Tag Archives: goals

Learning to “Dream Again” After “Standing Tall”.

Today, I am standing taller after watching Standing Tall, a powerfully inspiring event geared towards bringing out the best in our youth, helping them soar towards their dreams, and ultimately help them resist the notorious pitfalls lurking around. Acknowledging the “challenges” of the past two years, this year’s theme was “Dream Again”, which was very apt.

Okay, I can hear you saying that even in the wildest realms of my imagination, I am not a 16 year old schoolgirl like our inimitable Miss. “Who do you think you are? Go and take a look in the mirror and grow up!”

Well, in my defence, I want to make it clear that I wasn’t just watching Standing Tall for my own benefit. Yet, my motives were not purely altruistic either. I have a heartfelt passion and concern for our young people, especially after the last two years of covid and extended lockdowns. In that time, so many dreams and realities have sunk like stones, seemingly to the very depth of the abyss never to return. Moreover, two weeks ago, I attended a two day course given by Lifeline covering suicide intervention. As a parent of teens, I did this with particular thought to the young people who cross my path, hop in my car or occasionally sleep on our couch. Yet, there’s a space well before despair sets in where the seeds of self-confidence, hope, and hard work can grow and bear fruit. After all, we might never know what a difference a smile or a few words of encouragement can make to someone else’s life. This is where Standing Tall fits in.

Anyway, although covid is still around and has been joined by a nasty flu, the tide has turned and we have new beginnings. In recognition of these renewed hopes, the theme for Stand Tall 2022 is Dream Again, which is good for all of us.

So, I’m going to recommend straight up that after you finish this post, you go straight to the live stream replay. If you know some young people, especially living in Australia, see if you can get them to watch it too. It will be available free online for the next three months. By the way, if you can’t get them to watch it, watch it yourself and try to drop a few of these golden seeds of wisdom and encouragement into conversation.

“Every student has the capacity to make someone else’s experience of school better.”

Hon. Jason Clare, Minister for Education at Standing Tall 2022

Now turning to Standing Tall, each of the speakers encouraged me enormously. As I mentioned earlier, my interest in Standing Tall wasn’t purely altruistic. I’ve been in a state of extended limbo after having chemo to treat my muscle-wasting auto-immune disease. It took me quite a long time to get back on my feet, the family had been through a lot, and I also wasn’t the same person that I was before. I didn’t want to go back. I wasn’t well enough to move forward, and certainly I wasn’t too keen to fast-forward too far ahead either. I didn’t expect to be here. However, thankfully that hasn’t come to pass, and ironically I’ve actually been a lot better since covid came along. I haven’t caught so many chest infections and I haven’t caught covid.

So, to use Facebook parlance, my journey has been “complicated”.

I have also given a few motivational talks myself. I’ve also written numerous posts here on Beyond the Flow touching on things. However, I haven’t written the book, and considering I’m a writer, it becomes more of a sin of omission than for someone else. Yet, at the same time, as my writing lecturer at university, Michael Wilding, used to say: “writing is a thinking process”. So, when those thoughts are incredibly traumatic, it’s no wonder the writing process pauses or even stops.

“What you are going through doesn’t define you.”

Duku Foré

Now, getting back to Standing Tall, the first speaker, Duku Foré, really hit me right between the eyes. Duku was born in a refugee camp in Uganda and lived there with his family for ten years. His life changed abruptly when his family came to Australia as refugees. However, in many regards Australia wasn’t the promised land. It wasn’t easy starting out in a new country. For many years, he was the only black child in his class and also had a severe speech impediment. He was bullied at school, and also got into trouble himself. Despite all of this, he set out to inspire others through motivational speaking, and at 19 represented Australia at the United Nations. If you would like to hear more about his story, here’s another interview.

“Do something today that your future self would be proud of…”

Michael Crossland

I’m not going to go into every speaker or I’d be writing for a year. However, I also wanted to mention humanitarian and cancer survivor Michael Crossland. His journey is particularly relevant to me as he has overcome numerous life-threatening health issues, and is still here to tell the tale. Although he’s told this story many times before, he spoke with an emotional rawness as though he was telling his story for the very first time. However, his story wasn’t just about recounting his traumas. Rather, he has made what would be considered extraordinary achievements for the average Joe, and yet he has ongoing, diabolical health issues. How is it so? I don’t know but his mother also has this extraordinary fighting spirit. Grit. Tenacity. Supernatural strength and optimism. Michael is also a humanitarian and has given back, which includes buying a house for his mum. My words feel dreadfully inadequate. So, here’s a direct link to another motivational talk which overlaps with his talk at Standing Tall.

Another speaker I found particularly interesting was model and blogger Harmony Butcher. She spoke the dangers for young people about self-image on social media. Indeed, she wrote this enlightening post about self-image on her blog. As she spoke, she mentioned a statistic that 25% of people feel they need to change some aspect of their appearance to be feel acceptable on social media. Being a bit more mature in years, I found this statistic staggering. Yet, I just realized that I’m guilty of this myself. It’s exceptionally rare for me to have any photos taken of me wearing my glasses, although I wear them all the time. Indeed, although I’ve been posting here at Beyond the Flow for ten years and fairly open, how many of you have seen me in my glasses? Sure, it’s only a small alteration, but so is airbrushing out pimples, freckles or wrinkles. To be fair, this what we do with makeup anyway, and who really puts their real, undoctored physical self out there anyway? Well, let me assure you that aside from the glasses, what you see of me here is what you get. I rarely wear makeup in real or online life, but I’m also currently living the quiet life.

“Some people would do anything to have your bad day.”

Michael Crossland

I also wanted to share the story of Danny and Leyla Abdullah. On the 1st February, 2020 their lives were shattered and changed forever when a drunk driver mounted the footpath and killed three of their six children: Antony 13, Angelina 12, and Sienna 8, along with their cousin Veronique Sakr 11. The randomness of the accident and that one family would experience such a catastrophic loss, especially due to a drunk driver, was devastating. How could they go on? Understandably, there was strong community outrage towards the driver. Yet, a few days after the accident, Leyla Abdullah publicly forgave him. How could this be? Indeed, in her talk, she emphasized that she forgave the driver before he apologised. Extraordinary. She also said that “forgiveness is a choice. It’s like a muscle. The more you practice it, the better you get.”

Danny and Leila Abdullah didn’t stop there. They have created a national day of forgiveness, i4give Day, to remember the loss of their children and niece, and for everyone to think about someone they can forgive or ask for forgiveness. Forgiving others is critical, releasing our hearts from the toxic poison of hate, resentment and revenge.

The Abdullahs also had a special surprise at Standing Tall. It was their little bundle of joy and hope…their 10 week old baby girl, Selina. Of course, she doesn’t take the place of her lost siblings, but seeing a new life created out of the ashes was so encouraging. Indeed, I was jumping for joy in my chair.

“You can’t silence fear, but you can turn up the volume of hope and faith and drown it out”.”

Eloise Wellings

Next up, was Olympian and long-distance runner, Eloise Wellings, who is also the co-founder of the Love Mercy Foundation. Eloise had some really good things to say, which focused on overcoming setbacks and disappointment, believing in your potential and to keep going. She also mentioned something I’ve observed, and that some young people had developed a culture where it is better not to try than to fail. That they use the term “to be a sweat” to knock down people who apply themselves. When I was at school, the term was “swot”. Eloise was really encouraging and said: “you won’t regret trying.” She also advised focusing on the process rather than the big goal. “Get the next step done.” Talk about good advice, and certainly applies to me and the book project.

Bella Taylor Smith deserves an extra-special mention as she not only spoke but also performed. For those of you who may not know Bella, she won The Voice Australia 2021. Bella has her own story of overcoming adversity and is now touring with Guy Sebastian.

Think about whose footprints you’re following.

“It’s not what happens to you. It’s who you choose to become”.

Alex Noble.

Last, but not least, there was 19 year old Alex Noble On Sunday the 21st of October 2018 16 year old Alex Noble was doing what he loved best – playing rugby. As a rising sports star he was training with the Under-17 NSW Rugby Sevens youth selection squad. Tragically he was badly injured on the field, breaking his neck and severely damaging his spinal cord. Since then, Alex has poured all the tenacity and resilience he’d applied to his rugby training into his recovery and has made incredible progress. He has also started the Alex Noble Foundation whose motto is “I fight you fight”. (I’m looking back at my notes now and I see the phrase “We are unbreakable” circled. I know from personal experience what it’s like to experience a gruelling physical setback and barely be able to move myself. However, thanks to a reasonable diagnosis with treatment among other things, I am now doing remarkably well!)

So, what were the take homes from this extraordinary day?

I think the bottom line was that even the most extraordinary dreams are possible if we work hard, persevere, and develop the resilience to be able to bounce back from setbacks. At the same time, we might also have to find a new pathway when our dream sinks, regroup and find another. Secondly, we are not alone in our triumphs or tribulations. When we triumph, think about others around you and pitch in. If you’re at rock bottom, you are not alone. Help is at hand. It is also possible that while you’re at rock bottom, you will meet others who aren’t being reached. So, even in the depths of your own despair, you can offer hope to others. Well, I added that bit, but I know it to be true. This is another of my own observations… we need to keep ourselves in good physical, mental and spiritual shape because we don’t know when adversity is going to hit and the bumps will be less intense if we’re in good shape. As the Scout motto says: “Be prepared!”

Standing Taller after watching the live stream and going for a walk along the beach.

I hope this encourages you to check out the live stream so you can absorb and apply their wisdom and zest for an abundant life, and I would personally like to thank everyone who contributed towards the day for having such a big impact on me and my family.

Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from you, especially if you attended Standing Tall or like me tuned into the live stream.

Best wishes,

Rowena Curtin

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a Happy New Year for 2020 from Sydney Australia. I’m still no closer to working out my resolutions for 2020 and my word for the last three or more years has been ACTION, which as usual often turned into PROCRASTINATION or its near relative DISTRACTION. However, to be fair to myself, I did manage to write 97,835 words here at Beyond the Flow so unless my main goal was becoming Susie Homemaker, I did alright. Now, I just need to glue those words together into something called a book. That’s my main goal for 2020 and having acquired perfect vision on the count of midnight, this has to be my year. Bring it on!

Meanwhile, I leave you with a link to the iconic Sydney fireworks, which we only watched today as we were at a party last night. Yippee! It’s the first time we’ve been out on NYE for years what with having young kids, being sick and having anxious dogs who fret and potentially escape due to the fireworks. We left them inside hoping that the younger pups might bolster lady who ends up a hyperventilating, dribbling mess on Geoff’s lap on previous years.

Before I heard off, there is one New Year’s wish, indeed a prayer, we’d appreciate over here in Australia. We’d really like a strong soaking rain to put out the bush fires and help the farmers out of the drought. The ongoing 2019–20 Australian bushfire season is already the most destructive bushfire season since the 2008–09 Australian bushfires[2] and the most widespread in history, having already burned over 5,900,000 hectares of land, destroyed over 2,500 buildings (including over 1300 homes) and killed at least 18 people. That’s a lot of heartbreak. 

Yet, at the same time, there is still joy or perhaps only a glimmer of sunlight even at the heart of tragedy. The are stories of the incredible fire fighters many who are volunteers and too many who have given their lives. Their are stories of loss, but also stories of being spared and despite the destruction and the choking smoke, fire has its beauty.

I’ve leave you with a few favourite photos from 2019…the year that was.

Love and best wishes,

Rowena

Last Weekend Coffee Share 2019

Welcome to the Last Weekend Coffee Share for 2019!

My apologies for taking an unscheduled blogging break over the last couple of months. It hasn’t been intentional, and I haven’t fallen off the perch. Rather, I’ve been deeply immersed in a research project which could well turn into a few books, articles and goodness knows what. I’ve also been having serious breathing difficulties from the bush fire smoke. However, that’s cleared up lately. Well, at least it has for me. So much of NSW on fire and it’s absolutely devastating.

As you may recall, I’ve been working on writing up some historically based family stories and while I’d been trying to work through them chronologically, I ended up taking a serious detour and researching a few family members who served in WWI in the Australian Army. Their service records were rather scant and so I’ve filled the gaps by reading letters sent back from the front by other soldiers and I slowly started getting the picture…along with being seriously distracted. I periodically try to remind myself that I’m a writer first researcher second. That while research for research sake can be edifying, that my mission is words on the page. With so many material being available online these days, I find it very easy to move dart around and not actually document my findings as I go. Of course, that’s way more methodical, and like tying  lead weights to your wings , which really slows down the flow. Yet, somehow when you’re writing history, you need to do both. Multitasking has never been my thing. Anyway, that sort of explains where I’ve been.

Geoff Amelia Jonathon

This brings to up-to-date. Time to wish you all a belated Merry and blessed Christmas. What did you get up to? Christmas is such a varied time for people and it can magnify that sense of grief and loss along with feelings of self-doubt and criticism.

Santa and Sticks.jpg

Caught Santa red handed leaving sticks for the pups.

We had a wonderful Christmas Day. We attended Church on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, we opened presents at home. This year we had our first ever fake Christmas tree, which has taken some getting used to but it was better than nothing and the real real was very expensive this year thanks to drought and bush fires. Our kids are now 15 and 13 and so Christmas has matured with them and we enjoyed something of a sleep-in. We drove down to Sydney to my aunt’s place for Christmas lunch, which the kids invariable spend in the pool. I always pack my swimmers just in case but never get in. I’m too busy listening to family stories and talking. Naturally, food is also a priority and this year I took down my Caramel Nut Tart, which really was a sensation. We also had traditional Plum pudding, hard brandy sauce and custard. It wouldn’t be Christmas without it. This year Mum wasn’t feeling well and didn’t make it to the big family Christmas and Dad left early and had clocked off by the time we reached their place. It’s hard to get everyone coordinated.

Since Christmas Day, I’ve gone into some kind of comatose inert state. All that end of year stress has wiped me out and I feel exhausted and the cogs need to start unwinding and returning to normal. Doing my research or curling up with a book is ideal for this time of year. I’m sure some of you must relate to that!

This brings me to the New Year and that dreadful process of setting goals, making plans and hoping that you’ll wake up January 1 as someone else…an entirely new and improved version of you! It’s never happened before and yet I live in hope. The only trouble is that some of my goals, objectives and fantasies clash with each other. I want the house to organized and clean without spending my entire life doing housework. Indeed, my main goal is to get a book published next year. That one has carried over since forever. Indeed, I might actually get somewhere if I do go with keeping the house clean. It does seem to be more achievable and if you saw our place, you’d be shaking your heads…”Are you really sure about that?!!” I think if I got everyone else to move out, I’d probably succeed on both fronts but I’d be absolutely miserable. As they say on Facebook, life is complicated.

We need to be more organized next year. Our son is going into year 11, which is his second last year of school. So, this place needs to transform from Chaos central into a well oiled machine.  I’ve bought myself a diary and calendar. He’s actually reorganized his room after weeks of refusing to tidy it up. So, that’s looking very promising. We still need to get rid of a lot of stuff.

Anyway, that’s enough talk about being organized. We’ve also been enjoying the festive spirit. Last night, we saw Jumanji with friends and had dinner at a local Chinese restaurant we hadn’t been to before. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the movie and was mainly going to hang out with my friends. However, I really got into it and it was probably good for me to give a movie all my attention instead of half watching it while I’m researching or writing on my laptop. Dinner at the Chinese restaurant felt like a trip down memory lane. It’s been close to 20 years since I last had dinner at an authentic Chinese restaurant and by that I mean one with the red covered menus and serves Fried Ice Cream. I was full to exploding and yet I had to share a Fried Ice Cream with Geoff for old time’s sake. It was divine.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve also been going to trivia nights with a friend and we’ve won a couple of meals and drinks. The categories don’t really suit me. I’m great at history (no surprises there!), but am hopeless at sport and music questions and bomb out completely. However, as a team we perform well and have won a few dinner vouchers and Geoff and I went out for dinner there last Saturday night.

Violin & concert violinist music

The other news is that I performed at my end of year violin concert. This year I played Where Is Love from the musical Oliver. We chose this piece because it wasn’t going to over-stretch me and I was really busy at the end of the year and not in good shape to conquer something challenging. The plan was to play it as a duet. However, the day before I received a text from my teacher saying she was in hospital with a kidney stone, but that I “could do it”. Humph! Fortunately, I was playing the melody for all but one line of the piece and so a tweaked that and said my prayers. The violin can be a  very disagreeable instrument prone to terrible squeaks and it doesn’t care that you have an audience. It likes to remind you who’s the boss. With this in mind, I gave my performance a brief intro and said that I usually go for safety in numbers, but that hadn’t worked out this year. I also mentioned that many of us have asked “Where is love?” or “Where is hope?” “Where is good luck?” Some times, you just need to open your eyes, turn a corner or keep your fingers crossed…like I’m doing now.” Phew! At least I had the audience on side. It didn’t really matter how I played now, although it did and I was told I gave my best performance yet. What a relief.

I’m sorry my thoughts are all over the place tonight. It’s been such a long time since I’ve even checked in on my blog and I had a lot of catching up to do.

Anyway, this has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes and Happy New Year!

Rowena

G: Goals – Motivational Quotes A-Z Challenge

Today, our journey continues through an alphabet soup of motivational quotes especially geared towards writers and creatives working on a big project.

Of course, all of us know that goal setting is important. Indeed, many of us also know that goal setting needs to be SMART:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable 
  3. Achievable 
  4. Relevant
  5. Time-based 

Developing SMART goals is all about removing that fantastic dream-like quality from what you want to get done, and creating an actionable plan for results.

For many creatives, no doubt terms like goal setting and SMART goals sounds way too business-like and we’d prefer to go with the flow.

The trouble with not having a goal is that you can

spend your life running up and down the field and

never score.

– Bill Copeland

However, for me there comes a point where your credibility is at stake. Not just when it comes to other people, but also with yourself. If you’re not even striving towards your life’s goal, what are you waiting for? Life is short. Not only that, it can be shorter than you thought. After all, not everyone receives their full entitlement of four score and ten. Not that I want to be morbid, but I do live under the shadow of a nasty auto-immune disease and I’ve already slipped through the net a few times. That has made me think, but it hasn’t always led to action!

The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is

too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach

it.

– Michelangelo

However, I don’t believe that goals need to be rigid and stuck in the ground like football posts. They can and do change, and it’s important to be responsive. Intuitive.

To be perfectly honest, this is probably something I need to put some more time and focus into. I have worked in small business and been to quite a few seminars and one of the big catch phrases for small business owners is about spending time on the business as well as in the business.

As writers, writing is our business. The same goes for artists, photographers etc. However, we still need to work on our business which includes things like goal setting, planning, keeping our desks and computer files sorted and backed-up. Having the best goals in the world doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t have the wherewithal to carry them out and see them through to the end.

Otherwise, they’re just dreams!

Well, so far I’m somewhat keeping up with the annual Blogging A-Z April Challenge again this year and am finding there’s much I need to action from these posts.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

BB8… Welcome To Our World!

This week, we celebrated our daughter’s 10th Birthday.

Happy Birthday Miss!

So far the celebrations have been fairly low key as she’s just started at a new school and we’re still getting organised.

DSC_9710.JPG

However, we did manage to get her BB8, the cute little droid from Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens. He’s a fantastic toy, which you control via the touch screen on your iPad. As he glides along the floor, he babbles away in electronic gibberish, similar to R2D2. Not only that. He even writes you text messages:

“Aggressive life forms detected”…This was the dogs.

“Debris detected”. This was the waste paper bin.

“Unidentified humanoid life forms detected”…us.

“Distress signal detected”…BB8’s head had fallen off.

So, just like we welcomed Miss into the world ten years ago, this week she welcomed BB8 into her world.

I don’t know what it is about him but he’s absolutely irresistible…even to a serious technophobe like me, who still goes into daily battle with the TV remote!

Perhaps, it’s because he’s fun…loads of fun. Fun is good.

But is being “fun” enough? Don’t you need to have some sort of purpose, goals, function, destination and ideally all of the above?

I would like to think so but maybe I’ve over-rated their importance. Perhaps, I should thrown away my Clark Kent glasses, roll aimlessly across the floor while chirping incomprehensible nothings and when my sweet little head falls off, just wait for someone else to put me back together again?

Be fun-tabulous!

I don’t know.

After all, is that really how to win friends and influence people?

I didn’t think so.

However, when you compare my popularity with that of BB8, you know who’s winning and it certainly isn’t Madame Smartypants! Oh no! Not at all!

So what makes BB8 so irresistible and please don’t just tell me it’s all just marketing hype. I haven’t been anywhere near any of that !@#$ and I’ve fallen head over heels in love with the little guy.

There has to be more to it. Something deep and subliminal and also a bit sneaky so you can’t quite work it out. It’s definitely not a conscious thing. At least, not for me.

Of course, I could go and research how his carefully chosen features somehow trigger some sort of psychological response. He is small, vulnerable and his electronic mutterings do sound quite a lot like a chirping baby bird. All of this might trigger some innate urge to protect him…especially if you, like us,  have pets in the house who could well decide that he’s their kind of toy. After all, if you were a Border Collie obsessed with chasing tennis balls, wouldn’t a robotic ball just be your idea of heaven?

Exactly!

So, BB8 was very astute to flag the dogs as: “Aggressive life forms detected”.

DSC_9693.JPG

Bilbo & BB8: “This is NOT a tennis ball!”

Meanwhile, my parents rang up to wish Miss a Happy Birthday. While I chatted with Dad afterwards, he mentioned how amazing it was that a kid could get a robot for their birthday. Then he added, almost apologetically, that when he was ten, we didn’t even have TV in Australia. With that comment, Dad suddenly aged and then I also remembered how the ice man used to get round in a horse and cart when he was a boy. That’s right. There weren’t electric refrigerators in Australia then either. As for computers, the closest thing could well have been the slide rule.

DSC_9713

Miss on the phone to my parents.

I don’t remember a lot about what I received for my 10th birthday but my grandfather gave me an electric blanket for my 9th birthday. These were pretty new back in the 70s. Papa arrived at my party looking so chuffed with this huge box tucked under his arm looking like Santa (he wasn’t exactly slim!) I still remember my incredible excitement! My other grandparents used to send me $5.00 notes through the mail. $5.00 actually bought you something then!

All this reflecting wasn’t doing us any good. Although Miss was the one who’d turned a year older, it was actually my father and I who had suddenly aged, as we were brutally reminded that we’re not children anymore!

Indeed, it was far worse than that!

Somehow, we’d both become living dinosaurs…wonders to modern science.

I have no idea how this came about but it was definitely a good time for my head to fall off so I could bury it in the sand.

Another birthday? I really just don’t want to know!

How about you? Do you have any special birthday stories? Funny presents? Then and now stories? I’d love to hear them!

xx Rowena

The Reading Pile

 

Smashing through my roof,

soaring through the clouds,

zooming through space

at the speed of light;

my reading pile grows exponentially.

Balancing precariously beside by bed,

a tower of teetering, twisted titles

fuelled by my nocturnal dreams,

it’s a marvel of modern engineering.

 

 

The weight of ambition

far too great,

Rome falls.

Pictures,

words,

rhythms,

rhymes,

cascade all over the floor.

Spilt milk

from the writers’ glass,

neither half-empty

nor half-full,

but always overflowing.

Words to spare.

 

 

Trapped in a pressure cooker

somewhere in between

my nightmares and my dreams,

an alarm clock and a ringing phone;

my reading pile grows

continuously…

higher and higher

like marauding weeds.

A mighty monument

dedicated to Summers past

when I had time.

Now,

I’m still waiting for the holidays,

which seemingly never come

AND…

I am no longer my own.

 

 

Yet, I haven’t forgotten

how to dream.

Book by book.

Rome rebuilds

after the fall.

Because my love

has never died.

So,

like an indefatigable knight,

I will charge on!

 

 

Rowena Newton 3rd January, 2016.

 

This poem needs no explanation, except to say that it’s very exceptional for me to share a poem straight away with anyone aside from my usual reader-in-residence, the long-suffering Geoff.

However, writing is communication and wasn’t intended to be something locked away but to be shared…especially with those who share your folly.

I’m sure many of you also have book towers built up beside your bed. which were, of course, constructed with the best of intentions.

I have so many unread books and yet, I keep buying more and blogging is only making it worse. I have ordered one book online over the Summer  break and am about to head off to the local bookshop for another. They are:

Dr Wayne Dyer: What Do You Really Want for Your Children?

Ted Hughes: Grief is the Thing with Feathers.

I seem to remember posting not so long ago about bad habits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L80XYgxjIw8

Meanwhile, as I add to the pile, I am also intending to subtract. If I lived to be a thousand, I still don’t think I could get through all the books I haven’t read in this house.

And yet, I will not give up trying!

Happy reading!

xx Rowena

 

Goodbye 2015 Weekend Coffee Share

Welcome to the Goodbye 2015 Edition of the Weekend Coffee Share.

We hope you and yours had a Merry Christmas. You can read about our Christmas here as well as about the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race which set sail on Boxing Day: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/12/26/an-aussie-boxing-day/

I’ll also mention that during the last week Beyond the Flow hit 30,000 views and kept going. I am pretty stoked with this as I’ve reached about 20,000 view this year and the blog is really starting to make steady progress.

All up, 2015 has been a pretty good year for our family. Of course, there were the usual ups and downs but we’re all good.

However, unfortunately the same can’t be said about the wider world. While there is so much beauty in our natural world, the human element is questionable at best.

What are we doing to each other?

Even though we might not like the answers to this eternal question, we need to keep asking, we need to keep striving for peace on Earth and equality and freedom for all peoples as well as respect for all living creatures and the Earth itself.

Earth from space

Our planet needs compassion + action.

Although we’ll no doubt never create heaven on Earth, we still need to keeping trying to make things better. We need to keep searching, keep asking and keep trying to make some kind of difference…not matter how small. Both good and evil build up like Lego bricks and it’s up to us which tower rises and falls.

So, as we head towards another year, I am reminded of these inspirational words:

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_DxNpW1kHQ

While I used to have quite a local focus when it came to social justice, since I’ve been blogging, my backyard has extended, becoming more global. Just because something is happening overseas, I can no longer just switch off and ignore what’s happening. Be unaccountable. Once you become informed, either you respond or you are also guilty of neglect turning your back. Not being the Good Samaritan who stopped and helped and made a difference.

 

Hercules

Hercules holding the world for Atlas.

That said, we can’t be like Atlas carrying the world on our shoulders. We can’t save everyone.

Creation of Adam

Michelangelo: The Creation of Adam c 1512.

So, we are left with that gap. A gap that shouldn’t stop us from trying but which reminds us that as individuals, we can not do it all.

In February 2015, I heard about a global blogging network called 1000 Voices for Compassion and while we are still only a small group, we have stuck together and I do believe that through our monthly posts, that we have made some kind of difference in 2015. You can read more about the group here: http://www.1000voicesspeak.org/

Through this group, I have really been able to spread my wings and be part of something truly inspirational.

So, as we head into the New Year, I pray that our world will be a safe place full of opportunity for all. That we humans can overcome so many of the differences which divide us and come to appreciate our commonalities more.

Lastly, if we were having coffee I’d wish you a Happy New Year and ask whether you’ve set any New Year’s resolutions? I am still working on mine and I am taking the whole process quite seriously and I’ll get back to you next week on what I’ve put together.

In the meantime, I’m going to tackle the pile of photo frames stacked up around the house and finally get them up. We’ve only been in the house 15 years! On that note, I’m heading off real quick before I really start to freak out at a rather lengthy “Should Have Done List”.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Part Time Monster and please check us out at the linky http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=593302

Love and best wishes,

Rowena

PS Update on the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race: Wild Oats XI retired with broken mainsail last night. In the greatest resurrection since Lazarus, Comanche just resumed the lead after announcing last night that it had retired with a broken rudder. The two leaders are halfway across Bass Strait.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday…A Procrastinator’s Paradise!

If Monday is a day of miraculous change, then Sunday must be the last hurrah…a day of pure, evil self-indulgence and utter procrastination. After all, even if our bad habits have swallowed us up like quick sand, somehow come Monday morning we are supposed to be a new creation, cleansed from all our previous sins…a clean slate. Out with the old and in with the new, even our very DNA changes as fat comes thin, lazy becomes industrious and that book project is miraculously finished.

At least, it will be!

Of course, it all starts off with a bang Monday morning and we’re off and running.

So, with Sunday being our last day of freedom, does that give us some kind of all-day indulgence pass allowing us to have that final, last big fling? To blob out, eat as much chocolate as we can possibly stuff in our gob, carpe vice or simply bask in some procrastinator’s paradise?

This is my idea of a perfect Sunday!

This is my idea of a perfect Sunday!

Humph, I’d like to think so but I’m not so sure. Something tells me that if I want tomorrow to go off without a hitch, at least some of the hard work, needs to begin today…especially cleaning up my desk.

However, being Sunday, I’ll turn procrastination into an art form.

That means writing about tomorrow. In other words, Monday.

Mondays are weird. While Sundays are ripe with opportunity and our best intentions including the planning and detailed required to pull our best intentions off (i.e time tables, schedules, lists etc etc etc!!!) Monday becomes something of a “catastrophe”!

Instead of being fueled by Sunday’s zealous enthusiasm, when my alarm goes off Monday morning, I have something akin to a killer hangover. Completely immobile, I keep pressing the snooze button, praying that the kids have dressed and fed themselves and won’t put up a fight. Who am I kidding? Hearing the usual screams, I stagger out into the kitchen feeling like the Grim Reaper possessed me during the night and all that’s left is a ghostly shell.

Every cell in my body aches and I don’t know whether hangover cures work for Mondayitis but anything is worth a shot. Having just enough strength to power up the blender, I throw in the mandatory raw eggs, steak and spinach and even a few nails for added strength and while that’s whirling around I down a glass of Berocca. I’m hoping all that “B-B bounce” will somehow catapult us out the door.

No such luck! The kids aren’t moving. The boot up the backside, cattle prod and even putting Minecraft into time out for eternity aren’t working. Desperate times mean desperate meaures, so I threaten to drop them at the Juvenile Justice Centre just up the hill. Juvenile Justice is not very far from the local pound either. So, if the dog keeps barking at 5.30AM (thank you very much, Lady!), I can drop her off on the way.

Peace and quiet but, of course, I jest!

My goodness! I’m sure all of this strife wasn’t part of the new script?

After all, isn’t this a repeat from last week’s episode?

This Monday was supposed to be different!

“Cut! Didn’t you read the script?”

We definitely need to cut and find a new script every single Monday morning.

We definitely need to cut and find a new script every single Monday morning.

Apparently not!

You see, the trouble is that even though this particular Monday morning might be new, the cast of characters and the set are still the same. This being the case, why would I, or indeed any of us, expect this Monday to be any different from any other Monday and have things miraculously work like clockwork?

“It’s just Another Manic Monday”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAZgLcK5LzI

A detour on the way to school on my birthday a few weeks ago.

A detour on the way to school on my birthday a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately, real life isn’t a motivational book turned real just in the same way that fairy tales are exactly that…fairy tales. We know fairies are pure fantasy, imagination and wishful thinking. We’d never expect them to come to life. Yet, for some reason we expect the kids to empty the dishwasher unprompted, the chocoholic to become sugar-free, the Minecraft addict to read a book and the house to clean itself just because it’s Monday morning.

Hello!!

Welcome to the real world!

The instant fix just isn’t going to happen.

There is no magic wand. Just persistence, being consistent, putting in the hard yards while having the faith that you can get there.

It apparently takes 6 weeks to break or forge a habit.

That might not be very long if you’re the sort of person who thrives on routine and methodical order but being creative, impulsive and haphazard, six weeks is an eternity.

This means that for any of this to change, I’ll need to be extremely determined.

Not only that.

I’ll need to draw up something of a road map of how I’m going to get there and stick to it. No detours!

So, starting from tomorrow, I will be setting myself a daily schedule. Living by the clock, the “panster” is going to have to become a “planner” or I am never going to get my books written. Finished. Something I know could really work will never happen and while the blog is going well, I’ll just end up being a “wanna be”.

Writing in my journal at Perisher in 2012 while the rest of the family was skiing.

Writing in my journal at Perisher in 2012 while the rest of the family was skiing.

I have never been a wanna be. I’ve mostly gone and done it but I’ve taken too many blows over the last couple of years. I needed a breather. I need to rethink the direction of the book after life events radically changed the plot and sabotaged the entire philosophical thread.

But…

That was a year ago. I’ve had time to rethink. Re-evaluate and create a different, probably more authentic and realistic way of looking at how we handle life’s setbacks. That it isn’t always just onward and upward. That indeed, just when we taste success, the whole mountain can come crumbling down and we’re seemingly back at the start again, buried in a snow and rubble but we still need to pick ourselves up and start over and that is my specialty.

Now, it’s time to become my own coach and motivator. Encourage myself to keep going in the same way that I encourage others and tell them that they “can do it”. That I am good enough.

Also, that I can somehow juggle all the stuff with the family, house etc and get this book done. That there will always be pressing priorities but they can be juggled and pushed aside to pursue what I know is my personal quest. I need to get that book out the door and I need to do it now

    .

    I need to do that or I know that I am but a bonsai of who I was always meant to be. That this isn’t about dreams or visions but who I am almost as a physical being. Not only writing but being read and getting my journey into a published format is as much a part of each and every cell in my body as my DNA and yet, I freeze.

    Paralysis through analysis?

    If I just start writing, or indeed, gather up all the writing I’ve already done and compile it, will it all suddenly come together and somehow knit together like a scarf? Become something of a tapestry?

    I have to believe that it will.

    That I can do this.

    I know this isn’t going to be easy but I’m NOT going to analyze things anymore. That would only cause further procrastination.

    I need to become who and what I was always intended to be.

    Not only a writer but also an author.

    A person with that cherished book in their hand with their name on the front page on the cover and and the spine.

    No longer a “gunna do” but a “Done it”.

    For this reason, tomorrow can’t wait.

    Tomorrow begins today…even if it is a Sunday!

    How do you manage procrastination and crippling self-doubt on the writing front? What has got you through?

    xx Rowena

    PS: I let Bilbo have the last word…”I am NOT procrastinating!”

    Bilbo with his ball. Actually, that's another dog's ball. Humph! Just call him obsessed!

    Bilbo with his ball. Actually, that’s another dog’s ball. Humph! Just call him obsessed!

19,963 Views…The Countdown to 20,000 Is On!!

No doubt, we have all experienced that sense as bloggers, that we are only talking to ourselves and that no one is reading our stuff at all.
Well, late last year, I finally clocked up 10,000 views on Beyond the Flow and the possibility of reaching 20,000 views felt like a pipe dream.

However, in the last 6 months, I have managed to build up those 10,000 views which had taken me two years to build up before. That is such a wonderful feeling…a real breakthrough. Sure, it’s not shooting a rocket into space or being the first woman to walk upon the moon but for me it’s a blast. Indeed, I’m so excited that I wanted to share this final countdown with you. You who aren’t just “my readers” because this place is more of a community and a sharing of words and ideas…a pond.

So, I wanted you to be thinking of me as the countdown continues and I’m thinking today could indeed be the day.

I can’t wait. Hang on. There’s a champagne cork heading your way!

xx Rowena

The Beginning: Five Photos Five Stories

My journey of a million photos began with a humble Kodak Instamatic camera.

Before Dr Phil redefined all of life’s great milestones as “defining moments”, my mother escorted me and my box full of coins into the local photography shop to buy my very first camera.

A far cry from my current Nikon SLR, my pride and joy was a Kodak Instamatic 56X. These were manufactured from 1972-1977 . It was Simple Simon to operate and all I had to do was press the silver button on top and manually wind the film on. That’s right speaking of film, it used a 126 film cartridge you shoved up its backside. Oh yes! The flash was a disposable plug-in flash cube so it was something reserved for special occasions.

“To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.”

Ansel Adams

Of course, any thought of being able to see your photos in the back of your camera before you paid to have them printed weren’t even considered. Rather, the cartridge was dropped off at the local pharmacy where it was sent off to Kodak for processing while you waited…at least overnight.. I still remember tearing open those packets of precious snaps with such excitement and love.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.

Henry David Thoreau

Although my precious photos might have been blurry and I’d inadvertantly chopped off subjects’ heads, stuck fingers over the lens and ended up with way to many photos of Baby Alive, the dog and my brother who was fond of showing off, they were still precious…my photos!

“Photography helps people to see.”

Berenice Abbot

While I’m no Ansell Adams, photography is a passion and so often my way of viewing and capturing both the world around me and the poetry within.

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

I was nominated to take part in this photo challenge by Ali Issac, who takes the most beautiful images and always has a story to tell about them. I would like to nominate Rowena at BeyondtheFlow, to take up this photo challenge baton.

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

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

I have decided to nominate Kath Unsworth from Miniscule Moments whose illustrations and photos are breathtaking and really worth a look: http://kathunsworth.com/

Do you have any special photographic beginnings you would like to share?

xx Rowena