Tag Archives: Happy New Year

The Road For 2019…

Happy New Year!

New Year’s Eve’s done and dusted and Day Three of the New Year is already unfurling. If you’re like me and believe you ought to start off on the right foot, by now we should be cruising along at a steady walking pace and getting into the swing of it, whatever “it” might be. However, the more honest realists among us, will have no qualms in admitting that they’re still in the planning stages, especially if you’re currently on holidays frying yourself something silly and going “troppo”!

The start of a new year seems to draw out even the most closet philosophers, keen to jump up onto their soap boxes, espousing all sorts of theories about how to change your life, end all your old bad habits and park your old self in the telephone booth (if you can find one) and ensure a new improved you walks out. As a writer, this is a bit like finishing up your old journal and opening a fresh, blank notebook where there’s not even a mark on the page. In the entire book is as white as driven snow just waiting for you to get started if you dare.

However, I’ve finally come to my senses and stopped dreaming. As the clock strikes midnight, my fairy Godmother isn’t going to going to appear out of nowhere to perform a reverse Cinderella makeover on me. Indeed, yet again as we launched into 2019, I was still myself watching the fireworks over Sydney Harbour on the TV. I wasn’t a princess with a horse-drawn carriage and a book which has not only been written but also published. What a pity, which of course leaves me with the hard yards ahead.

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Why act, when you can write about it?

 

Anyway, while coming up with a list of New Year’s resolutions was  once as traditional as singing Auld Lang Syne, these days many people are just coming up with their word for the New Year. Last year, my word was action and in 2019, it’s a case of “play it again, Sam”. Yes, my word for 2019 is still ACTION.

So, being the procrastinating, philosophizing sort, what was the first action on my list? Well, if you’re thinking it has anything to do with putting on my running shoes, active wear and getting stuck into it, you’d be sadly mistaken. Instead, I Googled ACTION quotes. More research required. After all, it takes a bit of a cattle prod to get some of us moving!

This quote particularly resonated with me and my writing:

“You can’t plow a field simply by turning it over in your mind.”
Gordon B. Hinckley

Here’s a few more:

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Wishing is not enough; we must do.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“The path to success is to take massive, determined action.”

Tony Robbins

“In each action we must look beyond the action at our past, present, and future state, and at others whom it affects, and see the relations of all those things. And then we shall be very cautious.”

Blaise Pascal

“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you ready or not, to put this plan into action.”

Napoleon Hill

Bilbo sand cliffs Ettalong 2

Life can be bewildering…even for a philosopher’s dog.

However, before you launch into action, you need a plan. Or, do you? I’m not so sure and find myself caught in between these two schools of philosophical thought:

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

John Lennon

and

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

Benjamin Franklin

One of the underlying considerations is trying to understand just how much control we have over where our life is heading. Are we in the driver’s seat turning the steering wheel the direction we’d like to go while also operating the accelerator and brake at a pace of our own choosing? Even if we can attain full control over the car, what about the environment? Can we control the weather? The people around us? The state of the road or where it is heading? In other words, can we simply set ourselves a goal, write a plan, work hard and stick to the dotted line and know we’re going to reach our destination? That when we get there, we can stick our name straight up on the door, because we’ve finally made it. Or, is life much more precarious than that? Could we get blindsided at any tick of the clock and it’s best not to strut too confidently because we’re only going to get struck down. Is it, therefore, much better to prepare for defeat, or at least a long struggle ahead? If you’re spiritually inclined and believe in God (I’m a Christian), you also have God to factor into your equations. Is God really in control? If so, does that give him absolute power over our lives? Or, does he give us considerable independence, or at least the capacity to screw ourselves up?

Rowena in Florence

There are many roads you can take….in Florence in 1992. 

As you can see, I could easily spend the entire year debating just how much control I truly have over my own destiny and the best-laid plans of mice and men. However, that’s precisely the kind of thinking I’m trying to break out of to get on with things. Turn 2019 into a year of action, not procrastination or philosophizing.

However, this leads me into only another question…WHAT IS IT? WHAT IS THE ACTION? If you don’t define the action before you go and do it, you could go and do the wrong thing. After all, in addition to procrastination, there’s distraction and although both of these words contain “action” in them, they have nothing to do with ticking that thing off your to-do or bucket lists, and achieving that thing that makes your heart sing.

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Some times, you only know which way NOT to turn.

Personally, I reached my WHAT for 2019 via a typically circuitous route. As many of you will be aware, it’s been a long-held goal of mine to write a book and get it published. Indeed, my mission for the last ten years has been to write  a motivational book about living with and overcoming adversity. However, while it was all tracking perfectly in my head about 6 years ago, I had a massive setback and wasn’t sure if I was going to pull through. Not unsurprisingly, I had to rethink and reassess all of that. While we all know the simple laws of gravity and what goes up must come down, it’s quite a different thing to experience that yourself and crash land on your head Humpty Dumpty style wondering how to put the pieces of yourself and your life back together again. For me, that wasn’t a quick fix. Indeed, there wasn’t a fix after all. More of a realization that life is complicated and you just need to make the most of every day regardless of your circumstances. That what really matters is loving and being loved, being a part of community ideally on many levels and having that give and take. For me, there’s also having a faith in God. A faith which not only acknowledges that he exists, but also that he loves me and isn’t trying to destroy me when the shit hits the fan. I’ve also had to accept and acknowledge that I’ve shot myself in my foot at times, and have brought about my own troubles. There’s also just bad luck and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Moreover, sometimes we just don’t know why bad things happen to us but we owe it to ourselves to try to get on with living and find a way out. Not in terms of denial or avoidance, but via a potentially more painful yet ultimately rewarding path of personal growth. Learning our life lessons, especially before they get repeated because we’re slow learners.

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Here I am as Wonder Woman…the female version of Action Man I suspect.

Well, it;s taken me almost 2000 words to say that I’m going to get that book written in 2019. I guess that could well explain why I’m a writer and not a female incarnation of Action Man. If I just got on with it, no matter what it happened to be, I’m sure I wouldn’t have as much to write about. I’d be doing it instead. So, you could say that inaction is an occupational hazard.

How about you? Have you chosen a word for 2019? What is it? Or, perhaps you’ve come up with a few resolutions, perhaps even including not to make any resolutions.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about all of this. It’s been quite a mammoth effort getting through this and it’s now Wednesday night. Indeed, even Wednesday is starting to expire. I’m supposed to be getting the kids packed for the Scout Jamboree. They leave in the morning. It seems I still have a lot to learn and that my ACTION steps are going to begin with sewing on the last of those Scout badges.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Farewell 2017!

Before we launch into 2018, thought I might ask what you were most thankful for in 2017? What was the stand out?

Personally, I am thankful that my family is still standing after some trying times and I am also thankful for our beloved dog, Bilbo, who passed away in June and for the puppies who have helped to heal our broken hearts. I’m also thankful for our three week trip to Tasmania in January. We had an amazing time.

A tribute to Bilbo.

The pups. Rosie has the white stripe on her head and Zac has the white on his nose. The tan and black puppies were fosters who’ve now gone to their forever homes.

Well, I apologize for being overly thankful. How about you?

Wishing you and yours a wonder-filled year ahead in 2018!

Love and best wishes,

Rowena

Happy New Year…Sydney!

Sydney wishes you a Happy New Year!

On the count of midnight,  Sydney became an exploding supernova as a firework extravaganza illuminated the night sky and the deep, still waters of Sydney Harbour showering such colour.

To read about our incredibly exciting NYE, check back to my previous post: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/sydney-fireworks-a-prelude-to-midnight/

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Midnight was pretty low key here. With 15 minutes to go, we woke up the kids to join us for the countdown. The countdown being as much for the midnight fireworks as the New Year.

As you could imagine, even sitting watching the fireworks at home, I couldn’t resist getting out my camera and photographing the fireworks like a photographer on assignment.

I wasn’t disappointed. Indeed, I was amazed. Not bad!

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The incredible beauty of fireworks… peering right inside the flares.

Just in case you’ve never seen Sydney’s NYE fireworks, the finale usually involves a cascade of “melted cheese” over the edge of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Even though we’ve seen it all before, we hang on for that incredibly intense, stunning moment when the entire Bridge erupts. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and so full of superlatives that words can’t do it justice. You simply need to feast with your eyes and feel yourself come to life.

 

With all the excitement of the fireworks and just being at home with the kids and of course the dogs (Lady still panting heavily with renewed terror as more fireworks went off at midnight), we forgot all about singing Auld Lang Syne…an Australian NYE tradition harking back to the UK.

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So perhaps we could sing it together. It’s also better singing it with the words in front of us. I usually mutter and mumble my way through:

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne!

Chorus:
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

Robert Burns

 

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Just as we forgot Auld Lang Syne, New Year’s resolutions also passed us by. I think the list is looking so long that it it could simply be summed up by four simple letters…HELP!

I suspect no fairy Godmother is going to tap me three times on the head while I’m asleep tonight and give me a clean slate. Then again, I must’ve learned something about life so far and do I really want to start again from scratch? I don’t think so.

Maybe, I just need to have a bit of faith!

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The Kids Watching the Fireworks.

So, we wish you a very Happy New Year and if this time of year is difficult, you’re in my prayers and I’ll keep you close. All that exuberant joy, can either give you a lift or more than likely, amplify your grief. Take care!

Meanwhile on a global level, I pray for peace. “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”. Not giving to terrorism or violence but through somehow reaching a global acceptance of our humanity and all that unites us. In the words of Lennon: “You might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one!”

I also pray for our planet. That humanity will wake up to the warning signs of global warming and general exploitation of our beautiful blue planet. You can’t keep taking and taking before she starts to fall apart.

Anyway, while I’m getting all deep, I’m having a glass of Moscato, a Scotty Dog shortbread biscuit and a Lindt chocolate while sort of watching a real 80s throw back: “You Can’t Stop the Music”, featuring the Village People. It is so retro. I even saw a cassette tape.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure where Lady is hiding. She finally calmed down from the fireworks but after being in my face all night, she’s conspicuously absent and I suspect she’s snuck her way in somewhere. Lady is definitely looking like a liability…

So, wishing you and yours a Happy New Year and I look forward to reading about NYE around the world.

Love & best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

Sydney Fireworks: A Prelude to Midnight.

As the clock struck three hours to midnight, the first blasts of colour exploded over Sydney Harbour and the entire city  magically came to life. These are the nine o’clock fireworks put on for the kids and the midnight fireworks still await!

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Not a bad shot from the TV!

Naturally, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the focal point of celebrations in Sydney, culminating in an absolutely dazzling shower of colour over the water. Some years, this brilliant yellow shower has looked just like melted cheese.

You haven’t lived until you seen it, even on TV. I know I might be from Sydney but I’m not biased

Once upon a time, Geoff and I first met on NYE at a mutual friend’s party overlooking the harbour, although we were looking from the rear-end and had a backwards or “arse-end” view of The Bridge.

That was 17 years ago!

We’ve also sat on a wharf on the harbour with our legs dangling over the edge munching on Brie and crackers with friends while taking photographs.

Back then, I never thought I’d choose to stay home to watch the fireworks on TV instead of being out amongst it. Talk about being a Nigel No-Mates. Get a life!

Fast-forward to 2015 and we’re spending NYE at home for the umpteenth time with the kids and even having to babysit the dogs.

Lady has been parked on Geoff’s lap like Puffing Billy, anxiously demanding comfort every time another bang explodes outside. I doubt all these backyard pyrotechnicians have permits but it’s never stopped them in the past.  The fireworks used to send a previous mutt crazy and when we were out, he jumped the side gate and joined a throng of spooked dogs wandering the streets. Lady would no doubt do the same. There’s also been quite a chorus of howling dogs outside.

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Mister showing how to make a smile when things  don’t go your way.

 

You could say that in many ways this NYE is a bit of a fizzer. You see, we weren’t only home to watch the fireworks. We’ve spent most of the day cleaning,  frantically searching for our son’s scout gear which has mysteriously vanished. In just two sleeps, he leaves for Jamboree extremely early in the morning.

Remember. The Scouting motto is “Be Prepared”. NOT “lose your brand new uniform before you’ve even left home”.

Humph!

 

Moreover, searching for the missing gear revealed a serious underbelly. After all, what kid hasn’t “cleaned-up” by shoving everything magically out of sight? Under the bed, in the cupboard? Been there done that myself and could never understand how Mum always caught me out.

However, now I’m the Mum and it’s my job to clamp down on such behavior with ruthless force. No excuses. A place for everything and everything in it’s place!! Be militant!

I’m sure you agree that’s a New Year’s resolution hitting us straight over the head with a proverbial lump of 4 by 2 (Aussie slang for a wooden plank).

Well, that’s what I’m telling the kids but personally I’ll be happy if the most important things find a home. I am quite accustomed to living with strays but that’s no doubt a big part of the problem.

So, NYE here has involved serious cleaning up so far. Cooking dinner and having to wash up everything which doesn’t like the dishwasher. I’m starting to feel like my NYE could well be represented by a huge pair of pink washing-up gloves suspended from the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Feels like I’ve tripped and fallen deep into a sewer of domesticity where there’s no hope of a fairy Godmother, magic wand or even going to the ball in a pumpkin. It’s a life sentence.

Okay, I know! Life is good. I’m living the dream. You’re full of sympathy swinging from the chandelier in your leopard skin suit clinging to your bottle of champagne.  I hear you loud and clear!

Things are looking up. All of that’s now done and dusted and we’re relaxing watching U2 in Paris. They’re not as young as they used to be either!

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To be honest, NYE is not a good night to go out on the town anyway. Drunks, heavy crowds and being thrown up on have lost their appeal and ironically you pay a premium for all of that. These days, I’d prefer something more low-key anyway. Some kind of mountain top experience.

So, watching the fireworks on TV is fine by me and it looks like it’s going to be a long night with the dog. She’s since been evicted from Geoff’s lap and has invaded mine. I could well be needing windscreen wipers on my glasses, a demister, a raincoat and some breath freshener wouldn’t go astray either! She’s a mess!

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One frantic puppy dog.

Now, we are too…so much for romance!

I’m sure this scenario is being played out in dog households right around the world tonight.

But once upon a time, we were out there roaming the streets ourselves in search of true love with heavy hearts. I still remember that lost and broken feeling not knowing when or even if I’d ever find the one.Now, we’re at home on the couch.

You can’t put a price on that. It mightn’t be utopia but we’re home …and I can relax watching the fireworks in my pyjamas!

You can spend your entire life chasing your tail. Or, you can simply sit still and smell the roses.

Life, complete with it’s ups and downs, is good.

I’ll briefly be back at midnight.

Happy Almost New Year!

xx Rowena

PS Somehow it’s almost taken me 3 hours to write this post and it’s now almost time to countdown to midnight.

 

Happy New Year

Drawing smiley faces in sifted flour. Teaching the kids to make pizza inbetween Mummy’s chemo sessions Jan 2014.

I was still going through our photos putting a slide show together for 2014, when I revisited this smiley face our daughter drew in the freshly sifted flour.

Naturally, I love it.

Not only because it is such a wonderful expression of childhood delight in the incredibly simple but when I revisited that photo today, I remembered the context. Miss drew that smiley face in the middle of my chemo treatments last year.

You see, making pizza was the first of my “structured” efforts to teach the kids how to cook a meal. As you could appreciate, this wasn’t some sort of preparation for when they move out in 10 or 50 years time and making them self-sufficient. Rather, it was about there immediate here and now. They needed to learn how to feed our family.

Sure, you go into chemo with a positive attitude but seriously as a parent, you do need to consider the what ifs and not just leave your family in the lurch. This is what I and others call: “optimistic realism”. Like many of our cooking efforts, there was a lot of fun, humour and error in our efforts and we were cooking with somewhat “primitive” implements house minding a rather poorly equipped beach house.

Yet, both the pizza and the apple pie both turned out well in the end.

I now find this image very reassuring that our kids had fun and drew smiley faces even in the midst of what really were terrifying times for us all. It gives me a great sense of relief, even though I know we’ve all been through the ringer as well.

You can read our original cooking pizza and apple pie post here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/day-3-yeast-pizza-from-scratch-and-quirky-apple-pie/

I would love to hear any of your stories of experiencing joy during a trial!

Best wishes for the New Year!

xx Rowena

Goodbye 2014- Byron Bay Lighthouse, Australia.

Goodbye 2014- Byron Bay Lighthouse, Australia.

Today, I’ve been going through my photos from 2014 and putting together an annual best of file, which has proved very enlightening. We have had so many amazing experiences such as sailing, skiing, going to the Sydney Writer’s Festival, trips to Palm Beach, wondering around Sydney’s Surry Hills. Yes, my health brought us stress but the chemo has worked and while there are still ups and downs as legendary Australian bushranger Ned Kelly said just before he went to the gallows: “Such is Life”.

So after much reflection and despite the very bad things that have happened, for us personally, we have pronounced 2014 a “jolly good year!”

Now, we launch into another New Year…2015 The UN Year of Light…with the usual optimism that a new year brings about a new beginning. That’s right. We all start off the new year with a perfectly clean slate without so much as a smudge.

Love & Blessings for the New Year,

Rowena, Geoff, Mister, Miss, Bilbo & Lady xxoo

PS The photo was “prepared earlier” at Byron Bay Lighthouse, Easter 2014.

A New Year’s Wish: Ask what you can do for your world!

The countdown is ticking: 10,9,8,7,6,5,,3,2,1..Happy New Year!

In the light of recent tragic events, I sub-consciously found myself reworking the words of President John F. Kennedy. Indeed, in  this rogue terrorist era where there seems to be no respect for national boundaries, this variation seems far more appropriate:

“Ask not what the world can do for you, ask what you can do for your world- Rowena.

It is my heartfelt desire that we now extend our vision way beyond our own back pockets. As overwhelming as it may feel at times, somehow we need to attain a more global perspective and not just switch off because it’s” happening somewhere “over there .  We need to switch on to both the good and the bad of what’s happening elsewhere and have a heart. It is our world and it’s the only world we’ve got. Moreover, both spiritually and environmentally, it’s pretty obvious that it’s long past time to act. Our world is gasping  for breath with a breaking heart but we still have hope.

This is a big paradigm shift for me personally. I’m more of a “think local” sort and there is always more than enough to do here but that no longer means switching off to the bigger picture but somehow just stretching my boundaries a little. That’s what growth’s about.

The baddies have always been out there somewhere.

The baddies have always been out there somewhere.

Meanwhile, the “baddies” are still out there. Moreover, as recent events have shown, they’re no longer over there but also over here.

As much as we would like to believe that we are well-camouflaged among the hundreds and thousands, who’s to say we or someone we love dearly won’t suddenly be plucked out of the multitude? Be one of the unfortunate “chosen ones”?

Hero-victim of the Lindt Cafe Siege Katrina Dawson was just going out for a morning hot chocolate with a colleague and friend. Tori Johnson, was just going to work just like Principal Tahira Qazi who was shot a day later in in Pakistan. These were just ordinary people leading ordinary lives. Eight children died in Cairns seemingly murdered by their mother and aunt…just ordinary kids.

Who is immune?Who?

Me, of course.

Statistically-speaking,  it would have to be a particularly stupid terrorist to see our place as any kind of target. It’s certainly not the Taj Mahal or the Sydney Opera House. The only way a terrorist would get here was if they got lost.  Indeed, they’d have to be very lost. They wouldn’t  even bother knocking on my door for directions to somewhere strategic. We’re a long way off the beaten track unless perhaps they’re heading to the beach.

That said, I won’t be staying home forever. At the moment, our whole family in on holidays living in some blissful state of suspended animation. The kids are currently playing with the dogs and I would be spending some time at the beach if it weren’t for the broken foot and the mega cough. Very few of us live in a concrete bunker and neither do those we love. We catch the train. Enjoy a show at the Opera House and might even pause for a hot chocolate and a chat with a friend.

Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed vaccine against evil or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In 2014, we have witnessed yet again the harm that one or the few can inflict on the many. It is my heartfelt prayer for 2015 that the good of this world can come together and have a truly transformative impact. Turn the mountain of evil on its head so humanity can learn what it is to love and be loved on a global scale. Surely, this doesn’t have to be a rosy-coloured fantasy? That together, we can all join hands and somehow make it happen. After all, it’s amazing what people will do to achieve profit and greed! Just imagine how our world would change if we also applied that strength, focus and determination to being nice to each other instead?!!

The power of love.

The power of love. Photo: Rowena

The Golden Rule: Treat Others As You Would Like to be Treated!

However, that change isn’t going to come easily. It will come at a personal cost. Starting out small, it begins with you and me. The trouble is that despite our best intentions, we are still only human. Made of yin and yang. Let’s hope and pray that if we each make just a few small changes, the forces of good could gain enough momentum to turn things around. After all, just as one person has done so much harm, one person can do so much good!!

 

Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste,

it is better that you should leave your

work and sit at the gate of the temple

and take alms of those who work with joy.

Khalil Gibran

Be the change. Photo: Rowena

Be the change. Photo: Rowena

However, when it comes to making these changes myself, I am more than aware of my own feet of clay…one of which is currently broken too, by the way. For me, all these good intentions begin at home with my husband and kids. It is easy to wax lyrically writing lofty, philosophical principles. It is so much harder to walk the talk 24/7.My house is a mess and I struggle to teach my own kids the golden rule, even through my own example. However, that doesn’t mean that I should just give up.  Throw my hands in the air or fall in the mud on my sword. Like all of us, I just need to keep walking with God in my heart and “Try! Try! Try!”

 

2015 is the UN International Year of Light and Light Based Technologies. After the moral darkness of the last weeks, this seemed like quite the antidote. We have been through the darkness and now we are heading for the light. Well, this theme seems to  be focusing more on the physical not metaphorical properties of light but perhaps we can adopt our own slant. I am certainly going to light a candle or two and let the light shine through the darkness.

Love

Love. Photo: Rowena

Through this blog, I have really managed to connect with a whole range of people around the world. Through the eyes of a little white dog, I have experienced a touch of Hawaii. I have been to India and enjoyed a meal. I have been to Ireland connected with a families all over the world. Shared words, art, photography and walked in so many different pairs of shoes and I’m sure I’ve become more enlightened by stretching my boundaries getting to know all these incredible, intelligent and thoughtful people.You have changed me and my world.

Now, let’s back to writing down those resolutions.

Hmm…It looks like giving up chocolate can wait. Now, in 2015, just being plain nice is so much more important!

Arnott's Nice Biscuit

Arnott’s Nice Biscuit