Tag Archives: forgiveness

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.

newfoundland-dog

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

S-Sylvia Plath. Help Me Dorothy Dix!#AtoZchallenge

Dear Dorothy Dix,

I’m writing a series of letters to dead poets and Sylvia Plath is next on my list. What should I write?

Although I’ve written some pretty challenging letters already, what do you say to someone who took their life?

We are both mothers of young children. Yet, I am fighting tooth and nail to stay alive, desperately wanting to see my kids grow up. Be there to guide and support their path.

That said, I’ve also had my own dark days, when I’ve succumbed to the black dog. I know it what it’s like when it eats you alive. Perhaps, she couldn’t see any other way out.

Yet, that doesn’t mean I understand.

While she lived with mental illness, so many people tried so hard to save her, but still she slipped away.

It’s only human to ask why but I won’t.

Of course, I’ll greet her with a smile. Offer her a cup of tea. But do I really have to be nice?

What should I do?

Signed,

Baffled.

Newton Family & bilbo

Disease in full swing. This family photo was taken prior to my diagnosis.

 

………….

Dear Baffled,

You need your head read,

raising sleeping poets

from the dead.

You should have left

them alone instead.  

Read a book!

Stayed in bed!

 

How did you like my first attempts at poetry?

What’s done is done.

The best I can suggest is to give Sylvia Plath my Dictates for a Happy Life.

You can’t always save someone from themselves…or the ravages of mental illness. But, never ever give up trying! You never know what might actually make a difference and save a life.

That sounds like a contradiction but there are no simple answers on the trail you’re blazing.

Simply persevere!

Regards,

Dorothy Dix.

Dictates for a Happy Life- Dorothy Dix

First. Make up your mind to be happy. Happiness is largely a matter of self-hypnotism. You can think yourself happy or you can think yourself miserable. It is up to you…learn to find pleasure in simple things. If you can’t go to the opera, you can turn on the radio. Nail on your face the smile that won’t come off, and after a bit you will find that it comes naturally.

Second. Make the best of your lot. Of course, you’re not everything you want and things are not just right. Nobody is that lucky. Even the most fortunate have a lot of crumpled rose leaves under their forty mattresses of ease. There isn’t a single human being who hasn’t plenty to cry over, and the trick is to make the laughs outweigh the tears.

Third. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t think that everything that happens to you is of world-shaking importance and that somehow you should have been protected from the misfortunes that befall other people. When death robs you of one you love, or you lose your job, don’t demand to know of high heaven why this should happen to you and grow rebellious and morbid over your sorrow. We are never happy until we learn to laugh at ourselves.

Fourth. Don’t take other people too seriously. They are not so much, anyway. Don’t let their criticisms worry you. You can’t please everybody, so please yourself. Don’t let your neighbors set your standards for you. Don’t run into debt trying to keep up with the Joneses, or bore yourself to death trying to be as intelligent as the Highbrows. Be yourself and do the things you enjoy doing if you want to be comfortable and happy.

Fifth. Don’t borrow trouble. You have to pay compound interest on that and it will bankrupt you in the end. It is a queer thing, but imaginary troubles are harder to bear than actual ones. There are none of us who have not lain awake at night petrified with dread of some calamity that we feared might befall us and that we felt would shatter our lives if it should occur. Generally it never happened, but if it did, it was not so bad after all and we survived it without serious injury. Enjoy today and let tomorrow take care of itself. There is no sounder adage than that which bids us not to trouble trouble until trouble troubles us. The only good that worrying ever did anyone was make him thin. It is grand for the figure but hard on the disposition.

Sixth. Don’t cherish enmities and grudges. Don’t keep up old quarrels. Don’t remember all the mean things people have done to you. Forget them. Hate is a dreadful chemical that we distill in our own hearts, that poisons our own souls. It takes all the joy out of life and hurts us far worse than it does anyone else. There is nothing so depressing as having a grudge against someone. Nothing makes a home so miserable as for the family not to be on good terms. Meeting someone you don’t speak to will spoil any party. So if you have an enemy, forgive him and kiss on both cheeks, not for his sake but simply because it is to making you unhappy and uncomfortable to be stirred up in wrath against him.

Seventh. Keep in circulation. Go around and meet people. Belong to clubs. Travel as much as you can. Have as many interests as possible. Have hosts of friends. That is the way to keep yourself cheerful and jolly and thinking that this is the best of all possible worlds.

Eighth. Don’t hold post-mortems. Don’t spend your life brooding over the mistakes you have made or the sorrows that have befallen on you. What is done is done and cannot be changed, but you can have your whole future life in which to make good. Not all the tears can bring back those we have lost, but we can make life miserable for ourselves and those about us by our unavailing weeping. Quit beating upon your breast because you haven’t as much money as you used to have. Don’t be one of those who never get over things. Have the courage to take misfortune on the chin and come up smiling.

Ninth. Do something for somebody less fortunate than yourself. Minister to other people’s trouble and you will forget your own. Happiness is a coin that we keep only when we give it away.

Tenth. Keep busy. That is the sovereign remedy for unhappiness. Hard work is a panacea for trouble. You never saw a very busy person who was unhappy.

Violin rose

 

 

 

The Masked Intruder.

You creep…
a foul, odorous gas
permeating
my each and every cell,
even creeping in between
the fibres of my bones.
Splitting my very atoms
to build your sovereign shrine
within each cell…
a nest to lay your poisonous eggs.

Catastrophization turned real,
blasted invader!
You can’t even leave
the smallest little part of me
alone.
Penetrating deep within my DNA,
you lurk beyond the microscope.
No one else can see you
but I know that you’re there.
A Machiavellian villain
purring like a cat
toying with its prey,
you enjoy my pain
and laugh.
You bastard!

What am I supposed
to call you?
How can I figure out
quite who or what you are?
You might have a name.
Be something out of a textbook.
Of course, Google knows
exactly who you are.
Yet, even they can’t explain
why you came.
Or,why you came to me.
After all,
why didn’t you go next door?
Find someone else to be
your magnificent host?
I’m not going to blame
my God of love
for all your hate…
my pain.

Yet,
the earth has turned
round and round
and I still don’t know
why you came.
I didn’t offer you tea,
let alone cake.
Yet, you stayed.
Now, you are I are bound
together as one.
I am the bride.
You are the groom.
A forced union,
I had no say in it.
No say in it at all.
I never vowed a thing.

So,
how can I break through
the chains which bind us?
Bind us together as one.
Until death do us part.
There is no divorce.
No escape.
We are fused.
Melted together.
This is forever.

Or,
So I thought.

Suddenly,
You were gone.

Your ring’s still on my finger
but your hands are no longer
wrapped around my throat,
squeezing out my very last breath
until my face turns blue, corpse-grey
while you somehow kept me alive
but only just.

Dare I ask you why you left?
Or, if you’ll return?
No. There’s no time to stop,
reflect or introspect.
I’ve changed all the locks.
Carpe diem seize the day.
I’ve finally reached
the other side of the rainbow,
basking alone in the sun
where even your shadow is gone.

I live inspite of you
but maybe even
because.

Rowena Newton
3rd February, 2016.

Written on the train to and from a dentist appointment at Kirribilli. I was fuming because it seemed that the dermatomysitis had affected my teeth. Not hugely but was playing silly buggers. Grrr!!! It set off yet another round of cannonfire.

 

Forgiveness

For the last two days, I’ve been living and breathing forgiveness as I participated in 1000 Voices for Compassion‘s January link up on forgiveness. I very much feel like a new person and have grown so much. Thank you! It’s been tremendous food for the soul!

As Trent pointed out, you could easily write a book about the nature of forgiveness and what it means to forgive.

However, after all that I’ve read, to me forgiveness is climbing straight up that rugged, almost vertical mountain where you’re dragging yourself along covered in mud, dirt and scratches but when you finally get to the top and look out, you have found the promised land. You are living in green pastures. Of course, it doesn’t last. We have to keep crawling back but the journey is more than worth the costs.

Ideally, however, we catch our issues before they have reached such insurmountable heights.

As I concluded in my own post: it doesn’t matter who or what is hurting you, you need to forgive and quite often this forgiveness is all about the little things. Overcoming the everyday. It’s less about that big one-off apology. It’s a daily thing. Just like breathing, eating, thinking, we forgive.

Over the last two days, I have read over 20 different journeys of grappling with forgiveness: the struggle, the setbacks, the jubilation and the status quo. I have walked in so many different pairs of shoes. Seen and experienced tremendous struggle through those eyes  and feel so incredibly privileged to be a part of those. To hold hands with my friends and share the innermost beating of our hearts and very painful memories and to find acceptance, understanding, love…and COMPASSION!!

This is such a treasured gift! Thank you.

In terms of feeding my soul, it’s been like indulging on super foods…a veritable feast (and if you are anything like me, you have to include chocolate in there, of course!) Each and every person has brought something unique and valuable to the table, which has become something of a gourmet pot luck dinner.You open the lid and WOW!!!

I would like to encourage anyone who is struggling to forgive and still feeling whatever kind of angst, to persevere. Keep walking. Even if you only change your position ever so slightly, you have moved. Have a new perspective. Never give up!

If you haven’t already visited the  Link Up, I highly recommend it. It’s food for the soul.

Love & blessings,

Rowena