Tag Archives: 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.

writing

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.

vintage-1970-s-mego-wonder-woman-12-action-figure-superhero-doll-w-red-boots

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

 

 

Surviving the Australian Sun…

Perhaps, you’ve heard that Australia is currently experiencing a dire heatwave. Indeed, it’s been coloured-in bright red on the weather maps, and threatening temperatures of over 40 degrees and everything but hell fire and brimstone.  Well, that’s if you believe the weather reports. However, where we live the reality has been much closer to 30 degrees, and dare I say, an English Summer.

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Arriving at Ocean Beach.

While there are those sun-seeking Australians who head straight for the beach when the temperatures soar, these days I prefer more of a hibernation approach and only hit the beach around sunset. Moreover, although I considered getting into my swimmers and going for a swim, I opted for a “photographic walk” instead. In case you’ve never been on one of these, a photographic walk is taken peering through the lens and is a rather stop-start experience. Nothing that’s going to raise your heart-rate. Rather the aim of this exercise is to stimulate your creative juices. It works wonders for me and I always see in a much more focused and intense way exploring the world through my camera lens, than my own eyes. Moreover, I don’t like getting wet. I know that might sound rather hypocritical after teasing my dog for not getting his paws wet. However, at least I’ll dip my toe in and once I’m wet, I love it.

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach looking out towards Lion Island and Palm Beach headland.

Besides, I also wanted to explore the beach and all it’s nuances through the lens. Our local beach has copped a beating over the last five years. Or, is it more of a case that that our coastline is a rugged wilderness at the mercy of storms, tides and shifting sands and any semblance of smooth calm is nothing more than a postcard illusion? After all, the ocean isn’t a swimming pool, is it!  It can’t be contained.

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Fishing

That’s part of the ocean’s rugged beauty. That every day, even every minute, it’s different…an ephemeral force of nature. The people on the beach are also ever-changing. Ocean Beach with its Surf Lifesaving Club, is usually a swimming beach with fishing usually based around the point at Ettalong. However, the fishers were out in force when I was there yesterday.

Couple Ocean Beach best

Love at Ocean Beach

Indeed, they weren’t the only ones. I’m sure it won’t come as any great surprise that we get overrun during Summer by this supposedly great force known as “tourism”, but could be better termed “an invasion”. This also justifies a hibernation approach, and the benefits of sunbaking inside at home with a good book and the air-conditioning on. Indeed, you could call it enlightened self-preservation.

Rowena Shadow with wave

The closest I can get to a selfie with my SLR…self portrait at Ocean Beach.

Yet, I still had this unmet urge to carpe diem seize the day and actually make it to the beach on such a beautiful day. How boring to simply stay at home and let it float by without having lived it. Been a part of it.

As soon as I hit the beach, my mojo returned and as my toes sunk into the sand, my eyes were darting left and right scouring the sand and waves for something different, striking or eye-catching. Some days, that something hits me right in the face such as finding a group of Tibetan monks going surfing. We’ve also found the wreckage of a small boat and rows of trees yanked out of the dunes by the roots by a callous storm. There’s always something, even the fleeting watermarks in the sand.

Lines in the sand

Have you ever traced the watermarks in the sand and wondered where they came from? Where they’re going? Or, what they’re trying to say? Instead, I’ve watched my castles fall down and cursed the ocean for washing my efforts away.

However, my first impression was that there was nothing special and the beach was looking pretty ordinary, especially as the waves were flat. However, I found my eye drawn into the watermarks along the sand, which seem to tell a story of goodness knows what or where. Something beyond my human understanding.

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Perhaps, the seagulls were also discussing the mysterious secrets contained in a grain of sand.

Once you attune your eyes to appreciate grains of sand, your awareness of your surroundings becomes much more sensitive and acute. Even the common sea gull appeared extraordinary. Had character. Or, perhaps it was the extraordinary golden light which wove its magic? Certainly, this magic had certainly captivated the clouds. They were absolutely magnificent. It was a perfect sky.

Sunburnt Sunset Ocean Beach

Even the clouds were on fire.

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How have you been spending the Christmas break? I’d love to hear from you. 2018 is about to pass through the hour glass and I guess I’d better start thinking about some resolutions for the New Year before 2019 also washes out into the ocean.

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

 

 

Daunted By the Year Ahead?

How do you feel about starting another year? Have you made numerous New Year’s resolutions or goals, even writing them up in a spreadsheet with KPIs, deadlines and possibly even a star chart? Or, has the start of another year washed right over the top of you barely leaving a ripple in its wake?

sydney-habour-bridge

Fireworks Sydney Harbour NYE 2016

Well, I was still struggling to get my head around the last year when the fireworks started booming off the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was all happening. Indeed, 2017 was already here.

What the? Couldn’t I somehow press rewind, repeat and start the new year all over again when I’m ready? What about this new-fangled feature I have on the TV called catch up? Would that do the trick? As my daughter just reminded me, if I press the paw button on the remote, will I suddenly catch up on last year like magic? If only…!!

I guess that leaves time right where it is. Grr!

The terrible thing about starting another year is that our “exhausted post-Christmas end of year crashed out on the couch self” is suddenly confronted by our ideal, perfect self. The one who is going to exercise like an Olympian, diet like Jenny Craig, run on time like a clock and write more books than Enid Blyton. That’s while being the loving, attentive spouse/partner and even parent. Some how, we’re juggling like a clown and not dropping any of our balls at all.

This is what happens on the 1st January and it’s no wonder I’m feeling depressed, overwhelmed, inadequate and looking for someone else to drive the bus. I’ll disappear and hide in my hammock for the rest of the year, giving what you could describe as a totally underwhelming performance.

Okay! Okay! I’ll get out of my chair and get moving.

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One mixed up fridge door.

One look at the cluttered paperwork stuck on the fridge door gave me somewhere to begin.

Then, I thought I’d better clean the kitchen table first so I could sort out all the stuff on the fridge without it drowning in muck.

From there, I somehow ended up cleaning the inside of the fridge. It now looks like something out of a storage company catalogue with everything neatly stacked into boxes and tubs. Who owns this fridge? Has the fairy been? I must’ve woken up in someone else’s house.

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Eeyore Chilling Out in the Clean Fridge.

This reminds me of one good thing about ending one year and starting another. You can turf all last years notes and paraphernalia and create empty space. Indeed, if you’re lucky, you can now stretch out without causing an avalanche!

While I’m still formulating and getting my head around my goals for 2017, one word is entering my vocabulary….no! This is particularly pertinent to my daughter and all her activities. We can only do so much. That’s it. No more. There are limits. There are only 24 hours in a day and at least 8 are for sleeping. She can not live multiple lives at once. We have to make choices. Well, I’ll be making choices anyway. As I said, I’m learning how to say and apply the use of the word no, which will also apply to our son and the excessive use of electronics. No. Enough. Stop.

I can do this. Take a deep breath. Stretch into my full height and say no and mean it. Put my foot down and even push it through the floorboards, if that’s what it takes to be heard. That said, I sure hope it doesn’t come to that!

Meanwhile, I still have to muster up my inner strength. Lady, our recalcitrant Border Collie x Cavalier has been refusing to go out to bed at night. Last night, I ended up carrying her and trust me all that Christmas Cake she ate weighs a tonne. She’s going to find herself dealing with a sterner voice as well. I won’t be accepting “no” as an answer either.

Humph! Looks like these embryonic resolutions are starting out with training myself  and that’s a task I really don’t relish!

How are your New Year’s resolutions going so far? I’d love to hear from you!

Good luck!

xx Rowena

 

 

A Magical New Year!

Being the New Year, I’ll need to reintroduce myself now that I’ve lost weight, finally become chocolate and sugar-free and have been exercising with such focused determination that I can now do the four minute mile straight up a vertical hill.

Of course, I’m doing all this while juggling husband, kids, dogs, home renovations and simply pressing the almighty “Write” button on my laptop and hey presto, the long awaited Book Project is not only finished, it’s been published. I’m now touring the globe on my book tour.

Darlings, this isn’t just your average ordinary book tour. Not free appearances at suburban libraries where you’ve got to be thankful that they’ve stocked your book so your audience can borrow it for free.

No, we’re talking Prime Time TV, the glossies,  newspapers and of course, there’s a movie in the pipeline.

All this magically happened when the clock struck midnight and a little bird poked it’s head out through the door and said: “cuckoo!”

Reality check!

Rather…

cinderella 2

Cinderella woke up with a nasty bang on the head. Still had all her age-old bad habits intact. No weight loss. No new found fitness. Indeed, the evidence was telling. There was even a half-eaten box of chocolates by her side, which she promptly scoffed with a burp.

AND…there definitely was no a magic wand!

Just her self.

Billy Field – Bad Habits

When I get the urge
I just got to splurge
I’m a slave to all my desires
Well I’m in a mess
Because I can’t repress all of these
Bad habits

 

These bad habits are the downside of persistence!

After all, Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

So, in 2016 I’m committed to change.

Yet, while identifying where you are and where you’d like to be is a good start, more importantly you need to work out HOW you’re going to get from A to B. What is it going to take? I’m talking about the nitty gritty.

No more thinking, writing, talking, philosophising about it.

Just do it!

Problem – Solution.

So, “running on time” starts looking something like:

  1. Buy a new watch.
  2. Use an alarm.
  3. Use a diary/calendar.
  4. Make lunch the night before

Unfortunately, if your bad habits are anything like mine, you’ll have quite a lot of work to do. Feeling overwhelmed, it’s all too easy to give up before you even get started.

So, instead of trying to build Rome in a day, choose one thing and get moving. Even if you only move a a few degrees away from where you started, things have changed. You’re heading in a different direction.

Our New Year’s project involves renovating our son’s bedroom. He’s about to start high school, which is a time where you particularly want them to feel comfortable to home and for their room to become some kind of oasis. He’ll be studying out in the office or kitchen most likely but he’ll still need to make space for his books etc. We also want to his room to be his happy place where he can unwind and process stuff.

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Our Boy Scout Leaving home in FULL uniform at 4.30 this morning.

This morning, he left for the Scout Jamboree and will be gone for 12 days. We ran the colour scheme by him beforehand and have cleared his room out, sugar-soaped the walls and plastered a few nasty spots and will be undercoating tomorrow. He’ll have light blue walls, white trim and door a couple of red shelves. It will be a vast improvement.

I am hoping that being better organised and having a space which he’ll love and take pride in, will be good for his self-esteem. Help him feel loved. We are certainly working hard enough. It’s a lot of hard work and we don’t have a TV crew helping us out. Of course, we could ask for some help but you can’t fit a lot of people in the room either. We’d easily end up painting each other and tripping over the dogs all at once.

Meanwhile, the dogs are looking rather put out. We’ve moved most of Mister’s things into the lounge room and their space has shrunk dramatically. I think Bilbo is seriously thinking of taking over Mister’s room. Thinks it’s a wonderful kennel with its garden views…a great vantage point for keeping an eye out for the postman, garbage truck, anyone on a bike and anyone who dares walk their dog past our house. As you could appreciate, he has a long list of things which he considers “intruders”.

I am still putting together my goals and strategies for 2016. With both kids starting at different new schools, once they get settled, I’ll have a better idea of where I’m placed. It’s an important year for them and I’m more than happy to work around them. That said, they’re expected to work. They have been having quite an easy run but you’ve got to start growing up, taking responsibility and being part of the team some time.

Although getting the kids more organised isn’t directly working on my own goals, it will make a phenomenal difference if I’m not chasing their missing tails!

Shock horror! I might even manage to get from A to B.

Oh what a feeling!

How is the New Year going in your household?

Well, I hope. It doesn’t all have to be about making plans either. Lounging beside the pool drinking cocktails should never be scoffed at!

Love & Best Wishes!

xx Rowena

PS: If you’d like to see the Sydney Fireworks, click here:

Sydney Fireworks: A Prelude to Midnight: How we spent NYE:

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/sydney-fireworks-a-prelude-to-midnight/

Sydney’s Magnificent Midnight Fireworks:

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2016/01/01/happy-new-year-sydney/

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re also generally trying to downsize a bit and create some space for future growth. Otherwise, we’re all just going to end up stunted. It’s like trying to grow and expand inside a sardine tin. It’s just not going to happen.

 

 

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!

We would like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. To those of you who celebrate the birth of Jesus, also wish you a Blessed Christmas and for those with Jewish beliefs, we wish a Happy Hannukah. Happy Holidays isn’t part of our Australian vernacular.

I have always loved seeing how Christmas is celebrated in different cultures not just in terms of food but also sun versus snow.

Vintage Ettalong Santa Truck 2008 Pearl Beach

An Australian Christmas, Santa on a fire track, Pearl Beach, New South Wales.

So, I’d like to share a guest post I wrote over at Solveig Werner’s Blog: A Stinking Hot Australian Christmas http://solveigwerner.com/2015/12/17/advent-calendar-day-17-a-stinking-hot-australian-christmas-by-rowena-newton/#comment-2801

After all my ranting and raving about celebrating a scorchingly hot 40°C Christmas, the weather has shown up my bluff and we’re looking at 26 °C with possible rain. Humph? Rain???? Who on Earth has been praying for rain right before Christmas? No! It’s supposed to be blue skies, sunshine…a perfect Christmas Day!

Bilbo & Lady

Merry Christmas from Bilbo & Lady

Anyway, wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Love,

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

Dong! Dong! Dong! We’re back to the real world.

Getting the kids off to school for the start of another year, is tricky at the best of times. However, when your life is complicated for whatever reason, trying to get your little peoples to school on time with all their paraphernalia on the first day becomes, or at least appears to be, Mt Everest…particularly if “catastrophise” is your middle name.

Of course, to make matters worse there’s always that parent who has literally licked ever hair on their preciously child’s perfect little head in place just to ensure your child looks completely and utterly neglected like some raggamuffin orphan out of Oliver or Annie.

At times like this it’s easy to feel that no one understands that your children, your family and even your precious dogs have indeed been through the spin cycle and haven’t exactly emerged with all the right bits in all the right places and that you’re just thanking your lucky stars that they even got there at all.

Well, actually, things went a lot better than that but that was my concern. After all, this house is where Murphy’s Law, Mrs Murphy’s Law and Rafferty’s Rules all fight it out to the death.

However, it could be worse.

This time last year, I was undergoing chemotherapy to treat my auto-immune disease, dermatomyositis. I can’t even remember how the kids went to and from school on their first day last year but I do know that they soon found their way into before and after school car, which later cut back to after school care and when funding magically cut out after 3 months because, as we all know, parents only get sick for 3 months and then magically resurrect from near-death. Well, that’s how it is in Australia anyway.

Thank goodness for friends because a friend was giving my kids lifts at least two mornings a week all of last year.

Even though the broken foot is still healing and I’m only just back to driving locally, I’ve decided to tackle the new school year head on like a bull charging at a gate and have decided to take responsibility for getting our kids to and from school even though my mobility is far from ideal. I’m walking with my foot in a boot and my mobility is problematic anyway due to muscle weakness. While I am perfectly justified in getting assistance, I wanted to get involved with school again so we can stay with the program.

The kids all dressed and ready for school. It was raining outside so we didn't get our usual shot at the front door.

The kids all dressed and ready for school. It was raining outside so we didn’t get our usual shot at the front door.

The other problem I have when it comes to getting out the door is that the kids almost always ignore me. LIke so many kids, for some reason they completely ignore Mum and resolutely do their own thing, which makes getting them anywhere on time difficult. While you might say that I need to take control and be the parent, I often have trouble with my voice so it can be a struggle to speak. I struggle to move and so it doesn’t take much for the kids to completely out manoevre me and get away with blue murder. This was where having my friend taking them to school was particularly handy because they didn’t want their friends seeing them in their PJs. The Deputy Principal has also told me that she is quite happy to accept the kids in PJs and they know that. They may think they can run rings around me but they know they don’t stand a chance with her and they quickly shape up.

While it is one thing to make all these decisions, which really do fall under the same heading as New Year’s resolutions. They are doomed to fail without any corresponding plan of action and a fairly detailed one at that. The irony with most of these supposedly difficult changes which we struggle to make is that we already know what we need to do. We probably also know how to do it. We just lack the discipline and commitment to see it through. Stick with it. I understand that it takes 6 weeks to change a habit but day one or at least the start of day 1 has exceeded all my expectations.

I have drawn up a daily check list for the kids which is laminated. Every day, they tick off their jobs as they do them and only once they’ve done everything on the last, will they get access to electronic devices. Devices go off at 8.20 and we are in the car and driving off at 8.30 AM. School starts at 8.55AM and school is only a five minute drive and so they get in plenty of play time with their friends before school.

The funny thing about the check list is that the same kids who were protesting to do the dishwasher, never make their beds and forget to brush their teeth in the mornings did all of these tasks without nagging or complaint. It’s a miracle worker and I’ve known the check list is a miracle worker and yet I keep forgetting to update it. This means it’s been about 2 years since we last used it and believe me, there has been a lot of angst and heartache in between.

Quite simply, I do a list up of everything the kids need to do before school and their afternoon/evening routines and then have a tick column for each day of the week. In the past, I’ve printed a list our for each week and pasted it in a book but laminating the list means they can tick it with a whiteboard marker and you can wipe it clean each week and start over. I have used a bit of colour, highlighting important times like leaving for school and I have also included a row for after school activities so they know what they have on as well. They are about to turn 11 and 9 so should be fairly self-reliant and not be needing constant reminders from Mum and Dad anymore.I am particularly conscious that our son starts high school next year and really needs to get organised now in advance.

Just because Mum's the papparazzi, that's no reason the kids have to pose like supermodels. I was very lucky to squeeze a second shot out of my son and they refused to interact, relax and insisted on this kangaroo stunned by the headlights look.

Just because Mum’s the papparazzi, that’s no reason the kids have to pose like supermodels. I was very lucky to squeeze a second shot out of my son and they refused to interact, relax and insisted on this kangaroo stunned by the headlights look.

I am quite thrilled that everything went almost too smoothly and that we pulled out of the driveway right on 8.30 as planned and I was back here sitting at my desk at by 9.00 AM armed with my special cup of tea and home made Banana Macadamia & Blueberry Muffin.

A relaxing cup of tea and home-made banana muffin after dropping the kids at school early.

A relaxing cup of tea and home-made banana muffin after dropping the kids at school early.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me”.

-C.S. Lewis

However, to be perfectly honest, the early morning start has been a bit of a doozy so I think I might just nip back to bed for a little Nanna Nap. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before that I’ve somehow ended up on Western Australian time, which is 3 hours behind Sydney and what with the holidays and all, have been staying up way too late and sleeping in and I’m pretty sure Geoff has been hanging out for this morning when the night owl was needing to surface at 6.30AM and get back to the human race.

Dogs sleeping under my desk. While the rest of us have had to get back to the real world, the dogs are on a perpetual holiday.

Dogs sleeping under my desk. While the rest of us have had to get back to the real world, the dogs are on a perpetual holiday.

As we all know, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Please wish us luck and for anybody experiencing the terrible snow storms, we are thinking of you and praying that you are safe and sound.

xx Rowena

 

Inner Beauty Therapy.

Yesterday, my daughter treated me to the works at the beauty salon. The salon as such was our bathroom and my daughter was my Beauty Therapist. It was the most awesome experience. As she  gently stroked my face for the very first time, I felt the rains fall in a remote part of my heart which rarely gets a drop.It’s not that I don’t feel and know that I’m loved but we’re so busy and there are the usual challenges of getting the kids to do anything and of course, I’m running after them. I’m sure you can understand and appreciate the ups and downs of parenthood.

My daughter is 8 almost 9 and she’s growing up fast…especially whenever she struts around the house in the silver diamante high heels which I picked up for her from the charity shop. They’re not a huge size but they almost fit. Yikes! I’m not prepared for all of this. Not at all!!

Relationships of any sort are challenging and complex. Even when we’re trying to be caring, loving and thoughtful it can be difficult to synchronise our watches. Create that blank space where we can actually just “be” together. Build the bubble and somehow step inside and be with one another… one on one…no distractions, disturbances, mobiles, texts, or @#$%!!!!

Yesterday, my daughter and I managed to do just that. It was only for about an hour but it was an hour I’ll never forget!!

Miss... an inner beauty therapist!!

Miss… an inner beauty therapist!!

We escaped the to-do list, the mountains of stuff desperately needing to be re-housed and even the lingering Christmas tree, which long been begging and indeed pleading to be taken down and hauled outside to the green recycling bin and we found each other.

Yes, I know you all probably pulled your Christmas trees down weeks ago but I always find this something of a heartbreak and put it off as long as possible. Each Christmas when we set up a real Christmas tree in our home, I am transported back to the world Hans Christian Andersen’s: The Little Fir-Tree.  We all fall in love with our tree and fall under its spell. Now, how can I just throw out all of that love and wonder and stick our tree out beside the road to be crushed up into splinters?

Yet, we can’t start the new school year with our Christmas tree still up either.

The kids go back to school next week and as I’m sure you can appreciate, the start of the new school year heralds all sorts of miraculous happenings. Forget getting the kids organised, I’m still stuck on my own list of resolutions. This year, we are all going to be on time, organised, neat and tidy and homework done on time. We will also plan ahead. Be prepared. We will. I have list, schedules, strategies, tactics and the only thing now standing in my way is …me and of course, the kids!!

Anyway, my daughter has a real knack for ignoring my rising tide of jobs and my blogging commitments and going for the jugular: “Mummy! Mummy!!!!! MUMMY!!!!!!!”

This becomes pretty hard to ignore and indeed, you instinctively know you have to get moving or else your child will be in therapy for the term of their natural life.

My daughter painting my nails.

My daughter painting my nails. Don’t you just love the newspaper?!!

So, I was off to the beauty salon for the works…nails, facial and make-up. Well, it was a beauty salon with a difference… set up in our bathroom. Miss had arranged something like 50 bottles of nail polish I’d bought over something like the last 20 years on the stool in neat little rows, looking quite the professional beauty therapist. Some of these bottles, I must admit, are quite ancient and date back to a very different era before marriage, kids and skin sensitivities. They represent all sorts of hopes, dreams and special events, which have long since merged into the kaleidoscope of memory. Fortunately, it looks like nail polish withstands the tests of time and doesn’t go off.

So there I was transformed from a mere mortal into Her Royal Highness Queen Mummy perched upon my royal throne with newspaper underneath my hands and feet as Miss artistically painted my nails rainbow colours: red, orange, yellow, green and blue. That was my choice!!

I might be a supposedly sensible, mature 40 something wife, mother of two kids and two dogs but that doesn’t mean I have to conform. Be boring. Muted and lose all sense of colour. After all, just because we’ve grown up, that doesn’t mean we have to stop growing and stop living. No one is forcing us to to stick to the safe, the conservative and socially expected. I am, we’re all allowed to take a walk on the wild side. Besides, when it’s school holidays, the rules all go out the window. You can do whatever you like and just blame the kids. Guaranteed, even the stiffest conservative will break into a loving smile when I tell her that my daughter painted my nails and of course, they’ll blame her for the rainbow colours and think I’m the best Mum in the whole wide world!

 

Tapping away with rainbow nails.

Tapping away with rainbow nails.

Having my nails painted was fun and I also appreciated having Miss there to paint my toe nails. It’s not the easiest thing to do yourself and who doesn’t like to be pampered?!! Actually, you’d be surprised. Almost everybody is too busy and or too serious for a bit of self-indulgent pampering, which isn’t just frivolous, superficial beauty but also love in action.

The Body Shop's Warming Mineral Mask. Yum! I mean wow!

The Body Shop’s Warming Mineral Mask. Yum! I mean wow!

 

Anyway, the pampering ramped up a notch when it came to the facial. I can’t remember the last time I had any kind of facial but I’m thinking it was definitely BK (before kids). Well, I had this tube of the Body Shop’s  Warming Mineral Mask. It’s the most amazing stuff. You wet your face and when this stuff comes into contact with water, it heats up and feels so amazingly soothing. For those of you who are into facials, it is a clay based mask which promises to remove impurities. Hmm… I wonder if it can also remove all my faults and idiosyncrasies and make me a better person? Somehow, it will take more than just a face mask to pull that off!!

 

Here I am with cucumber eyes and face mask on.

Here I am with cucumber eyes and face mask on.

 

So there I was with my eyes closed and my daughter somehow managed to find a cucumber in our fridge and applied a slice of cucumber to each weary eyelid. Ooh! I’ve never experienced that before and the effect was immediate, relaxing and cooling. Wow it felt good. Not just the cucumber either. I am so deeply touched that my daughter has been so loving and spontaneously thoughtful. She has even brought in a newspaper for me to read, although I preferred for us to talk. She had thought of so many small details…I can’t tell you how that made me feel. As we all know, parenting isn’t always easy and we all make mistakes and press all the wrong buttons and instead of saying or showing “I love you”, it is all to easy to say: “Not now”, “I’m too busy”, “Go away!!” “Can’t you play by yourself?” or “Can I phone a friend to come and play with you?”

 

DSC_8075

Miss in bliss.

We’re all guilty of that.

Anyway, as my daughter gently stroked my face as she applied the mask (in between patting and occasionally rubbing it like an orbital sander), I felt drops of rain fall on a very thirsty, dry and parched desert soil. I lapped up that tenderness like a kitten thirstily lapping up a much loved saucer of milk and feeling totally satisfied.

Miss also enjoyed being pampered herself, although I suspect she preferred running her own beauty salon. She loved it.

We’re already planning our next session. Next time, we’ll be over at Palm Beach and indulging ourselves by the sea in a place that surely must be close to heaven on Earth.

I encourage you to take the time out for a bit of pampering, heart warming love.

Who knows? Perhaps, you too might start smelling the roses. I can assure you they smell fabulous!!

Love,

Rowena & Miss xxoo

 

 

 

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