Tag Archives: mum

Our Sojourn At Swan Lake.

“Being born in a duck yard does not matter, if only you are hatched from a swan’s egg.”

– Hans Christian Andersen

On Saturday, we were lined up in our seats anxiously waiting for the curtain to rise. Our daughter was performing in Swan Lake & Beyond with the Central Dance Company at the Wyong Art House, North of Sydney. Not only that, she was going to be a swan and I couldn’t wait to see her appear like an apparition in that voluminous white tutu elegantly flapping her wings across the stage.

There is such an absolute silence…that pregnant pause… just before the curtain rises which seemingly lasts for eternity. We, the audience, is waiting in suspended animation, while anything could be happening behind the curtain. Like a bolt of lightening, the curtain rises and an explosion of colour, movement and sound grips our senses. We’re not on Swan Lake yet. Rather, the opening number is  called Hooked on Tchaikovsky.  The music reminded me of a cassette we used to have: Hooked On Classics. Those of you of a certain age, might recall it. Otherwise, just  think of fast-paced classics. I don’t know what to say about the dancing, except that I was wowed and I remember actively trying to expand my perception to take it all in, as I’m better at focusing in on a detail than absorbing the entire scene.

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Our daughter in Swan Lake Act 1 Waltz of the Swans.

Keeping track of our daughter during the opening number was difficult. Given their hairstyles and costumes were identical, all the dancers almost looked the same, and unless your dancer is extremely tall or short, it was down to hair colour. I always find my daughter has an identical twin in these performances and I forever mix them up. Once I spot her, that’s it. I have to keep my eyes fixed and I can’t even blink just in case I lose her. That’s why I’ve booked myself in to watch all three shoes. I figured I’d only be watching our daughter for the first show, and could then take in more of the bigger picture for shows two and three. After all, I do want to see the show in all its glory and not only through my blinkered, crazed-Mum-vision. Besides, the third show will also be at a different venue and I don’t want to miss whatever that means and that show will also be the finale. Besides, I know I’m not fooling anyone. We all know I’m a parent tragic gazing longingly up at our daughter as though she’s the star in the night sky. However, I make no apologies for that. Every performer needs their greatest fans. It’s not easy getting up on stage with a million and one things on your mind and having to hold it together on the pointe of your shoe. You need to know someone believes in you, especially when you’re pushing through into so many new frontiers, which are all deliriously exciting but equally terrifying and formidable.

“He had danced with fair maidens before, but Odette was different. She was graceful and beautiful, but there was something in her eyes and in the things she said, an intelligence and a boldness that belied her quiet demeanor.”
― Melanie Dickerson, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest

However, this is not a review of the show or even our daughter’s performance within. I know professional critics do it all the time. However, I haven’t yet mastered the ability to condense something so mind-blowingly spectacular into a handful of words. I make no apologies for that. After all, Swan Lake is silent. There are no words at all. Yet, even as a wordsmith, I didn’t even notice they were missing because the movements and expressions of the dancers along with Tchaikovsky’s incredible music said it all. I was transfixed.

Yet, within all of the movement and the spectacular music, there was our daughter. Finally, almost at the end of the show, she appeared from left stage in her white tutu and she was a swan. You’d think I would’ve etched those moments into my retina forever so I could just pull up a seat and play it again Sam over and over again. However, I was also dazzled by the performances of the featured artists. There was Rebecca Petty as Odette and Cieran Edinger as Siegfried and I would have fallen deeply into their intoxicating love story if it hadn’t been for the diabolical Von Rothbart (played by Gary Bowles) who kept tearing them apart. Gary played this dastardly villain hauntingly well and  had me shaking in my shoes, even though I’ve met him quite a few times at rehearsals.

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After the show with our daughter.

However, all too soon, the performance was over and we were left at Stage Door holding our flowers waiting for our daughter to appear. This reminded me of waiting at Arrivals at the International Airport where you’re waiting for this person you haven’t seen for a very long time to appear. However, there’s this dribble of people coming through and you’re waiting and waiting. When they finally appear, there’s almost an explosion of emotion. That uncurtailed excitement! No doubt that weary traveller was not unlike our petite ballerina who just wanted to get to bed and rest her feet. Well, she did have a her tales to tell and agreed to a few photographs, which wasn’t going to be a given. It wasn’t quite “Go straight to be, directly to bed. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.00”.

As we were driving home, I could almost shed a sigh of relief. The first two shows were done and dusted, and there’d barely been a ripple in the pond. Indeed, we were floating along on swan lake.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I hope to get a photo of our daughter in her Swan Lake tutu soon.

One More Sleep for Our Swan…

“Consciousness expresses itself through creation. This world we live in

is the dance of the creator. Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an

eye but the dance lives on. On many an occasion when I am dancing, I

have felt touched by something sacred. In those moments, I felt my

spirit soar and become one with everything that exists.”

Michael Jackson

Tomorrow, our daughter takes to the stage in Swan Lake Act II and as her greatest fan, I absolutely can’t wait. She will be performing with the Central Dance Company where professional dancers fill the lead roles while the youth form the corps de ballet. This gives the young dancers a taste of what it’s like to be in a professional ballet company and step out beyond the walls of their own studios. Moreover, it also provides additional hours of expert teaching, and improvement simply through the sheer number of hours of rehearsal. If you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, you’ll know all about that magic 10,000 hours of practice which lifts you out of mediocrity into the meteoric heavens.

“Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all

obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of

inviting the perfection desired.”

― Martha Graham

 

However, there are some downsides to pushing yourself to the max and beyond. Not unsurprisingly when you push your body so far, there’s that omnipresent risk of injury.  There’s also a fine line between pursuing your passion and giving it everything you’ve got, and flying straight into the candle flame and burning up. Just ask the moth.

Yet, in pursuing a career as a professional ballerina, staying upright on top of that pointe shoe is about the only kind of balance available. Ultimately, as in any other demanding field, you sink or swim. However, the extremes are far more intense and burn out can be psychologically and physically destructive, which was almost portrayed too well in the movie Black Swan.

“Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

If you have seen Black Swan, you well might ask why I signed our daughter up for ballet. Why would I put her through all of that, when she could have followed her previous dream of becoming an astrophysicist?

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Our daughter at her first ballet concert aged 4.

The truth is that as a parent, I don’t really have a lot of say in all of this. All I did was book her into a local ballet class when she was three turning four. The earth didn’t quiver and shake as she disappeared with her teacher and the other kids behind the closed door, although I do remember wanting to go in there and see what was going on. We even have the concert video from that very first year of ballet, and while she was very cute up on stage in her tutu, she wasn’t extraordinary. She even made mistakes.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

Michelangelo

If we fast-forward to when she was about 10, she was very unwell and also couldn’t seem to get to class or would get there with one or both shoes missing and her hair all tangled up in a veritable bird’s nest. However, despite these outward appearances, her teacher and I still managed to see the dancer within, just like Michaelangelo saw his angel in that lump of stone. It was hard to spot, but she was there. It was also thanks to a few of her friends who took her under their wing, that she was able to catch up for the end of year concert. I’m still not sure how things turned around. However, it was like a switch had been turned on. Or, she’d been struck by some kind of cosmic lightning. A passion for dance was ignighted, and she’s never turned back. She absolutely loves dance to an extent where it goes far beyond just being her thing to somehow becoming part of her being.

“Hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, they danced by the light of the moon.”
Edward Lear

Every time I see my daughter dance, I celebrate this progression from struggling to hold her fingers in a diamond shape above her head, to the young woman who is now en pointe and learning the cygnet routine from Swan Lake. There’s a lot of pride in that, but also an acknowledgment of the sheer hard work we’ve all put in right down to driving her to classes and rehearsals, and almost piercing my fingers and drawing blood sewing ribbons and elastics on shoes. Our swan didn’t just fall out of a box of cereal and land on her feet.

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Getting her first pointe shoes was such a special day.

On a more personal note, seeing our daughter dance in Swan Lake in a beautiful white tutu is like a precursor of seeing what she would be like walking down the aisle on her wedding day. Naturally, I remember our wedding day. I was so happy my face was aching and I loved getting all dressed up in my absolutely beautiful dress and in a sense being the swan for the day. However, since our daughter’s arrival, I’ve had my moments of playing the dying swan. On too many occasions, I’ve been living it as I battle along with dermatomyositis and associated lung fibrosis. It is impossible to describe what it’s like as a seriously ill mum to face leaving your young children behind and you’ll never be waiting for them at the school gate again. Indeed, to be very honest, we didn’t think I was going to make it this far. Yet, despite time being my enemy, I’ve actually improved quite a lot overall and am strangely doing okay. However, that doesn’t mean that when it comes to seeing my daughter all dressed up as a white swan, that I’m not going to make the most of that. Carpe diem seize the day. This memory will be etched into my retinas and in my heart. After all, before she became my swan, she always was and still remains my girl. My family are my greatest treasures.

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Dance Mum and daughter

It is very easy to get caught up in the hoopla of dance. Being a Dance Mom and allowing your love and pride for your own child, overtake all sense of reason and perspective. Our daughter takes part in eisteddfods and of course, I think she’s the best and I felt a bit devastated when she doesn’t place. “You got rocks in your head?!!!” Of course, I don’t say anything and we talk it up. However, it’s important to keep all of this dance stuff in perspective and what really matters to me, is that my kids are decent people. That they stop and help others, don’t set out to win at all costs and are good losers. Of course, I’d love them to be happy, but I’m more of a realist and simply hope they get through life’s up and downs relatively unscathed and can keep smiling.

Above: When our daughter performs in Swan Lake, she’ll dip her toe into the very same pond traversed by the likes of Anna Pavlova (who even had her own pet swan) and Dame Margot Fonteyn.

In a sense, we have been very lucky that the dance school we attend encourages teamwork and kindness. I just took her down to the local dance school and didn’t shop around or ask for advice. Our choice was all based on convenience. However, our dance school actively promotes supportive and encouraging friendships and the parents are friendly and help each other out. Indeed, we’ve been sharing lifts back and forth to rehearsals for Swan Lake and we’ve got to know each other better. It’s been great. I don’t think we’d have stuck with dance if our studio had been anything like what you see in Dance Moms. Values come first.

“You dance love, and you dance joy, and you dance dreams. And I know

if I can make you smile by jumping over a couple of couches or running

through a rainstorm, then I’ll be very glad to be a song and dance man.”

Gene Kelly

Reading back through all of this, I realized that I haven’t really touched on what dance does for the spirit and how it can create that all-encompassing joie de vivre or even a sense of absolute peace. I have been doing some adult classes and really only dipping my toe into dance, but I have also had a taste of the magic which inspires my daughter. It’s electric.

So, we now only have one more sleep until our daughter becomes a swan whatever that entails. However, I know that for me, it will be pure magic.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Sailing…Launching the Laser.

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”

– Lao Tzu

Yesterday, the sailing season launched again for our son and this was his first time out on his new-to-him Laser. For the last two years, he’s been sailing in a Flying 11 along with a crew member. However, the two 15-year-olds were weighing it down. It wasn’t competitive and quite simply, they didn’t fit. That’s what happens to a lot of things with teenagers, and I don’t believe ours has had his major growth spurt yet. We’re expecting him to be around 6ft-6ft2 so he still has a way to go and he’s only just taller than Mum and Dad.

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”

Abraham Maslow

Of course, the cobwebs had set in over Winter and they were compounded by the new boat and the current situation of having to store the boat at home instead of the sailing club. So, that also meant Dad was driving with the trailer out the back, which I guess really took us into the league of serious sailors. We weren’t just part of the champagne set who keep this yacht thing on a mooring so we can boast to people that we have a yacht, even though we never take it out. Oh no! Our son is a sailor and he’s out on the water at every opportunity and my husband and Dad are the same.

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“Self-transformation is not just about changing yourself. It means shifting yourself to a completely new dimension of experience and perception.”

—Jaggi Vasudev

As you could imagine, taking the new boat out for the first time, there was going to be some teething problems, potential nerves and drama even before the boat hit the water. We had a packing list for the Flying 11 and I should’ve twigged that this needed updating for the new boat. Moreover, taking the boat with us, that included the proverbial kitchen sink.

I saw my role yesterday as observation and potentially a second pair of hands. However, that all changed when we started rigging the boat and Tweedledum and Tweedledee had not communicated well and a sail was left at home. Although Geoff knew how to rig the boat and would’ve been more useful there, he also knew what needed to be found. That meant I stayed put. helping Mr set up the boat…Yikes!!

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He makes it out onto the water and on time. His boat is called “Enjoy” and as he set out, I hope that would sum up his sail.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

– Albert Einstein

If you know me at all, you’d know that means trouble…unless, of course, he could do it all by himself. He did most of it himself. After all, he’s new to this boat, but not new to sailing and he’s sailed Lasers before. However, there was the difficulty of attaching the sail to what might’ve been the boom, and we didn’t have the right gizmo to tie it on. This meant he was trying to tie a fiddly piece of rope, while I was simultaneously holding onto the boom and trying to pull back the sail with the limited strength I have in my hands. I am not Tarzan. Indeed, as many of you know, I have a disability. However, it’s usually an invisibility, and even though my son knows all about it and has lived with it most of his life, he doesn’t always understand its practical application and simply expects me to pull my weight. Be the parent he needs me to be, and I usually try to fit the bill and ignore the personal cost. Besides, I must admit that there’s a lot of pride when I can do whatever it is, and I’m really chuffed. I’ve not only come through for our son, but I’ve also stretched myself and had a small win. A can-do experience, which obviously feels so much better than the “I can’t”.

“A man’s true delight is to do the things he was made for.”

– Marcus Aurelius

While Dad was off fetching the missing sail, we were welcomed into the Laser fleet by the other sailors. So far, it appears that our son is the only youth sailing a Laser and the “oldies” were very welcoming and we had three enthusiastic helpers with rigging the boat. This was fantastic. There were a lot of subtleties with the rigging and the sort of tips you learn first hand, not in a book.  A few years ago, I was made aware of the “you know what you know”, “know what you don’t know” but there was also this square in the diagram for “what you don’t know you don’t know.” I’ve since kept an eye out for this stuff and when I’m listening to someone and it doesn’t make sense, it’s a pretty good indication that I’ve plunged into this territory and it’s time to use my two ears and only use my mouth for questions and clarification.

“What holds most people back isn’t the quality of their ideas, but their lack of faith in themselves. You have to live your life as if you are already where you want to be.”

– Russell Simmons

Needless to say, I fell deep into this camp yesterday as these experienced sailors were offering advice and I dearly wished Geoff would hurry back and pick up the conversation. However, at least I came prepared and had my notebook and pen in hand. That’s my unofficial brain.

We got the boat rigged. Bought him his pie to sustain him through the race and he was off to the briefing to sign in. Apparently, he needs to finish three races to get a handicap. So, the idea was for him to simply do three laps yesterday. I don’t think he was particularly focused on finishing though, and was just trying to get a feel for the boat. That was a more realistic objective.

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Downstairs at Gosford Sailing Club

Once we got him out on the water, Geoff and I retired to restaurant upstairs and enjoyed the view over wedges and a divinely creamy Chery Ripe Cheesecake.

Rowena sailing

Then, Geoff saw a boat being towed in and since we didn’t have our binoculars, he went off to investigate. It wasn’t Mr but while he was down there, he managed to get us a ride onboard a powerboat. Wow. It’s not often I get to go out on the water, let alone onto something fast. Remember, we’re a sailing family.

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My husband Geoff was also enjoying a bit of speed. 

We spotted Mr and tried to rough up conditions just enough to challenge him, without knocking him over. It was great to see him up close and I’ll also reiterate to be out on the water myself!

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Unfortunately, he didn’t finish. He had a sore knee and I think he capsized a few times. However, as I said, I don’t think he was particularly focused on finishing and was more concerned with finding his duck feet.

“What we call our destiny is truly our character and that character can be altered. The knowledge that we are responsible for our actions and attitudes does not need to be discouraging, because it also means that we are free to change this destiny.”

– Anaïs Nin

Now, I’m back to thinking about learning to sail myself. There’s a group called Sailability, which takes people with disabilities out for a sail. I figure that’s a great place to start and start I must. I’ve been procrastinating about this for over a year now. Time to get on with it.

Are you a sailor or have you ever been interested in sailing? Do you have any adventures to share? I’d love to hear from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Who Was the Diggingest Dog?

This is what we woke up to this morning… a monumental crater in our backyard. A crater so big, you could almost park a Mini inside it, and we weren’t happy!

Well, you might think we’d been struck by a meteorite. Indeed, given the smattering of holes around the backyard, a meteorite shower.  However, this particular hole is much larger and deeper than the rest and might even be considered impressive. Meanwhile, thanks to all these holes and the grey, sandy soil, our backyard resembles a moonscape and there’s barely a blade of grass in sight.  It looks pretty desolate to be honest and I don’t really go out there unless I have to.

As soon as you step foot in our backyard, the cause of these holes is obvious. It’s our three dogs… Lady and the “pups” Rosie and Zac. However, this hole was most likely the work of one dog, and the other two are innocent. However, how do we find out who done it when we don’t have the forensic resources of the FBI, Scotland Yard or NSW Police at our disposal? We obviously won’t get far by interrogating the dogs. Moreover, each dog is very good at feigning innocence. So, I guess this all means the guilty dog has got away with it. Committed the perfect crime.

Above: Lady is adamant it wasn’t her…”I’m an absolute angel.”

Pity that, because I really would like to have a backyard, which hasn’t literally gone to the dogs. Last night, this question raised it’s ugly head again when I had the chance to nip over to London via the blog and was able to check out  Geoff Le Pard’s backyard. His garden not only has flowers. It also has that lush green expanse otherwise known as “a lawn”. A lawn is a luxury. Yet, Geoff also has has a dog.

“Get close to grass and you’ll see a star.”

― Dejan Stojanovic, The Sun Watches the Sun

How does this man manage to have a perfect backyard and an incredible almost glowing green lawn when he also has a dog? How is it so? Does Geoff have direct access to Flora, the Roman goddess associated with flowers and Spring? Or, is it just a case that God has blessed the gardens of England and cursed the gardens of Australia, or even the backyard of this Australian in particular? It’s not that I feel like I have a target painted on my back. However, sometimes I do feel the man upstairs has made my journey that bit more difficult than most, and I could well throw “gratitude” to the wind. Indeed,  I could walk straight up to God and ask him straight out: “Please explain”.

Many of you won’t understand what I mean by “please explain”. It’s a phrase made famous here in Australia by our controversial Federal politician Pauline Hanson. While I might not like Pauline Hanson or her politics, the phrase has stuck moving into common usage, often with comic effect.

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Our Family

Mind you, I can’t really blame God for the state of our backyard and in many ways, the dogs aren’t to blame either. Having the perfect backyard, the perfect house aren’t achievable at the moment with two kids, three dogs, sailing and dance activities, work and chronic health. It’s relationships which matter, although I will confess that’s not as easy as it sounds and fueling relationships over the longer term isn’t easy. There’s a big difference I guess between where we aspire to be and where we’re at. That’s what it means to be human.

How is your garden going? Do you manage to have dogs and a decent garden? What’s your magic secret?

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I found this beautiful quotes which related so well to our battles to grow grass in our backyard of beach sand:

“The children had had an argument once about whether there was more grass in the world or more sand, and Roger said that of course there must be more sand because of under the sea; in every ocean all over the world there would be sand, if you looked deep down. But there could be grass too, argued Deborah, a waving grass, a grass that nobody had ever seen, and the colour of that ocean grass would be darker than any grass on the surface of the world, in fields or prairies or people’s gardens in America. It would be taller than tress and it would move like corn in the wind. (“The Pool”
― Daphne du Maurier, Echoes from the Macabre: Selected Stories

Not Quite A Perfect Father’s Day…

A picture tells a thousand words, but it can also tell a thousand lies. After all, how many of us stick those perfect-looking family photos up on our blogs and Facebook projecting this idyllic life out to all and sundry? Most of us do it unwittingly, simply sharing the moment. However, how many of us are brave enough to tell the truth? Admit we didn’t have a perfect day?

However, to be perfectly honest with you, I don’t believe online is the place to broadcast the truth either. Indeed, my grandmother who had quite a lot of wisdom stashed under the lid, used to say that you never run down your family to other people. While this can lead to the stiff upper lip and a swag of behaviors we’ve tried to overcome in subsequent generations, it also shows respect and allows family members to have their off days without fearing their dirty laundry will be aired in public and they need to hide themselves away.

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However, I’m also mindful that it doesn’t take much to project this image of the perfect, happy family especially if you’re still married to your original spouse and your kids scrub up alright. Indeed, without you even knowing it, you could even become a role model. That’s all well and good if you feel you deserve it. However, a lot goes on behind closed doors. Too much at times and you just can’t spill the beans and get it off your chest because it isn’t your story to tell. Or, as I said, you don’t want to broadcast what was really a blip on the radar…a bad day.

It was much easier to do that when the kids were small. You could share at playgroup about your toddler throwing a tantrum in the supermarket and exchange notes. It feels like more of a betrayal when you spill the beans on your teen. That you need to adhere to the code of silence. This is possibly quite different to when I was a teen and my mother played bridge and tennis with her friends. She was pretty discreet and I can’t imagine her disclosing any of our antics. Indeed, she is known to be very good with secrets…watertight. She doesn’t leak. Besides, I think she was inclined to hold back and keep our family’s business to herself. Indeed, I remember going to stay with her parents being given a list of things not to tell my grandparents for a swag of reasons. However, my grandmother knew I was the weakest link and most of the time I didn’t even need to say a word anyway. She already knew.

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Anyway, this Father’s Day was never going to be perfect. By that, I mean giving my husband breakfast in bed, opening presents and for us all going off to Church together. They always have something special at Church and a photo booth, which is lots of fun if your Father’s Day is shaping up alright, but salt in the wound if it’s not. However, only Geoff made it to Church today. I’m still getting over a virus and am taking things slow. Our daughter was off to dance rehearsals for Swan Lake and the curtain opens in only three weeks. So, she was gone for most of the day. Meanwhile, our son couldn’t sleep and didn’t get there either. It wasn’t a great show of family solidarity for Father’s Day and I just couldn’t make it happen either, which I probably would’ve done if I was feeling better.

However, despite a day which was teetering along like an apprentice  tightrope walker teetering back and forward from the brink, I tenaciously clung to my plans to cook a special baked family dinner and even a family specialty for dessert…my mum’s sponge cake topped with luscious passion fruit icing and dollops of cream. It was quite an effort cleaning all the paraphernalia and vitally important detritus off the kitchen table and I can’t remember the last time we actually set the table and had a more formal dinner.

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The Family Sponge Cake (oops I was struggling to blend the butter into the icing but it tasted great).

I don’t know if good food is a way to the heart, a way of helping people to bond and connect and for some of the walls to come down. However, it seemed to do the trick. Our daughter said the potatoes were the best I’d ever made, which is high praise coming from her as she eats like a sparrow. Our son wasn’t too hungry and was feeling tired and went off to bed without even trying the cake. However, he did start to perk up a bit.

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Indeed, they all did after I produced a big photo album and they started looking at old photos of Geoff’s Mum and Dad and the extended family. This was quite intentional on my part because Father’s Day is a hard day for my husband. His father died when he was around 16 just before Father’s Day 36 years ago. He didn’t get the chance to get to know his father as an adult. Obviously, the kids and I have never met him and there is quite an absence there. We don’t have a lot of stories and only a handful of photographs. So, it was really good to see Geoff and the kids pouring over these photographs and he could talk the kids through them. Our kids are a lot younger than their cousins so it was interesting for them to see them when they were their age. Sometimes, I must admit that it feels like our family missed the boat. We just weren’t there.

Meanwhile, there’s my Dad. We usually catch up with my Dad on  Father’s Day every year, although there are some years we celebrate on a different day because plans simply don’t come together, which is what happened this year. Father’s Day is held on the first Sunday in September here in Australia, and with the first Sunday falling on the 1st, it caught us off-guard. We didn’t have anything planned.

Dad didn’t mind. He was feeling exhausted as well and was happy to have a quiet day. We all seem to be getting over the Winter colds, which were compounded by heavy rain and winds during the week, which only reinforced our lethargy.

So, it wasn’t a perfect day. However, it did remind me to hang in there, even when things are far from perfect, and keep beavering away towards building connection, bridging gaps, misunderstandings and grumpiness. Never give up. If you think that sounds like a rallying cry, you’re right. I’m still trying to convince myself. However, your nearest and dearest are worth fighting for. Indeed, they are your world. For many of us, our forebears bore arms and defended our country and our principles. However, how many of us would make the supreme sacrifice for our family? I don’t know. Or, perhaps we’re prepared to die for our families but not prepared to live?

“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”

Jackie Kennedy

These are difficult issues. What would I do to save my family? Would I give it my all? Or, would I shut up shop. It’s all too hard. After all, there probably is no perfect family, although there probably are perfect moments which we need to seize hold of and savor for eternity.

Perhaps, we should also abandon the entire concept of the perfect family. Understand that a Happy Birthday, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day might need to be considered beyond the day itself when things turn pear shaped or even go catastrophically wrong. That it’s not just about the date but about celebrating the person and our relationship and might be more about something that happened last week, a few months ago than this particular day.

Naturally, for many father is a stranger. An unknown on a whole range of levels. Sometimes that’ s a ache and other time something not experienced, isn’t missed and perhaps others have even filled those shoes. I will not dare to presume to understand.

So, I guess I’m feeling like making a toast to overcoming disagreements, strained relationships, misunderstandings and working through even times where we are treated badly and a serious apology is in order. That’s not to gloss over the pain, betrayal and disappointment. It’s not to condone and accept domestic violence of any kind. However, it is to encourage working through rocky relationships and trying to nut things out, smooth things over and to keep talking. This  is as much directed at myself as anyone else. I find it much easier to retreat inside myself and shut the door. However, love and relationships are the most important things to me and it’s ultimately detrimental to  do that. The only way forward is to come out of my hidey-hole and get the ball rolling.

I am hoping you might also find these reflections helpful and you might like to add some thoughts or experiences in the comments. Our families and relationships mean the world to us so let’s try not only to keep hanging in there, but to also bring out the best in them too.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Moonlight in the Clouds…

“No more words. In the name of this place we drink in with

our breathing, stay quiet like a flower. So the nightbirds will start singing.”

― Rumi, Night and Sleep

Last night, the most magnificent moon stood almost suspended among the clouds at the end of the street, an exquisite jewel of creation. Our street is rather ordinary and nothing like watching the moon rise only metres away over the beach. That said, I can’t remember the last time we actually paused the frenetic pace of life to stand beside the water’s edge transfixed by the rising moon. That should be a point of shame really.

“If you want the moon, do not hide from the night.

If you want a rose do not run away from the thorns.

If you want to love do not hide from yourself.”
~ Rumi

Cloudy moon

Indeed, even last night, it’s glamorous appearance merely signaled a dash to fetch the camera and carpe seize the moment, rather than truly soaking it in and enjoying it for what it was an expression of nature, and perhaps even of God.

Somehow, we need to make more time to press the pause button and get outside to enjoy the world right at our feet. We don’t even need to travel to experience the world through fresh eyes. That is a point for me atm as a number of close friends are traveling through Europe and I would love to be there but can’t on so many levels. However, it helps that my Australian  backyard is overseas for most of you and somewhere exotic. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Just had to include this moon quote about human nature:

“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never

shows to anybody.”

― Mark Twain

Weekend Coffee Share – 12th August, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Much coffee has flowed under the bridge over the last couple of weeks celebrating my 50th Birthday. So far, I’ve just been catching up with small groups of family and friends but I’m planning a larger party when the weather warms up a bit. Daylight is extending. Wattle is flowering. There isn’t long to wait.

I’m not sure how long it’s been since I touched base last. I wrote a post which didn’t make it up last week. So, if I’m repeating myself, I apologize.

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Embracing My 50th Birthday at Pearl Beach, NSW. 

My 50th Birthday was a big deal for me. I would’ve like to do something more spectacular to mark the occasion. However, it’s Winter and the kids have school. So, it wasn’t a good time to get away. Then, inspiration hit. I decided to watch the sun rise on my special day. In the days leading up to the Big 50, the sunsets and the weather had been quite good. However, as luck would have it, rain threatened. The clouds rolled in and there wasn’t even an orange blush where the sunrise should have been. We were philosophical about it. We still enjoyed the serenity of the waves rolling into the shore accompanied by magpies, kookaburras and rainbow lorrikeets in the surrounding bush. Before we left, I strutted my stuff for the camera, which was just as well because that could well have saved us from changing places with a Mercedes which was side-swiped by a ute and forced off the road. The drivers door was badly damaged and shards of glass carpeted the front seats. I’m not superstitious but an accident like that which would have written of our beloved red Alfa, would have felt like a terrible harbinger of doom on my 50th birthday.

I don’t know about you, but birthday celebrations for us are also about food. We went out for dinner at a local French restraurant, Sous le Soleil, with my parents for my main birthday celebrations. It was such a special treat. Felt like we were in this little oasis of France in Sydney. All the staff seemed to be French and the food was exquisite. I was particularly touched when my dessert arrived with Happy Birthday inscribed in chhocolate around the plate. It was beautiful…as were the pears soaked in red wine and floating in a chocolate soup. That’s my type of food.

There have also been a couple of fabulous lunches, cafe morning teas and dinners with friends. I’ve taken a few of my photo albums along to a few of these. It was so much fun pouring over the pages with my Mum and Dad and photos taken during my 20s with a bunch of old friends. We had a lot of laughs and a few red faces.

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Geoff and I overlooking Pearl Beach.

A friend also took us out for lunch at Pearl Beach and afterwards we went for a drive to nearby Patonga and along the headland overlooking Pearl Beach, which is known locally as the water tower walk. There are breathtaking views. Indeed, they’re monumental, reminding me of the closing lines of John Keats poem: On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer:

Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes 
He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men 
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise— 
Silent, upon a peak in Darien. 

 

-However, the flip side of all this catching up, eating and splendor, was quite few weeks of deep and not always satisfied reflection. I’m not sure these would amount to regrets. However, there is certainly disappointment. There is also a sense of renewed determination to get a book finished and published. Not just any book but a book worth writing and reading. However, this ongoing mission is offset somewhat by an increased need to catch up with friends and socialize more, which is somewhat incompatible with withdrawing to my cave writing my life away. Decisions and choices need to be made. Or, I can simply go with the flow and wherever that takes me, which isn’t what the manuals of success advocate. So, the last couple of weeks have been rather intense in both directions.

Meanwhile, I’ve been doing a bit of reading. I’ve almost finished reading Kristina Olsson’s Shell.

Shell tells the gripping story of shell-9781925685329_lgPearl Keogh, a journalist who is protesting against Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war. Then there’s Axel Lindquist, a glass artist from Sweden, who is working on the site of the emerging Sydney Opera House creating a glass sculpture inspired by Utzon’s design. Of course, there’s romance. However, that’s almost secondary to this world of living, breathing history. Olsson’s prose is incredibly poetic and philosophical, which I absolutely love. Indeed, it feels like Shell was written just for me. Indeed, it’s opened a door into another world just as surely as that very famous wardrobe door, which took Lucy into Narnia.

It usually takes me a few weeks to get through a book. So, the fact I’ve almost finished Shell in a couple of days speaks volumes.  Indeed, I’ve have been enjoying snuggling up in bed with my book and my electric blanket on. While the Winter sun filters through the curtains behind me, I could almost feel like I’m sunbaking down at the beach, except a cold snap surrounds me. Most homes around here don’t have central heating. We brave the Winter months and invest in air-con for the Summer.

I’ve also been trying to get back into regular blogging. That dropped off a bit while I was working on my book project. This seemed the right thing to do. Be focused. However, the book project turned into a marathon instead of a sprint and it turned out this blog writing and interaction were weaving all sorts of magic which couldn’t be immediately classified but it’s absence was felt. After taking part in my regular blog shares this week, I’m feeling my better. My voice is back.

My posts this week have been…

Aussie Street Library, Pearl Beach

Chicken – Friday Fictioneers

Well, that seems to cover the last couple of weeks. I hope you’ve enjoyed joining us for my birthday celebrations. 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,

Rowena