Tag Archives: forgiveness

Accepting Our Mistakes…

“Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.”

Vincent Van Gogh

As a parent, I frequently find myself encouraging the kids not to give up when they make mistakes.After all, making mistakes doesn’t mean you’re innately hopeless at the task. Rather, your mistake could just be a stepping stone to greater things further down the  track. There are also some tasks which just need to be done, mastered and you can’t just quit and give up. You have to persevere.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Calvin Coolidge

Knowing how to get back on your feet and without letting your mistakes get you down, is as important as growing taller and going through all the usual steps which growing up entails. Indeed, overcoming mistakes and starting over builds resilience… that magic ingredient, which almost guarantees you a happy life if you listen to the so-called experts.

However, does all this psychological mumbo jumbo mean you have to like making these mistakes?

I don’t think so.

Last night, former Australian Cricket Captain, Steve Smith and bowler Cameron Bancroft apologised on national television for their roles in the ball tampering fiasco which took place in South Africa. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone on TV as broken and contrite as these men, and it was painful to watch. Australians are fanatical about their cricket and it’s so easy for lounge room experts to criticize and judge. Something big went on over there. Something which caused three men in the team who from my knowledge, have always towed the line and been exemplary men. They desperately begged for forgiveness. Yes, I know they’ve been labelled cheats, but they are clearly exceptionally sorry. That’s enough for me.  I also hope those men come to forgive themselves, and that perhaps some good will come out of it, although it’s hard to see a sunny side now. Indeed, you have to be concerned. Will they be okay?

Fortunately, most of us don’t have to face the world for any of our mistakes. We can quietly hide away within our anonymity at home. Most of our mistakes aren’t as monumental either. Yet, it’s also important not to be swept away by the proverbial storm in a tea cup. It’s all too easy to cry over spilled milk, a burned bamboo steamer or even eggs that won’t separate.

This morning, our 12 year old daughter had an accident in the kitchen and burned the bamboo steamer. To be honest, she did a good job of it and over 12 hours later, the stench is still hanging round. Indeed, when you start thinking of burning wood, your mind does jump towards the worst case scenario and the potential dangers of cooking.

However, I didn’t want her to think she’s a bad cook, and that that’s an inherent, indelible part of her character. All she needs is more cooking lessons and to follow the cookbook. So, I told her about my own disasters in the kitchen, including burning the base off my mother’s saucepan making rice.

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery”.

-James Joyce

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This pep talk with my daughter this morning set me in good stead for my own cooking dramas tonight. We’ll be heading down to my parents’ place for an Easter dinner and I offered to bring a pavlova. I am well known for my pavlovas, which are made from scratch and are crunchy on the outside with lush marshmallow inside. Yum! Normally, I can whip up these pavs in no time at all, but tonight I just couldn’t separate the eggs and I went through something like twelve eggs to get six. Then to top off my troubles, when I successfully separated the final egg, I drop the yolk into the pond of 5 perfect egg whites. I’m surprised I didn’t scream.

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My husband always says that a sign of a good tradesman is that they know how to fix or cover-up their mistakes. So, there I was desperate to remove that offending egg yolk without even a smear of yolk being left behind (because otherwise the egg whites won’t beat up). I fished the egg yolk out with a large skimmer spoon. That went pretty well, but there was still egg yolk left behind. So, I spooned out what I could, and tried putting the whites through a tea strainer. That’s didn’t look good either and was seemingly too efficient. By now, I could only try beating them up and if it didn’t work, start over. Phew, it worked and the pavlova actually made it into the oven.

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My Miracle Pavlova…All’s well that ends well. 

Sometimes, you can only laugh at your mistakes and no one else will be none the wiser. The pavlova looks spectacular and I am still the reigning Pavlova Queen. I can walk through the door showing off the pavlova with pride and it looks like we’ll be having pancakes beforehand to use up the eggs.

How do you overcome your mistakes? Have you written any posts sharing your cooking mistakes. I’d love to hear from you!

xx Rowena

 

A Stone In My Pocket – Friday Fictioneers.

This was it. I took a deep breath. The 23rd Psalm echoed in my head, and I recited the Lord’s Prayer. Not deeply religious and anything but devout, I still kept a toe in with the man upstairs just in case. However, as I stuffed the heavy stones down my shirt and stared into the lake, I wondered whether he’d accept I was repentant, even if I did commit the ultimate, unforgivable sin. However, it was a done deal. I’d left a note, blown my dosh. I closed my eyes….5,4,3,2,1…Geronimo.

Oops. Next time, I’ll find a deeper pond.

…..

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. This week’s photo prompt comes from  © Sandra Crook.

 

Leaping into 2018!

Happy New Year!

When it comes to setting New Year’s resolutions this year, I’m as vague as.

While the calendar might be saying we’ve already launched into another year, I’m on Summer holidays and the motor’s barely running. That is, unless it involves leaving the air-conditioned loungeroom, and ducking in and out of the kitchen (which has aptly been renamed: “The Furnace” and that’s with the oven off!) for supplies. My current NY resolution seems to involve indulging in Maggie Beer ice cream. It’s one of those more exclusive gourmet ice creams which come in the smaller tubs, yet costs more than a tub of good ice cream). I’ve also been enjoying a few Ferro Rocher’s. Yum! I blame the dazzling gold packaging for that, along with a chilhood of sneaking teaspoons of Nutella out of the fridge.

Clearly, being naughty seems to be at the very top of my list for 2018!

My New year truly begins when school goes back. That’s when the rubber hits the road and reality hits.

Yellow taxi

Mum’s taxi.

In the meantime, I have set myself a deceptively ambitious project for 2018, which started today.

Being magnetically attracted to the Swedish stationery shop Kiki K, I bought myself two notebooks for Christmas. One is a 365 photo journal where you paste in a photo a day. The other has a blank page for each day. Obviously, they serve a similiar function, but one is just photography while I’ll focus on writing and might even venture into drawing in the other.

Of course, I felt very inspired by these journals when they were battering their eyelids at me from the shelf, even though I could see right from the start, that committing to print out the photos was going to be an obvious hurdle. After all, I don’t think I’ve printed out any photos in the last six months and I’m terribly behind. Clearly, there’s a problem Houston. Everybody taks about setting realistic goals. Not goals that said you straight over the top of Everest barefoot in your bikini.

The next obstacle might seem silly to you, if you’re one of those very good little urchins who really does have “a place for everything and everything in its place. However, losing the journals is a serious concern for me. Indeed, it’s only January 1 (well it is in some parts of the world and I’ve decided to migrate there for a few hours because I haven’t got started yet and I’ve already misplaced the books. Indeed, I’ve even managed to misplace the books while I’m home alone. Well, home alone with three dogs. Before you go blaming the pups, despite continuously chewing anything in and out of reach, they leave plenty of evidence in their wake. So, if they’d eaten my journals, there would’ve been proof…loads of scrap paper alongside the disembowled cushion, which was clearly deceased.

By the time I reach the third obstacle, you’re probably thinking I should wrap these journals up and give them away. Spare myself 365 days of angst bordering on anguish, while I struggle to live up to yet another unattainable dream. Yes, for yours truly, the simplest things in life, usually turn out to be the most complex. After all, who else has a simple electrical cable blow up in a puff of flame and smoke while their husband and ultimate Mr Fix-it is way on holidays? I don’t need anyone else to tell me I’m jinxed. I already know.

However, despite all of these short-comings, I am an optimist. I am an optimist to the core and despite all evidence to the contrary and although it might be piled up all around me and starting to teeter and totter, I still believe that I can do it. I will do it and I’ll love doing it and possibly even better still, will love reading back on it down the track and seeing what 2018 was all about.

Yet, when it comes to 2018, at the moment, all but the first page remains a blank.

I’m not sure whether I should be excited or terrified by that. While the last couple of years for us have had their ups and downs, it’s been awhile since we’ve had what the Queen so aptly termed an “annus horribulis” A year so bad, that you’re catapulting into the next with no turning back. That door is shut. Shut shut.

There’s much we can do to improve our chances of having a better year, as well as things we can do to make it worse. At times, it is too easy to forget that we have quite a lot of agency and aren’t just hapless victims of fate. However, it is much easier to take our chances and wing it and complain when the house of cards topples over.

Anyway, as I said, all  but the first page of 2018, remains a blank book. I don’t know if that’s how the rest of you see it, but that’s how it seems to me.

Our daughter starts high school in a month.

That’s a fresh start, at least for her and it will free me up, because I’ll no longer be running her to and from the station everyday. She’ll be local.

That is itself is reason to jump and leap in the air.

That’s liberated me to think about returning to paid work. Well, as long as my health doesn’t pack it in. I’m going to contact a recruitment agency which specialises in disability placement. I think I’m my own worst enemy on this front and need to start talking myself up, rather than regurgitating exhaustive mental lists of all my inadequacies. I’d be fuming at anyone else who talked themselves down like this, and yet I do it to myself. So many of us do.

Perhaps, “be nice to self and throttle that inner critic” could be a very good goal for 2018. Not just for myself. I know so many people who are being held back by themselves in this way. Shooting themselves in both feet before they’ve even walked out the door! Perhaps, we all need to get some bullet proof shoes AND to make sure we wear them!

I’m also trying to keep a clear head and house this year to keep focusing.

Strangely, I actually managed to get about 6 bags of household rubbish out beside the road tonight and booked a council clean up. This has been much easier with the rest of the family away. It simply needed to happen. BTW a few bags of kids clothes also headed North with the family, so I’ve actually made quite a bit of headway.

I also managed to give the dogs their worm and flea treatments. We’re going to be on top of that this year. 1st of the month every month.

Indeed, in 2018, we’re going to become a clockwork family, with all of our components working in synch…a well-oiled machine.

Oh no we’re not!

That’s why we write, dance, sing and sail off against the wind.

We don’t want time to be our master and we don’t want our hearts to beat like a clock, but with expression.

While that might take us against the flow and we might miss a few beats and wander right of track, that’s what it means to be human and perhaps that’s the best resolution each of us can make for 2018.

I am going to be a human being.

Rowena escapes the maze

What are your thoughts about routine, schedules and goals? How do you try to reach a balance?

I look forward to hearing from you!

xx Rowena

A Shimmer of Moonlight…Friday Fictioneers.

Engulfed by a grief which knew no bounds, Bernadette refused to light the candle for Jim. No point. Whether God was dead or asleep, he wasn’t there. Otherwise, he would’ve stepped in. Plucked her husband right off the road before the truck hit. He came to rest on the banks of a creek…too late for the kiss of life, let alone a goodbye. She could still feel his arms wrapped around her in an unbroken chain.

The candle stood as still as a statue, while an owl peered through the window, eyes glowing in the moonlight.

…..

This has been another contribution for Friday Fictioneers. This week’s photo prompt © Janet Webb. 

xx Rowena

Sunflowers…Sowing the Seeds.

You wouldn’t believe how difficult it’s been for me to plant a few seeds.

That’s because these are no ordinary seeds.

These sunflower seeds were grown in Australian Quarantine from the seeds brought back from the MH17 crash site in the Ukraine.

You’ll no doubt recall MH17 was the Malaysian airlines flight, which was shot down over the Ukraine  on the 17 July, 2014.

Therefore, these seeds represent each precious individual whose life was tragically cut short through terrorism and war. More than that. They strangely represent hope. Hope that their legacy will gone on. A reminder that love conquers the grave and they won’t be forgotten. Faith that the goodness in people will triumph over the bad.

Personally, these seeds have come to have additional meaning about sowing goodness into our young people, especially the battlers, and helping them to grow up straight and tall on the inside.

Many of the Australians who died on board were teachers. Teaching isn’t just a job, it’s a vocation. It means having vision and seeing the sunflower blooming in each and every child…even before the seed has been planted. Ideally, that faith continues through the storms.That can be and usually is a very challenging, but also rewarding, thing.

The Maslin Family, who lost their three children in the crash, started a fundraiser in their memory for children with dyslexia. Their youngest son,Otis, had dyslexia and treatment is long term and expensive and so is diagnosis.

Putting all of these people together, the sunflowers for me came to mean giving kids who are struggling to read and learn that helping hand to do their best. Reading might always be difficult for them, but even if you can simply give someone the capacity to read, fill out forms and read the day to day stuff, it would change their world completely. It would set them free in ways those of us without dyslexia have never considered.

For some reason, this has become very important to me. It’s become my heart. Not because I’m a writer and I live, breath and devour words, but also because I know what it’s like to be on struggle street, not knowing if you’re ever going to get out.

Although quite different to dyslexia, I was born with hydrocephalus which went undiagnosed until I was 25. At that point, my neurological symptoms spiralled dangerously out of control. I couldn’t put my finger on my nose, was falling over a lot, forgetting the basics and getting the sequencing of basic tasks out of whack in a way that was almost funny if it wasn’t so disturbing. This increased pressure on my brain obviously wasn’t good.

Yet, I was lucky. I had surgery and had a shunt put in. Over time, most of my symptoms have eased and if it wasn’t for the auto-immune disease, I’d be back on my feet.

There is no surgery or quick fix to cure dyslexia and other learning difficulties. I guess that’s what I like about what the sunflowers represent. That you plant a small seed yet from that tiny thing,  big, bright happy sunflowers grow…yippee!!

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On Sunday, a year after receiving the sunflowers, we planted 12 seeds in a seed planter and we had a little ceremony out on the back lawn, using an upside down laundry basket as a table. We had our stunning red climbing rose in full bloom as a backdrop. Nothing symbolises love more than a red rose other than a human heart.

If you would like to read about the sunflower seeds, click here

I was too anxious to plant the seeds last year. Actually, this wasn’t anxiety but more of a reality check. That’s because I am a serial plant killer and our front yard is currently littered with dead bodies following my most recent splurge. I always vow to change but my track record speaks for itself.

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Mind you, sowing the seeds is only the beginning. Seeds don’t magically turn into sunflowers overnight. They require tender, loving care and that correct balance of wet and dry soil, sun and shade and exposure to the elements yet protection as well. My husband found the sunflower seeds inside the other day and said: “they’re meant to be sunflowers, not cave flowers”.

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Initially watering the seeds in the kitchen sink. Overdid it a bit.

So, now I’m watering them with the spray bottle morning and night and have covered them with a sheet of plastic creating a mini greenhouse and am leaving them out in the sun by day.

It’s only been four days so far. So, still too soon to see any shoots poking their heads through the soil but I’m doing my absolute best to help them along.

I hope you will join me on this journey.

BTW if you would like to find out more about the Mo, Evie & Otis Foundation or donate, please click here: Maslins Set Up Dyslexia Fund.

xx Rowena

Compassion…it’s Complicated.

Around 18 months ago, I joined a revolutionary blogging network called: “One Thousand Voices for Compassion”. We not only write about compassion, empathy and trying to make the world a better and more connected place, we try to take that out into the real world and translate these thoughts into action. Naturally, we feel a strong need for compassion, or we wouldn’t be part of the group.

This month, we’re addressing whether compassion is innate or learned. Are we born caring about the welfare of others or is it something we learn along the way?

While I could’ve written this from my gut, instead I fleetingly perused “the science”, which seemed to support that we’re at least born with some level of compassion and that our life experiences can either nurture or diminish our compassionate selves . If you’d like to read more about the nature versus nurture debate, there’s some recommended reading.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201306/compassion-our-first-instinct

The Compassionate Instinct

This leaves me doing my usual thing of exploring yet another tangent, looking at why people don’t help or respond to someone’s pain, loss, discomfort…you get the gist. Why do people do nothing?

More pertinently, why do I do nothing?

That’s right. I’m just as guilty as everyone else. No matter how hard we try, people fall through our cracks, even when we know they’re falling through a dark abyss. Even though we love these people with all of our hearts.

For those of us who are part of this 1000 Voices for Compassion Movement, these personal failings are even more frustrating. After all, we are striving to be that compassionate caring person… the Good Samaritan who stops and takes care of that person in need…not the person who walks past. We think from our hearts, not from our heads and would be willing to leap tall buildings in a single bound for anyone in trouble.

So, why can’t we do it? Why can’t we always be the person we’re striving to be?

The trouble is we’re only human. That as much as we might strive to be that superhero…Don the cape, flex out muscles and take to the skies,  we have so many limitations, frailties and who hasn’t ended up somehow paralyzed and glued to the spot in a stressful situation . Who hasn’t forgotten to phone a friend when you know the proverbial’s hit the fan?

Guilty as charged.

Compassion guilt…send me straight to jail…directly to jail. Do no pass Go. Do not collect $200.

BUT…

We can’t be in two places at once. We can’t clone ourselves and even help everyone in our own backyards, let alone to try to save the world as we would like.

That learns us having to make choices.

Or, circumstances can also dictate our response.

This brings me back to what I’ve written before about being kind to ourselves. Understanding and being compassionate to ourselves when we don’t live up to our own principles, ideologies, which includes fighting whatever negative stuff someone else might send our way when we let them down. We’ve done our best and even when we haven’t, know we can take that life lesson back to the drawing board and hope to be a better friend or person next time.

I am rushing this through to get this up before the link closes. So I hope it make sense. I’ll be back to straighten up the rough edges.

Or, perhaps writing rough is good enough, after all.

Well, at least once and awhile.

This has been part of 1000 Voices for Compassion and if you’d like to read other contributions, please click on the Linky.

xx Rowena

PS: I just came across a great hymn “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” over at Ann’s Corner. It guess it’s a precursor to a great slogan from our times: “Think global. Act local.” https://annofgg.com/2015/03/07/anns-corner/

The Dog and the Omniscient Narrator… Brisbane 1888.

As I mentioned in my previous posts this week, I’ve been reading through dog stories in old newspapers online and reworking them into posts on my blog.

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Brisbane 1888.

Our latest story comes from Brisbane, Queensland and we’re turning our clocks back to 1888, one hundred years after European settlement when Brisbane was but a fledgling town of 366,940 persons[1]. We’re also returning to the era of the horse and cart.

Introducing…The Dog’s Revenge

“Two Brisbane gentlemen residing together each owned a dog—one a collie, the other a

Newfoundland. The latter dog was always kept on the chain, while his more fortunate mate had the run of the place, a circumstance which did not tend to increase the little love they bore each other.

The collie, presumably being a victim to ennui, and being one of those to whom the proverb “Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do” would well apply, used to delight in teasing the restrained Newfoundland; he would always bring bones to the latter’s kennel and coolly proceed to gnaw them just beyond the larger dog’s tether. The collie would at times steal into the Newfoundland’s dominions when the latter was asleep and annex his food, which he would play with in a tantalising manner and finally devour just out of reach, but under the very nose, of the rightful owner.

This course of proceeding naturally caused the victim unutterable annoyance, and he thirsted for his persecutor’s gore. The fates were all in favour of the collie though, for the only exercise the Newfoundland received was under the eye of his master, who was always ready to stop any fighting.However, one day an opportunity occurred for the carrying out of a well-laid plan of revenge. The two dogs were taken to the river for a swim, and immediately the collie had got a dozen yards or so from the bank the long-suffering Newfoundland seized him by the neck and ducked him. Every time the astonished collie rose to the surface a well-aimed blow on the head from the enemy’s immense paw immersed him again and again, until the owner, seeing that unless a speedy rescue was effected his dog would drown, was obliged to swim out to the pair, and after much difficulty succeeded in bringing the collie to shore more dead than alive.

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It was not for some days that the half-drowned animal was restored to his usual health, and it was noticeable that from that day the collie treated his erstwhile victim with the profoundest respect, and entirely discontinued annoying him.

The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 – 1939) Saturday 7 January 1888 p 26 Article

 …….

Reading through this story, particularly after researching Newfoundlands for my last post, I can just imagine those huge, webbed paws rising through the water and pushing that nasty collie under the water, knowing exactly what it was doing. Not killing it but repeatedly tormenting the Collie in the same way it had treated him…an eye for an eye…justice. It almost makes sense and yet weren’t there alternatives?

Probably not if you were that Newfoundland and no one’s come to your rescue.

This brings me to the person who wrote this story, otherwise known as the “Omniscient Narrator”… the story behind the story.

As you might be aware, the omniscient narrator “knows all the thoughts and feelings of all the characters in the story, while maintaining an omniscient – or godlike – distance.[2]

So in this scenario, our narrator is fully aware that the Newfoundland, a huge dog renowned for its swimming abilities and athletic strength, is kept chained up at least for very extended periods AND that the Newfoundland is being repeatedly tormented by the Collie and that the owners of both dogs, aren’t doing anything about it.

Yet, the narrator’s seemingly done nothing about it.

Well, they did write about it but I can’t help feeling that they thought the story was funny or entertaining in some way, rather than trying to speak up for the dog. After all, the dog was still being chained up even if the collie has changed its ways.

This raises important issues for writers. Is it okay for us to take the role of the detached observer? Be that omniscient narrator? Or, should we intervene? How do you feel about writers, journalists and the like writing about suffering without stepping in and trying to help the victim? After all, while this might be a story about a dog who lived and died well over 100 years ago, it’s also about today. Our role in the here and now.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

xx Rowena

Sources

[1] As of 31st December, 1887 Source: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/19931712

[2] http://study.com/academy/lesson/third-person-omniscient-narrator-definition-examples.html