Tag Archives: mindfulness

Monet’s Greatest Work.

There’s a fine line between madness and genius. Indeed, I’m currently feeling like the madness side of the equation has taken hold of my brain, but sadly I’m missing the genius component. I know what I’m wanting to say, and yet my brain’s stuttering and I can’t quite get the story out. Meanwhile, Monet, the man who is rattling my brain, was a mixture of the two. Moving into his twilight years, Monet was a man not only possessed by his water lilies, but was also trying to create what could well have been his greatest gift to humanity.Yet, afflicted by failing eyesight and chronic self-doubt, he was floundering. Indeed, he wrote to a friend that “Age and chagrin have worn me out. My life has been nothing but a failure, and all that’s left for me to do is to destroy my paintings before I disappear.” So, I’m hoping that you’ll join me on another detour. One which could well be life-changing.
After visiting Monet’s stunning garden at Giverny, now we’re catching the train to Paris, where we’ll be meeting up at the Jardin de Tuilleries, not far from the Louvre. From there, we’ll be heading into the Gallerie de L’Orangerie to experience Monet’s incredible gift to the French nation and humanity…a spectacular series of water lily paintings. Monet gifted the paintings to the French nation on November 12, 1918, the day after Armistice and two days before his 78th birthday. Monet wasn’t only wanting to commemorate peace. He also wanted to create a peaceful place, where those shaken up by the war could rest their weary souls:
“You see, while shrapnel from mortars, grenades and, above all, artillery projectile bombs, or shells, accounted for an estimated 60 percent of the 9.7 million military fatalities of World War I, it was soon observed that many soldiers arriving at the casualty clearing stations who had been exposed to exploding shells, although clearly damaged, bore no visible wounds. Rather, they appeared to be suffering from a remarkable state of shock caused by blast force. This new type of injury, a British medical report concluded, appeared to be “the result of the actual explosion itself, and not merely of the missiles set in motion by it.” In other words, it appeared that some dark, invisible force had in fact passed through the air and was inflicting novel and peculiar damage to men’s brains.

“Shell shock,” the term that would come to define the phenomenon, first appeared in the British medical journal The Lancet in February 1915, only six months after the commencement of the war- https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-shock-of-war-55376701/

lorainger
The Gallerie de L’Orangerie explains his achievement:
“This unique set, a true “Sixtine of Impressionism”, in the words of André Masson in 1952, testifies to Monet’s later work. It was designed as a real environment and crowns the Water Lilies cycle begun nearly thirty years before. The set is one of the largest monumental achievements of early twentieth century painting. The dimensions and the area covered by the paint surrounds and encompasses the viewer on nearly one hundred linear meters which unfold a landscape dotted with water lilies water, willow branches, tree and cloud reflections, giving the “illusion of an endless whole, of a wave with no horizon and no shore” in the words of Monet. This unique masterpiece has no equivalent worldwide.”
The Gallerie also did a far better job than I, on explaining Monet’s difficulties in completing the series:

It was in 1914, at the age of 74, when he had just lost his son and could see no hope for the future, that Monet felt a renewed desire to “undertake something on a grand scale” based on “old attempts”. In 1909, he had already told Gustave Geffroy that he wanted to see the theme of the water lilies “carried along the walls”. In June 1914, he wrote that he was “embarking on a great project”. This undertaking absorbed him for several years during which he was beset by obstacles and doubts, and when the friendship and support of one man proved decisive. This was the politician Georges Clemenceau. They met in 1860, lost touch, and met up again after 1908 when Clemenceau bought a property in Bernouville near Giverny. Monet shared Clemenceau Republican’s ideas, and we also know of Clemenceau’s keen interest in the arts. During the war, Monet continued his work alternately in the open air, when the weather was suitable, and in the huge studio that he had had built in 1916 with roof windows for natural light. On 12 November 1918, the day after the Armistice, Monet wrote to Georges Clemenceau: “I am on the verge of finishing two decorative panels which I want to sign on Victory day, and am writing to ask you if they could be offered to the State with you acting as intermediary.” The painter, therefore, intended to give the nation a real monument to peace. At this time, when it was still not certain where the decorative series was destined, it seems that Clemenceau managed to persuade Monet to increase this gift from just two panels to the whole decorative series. In 1920, the gift became official and resulted, in September, in an agreement between Monet and Paul Léon, director of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, for the gift to the State of twelve decorative panels that Léon would undertake to install according to the painter’s instructions in a specific building. However, Monet, prey to doubt, continually reworked his panels and even destroyed some. The contract was signed on 12 April 1922 for the gift of 19 panels, but Monet, still dissatisfied, wanted more time to perfect his work. Clemenceau wrote to him in vain that year “you are well aware that you have reached the limit of what can be achieved with power of the brush and of the mind.” But, in the end, Monet would keep the paintings until his death in 1926. His friend Clemenceau then put everything into action to inaugurate the rooms for the Water Lilies in strict accordance with Monet’s wishes.http://www.musee-orangerie.fr/en/article/history-water-lilies-cycle

Unfortunately, I didn’t know about this exhibition when I was in Paris, and as I’ve mentioned before, with my love of expressionist art, I wasn’t as keen on Monet at the time. However, now I can just imagine what it would be like to stand in the middle of that room surrounded by Monet’s lilies and the deep sense of peace and serenity which must fill the room, as though Picasso’s dove of peace had built its nest in there. It feels like a miracle.
Have you ever been to the Gallerie de l’Orangerie? What was it like? How did it feel? I’d love to hear from people who’ve experienced the collection first hand!
Best wishes,
Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share 28th January, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Had you arrived last night, I could’ve offered you a Raspberry & White Chocolate Scone straight out of the oven and dripping with melted butter. Personally, I thought they were baked to perfection. However, I had a comment from one about too much salt and not enough white chocolate from two. This lot is way too fussy and we ought to stop watching all these cooking shows before they get any worse. There’s no such thing as tinned spaghetti on toast around here, and sometimes it would be a blessed relief.

Raspberry Scone

Raspberry & White Chocolate Scone made by yours truly.

To be perfectly honest, I can’t even remember the last week. Indeed, rather than thinking about the week that was, I’m actually fixating on the week to come. It’s the start of the new school year here, and this is when my New Year really hits the road and resolutions turn into reality…or not! Gone are the days of arriving back from holidays the night before and winging it with last year’s uniforms and the Christmas tree still up. Our daughter starts her first year of high school on Tuesday and after a few years under our belts with her older brother, we’ve learned that you need to start the year off with a bang. That’s because it’s inevitably a slippery, downhill run from there. Of course, their uniforms will be ironed for the first day. Shoes polished. These kids might even be polished and…pigs might fly!

The one thing I still haven’t quite got my head around, is how to flick the switch from Holiday Time to School Time. I swear this transition leaves jetlag for dead. Late nights and sleeping in, traded in for early morning starts, activities after school and trying to push for early nights. Thank goodness for coffee!

I should also mention that Friday was Australia Day. We didn’t celebrate Australia Day, but we didn’t not celebrate it either. You see, there’s a growing movement in Australia to change the date because it’s  celebrating the day British settlement was established with the arrival of the First Fleet in Botany Bay on the 26th January, 1788. However, some Indigenous Australians have rebadged Australia Day, “Invasion Day”. This acknowledges that Australia wasn’t “terra nullus”, but inhibited by Aboriginal people and a treaty should have been signed. I personally would like to keep the date but change the meaning so that celebrations acknowledged these sentiments.

Sailing on Australia Day.

On the other hand, our son sailed in an Australia Day Regatta with the Sailing Club. He sails in a Flying 11, which is totally beyond my comprehension. I’m more familiar with Lasers and only then as ballast and making sure I don’t get hit in the head by the boom! This takes a lot of concentration.

On a more positive note, I have managed to put together a post about living with adversity: Life Was Meant To Be Easy. I hope you might find it encouraging.

Our pups Zac and Rosie are now about six months old and dear Rosie is chewing everything in sight and even contraband that’s out of reach. We left them inside while my husband manned the scout BBQ at local Australia Day celebrations in case they freaked out with the fireworks and got home to find they’d murdered the tissue box and spread it’s entrails all over the loungeroom. It was obviously very dead and this episode reiforced yet again that as much as I try to exercises the forces of good and cleanliness in this house, there are forces of mischief working against me at every turn.

Once the kids are back at school, I’m planning to indulge in a ferry trip to Palm Beach once the heat has settled down a bit. I also have a very long backlog of coffees to catch up on with friends. Thrown in with all of that, I’ll be sussing out for some paid work. Not just any paid work, but somehow getting my marketing communications path onto some kind of track.

All these thing seem pretty unexciting, but I’m pleased to report that the cough is much better. It’s still there and my ventolin is always by my side but the light on the horizon is getting closer. Thank goodness!

Hope you’ve had a good weekend!

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Dusk: Day 3 – B&W Photo Challenge

Yesterday, I finally managed to nip down to the beach just before the sun had disappeared entirely, and the golden sand had descended into complete darkness. I know my mantra is carpe diem seize the day, but thanks to a weird sleep virus which has exacerbated my night owl tendencies, I am carpe nightum (or however you put that in proper Latin).

So, in my defence, I say: “At least, I walked the dog. At least, I did get to the beach and while it doesn’t need to be quite so dark to avoid the risk of skin cancer, it is a more sensible option than cooking myself under the midday sun.

Jogger Ocean Beach

Colour.

Our beach isn’t overly crowded outside the peak Christmas – New Year holiday period. So, heading into evening in November, there were only a couple of dog walkers stretching over quite an expand of beach. There was a soft lapping of something which could hardly be called waves against the shore and it would’ve been quite relaxing and melodic if I hadn’t been trying to get my B & W image when I’d clearly left my run too late. The magic hour had set.

Of course, Lady didn’t care. She was nose down sniffing and I kept a cursory glance out to make sure she didn’t opt for a swim at dusk without adequate time to dry off. She has quite a thick coat and is definitely NOT “quick dry”.

Anyway, it’s time to pass on the mantle for the next person to pick up the Seven Day Black & White Photo Challenge. Today, I’m handing over to  Geoff Le Pard who enjoys a good walk around London and might as well take his camera with him.

Best wishes,

xx Rowena

Dipping My Toe in Yoga.

After all my struggles and contortions trying to put up the clothes horse yesterday, I wondered whether trying yoga was really such a good idea. Indeed, I couldn’t help wondering whether I’d end up in Emergency, tied up in myself like a knotted pretzel.

Take it from me, I’m NOT catastrophizing. I have strings of medical reports to prove it.

Yet, there’s this annoying inner voice determined to overcome all of that: “Rowena, get a grip! Disaster is NOT waiting for you around every corner. You can do it. You are capable. You have overcome numerous hurdles before with Olympic strength and endurance. You can do anything you set your mind to. This may be more than good for you. You might actually enjoy it.”

This voice and I aren’t always on the best of terms, and more than once, we’ve exchanged stern words.

A) Don’t you know I’m too stressed to relax?

B) Can’t you see I’m disabled? How can I do yoga when I can barely walk down a footpath without tripping over?

C) I’m sure there are a whole heap of reasons why I shouldn’t do yoga. I just can’t quite remember them now.

Well, the benefit of this particular yoga class, was that it’s being run by an occupational therapist. Moreover, it was recommended by my physio and a few of her other clients were going, That meant I’d be in safe hands, and I’d also be meeting people in a similar boat. That could also be really fantastic… a whole new social, exercise and potentially coffee group.

So, despite the rain, off I went.

And…I loved it…especially the last 15 minutes when we lay on our mats with a lavender eye mask on and a blanket over me, doing my deep breathing. I felt such a strong sense of well-being. It washed over me like a warm wave of kindness and I’d received a much needed inner hug.

Meanwhile, even my toes got stretched and that’s a good thing.

Have you launched out and tried something new lately? Or, is there something you’ve been putting off? Why not have a go?!!

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend.

xx Rowena

Mothers’ Day Cloud Hunt.

Nothing like a Sunday afternoon stroll along the beach to clear the cobwebs and psyche you up for another week…even if it is Mothers’ Day and you’re supposed to be immersed in your family.

After lunch and then watching the hit movie Lion with my son, I noticed some striking clouds and nabbed my camera and headed off to the beach, which is two blocks from our place.

Clouds Ettalong Beach

Clouds at Ettalong Beach, NSW.

Although I’m not quite a woman obsessed as I drive down to the beach, almost absorbing the clouds as I check out each and every curve, the lighting and am thrilled at the brooding darkness…even though I’ve been stuck photographing dangerous storms in the past.

DSC_5369

Ettalong Beach, NSW looking towards Broken Bay and Palm Beach.

Yet, it’s all too easy just to duck down to the beach and once again, I didn’t check the weather report before I took off. Five minutes. Surely, hail doesn’t strike the same place twice????

This time I was lucky. Not judicious, only lucky.

At the same time, I really enjoyed a quick walk along the beach and feeling myself become one with the landscape, inhaling and exhaling the sea.

How did you celebrate Mothers’ Day? I’d love hear what you’ve been up to.

xx Rowena

Q- Queenstown, Tasmania.

Welcome to Day 16 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

As you may be aware, we are Travelling Alphabetically Around Tasmania at Beyond the Flow this year. This morning, we left Port Arthur ridiculously early for the 5 hour (340 km) drive to Queenstown, on the West Coast. We will be going on a very quick detour to check out Russell Falls, which is a quick 10 minutes walk from the Mt Field Visitors’ Centre. So, if you’re wanting to get onboard the West Coast Wilderness Railway at Queenstown, we’ll have to hurry up. After all, we’re only here for one day.

The route we are taking today retraces my journey from Port Arthur to Devonport via Queenstown on my first trip to Tasmania in 1995…a trip I have always considered a big mistake. Back in the days long before I’d met Geoff my favourite Tasmanian, I’d flown down to Tassie to see the end of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. I was staying in the youth hostel in Hobart, when I hooked up with another backpacker and we hired a car to get around. When I tell you that we headed straight for Queenstown on the West Coast after leaving Port Arthur, you’ll know I hadn’t done my research because we completely missed the beauties of Freycinet National Park, including Wine Glass Bay.

Instead, we experienced Russell Falls, which were amazing from memory (I more remember photographing the falls, which won’t surprise you). From there, we kept travelling west and needed somewhere to stay. That’s how we ended up in Queenstown. It was a large dot on the map and off we went. For those of you who are uninitiated into travelling around Tasmania, you won’t appreciate the implications of this. Back then, Queenstown was nothing but a decimated moonscape after years of Copper mining:

“The copper smelters wreaked havoc on the surrounding landscape. Not only did the sulphur fumes kill off plants in the area but the eleven furnaces required vast quantities of timber and the mining company simply cut down the forests to fuel the fires. It has been estimated that hundreds of men were employed as timber cutters and that over 3 million tonnes of timber were cut down between 1896 and 1923. At its peak the furnaces were consuming 2,040 tonnes of wood each week. The combination of timber felling, the sulphur fumes and the heavy rainfall in the area (which washed away the top soil) ensured that by 1900 the whole valley looked like a desert.[1]

Queenstown

I also came across this piece about Queenstown written by Alan Banks, age 13 and particularly loved his description of the Galena crystals (Geoff has since told me his sister had such a lump):

“QUEENSTOWN, Tasmania, has a recorded population of 2800, but this has shrunk a great deal, for there were many people prospecting for gold some years ago. Nearby is Mount Lyall, the source of much copper. Many metals are mined here, including gold, silver and lead. Silver-lead ore, the galena crystal for wireless sets, for which one pays so much in the Sydney shops, was often dug up in lumps the size of a football in back yards and gardens. Sulphur is also extensively found here, and whenever the north-east wind blows Queens-town smells horribly, (Mt. Lyell is to the north-east of the town.) Bush fires in summer frequently occur; they presented a magnificent sight to us at night time, for our house was just opposite the mountain and we had splendid views of the broad sheet of flame rolling down the steep mountain side. The crackling of the fires could be heard in the town. Not far away are the pleasant sea side resorts of Zeehan and Strahan. Zeehan, where boating and swimming facilities are ideal, is famous, even in Tasmania, for fishing. Tourist trips on the Gordon River are very popular. Parties arc taken up the river in launches, and spend several days in camp on the edge of the impenetrable jungle. The rain fall is extremely high here, which, with the fertility of the soil, accounts for the heavy growth of trees and vegetation. The average annual rain fall is 100 inches.”

Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954), Sunday 3 January 1932, page 2

While I’m pleased I made the trip in hindsight, I was a bit pissed off with myself once I’s seen photos of Wineglass Bay and saw what I’d missed. I’d only had about a week in Tassie at the time, so every day was precious and on your first visit, you want to do the best, rather than the more “educational” stuff.

Since that first trip, I’ve been back to Tassie about five times with Geoff and we really do tend to stick around the North and North-East with fleeting trips down south to Hobart and more recently Port Arthur. This means I’ve never been back to Queenstown and we’ve only made it down as far as Strahan on a previous trip. This has not been due to last of interest, but lack of time. There really is so much to see in Tassie and we tend to explore in detail, rather than spreading ourselves thin. However, we are planning to explore the West Coast on our next trip and take the West Coast Wilderness Railway.

That means we’d better start saving our pennies. We can’t get enough of Tasmania.

xx Rowena

References

[1] http://www.theage.com.au/news/tasmania/queenstown/2005/02/17/1108500205909.html