Tag Archives: freedom

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

So, You Used To Be A Dancer? Life Lessons From Dancing (Reprise)

You might be aware that I recently took up ballet again…albeit at an elementary level. I am absolutely loving it and thought you’d enjoy this encouragement to put on your dancing shoes! xx Rowena

Sirena Tales

NIK_5824Ask [yourself] what makes you come alive and go do it.  Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.”~~Howard Thurman

Folks keep coming across my path, voicing their passions along with their regret in not pursuing those passions.  So, I am running this post from the archives again, with some new photos. The original post, with many generous, thoughtful comments, is here . 

Sure, I’ve already reblogged it, but since the yearning for a more vitalized life continues to come up so relentlessly, I am repeating this reminder: DO WHAT MAKES YOU COME ALIVE.

Not solely for dancers at all, this is for anyone who seeks a spur to vitalize.  This piece does also go out to the medical technician the other day who danced for 10 years and sorely misses it and the dance studio owner who confided that ceasing to dance for herself…

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M-A Letter to Dr Maya Angelou #atozchallenge.

Dear Dr Angelou,

It is such an honour to meet you and finally feel your words lap around my feet like the waves. Indeed, I seriously wish I could dive deep into all that you wrote and all you are. However, running into you spontaneously like this, can only be an unplanned stop over on the way from A-Z. Indeed, the juggernaut is about to leave without me, which is quite a common phenomenon for a chatterbox like me!

Although I’ve frequently come across you searching for motivational quotes, I’d never read your poems before. Indeed, it was only once I was working away on these Letters to Dead Poets, that I finally read some of your poems. I was blown away and left with such an unquenchable thirst for more. Yet, as I said, the juggernaut was moving on without me so I could only take a few bites…certainly not enough pretend I actually know you any better than strangers passing in the night. However, as I’ve said before along this journey, there also has to be that starting point. That point in time where we make new friends.

heartman 24.6.2010

“Heartman” Drawn by Mister 2010 aged 6.

After all, there’s that constant ebb and flow in relationships, as our lives pass through different stages and terrain. As much as we might resist change, clinging to the friends we know, even by the very tips of our fingers, there’s that changing of the guard. That as time and tide sweep through, people come, they go and some remain. After all, no one grows in a stagnant pond.

Moreover, now that I’m older, I’m gaining a deep appreciation of what it means to learn. That learning isn’t something we simply do at school and put aside. Rather, learning is a lifelong journey. That we need to keep absorbing those all important nutrients to feed our minds, bodies and spirits so we don’t seize up and rust away. While it’s therapeutic to sit and contemplate, we also need to keep moving. Not only with our feet, but also our eyes, absorbing all we see. Only then can we develop vision… insight. See all that lies unseen. That’s when we truly let the bird out of the cage.

Anyway, for someone who was only popping by in a hurry, it seems I’ve digressed completely.

Didn’t I ask you about what it means to be a woman?

This brings me to your poem: Phenomenal Woman:

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

– Maya Angelou

This led me down another path entirely and now I find myself perched into front of Caged Bird glued to the spot:

Caged Bird

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Maya Angelou

While I’m not entirely sure what inspired this poem, at this point in time, I only want to read it through my own eyes, from my own perspective.

I am feeling like your caged bird. This is something I feel from time to time as a parent, particularly when my writing takes off soaring like an eagle but then the realities of life snatch me, bringing me back down to earth and back into the cage. Trapped tight within my captor’s hands, I’m trying furiously to flap my wings. Let me fly! Let me fly! Spread my wings! I wriggle, jiggle and even peck at the hands which constrain, but to no avail. I’ve been caught and locked up in a cage for their pleasure.

Sometimes, I look up at the sky and wonder if it’s even worth trying to fly, knowing I won’t get far. Yet, like that stressed-out bird trapped inside a house frantically beating its wings and bashing its head against the window trying to escape, I persevere. Have faith. One day, I’ll finally get out and reach the sun.

While this might sound like a woman’s lot, my husband has even more constraints. While he might appear to come and go with much more ease, he’s actually pinned to the ground. A mouse stuck in a perpetual treadmill going round and round and round through a cycle of bills which need to be paid and the work which needs to pay. Well, that’s on a good week. No matter how much you earn, I’m sure it’s probably a struggle to make ends meet. We’re all “poor”.

I am relatively lucky. Although my mobility issues can place me in a sort of cage and I can feel trapped inside myself, they’ve also set me free.  I have the time and space to write. Express my inner world. Build  elaborate castles made of words, set a few blocks back from the beach where they won’t get washed away by the surf.

beach wide angle 2

 

Yet, as much as being a parent has seemingly clipped my wings, it has also done quite the reverse. Through my kids, I have learned to ski, taken up the violin, been introduced to Haiku and appreciated so much more of our Indigenous culture. They have opened my eyes so much, helping me break through those doors of perception to become a much more complex and multilayered human being. My health challenges have done much the same sort of thing.

I am now finding that what doesn’t kill us, not only makes us stronger. It also makes us more diverse, complex and gives us much more insight and compassion. I can’t speak for everyone who has suffered but ultimately I see beauty in everything around me. There is no longer that Great Chain of Being. We are one. Every single part of this planet is incredibly and intricately interconnected. Without even the smallest part, the whole is inevitably less.

Indeed, I love what Issa’s Haiku:

Look, don’t kill that fly!
It is making a prayer to you
By rubbing its hands and feet.

Issa.

So, this leads me to consider whether we each need to throw our lot up in the air regularly to clear out the cobwebs. Re-examine where we are and see ourselves from a new perspective. Not just ourselves either. After all, we don’t just live in a world of selfies but of millions. Therefore, the journey is not just about ourselves, but also how we connect with the whole.

Earth from space

Our planet needs compassion + action.

I doubt this is a journey we could ever hope to complete. However, that doesn’t meet we shouldn’t pack up our bags and have a go.

Anyway, before the juggernaut leaves me entirely behind, I’m off but I’ll be back.

Love & best wishes,

Rowena

Mummy & Amelia

An extraordinary moment.

PS after completing this letter, I strayed across your Letters to My Daughter. This really seems to be an answer to my unspoken prayer. Thank you very much! I thought you’d appreciate this photo of her:

Amelia cartwheels

Happy Birthday…1000 Voices for Compassion.

Twelve months ago, I joined up with an incredibly inspiring group of bloggers rising up against terrorism and hate in our world with a bold new project…1000 Voices for Compassion. This group seemingly sprung up after the terrorist attacks in Paris, bringing together bloggers from all around the world, who fought and continue to fight for all that is good in humanity.

Flowers at midday

Flowers Martin Place

My interest was also driven by a dreadful terrorist siege here in Sydney’s Lindt Cafe in Martin Place, which shut down the CBD and saw two precious people killed. Sydney-siders rose up and left flowers in Martin Place by the thousands just like thousands took to the streets of Paris marched, many under the banner: “Je suis Charlie”. I was stuck at home with a broken foot unable to pay my respects, feeling incredibly powerless and indeed shell shocked. What had happened to our beloved Sydney?

give peace a chance-yoko ono-lennon

These acts of a few were horrific but the incredible response of the many said we do not accept such hate.  At the time, it really did feel like we needed another Woodstock. A new John Lennon to “Give Peace a chance” or perhaps even that the second coming couldn’t be too far away.

For me, 1000 Voices of Compassion met that need.

Back then, I knew nothing about blog shares and like-minded bloggers coming together regularly in online forums of sorts. However, I loved what I heard and joined to do what I know best…wielding my pen. I’m not too good with a sword and would no doubt injure myself in any attempt to save the world. Chop off my own foot! That’s not going to help anyone.

Jean Julien Peace for Paris

Jean Julien “Peace for Paris”

1000 Voices, therefore, provided me with a vehicle, a way for me to feel like I was doing something towards building a more diverse, inclusive community where people from all walks are valued, respected and embraced. I felt less alone. Less paralysed. I could do something. In my usual fashion, I could write about it. Moreover, through writing about the need for compassion, love and understanding in our world, instead of promulgating hate, I felt like part of a wind of change. That in the spirit of the pen being mightier than the sword, that words expressed via the pen, pencil or keyboard, could be mightier than the bullet.

I remember the excitement, the buzz as our very first 1000 Voices posts went live and what it meant to be a part of that. It was electric. I felt like I was joining a modern day Woodstock. We were taking a stand! We were one but we were many.

That was just the beginning.

On the 20th of every month since then, we’ve come together and shared our posts about various aspects of compassion.

The theme I probably found most moving and just incredible was Forgiveness, which was our theme for January 2016 link. This felt like the equivalent of feasting on superfoods for my soul and I felt so enriched. Incredibly blessed. My post Forgiving the Unforgivable addressed my struggle to forgive an auto-immune disease which has ravaged my life.

Right from that very first blog share, being part of 1000 Voices for Compassion has seriously opened my eyes and dramatically expanded my world. I am no longer just an Australian sitting in my chair in Sydney. I have become a citizen of the world with friends scattered yet bound together, all over the world. That’s such an incredible thing and I find myself telling my family about my friends in London, Paris, America like they were living next door, even though we’ve never met. Our world has become so much smaller and incredibly intimate

Through 1000 Voices for Compassion, we have indeed created our own village, which might seem a bit utopian but it is real.

I now tell my local friends that I’m part of an international group of bloggers writing about compassion and while that certainly sounds impressive, I’m quick to let them know that it’s a group anyone can join. It is not exclusive.

How many clubs let you join where they don’t care if you’re turning up in your pyjamas for a chat?

This is my kind of place!

What has being part of 1000 Voices of Compassion meant for you? Please leave a link and also mention a favourite post you’ve written or read.

Love and Blessings to you all!

xx Rowena

Rowena sun

Together we can spread more light throughout our world!

 

 

 

Liberté, égalité, fraternité!

Our deepest condolences to the people of Paris in the wake of the latest terrorist attacks. We stand in solidarity as you defend: Liberté, égalité, fraternité!

I can only offer my words. Words from the heart but we have to have faith that the pen is mightier than the sword. That the pen can fight for all that is good in our world…even though the technology has changed.

The Statue of Liberty. Source: Wikipaedia.

The Statue of Liberty. Source: Wikipaedia.

On October 28, 1886 the Statue of Liberty, a gift from the French people to the United States, was dedicated. More than a century on, she still represents freedom and in our modern world, still shining her light.

Paris is known as the City of Light.. la ville des lumières!

We are with you!

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

Anne Frank 70 Years On: Our Vigil.

Last night, as part of a global tribute to mark the 70th anniversary of Anne Frank’s death, we lit candles and read passages from her diary out loud and recorded them to post on the official Facebook page.

My husband and son take part in our vigil to honour the life of Anne Frank.

My husband and son take part in our vigil to honour the life of Anne Frank.

I don’t know if anyone else in the family really appreciated its significance or what it meant to me personally but they went along with, no doubt what they thought was another one of Mum’s crazy ideas, somehow sensing that there was some import somewhere.

This is one of the passages we read out. I chose this one because although Anne Frank suffered, she also saw the good and had a real joie de vivre, even while being imprisoned and in hiding in the Secret Annexe.

‘As long as this exists’, I thought, ‘this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?’
The best remedy for those who are frightened, lonely or unhappy is to go outside; somewhere they can be alone, alone with the sky, nature and God. For then and only then can you feel that everything is as it should be and that God wants people to be happy amid nature’s beauty and simplicity.
As long as this exists, and that should be for ever, I know that there will be solace for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances. I firmly believe that nature can bring comfort to all who suffer.
Oh, who knows, perhaps it won’t be long before I can share this overwhelming feeling of happiness with someone who feels the same as I do.”

– Anne Frank: ‘Diary of A Young Girl, 23rd February, 1944.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve spoken to the kids about Anne Frank and or the horrors that she endured due to Nazi anti-Semitism and no doubt it’s going to take a few more attempts for the penny to finally drop and that one or both of them might also see the value in journalling as well, which I would love.

Our tribgute to Anne Frank at Sydney's Palm Beach. We lit a glowing circle of tea lights.

Our tribgute to Anne Frank at Sydney’s Palm Beach. We lit a glowing circle of tea lights.

The way I see it, the kids are like piggy banks. One coin might not seem like much and rattles around feeling lonely inside piggy’s empty belly. However, one by one, those gold coins start adding up and pretty soon that piggy is getting heavy and seriously worth breaking into. You have loot! You can go and blow all those savings on that much desired “something”!! (Sorry, I’m a spender not a saver. If you want investment advice, you came to the wrong blog…make that the very wrong blog!!)

When I was growing up, girls weren't supposed to even surf. There are so, so many things my daughter rightfully takes for granted!

When I was growing up, girls weren’t supposed to even surf. There are so, so many things my daughter rightfully takes for granted!

So, hopefully after last night, a few more gold coins have gone into their precious heads and they will appreciate and not take for granted the freedoms they have. The ability to say what they think without being put in gaol, although it may land them in time out! To appreciate that being able to walk along the beach, is a blessing and not something to take for granted because for us it is always there. I hope they will also appreciate that although alot of kids and teens feel their parents may not understand them and that some level of conflict with your parents is almost a right of passage through the teenage years, that they are very much loved and all any of us really can do is try and do our best. We are all mortal with feet of clay.

It has taken me the best part of a life time to appreciate that in my own parents. Even now, I’m now ashamed to admit that I’m their harshest critic. Mum and Dad, I am incredibly sorry for that and commit to change. It’s all very well to champion the Golden Rule but it’s also something I need to implement myself. As I somehow commit to change, I’ll just add that I’m not alone in this. Aren’t we all guilty of judging harshly and being so incredibly demanding of those who brought us into the world? They were no doubt young and naive like the rest of us and didn’t quite realise what they’d taken onboard. That parenting is a lifelong journey. That birth was only the beginning.

Although I’ve posted this link to an interview with Otto Frank, Anne’s father, before it’s worth repeating. He speaks such wisdom and like the rest of the world, we wish he could have had his family back. I could imagine the horrors he has endured!!

Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWRBinP7ans

Like so many I cherish the memory of Anne Frank and send her our love and this quote I love from The Little Prince by St Exupery:

“You – you alone will have the stars as no one else has them…In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night…You – only you – will have stars that can laugh.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Love & blessings to you all and may we all know and appreciate what it means to live  in the free world and the joy of being able to step outside the four walls we call home!

Rowena