has led to a philosophical Sunday afternoon…even after eating loads of chocolate!

You see, this week, I’ve been preparing for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. My theme is: Letters to Dead Poets. Like so many participants, April has crept up behind me and grabbed me by the throat, while I was otherwise occupied. So, this week I’ve been head down, bum up and hard at it.

I can’t even begin to describe the journeys I’ve been on. It’s been absolutely extraordinary. You could just imagine what it’s been like immersing myself in the works and bios of over 26 poets who have inspired me throughout my life. It’s been incredibly uplifting and equally intense. There have also been some macabre discoveries as well!

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When I drew up my list, I simply chose a poet who had touched me, which corresponded to each letter of the alphabet. Of course, some letters had multiple options and there were other letters where I was absolutely stumped and relying on Google. This was good too because I discovered some incredible poets from Japan and China which helped me out with letters I, Q and Z.

While I’m not going to spill the beans on my selection,what has shocked me is the number of poets who took their own lives. There were also others who just seemed to combust or died as a result of misadventure. There was one who was shot and another who shot himself. How do you make sense of that and what would they say to each other? Nothing because they’re both dead and the past is the past?!!

Yet, there are also others who endured incredible hardship and survived.

Why is this so? I don’t know.

 

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Sea Gulls Flying Towards the Sun….Rowena Newton.

So, when it’s come to writing letters to many of these dead poets, its been incredibly intense. That probably doesn’t surprise you but it did surprise me. I’ve sort of found these poems one by one and hadn’t really discerned any patterns before. In many cases, I had no idea how the poet had died. So, what started out looking like a fairly random selection of poets, has been transformed into themes and variations…alarming ones in many ways.

What has also emerged is that there are people who go through incredible suffering and somehow survive and yet others take their own life. I’m not going to call that giving up because it’s not an easy decision but it’s incredibly hard on family and friends who are inevitably left behind, wishing they’d done more. Tried something else. Somehow managed to save this person they love and cherish. When someone loses a parent or a child, it’s their own flesh and blood… more precious than life itself and their anguish has no end.

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Walking Together Through the Fog- Rowena Newton.

So, you could say it’s been an intense week but a rewarding one because a these letters are now becoming a book. I’ll be putting more abridged versions up for the challenge as these posts need to be a quick read. After all, the challenge is quite the blog fest trying to make your way around as many blogs as possible hoping some of these relationships will be more ongoing.

Thinking of the challenge like that, makes me think I could have chosen a more light-hearted topic. However, meaning is very important to me. My writing has to have meaning, even if that’s humour but there has to be a purpose. There’s so much rubbish out there and I don’t want to become part of that just to boost my stats. For me, it’s much more important to touch hearts, particularly the hearts of the hurt and hopefully give them a touch of hope. As Emily Dickinson once said:

“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.”

This approach is reassuring for all of us who want to help others but feel overwhelmed. One person can not save the world by themselves but if we could each “stop one heart from breaking”, that would truly turn things around, wouldn’t it!

Anyway, after all of this, I knew I need to step out but I wasn’t quite sure how. When you’re mulling over details which are speeding round and round your head in a cyclonic yet inspirational vortex, it’s hard to step out. Incredibly hard, at times.

Then, this morning, my incredibly happy Black Dog, Lady, greeted me with such enthusiastic gusto, that I felt good. My spirits lifted. Lady is such a happy little dog who  wags her tail with such vigor, that she whacks it on the floor. Then, as she hears you walk closer, the whacking speeds up. Well, when she saw me this morning, it was like I’d risen from the dead. She was THAT happy. The tail was wagging and her entire body was quivering and she was jumping all over me.

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Those big brown eyes say: “I love you!”

I think she was hoping for a walk.

As soon as I saw her, though, I thought: these poets didn’t have a dog. I don’t know whether that’s true but my dogs certainly cheer me up and do their best to keep me on an even keel.

Also goes to know that just because Lady is a “Black Dog”, that she doesn’t have to be depressed. Rather, she’s as happy as…a dog!

While I found serious depression revisiting my favourite poets, I also found much encouragement, resiliance and amazing determination to overcome the odds.

Issa-snail

The Haiku writer Issa survived incredible adversity and yet still still appreciated and honoured the incredible beauty found in nature and pushed on. I shared this Haiku with the family last night:

O snail

Climb Mount Fuji,

But slowly, slowly!

You can read more about it at: Snailing Up the Mountain

Out of interest, thought I might ask you all to share your survival strategies for getting through a tough week?

I have quite a complex web of survival strategies. There’s my family which gives me so much motivation to overcome anything which crosses my path and my friends, some who are like family. There’s my faith and that knowledge that God is with me all the time no matter what. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that I don’t ask him questions and wonder why things pan out the way they do and that’s why community is important. That you need to be part of something bigger than you. I have my puppy dogs who give me so much unconditional love and that huge crazy tail wag every single morning and if I’m having a sleepless night, they are also happy to join me. I could almost hug them to death and they’d never tell me to leave them alone. That said, they can drive me a little crazy pestering me to throw the tennis ball and every time I’m going out is somehow perceived as a “walk”. Yet, this also reflects their undying optimism, faith and hope. They never let a setback stop them from believing that the next time the door opens, they’ll be off.

Exercise, socialise…these are really important.

As an over-arching principle, I strive for balance. If I am going through a hard time and immersed in the dark, it’s really important to take myself the other way and find the light. I do that by viewing the world through my camera lens and particularly love photographing the clouds at sunset. They are so beautiful and just watching nature, calms and restores my soul. Nature is such an incredible tonic.

I also believe you need to have a sense of humour and being able to laugh at yourself and your adversity can be strangely very therapeutic.Don’t know why but it’s worked for me.

That adversity doesn’t hunt you down.You’re not the only one going through hard times. Although it might look like others have the perfect life, you usually don’t know them well enough to know their truth.

chair Umina Beach

Rather, life ebbs and flows. There are ups and downs and we just need to learn to swim, improve our stroke and build up those muscles to survive. Alternatively, we build a boat and learn to sail. The how doesn’t really matter but do nothing and there’s only one result. You sink.Drown.

When you live a very rich and varied life, you’re much better prepared when adversity knocks. With your eggs spread throughout multiple baskets, you’ve spread your risk and you’re not sunk in the first strike. You have something left  in reserve.

This is why I was off at the beach with the family and the dogs yesterday afternoon and off to Church this morning. I also specifically spoke with my Pastor about my Dead Poet Project as well as some friends. I am dealing with some very tough philosophical questions and I know this isn’t something I should be doing alone. I need to go into that space of solitude to write but I also have to come out and get back into life, the universe and everything. Hug and be hugged by both humans and dogs!

These are important issues for our creative community. Too many creatives have been swallowed up by all-consuming darkness or the brilliance of the flames. Somehow, we need to reach out to each other and truly hold on. Hold on when we’re sinking and hold on as our neighbour goes down. Likewise, we can also go up and I’m all for flying a kite..just as long as I can get down once again!

Father & Son

A Helping Hand- Rowena Newton

When I was back at university, a friend of mine shared the analogy of the rock and the kite. The rock and the kite are friends…buddies. Yet, they are also opposites. The kite with it’s tendency to fly away and get carried away by the wind,  is tied to the rock and grounded. Meanwhile, the rock has a tendency to get too heavy and sink into the ground. Get depressed. However, the kite lifts it up out of the ground and cheers it up. I have always seen this as an explanations for why opposites attract in relationships. We help balance each other out.

It’s funny how I’ve known this analogy for over 25 years yet writing this now has given me a whole new perspective. I’ve always thought of the rock and the kite as separate people but but they are also opposing forces in ourselves…the light and the dark, which wrestle each other within to determine our mood, outlook, the status quo. There’s a  constant, grueling tug of war within, as the rock and kite fight it out while we manage the battle. While all light and no darkness or heaviness might seem like the goal, we need depth, reflection and even sadness or we will, in effect, float away. All froth and bubble without any substance!

I’d be really interested to hear your feedback about all of this. I am not a mental health professional but I am a survivor. There are no medals or public acknowledgment for most survivors but we have more than learned life’s lessons along the bumpy road.

Take care and if the dark side is eating you up, please reach out. Keep reaching out. I promise we care!

Love & best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share: March 12, 2016.

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share. Not that we’ll force you to drink coffee here. Whether you’re feeling like coffee, tea, Hot Chocolate or apple juice, we’re only too happy to oblige. That is, as long as you don’t ask us for Bonox. We don’t have any Bonox. We’ve never had it. My mother has always offered guests coffee, tea or Bonox and I don’t even know what it is. At least, she means well.

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This week, our son celebrated his 12th Birthday. Actually, to be honest, I’m not sure that he really celebrated because like so many birthdays, things turned pear-shaped and the house resembled a war zone. Okay, maybe not a war zone but it certainly wasn’t all happy families. I don’t know why birthdays and special occasions seem to bring out the worst but it almost seems inevitable. Perhaps, our expectations of a perfect day turns everything upside down. Anyway, at least it finished on an upbeat with an excited Happy Birthday at Scouts. Scouts are easily pleased. They can’t resist my chocolate chip cookies.

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Trying to find our son birthday presents was quite a challenge. No longer a child, the range of options seems to be narrowing down . We’ve given him Lego for practically every birthday to the point where I started feeling like it was a cop out, stopping us from putting adequate thought into what we were giving him. Moreover, his Godmother was giving him some Star Wars Lego…a safe thing to suggest. The day before his birthday, we still only had one small gift and couldn’t think of anything. While, on one hand, this could be interpreted as a first world problem, what is also a first world problem is the struggle to feel loved. While money can’t buy love, not buying your child anything for their birthday would certainly have ramifications…especially when their sister received the new Star Wars BB8 Robot only two weeks beforehand. Anyway, I was on he way to Kmart and decided to pop in on a small strip of shops and see what I could find there. Bingo! I found a Himalayan Salt Lamp as well as a thunder egg and a beach towel. I was stoked. Mission accomplished.

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Sea Gulls Reaching for the Sun.

Thursday morning, we woke up to find our entire beachside town covered in a very thick blanket of fog. Indeed, I had quite a shock when I opened the front door and walked straight into it. We’ve never, ever had fog like that here before and it really did feel quite surreal. What was going on? I didn’t wait to find out. I dropped the kids off and headed down to the beach with my camera to see what I could get. It would either be a complete white out or something I’d never forget.

Indeed, I captured some of the best, most atmospheric photos I’ve ever taken. It just goes to show that you don’t have to travel or spend a fortune to find incredible inspiration but you do need to be prepared, have faith and have the capacity to down tools and make a run for it. Here’s A Photographer’s Dream.

Amelia

Our daughter at the Sirius Cup, Balmoral Beach, Sydney.

By the way, I should’ve mentioned that when you pop around for coffee this weekend, it’s almost eerily quiet. You see, the kids are away with Scouts competing in the Sirius Cup and camping at Balmoral Beach on Sydney Harbour. Geoff and I thought about going with them but the prospect of a quiet weekend at home was too good. The Sirius Cup includes sailing and kayaking races and well as Iron Person events. Our kids are both kayaking. Haven’t heard too much about what they’ve been up to as yet but stay tuned.

Before I head off, thought I might encourage you to try writing Flash Fiction. There is a weekly challenge run by Charli over at Carrot Ranch where she provides a topic and you need to write 99 words exactly…no more, no less. Initially quite surprised by what I could actually write in 99 words, I’ve since gone on to find something quite incredible in this shortened format. Its quite a challenge to tell a story in only 99 words including all the usual components of a story…beginning, middle, end and a complication. Yet, similar to Haiku, that shortened format can make the story more intense. I love it. To find out more and even have a go, head here.

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Mister & Rufus

Last week’s theme was library. I ended up writing about Rufus, our late Old English Sheepdog. A rescue dog in the true meaning of the term, he was a very troubled but also equally loving dog who illustrated that mixture of dark and light which lives in us all. You can read it here.

The previous week’s theme was “gallop” and I wrote about a little boy who galloped through Church while they were singing “Jesus loves the little children” attracting disapproving stares and glares from the congregation: The Galloping Little Man.

It seems I have quite a heart for the underdog…a strong sense of social justice. I guess you’re probably not surprised.

Anyway, I hope you’ve all had a great week and if things haven’t been so good, I’m thinking of you. You don’t have to pretend here. You’re always welcome.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster Part-Time Monster Here’s the Linky.

Best wishes,

Rowena

A Photographer’s Dream.

“A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure.”

Charlie Chaplin

On Thursday morning, a freakish sea of fog literally knocked on our front door, as the street and indeed our entire town vanished in the haze. We’ve been living here for 15 years but we’ve never seen anything like it before. While we’ve seen patches of fog over the beach and the river in the past, we live a few streets back. Eerie, intriguing, even beautiful and yet there was a nagging underlying concern: why is it so?!! Google can tell me how fog forms but that doesn’t account for why it’s here… an act if God or Mankind?

I don’t know but for now, I had more pressing concerns.

“A writer, photographer, dreamer, wife, mother, daughter, friend seizing each and every beautiful stunning moment and lighting its spark. That’s who I am.”

Rowena Newton.

Although I consider myself a writer first and photographer second, given these freakish weather conditions, I didn’t even stop to think. As I shuffled the kids into “Mum’s Taxi”, I threw my camera bag in the boot and all plans were off. I was off to the beach. Once I’m looking through the lens, that’s it.The rest of the world is gone.
Not that I had great expectations. With that much fog, the beach could well be a complete white-out. Yet, on the other hand, that mix of intense early morning sunlight and the thick milky haze could well be spectacular, creating something exceptionally good. I just didn’t know.Photography is like casting a line out into the ocean, you just don’t  know what you’re going to catch. You can read the landscape and weather conditions to improve your chances but ultimately there’s a strong element of luck…being in the right place at the right time.
That is, as well as playing the numbers game.
Mind you, you can ,take your 10,000 photos but if you don’t train your eye and learn how to maximise your equipment, you might catch the big one once but it won’t be a repeat performance.
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I pulled up at the beach and saw a thick blanket of fog through the sand dunes. Nothing that special.
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A Morning Walk.

Then, as I walked along the beach, I turned back around looking East. The sun was rising, still low on the horizon, blazing through the fog with a burning glow. There was no colour. The canvas had been painted silver grey etched with darkened silhouettes. It was eerily Post-Apocalyptic and I half expected a cloaked pirate to emerge from the haze…Captain Jack Sparrow, perhaps.
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While Mummy is Sleeping…

Instead, there were just the usual early morning walkers and a father hanging out with his toddler son. Couldn’t help thinking Mum was at home trying to sleep or perhaps at home with the new baby. Or, perhaps she’s at work while Dad’s staying at home. Who knows? You can’t assume but remembering that staggering sleep deprivation, I’d be asleep!

“It is in the compelling zest of high adventure and of victory, and in creative action, that man finds his supreme joys.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Wow! This was good…very, very good. The interplay between the sunlight and the fog and those darkened silhouettes was pure magic and all my senses suddenly sprang to life. I could feel that intense tug on the line as the rod bent over towards the sea, knowing beyond all doubt that I’d caught a whopper of a fish and needed to use every bit of nouse to bring it in.
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Seagulls Reaching for the Sun.

I am not a technical photographer and rely more on my eye, perspective and the magic of being in the right place at the right time and seizing the moment. At this point, I was focusing on the silhouettes…nothing special in normal light but seeing the familiar through the fog made it freakishly unusual. As I said, Post-Apocalyptic.
The sea gulls also added an intriguing element. They’re so common and yet through this fog and the muted light, they appeared somehow profound.
From not knowing how this expedition was going to turn out, I was absolutely stoked with the results.
These photos were such an unexpected gift. When I woke up that morning, I’d had no plans of going to the beach or taking photos. However, through capitalizing on the unexpected, I produced some of the best photos I’ve ever taken…the most atmospheric.

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

John Lennon

This would not have been possible if I didn’t have the space to create. To be able to down tools and just take off. Living beyond the clock, I can follow the twists and turns of fate, creating my own path as I go. Sometimes, I almost feel myself being pulled along, led somewhere beyond myself. Call it what you like… God, fate, serendipity but inspiration grabs me, sweeping me right off my feet and into the unexplored realms of imagination. No doubt, you have been there yourself and can’t quite explain how you arrived or quite how you left. Not everything comes with scientific proof.
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Beach Feet.

That was Thursday. It’s now Saturday and I still feel strangely intoxicated by the fusion of sun and fog, which completely dazzled my senses. It’s been like peering into something so beautiful or transcendental but then arriving back home with a thud. That nasty bang on the head…a reality check.
Welcome back to the “To-Do List”.
Perhaps, I should take a hint from Snagglepus and simply “exit stage left”. After all,
just like “taking the hair of the dog” is offered as a hangover cure, my solution could very well involve taking more photos!
Or, I could just write about it instead.
What’s been inspiring you lately?
Hope you’ve had a great week and are enjoying your weekend.
xx Rowena

Seagulls Reaching for the Sun.

“For most gulls it was not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight.”

― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Likewise, the photographer, the writer, the artist all live in the moment. Held captive. Possessed by the spark. Nothing else matters or even exists but what you see through the lens for that instant. Then, somehow you have caught it. Captured that vision like a falling star and tucked it into your heart, your imagination where it sets your entire being on fire.

It’s no wonder I have trouble when the real world knocks.

How about you?

xx Rowena

I Want to Swing from the Chandelier!

While I’ve never seen myself as a music industry guru or supporter, today I’m going to don my Stetson hat and walk in Molly Meldrum’s shoes for a bit and introduce you to some new Australian talent.

Ian “Molly” Meldrum

Molly Meldrum is the Australian music industry legend who used to host Countdown. Molly introduced millions of teenagers to the likes of ABBA and Madonna and I’m not sure who else because I wasn’t really into listening to music growing up and only ever had a couple of records and tapes, which wouldn’t even amount to a handful.

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Although Molly was loved and respected for hosting countdown, there was always that big question mark about what was underneath his hat. He never took it off, the same way KISS never appeared without their trademark face paint. Although we all assumed that he was as bald as a badger, the fact that he never appeared without his hat, just fueled the intrigued and added to the legend.

Just like Molly had his trademark hat, Molly also had his “Mollyisms”.

If Molly really liked a performer, he’d tell you to “do yourself a favour” and go and buy their album…as it was back in the day.

Well, I’m now going to suggest you do yourself a favour and go and check out some of the young, up and coming performers in your local area, instead of waiting for them to suddenly burst onto the music scene once they’re finally famous. “It’s a long way to the top, when you want to rock n’ roll” and even longer if you’re into the classics.All these young people need avid fans to pave the way for future success.

That means the likes of us.

Moreover, you’ll also be doing yourself a huge favour. Instead of having to pay through the nose for tickets and fight your way into the big entertainment venues, you’ll be up front and personal and even breathe in the same air. I sometimes hope this will somehow inflate me with talent but it hasn’t happened yet!!

We actually had front row seats and could almost reach out and touch the stage. That was a real treat!.

Last week, we attended a local music event, Showcase, which was held at Gosford’s Laycock Street Theatre. Showcase features the best talent from our local Public High Schools and Primary schools and our daughter was performing with the school choir for the second time.

While you might think that Showcase is some mums and dads concert which truly has to be endured, it was actually a spectacular production and a number of the acts deeply moved me for a variety of reasons. They were not only incredibly good but the performers somehow grabbed your emotions, twisted your heart and miraculously conveyed a part of you that you knew was there but you could never quite find the words to express. For some reason, the door, the pathway was always blocked, jammed. Wouldn’t open.

I know this sounds odd for such an expressive writer, poet, photographer but these are the perhaps those really scary, grab you by the throat in the dark emotions and most of the time, we’re too busy trying to swing from the chandelier to acknowledge they exist. We want to shut them down and yet when they finally come out there’s such relief!

There were two performances which really gripped me.

Firstly, there was Lilia Jackson who performed Sia’s Chandelier.

I have listened to Sia’s Chandelier countless times on the radio and yes, it has resonated with me before but nothing like hearing it performed by Lilia, who sang like an angel while accompanying herself on the grand piano.She was incredible!

Here’s a link to Lilia’s performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsAuchqUDc8

There is was sitting on my seat getting swept away by her angelic voice and the crystal tones of the piano when all of a sudden, I found myself moved to a place of incredible angst where I was back in Royal North Shore Hospital at the time of my medical diagnosis and the pain seared through my heart like a knife. It was the middle of the night and I was so alone caught in the intense darkness without a glimmer of light. I was so angry about my diagnosis and that I could die and leave my children without their Mum that I wanted to die. The pain was so incredibly intense. A pain I usually can’t even come close to touching, writing about, nothing. The best I can do is somehow twist those emotions around with a dark sort of humour. Anyway, I’ve moved on. I am swinging from the chandeliers almost each and everyday now because I know that abyss and I’m not going back.

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist
I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

But I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Help me, I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight

Another performance which really gripped me, was Erica-Lee’s rendition of Crazy. Being different is something I understand too well…sometimes from a sense of rejection but also from a point of pride. After all, who wants to be a clone, a carbon-copy of some misplaced ideal? I know that anyone who photographs bride dolls in a cemetery has to be a bit crazy but that’s also how creativity takes flight. So, you know I don’t even need to ask that question. I’d much rather be creative than normal and I’m grateful that after spending years working through this, that I can finally accept myself as I am.

While these two song choices really resonated with me, I was also delighted to hear Joseph Arrua: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3vUo5uSOjs As I listened to Joseph perform, I wondered where that big, deep voice came from. It was incredible. I’ve been friends with Joseph’s Mum for many years but only heard him perform a few years ago and it’s a special thing to see a young person’s talent start taking flight!

My daughter singing with the school choir.

My daughter singing with the school choir.

Of course, I was as proud as punch to see my daughter performing in the school choir. She has been battling vocal nodules and having voice therapy yet she loves singing. Her perseverance is a real credit to her…and to me. I’m having to drive her to her appointments and put up with the moods. Understandibly, she’s not a happy camper.

Train Trip: Surry Hills to Gore Hill, Sydney.

A train trip there, requires a train trip home.

To read about the journey there, click here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/me-myself-i-writing-a-complex-character-profile/

However, I’m not returning home quite yet. I am yet to get to my doctor’s appointment at Royal North Shore Hospital, which was actually the reason for my trip. Despite star billing, Surry Hills was a detour, not the destination. So typical of me that I get so caught up in the detour, that I almost forget the main event.

There I was wandering along Crown Street, camera round my neck practically photographing anything at all, as though I had somehow transcended time. Meandering in and out of shops and still fully intending to stop off at the Vegan Mary Cafe for my much anticipated Coconut Chai Latte. Popping into the Salvo Store buying a bride doll for my daughter, huge turquoise, chenille bedspread (only $3.00…what a bargain!) and a recipe book from the 1st Series of Masterchef.

Turning into Albion Street, I’m now lugging a huge Ikea bag in addition to my bulky camera gear and writing journals. I look like I’ve been away for a week, not simply on a day trip. That said, how many middle-aged women go away for a week with a bride doll? Not many but I can sort of get away with that. After all, she’s a gift for my daughter.

I knew the sands had been flowing through the hour glass. That it was time for a much needed reality check.

What’s the time Mr Wolf?

Checked my diary. Checked my watch. Yikes!! 3.00 had become 2.30 and suddenly I had 45 minutes to walk to Central, catch a train and lug myself up Gore Hill to the hospital. As much as I love that John Lennon quote: “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans,” somehow I don’t think the Gastro Specialist would appreciate that. He’d much rather:

“I’m late, I’m late. For a very important date. No time to say “Hello.” Goodbye. I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.”
– Alice in wonderland

Not for the first time, I wished I was Superwoman and could leap tall buildings in a single bound and suddenly get from Surry Hills to Gore Hill as the crow flies, instead of relying on the vagaries of public transport.

Moreover, although Gore Hill mightn’t be Everest, it must be close. I’ve had several near-death experiences tackling that hill heading to appointments and you’ve really got to wonder who decided sick people needed to become mountain climbers to access treatment?!

It wasn’t me.

Gum trees in Albion Street.

Gum trees in Albion Street.

So there I am running incredibly late for an appointment, which I’ve had to reschedule 3 times and I really need to get the results of the endoscopy I had a few months ago and yet I’m still in Surry Hills. I still have my camera and there is just too much temptation to ignore. I’m pulling and tugging at the zipper on my camera bag almost ripping the damn thing open to prise out the camera in my desperate haste. I’ve spotted what must be some kind of Supermodel gum tree with incredible white branches soaring upwards into the deep azure sky. The branches almost appeared to be dancing and I was captivated. Mesmerised. Photo opportunity!!! It was like a siren in my head eeeore eeore.

Time stood still for those few precious moments. At least, it did for me!

“I’m late, I’m late. For a very important date. No time to say “Hello.” Goodbye. I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.”
– Alice in wonderland

Humph! I did mention in my previous post that I am both the protagonist and antagonist in my story and as this case in point illustrates so well, I have a brilliant aim when it comes to shooting myself in the foot!

Anyway, my justification for such apparent procrastination was that the doctor kept me waiting for 1.5 hours for my last appointment and is more than likely going to be late again. Being quite the egalitarian, I also feel that if the doctor can run late, so can I. The door swings both ways.

The Clock Tower at Central Station, viewed from Surry Hills.

The Clock Tower at Central Station, viewed from Surry Hills.

Fortunately, I manage to get to Central Station in record time and see that a train arrives in 4 minutes but I’ve still got to get down the concourse, up the stairs and somehow still be breathing. I don’t know how I managed to pull it off but I make it with a minute to spare and as I collapse into my seat feeling my heart about to burst through my chest, I notice an elderly lady peering into my bag…the doll. She’s not the only one looking either. There are at least 8 sets of eyes staring in there. Her golden hair is flowing over the edge of the bag and her eyes are closed. She’s so life-like and with her eyes shut, she almost looks dead. Like I’m carrying a small, dead bride in my bag. Call the cops.

The bride doll on the train.

The bride doll on the train.

“She’s for my daughter,” I explain.

That seems to satisfy the curious glances. I’m not some crazed mad woman, after all.

Well, I am but they just don’t know it yet.

The Doll Bride.

The Doll Bride.

Anyway, not that I’m on the homeward journey, I need to get back to thinking about character development and getting back to the “book project”. Time to put my ruminations about Surry Hills on hold, as we return to working on character…the protagonist, antagonist….myself.

Soon the train is clattering over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, not that I notice. My heart’s still racing!

I arrive at St Leonard’s Station with just ten minutes to spare. That’s almost possible but I’m not the world’s fastest walker. Indeed, I have a walking stick and it’s more likely to take half an hour. I’m starting to think about catching a taxi but there isn’t a taxi in sight. I’m heading up the hill and spot what could be a shortcut and in my desperation, decide to give it a go. This path doesn’t seem quite so steep and might just save me from a heart attack and a quadruple bypass.

However, this shortcut takes me via a building and if you know anything about how they design hospital buildings, it’s to maximise confusion. They’re always such a maze. Fortunately I see a hospital volunteer I know and she kindly points me to the lift and I’m out. A lift strikes me as a great alternative to climbing Everest. Perhaps this detour wasn’t such a bad idea after all. I was lost but now I’m found but already late.

Onwards and upwards.

Phew! I arrived and there’s a queue at reception.

That’s why I’m late.

xx Rowena

Catharsis!…A Poem.

Words trickle down the page;
iridescent raindrops
growing wings,
taking flight.

A catharsis,
the fog now lifts.
A croakiness clears.
The lark has returned.

Rowena Newton

written on the train on the way to Sydney yesterday 17th August, 2015. I’d had a rough time getting the kids off to school and was heading off to Surry Hills on the way to a medical appointment. Well, Surry Hills wasn’t on the way but nothing better than a detour.

My apologies to the lark for substituting it with a sea gull in the photo but this gull is in a league of it’s own…a Jonathon Livingstone Seagull perhaps…

xx Rowena

Giving My Kids the Spirit of Tagore.

“Children are living beings – more living than grown-up people who have built shells of habit around themselves. Therefore it is absolutely necessary for their mental health and development that they should not have mere schools for their lessons, but a world whose guiding spirit is personal love.”
― Rabindranath Tagore

Last night, I was trawling through Tagore quotes when I stumbled across this gem.

Actually, “trawling” is the wrong word because reading Tagore is so effortless and an incredible joy…very much like collecting stars from the night sky and somehow sneaking them them into your pocket and even your heart!

Each and every quote I read was incredibly inspiring.

This quote particularly resonated with me because it goes against the grain of practical, pragmatic parenting.

My kids are incredibly creative but this very creativity generates a veritable cyclone of inspiration all over my house, which is all too easily reclassified as: “mess”!

Moreover, when we go out, my kids are NOT those kids politely sitting in their chairs conforming to social expectations. Consequently, they can attract more than their share of disapproving glances.

Indeed, yesterday at a family party they were attaching pegs to all the guests clothing in the most sneaky and stealthy ways. However, instead of disapproval, they became a hit. I have never seen my kids laugh so much and my cousin said the pegging had become quite the “ice-breaker”. They were like the comic jesters they used to have in Medieval times and were very much loved and appreciated.

It warmed my heart!

So often, I feel like I’m trying to force my creative, exuberant kids into some kind of straight-jacket to somehow keep the show on the road. That it’s very hard work for us to reach “the norm”, even though it’s quite evident that’s never going to be our path.

Reading this quote from Tagore has let us off the hook. It is more important to break those shells of habit, than to be spotless. Moreover, this is the only way our kids will ever reach for the stars and and live and breathe the spirit of Tagore.

I don’t know how all this works in with getting to school on time. Doing their homework and keeping the house in some kind of order but without passion, without inspiration, can we truly say that we are even alive?

What are your thoughts?

Mister painintg himself.

Mister painintg himself.

Blogging From Zero to Twenty Thousand Views

Just over three years ago on the 9th May, 2012 Beyond the Flow was launched into the blogosphere. While I would love to say that the launch was heralded by all the fanfare usually reserved for a royal birth, it was, however, more of a mild-mannered affair. Indeed, the only attention my incredible launch attracted was one measly comment:
Mr WordPress May 9, 2012 at 5:35 am
Hi, this is a comment.
To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.
Indeed, it wasn’t even a real comment. How disappointing!!
Just to compound my woes, to this day, that very first post still has no likes and is still saying:
“Be the first to like this”.
If you feel like being nice to this poor, neglected post, or even taking pity on it, you can visit it here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/hello-world/

Can you believe it? This is hardly how you’d expect your entry into the new world of blogging to start out, is it?!! After all, where were the legions of fans just hanging off my each and every word?
Evidently, they were some place else…going for a walk or even washing their hair perhaps? Who knows? Surely, it had to be something exceptionally important?!
Well, I guess not.

Photographed with best-selling Australian author Andy Griffiths at the Sydney Writer's Festival in May 2012.

Photographed with best-selling Australian author Andy Griffiths at the Sydney Writer’s Festival in May 2012.

To read about my workshop at the Sydney Writer’s Festival with Andy Griffiths http://www.andygriffiths.com.au/ , click here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/busting-for-real-a-postscript-to-the-sydney-writers-festival-2012-3/

Anyway, from that incredibly lackluster and humble beginning, Beyond the Flow has finally reached 20,000 views. Good thing I’m as persistent as a dog chasing a ball! I never gave up and for awhile there, I seriously began to wonder but slowly but surely, the tide changed and I have forged something solid, strong and meaningful.
So, if you have just started blogging and you’re wondering whether your blog is EVER going to take off, take heart. With persistence, perseverance and dedication, your world will definitely grow and without having to sell your soul in the process. It just might take a bit…or a lot…longer.
I started blogging after a friend told me about her craft blog and I thought I’d give it a whirl. It was all very tentative back then… getting my head around how to set it up more than thinking about the content. I’ve never really struggled with writer’s block. It’s been more of a case of writer’s diarrhoea. The words and ideas just keep gushing out. For me, it’s more a matter of trying to contain the flow and weeding words out. So, I’ve never really struggled with finding something to write about and I’ve been blogging about a smattering of our experiences ever since.

Back in these early days, my blog was an outlet. Somewhere for me to direct my thoughts and feelings as well as getting my writing out there. For so long, all those words had just been building up inside my computer like a volcano set to explode. These thoughts, feelings, experiences were never meant to be shut away, especially as I had an understanding of deep suffering which could reach out and help other people, at the very least, to feel they’re not alone. That some random stranger out there in cyberspace “get’s it” and may indeed “get” them. That most of us don’t wear our battle scars on the outside but they’re usually hidden away deep within and we can feel incredibly isolated, misunderstood and alone…until we reach out.

Footprints in the sand.

Footprints in the sand.


That is why I called my blog: Beyond the Flow. In the past people used to tell me just to “go with the flow”. These days they don’t even bother. They know I’m out there, somewhat off the grid but that’s what it means to be “creative” and I feel much more accepted than I was in the past.
When I started the blog back in 2012, I was just getting over the shock of finding out that I’d developed fibrosis in my lungs as a complication of my auto-immune disease, dermatomyositis. I’d gone into a sort of shut down out after the diagnosis as I waited to see the lung specialist for the prognosis. This actually turned out a lot better than I’d thought and I’d won a reprieve. I wasn’t going to die any time soon. Well, not now anyway. However, the shock had really taken its toll and I felt completely wiped out and almost corpse-like. The prospect of leaving behind my kids who were then 7 and 5, was simply way too much and short-circuited every bit of wiring I had. I very slowly had to crawl my way back to the start again and get moving.

However, as time went by and I gained a few likes and followers and also discovered blogs which I was following closely, blogging grew from being a personal, individual pursuit into becoming part of a thriving, supportive and really rather loving community. I found so many people out there who also wanted to make a difference to the world. Not just as an airy fairy ideal but were doing something about it. This has particularly been the case of a blogshare I belong to called #1000speak I have received so much love, support and encouragement through the bloggers I’ve met along the way and it really does go to show that we don’t have to be nasty, bitchy and stab people in the back to get ahead.
I can’t emphasise enough how much our community means to me. In addition to my family and closest friends, it means the world to me!!
20,002 enormous thank yous!

I’ve really appreciated my family’s support and inspiration for the blog, even when they haven’t appreciated my extended “absences” and late nights.

Through the next week or so I’m going to share some of the best5 of 0 to 20,000 views and some of the blogs, posts and friends I’ve found along the way. Please bear with me. We’ve had a Sydney cold snap and my computer is at the cold end of the house and the kids are currently home on school holidays you the blogging has slowed down to a crawl. I should also mention that I’ve developed a nasty cold with a ferocious cough and given my lung status, I am having to take things easy…not my usual, or preferred, modus operandi I can assure you.

Our Family 2014- Byron Bay Lighthouse, Australia.

Our Family 2014- Byron Bay Lighthouse, Australia.

Many thanks for your friendship, encouragements, words, thoughts and beautiful images. I am so much better through knowing each one of you!

Love and blessings,
Rowena

Two my most avid supporters: Bilbo and Lady

Two my most avid supporters: Bilbo and Lady

Self-Portraint in Rainbow Paint. Day 5: Five Photos Five Stories.

It looks like Mister reinterpreted what it means to paint yourself and painted on himself instead.

Actually, this shot was taken in the lead up to Christmas 2005 when we were1 making Christmas cards to send to the family. For his first Christmas, we’d pretty much stuck with footprints but it looks like we became a lot more ambitious for his second Christmas. You can see paint all over the paper as well as the boy. Howeever, even though it was so incredibly messy and it felt like I hasd to scrub out the entire house by the time we’d made it through the bath, we had a fabulous time taking creative self-expression to new heights.It also reminds me of the value of letting creativity run its course and actually flow rather than being caugyht up in being neat or having the perfect child. A child who sits perfectly still and colours in instead of painting themselves, the table the floor and even the bathtub as “Operation Scrub” goes into full swing.

Too often, we put on the brakes. Lock our child up in a cage. Force them into a mold.

Love that paint job!

Love that paint job!

Believe me! It is very tempting. It is so much easier thasn allowing them to be themselves! I’m not just talking about cleaning up the mess here or all those trips to Emergency patching up the scapes. I’m also talking about managing a non-conformist and all that means when it comes to interacting with other kids, parents, teachers and just about anyone. It would be so much easier for them all if we could just run kids through a factory to a set of “standards” but easy doesn’t stretch our horizons or challenge our thinking. It doesn’t give us texture, colour. Indeed, there wouldn’t be any rainbows anymore because we’d love all those beautiful colours without that mix of sun and rain.

I’m guity of this myself. I remember the first timew Mister mixed the different playdoh colours together that I almost had a heart attack. There his was squeezing those beautiful rainbow colours through his little fingers when I heard this chastising voice from somewhere in my deeply repressed past: “Do not mix the colours”. Playdoh was considered expensive when I was a kid and something of a luxury and we all knows what ultimately happens when all those rainbow colourss mix together for too long. They turn “poo brown”.

Seeing this photo also reminds me how long it’s been since we’ve done paintiing at home. I even enjoy doing a bit of painting myself but got a bit turned off by all the cleaning up afterwards and what with trying to keep up with writing, photography and playing my violin, it’s been awhile.

That’s about to change. I think we’re well and truly overdue for a paint date.

I was nominated by Geoff Le Pard fromTanGental for the Five Photos Five Stories blog Share: http://geofflepard.com/2015/06/10/five-photos-five-stories-day-two/

I would like to nominate Eli from Coach Daddy at https://coachdaddyblog.wordpress.com/ We met through the April Blogging A-Z Challenge and I thought he might enjoy another one.

The rules of the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge are:

1) Post a photo each day for five consecutive days.
2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to the individual.
3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation. This is fun, not a command performance!

xx Rowena