Tag Archives: difference

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

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

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!

It’s Not Easy Being Green!

G is for Green and as I struggled to think of a meaningful topic for the Blogging A-Z Challenge, I remembered a favourite childhood song: It’s Not Easy Being Green, which was written by Sesame Street songwriter Joe Ripozo and sung by Jim Henson as loveable Kermit the Frog.

It's Not Easy Being Green
It's not that easy being green
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold
Or something much more colorful like that

It's not easy being green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're
Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky

But green's the color of Spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean, or important
Like a mountain, or tall like a tree

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why
Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful
And I think it's what I want to be

You might even want to have a sing-a-long: www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpiIWMWWVco

This song is dedicated to Freddie the Front Door Frog. If you go back to my post to my post for F about Fractured Fairytales, you might recall being introduced. Freddie lives with my in-laws about half an hour’s hop from Byron Bay when he hitches a ride in the car.

Freddie the Front Door Frog.

Freddie the Front Door Frog.

Well, being an Australian Green Tree Frog, I thought Freddie would appreciate this song. After all, we wouldn’t want him deciding that he didn’t like being green and going all fancy dress, turning himself rainbow colours or hopping around weighed down by too much bling.

That’s right. We want him to know that we love him just the way he is or even because of what he is…GREEN!

By the way, Freddie says that it’s actually a lot easier to be green than you think. That you don’t need to go and change your skin colour, or anything else that radical. Rather, you can start small. Get a worm farm. Reduce the amount of packaging you use and don’t buy snacks in individual serve packets. You can grow a few tomatoes,. Have chooks. Walk instead of drive.

Apparently, all these little things add up and even the smallest and seemingly weakest among us, can make a difference for the survival of our beautiful blue planet and he points out, save more frogs!!

Today has been brought to you by the letter G as part of the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge.

xx Rowena

How A Friend Can Change the World…

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we see
No I won’t be afraid
No I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

John Lennon: Stand By Me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vSWHkxZgOI

Surprise! Surprise! It’s me… Bilbo (Rowena’s original dog). I can’t believe I’m back from the very brink after surviving what became a highly controversial campaign to unite cats and dogs. Talk about setting a match to a fuse!!

You might recall that I’d  jumped onto Mum’s brand new Twitter account with my infamous hashtag: #cats and dogs are friends. Much to my horror, rather than building bridges between cats and dogs, I actually attracted the wrath of both species and received multiple, very nasty, terrifying death threats.

Yet, against the odds, I have survived. I’ve been attacked by dogs. Attacked by cats. Yet, Lady, my fearless canine companion, has stood by me. She not only brought me food during my darkest hours of need, she also spoke out and refused to be a bystander. She wanted to take my message of peace to the masses and help them see reason. Where I had drawn all sorts of fancy equations all over my chalk board which made perfect sense to me but evidently to no one else, Lady was much more direct. Quite simply, as the cats and dogs were viciously fighting; gnashing their teeth, scratching, screeching, barking and growling; she very simply said:

Woodstock Festival, August 15 to 18, 1969.

Woodstock Festival, August 15 to 18, 1969. (Mum was 3 weeks old at the time, by the way!)

“Are you proud of yourselves?”

After all, sometimes even the most noble-minded among us can get caught up in our own cause and lose all sense of perspective.

Lady’s intelligent, quick thinking stopped everyone in their tracks. Don’t ask me how because such brawls between old foes have never stopped like this before. Suddenly and quite inexplicably, all eyes both feline and canine were fixed on my scruffy black and white friend, who although she’s called Lady, really is more of a “ruff ruff” in so many, many ways.

Lady called out again to emphasise her point.

Yoko Ono and John Lennon's message still rings true: Give Peace A Chance. The trouble is how to maintain the peace when there is still so much evil in this world.

Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s message still rings true: Give Peace A Chance. The trouble is how to maintain the peace when there is still so much evil in this world.

“Are you proud of yourselves?”

A unified sense of shame descended upon the rabble and there was absolute silence.

“We’ve been fighting long enough. It’s time for cats and dogs to mend our smashed and broken fences and build a new way forward based on tolerance and understanding. We have been fighting since the very dawn of time and yet we don’t even know why. What is our cause? We live in our separate worlds, apart from the odd exceptions who somehow manage to live in harmony, without any form of interaction or communication. Most dogs know no cats and most cats know no dogs. Indeed, this war has become some dreadful form of genetic hatred passed on from one generation to the next… just like our DNA. Indeed, we’ve even assumed it’s in our genes. That hating each other is who we are.” Lady said.

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” Lady declared and then paused. There was still absolute silence and all ears and eyes were on her and yet nobody really understood why. Lady was just a scruffy little black and white dog with more of a reputation for food thievery than an good example.

“Perhaps, Bilbo took his peace efforts too far too soon. Indeed, it might be too early for dogs and cats to become friends. However, as he said… small steps. He probably just got a little over-enthusiastic. We dogs do have a habit of that.”

“I do think, however, that Bilbo was on the right track trying to bring about change by applying the Golden Rule. I think we’ve all forgotten what that is.

The Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated.

Bilbo also touched on an revision of the Golden Rule:

The Inverse Golden Rule: Treat others as they would like to be treated.

This is perhaps more useful for improving relations between cats and dogs. After all, we’re actually quite different and don’t really like most of the same things. Rather than being a stumbling block, these differences could actually be a good thing for friendship. We’re not actually competing for the same things. We’d be equal but different.”

It soon became clear that this once terrifying, violent mob of cats and dogs had somehow fallen under Lady’s spell.

Then she added: “If cats and dogs can mend fences, perhaps then those humans might even get along better as well. They can be an arrogant bunch…so convinced they have all the answers and are far superior to the likes of us but you never know. Seeing cats and dogs finally living together in peace might just give them the jolt they need. Then, we’ll all finally be able to sleep at night, instead of waiting for the bomb to go off.”

“I guess you could call it enlightened self-interest.”

Wow! I was stonkered by this transition in Lady. There I was thinking she was purely decorative and not any use at all. While I was hard at work, she was just battering her puppy dog eyes to get more treats. Then out of nowhere, she becomes the change which I’d been writing so much about. I was only ever able to theorise and philosophise but Lady could act and act she did. Firstly, by feeding me in hiding and keeping me safe. Then, she rallied behind the cause. Courageously confronting a dangerously out of control mob of angry cats and dogs, she brought about peace. They actually stopped fighting and from what I can see, we’ve all changed. Cats and dogs might never be friends but at least we’ve come to realise that this war is a choice. It’s not part of who we are. It’s not etched in our DNA. It can stop.

We live in hope!

We live in hope!

Lady had been only one dog and very much a lone voice calling out through a very hostile wilderness. Yet, good triumphed over evil. Love and tolerance overcame hate, violence and judgement. We will never be cats and cats will never be dogs but it doesn’t have to be war and I can even sense forgiveness.

I was completely blown away by Lady's powers of persuasion. Those puppy dog eyes work a treat!!

I was completely blown away by Lady’s powers of persuasion. Those puppy dog eyes work a treat!!

I’ve also learned a few things. While it’s good to have friends with the same interests and who are just like me, it’s also good to have some differences. I’d never thought of this before. As much as I love Lady, especially after all of this, we do compete over so many things such as: pats from the family, dinner, bones and tennis balls. On the other hand, that pesky cat… oops, I mean the nice cat from next door, leaves all of them alone. I could have them all to myself. That really should make us the best of friends.

Cats and dogs have been fighting for so long that we’ve become blinded to everything we have in common. Although I’m struggling to think of anything right off the cuff, I’m sure there had to be something. If only I could meet a cat and have some form of meaningful dialogue before it runs away, I could elaborate. Well, at least we have four legs, a tail and red blood.

Thinking about how Lady was able to achieve so much, perhaps Eisenhower was right after all:

What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

Now, I am almost a happy dog. That’s pretty darn good for an old dog whose food bowl always seems to be empty. Forget about this half full business. Now, perhaps you’ll understand why I struggle to find the bright side. However, it’s good to be thinking about food again, instead of being being: “The Hunted”.

Yes, our world definitely needs a lot more love and a lot less hate!!!

When I got home, I sang Lady this song and we finished it together:

When you’re down and troubled
And you need some loving care
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend

If the sky above you
Grows dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind begins to blow
Keep your head together
And call my name out loud
Soon you’ll hear me knocking at your door…

Carol King: You’ve Got A Friend.

Love through new beginnings,

xx Bilbo

PS: All donations to my food bowl will be gratefully accepted!!

PPS:

PS: If you are interested in reading my research into the Golden Rule, my posts start here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/greetings-from-good-dog/

If you are interested in hearing from Lady, click here for some of her posts:

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/my-dog-post-lady-at-palm-beach-sydney/

This is Mum’s post: A Portrait of a Lady, which tells a few truths about my little friend.

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/portrait-of-a-lady/

 

Sticking Labels Where They Don’t Fit…

When it comes to sticking diagnostic labels on people, I’ve always been in favour of diagnosis and treatment but I’m starting to change my mind.

Instead, I’m thinking that we need to be more cautious about where we start sticking labels, especially when those labels might have consequences down the track.

The American Psychiatric Association will be releasing the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in May 2013.

Part of the changes to the new diagnostic criterion is the reclassification of Aspergers into the broader umbrella term “autism spectrum disorder,” which will now apply for all children and adults with some form of autism. This means that people with a sprinkling of traits (ie the equivalent to a sprinkling of hundreds and thousands on a serving of ice cream) will be in the same camp as those with severe autism. This involves a huge shift in how people currently defined as “Asbergers” will be placed or “categorised”. I also suggest that people who might have accepted or even celebrated being “aspy”, might prefer things just the way they are. They are and always have been , their own people.

This new classification fails to address society’s understanding of what it means to be “autistic” and how individuals or parents might feel when someone who is “a bit different” is labelled “autistic”, when quite clearly they are not. It is also a huge leap, especially in terms of social stigma, for someone who might be somewhat asbergersish and something of a  Sheldon from Big Bang Theory or perhaps an IT geek or scientist. With any diagnosis there is grief and there is no need to compound that grief by sticking on highly emotive labels which simply don’t fit.

It seems to me that this new umbrella terms is really going to make an already confusing mess, only more confusing and will turn people away from a diagnosis and in the process, away from possible help and understanding.

Labels are good when it enables people to get the help they need but I don’t believe that can happen with a one-size fits all diagnosis. It ends up becoming meaningless. It either waters down the serious difficulties some individuals experience or paints a fairly sociable kid as a loner.

It doesn’t work.

After being misdiagnosed myself with osteo-arthritis myself which has a totally different line of treatment to my auto-immune disease, I know that you have to be very careful when you apply labels and try to make them stick.

Just ask my dog!

DSC_4614

What do you think?

Best wishes,

Rowena