Tag Archives: rainbows

Writing By Rainbow Light…

“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.”
– Sidney Sheldon

Writing by rainbow light sounds rather romantic, yet incongruously intriguing. How could you ever write by rainbow light and where does it come from? How do you make it? If you turn on your garden hose and point it in the right direction, you can make your own rainbow but that certainly nothing you could write by, especially given that it’s just after midnight and the sun and the rest of my family are asleep and tucked into bed.

The truth is that I bought myself a neon rainbow which I can plug into the USB slot and it lights up my desk just enough for me to see, without turning on the main light which could disturb my daughter’s sleep. While I seem to run on my very own idiocyncratic clock with waking and sleeping at all sorts of hours through the day and night, I try to respect those who are already asleep and can’t catch up during the day.

This is the lot of the night owl and the parent who can seemingly only sneak in a little writing time at the very end of the day when everyone else is asleep. It’s my indulgence. My sanity pill…even if I can’t think of anything to write and my brain’s already gone to sleep but my fingers are still clicketty clacking over the keyboard.

The thing is, that I feel that I’m grappling with something and rather than sleeping on it, I thought I’d tinker around with it on the blog and see what I could draw out…a bit like putting peroxide on an infected cut.

I think my trouble is that too much is happening, and I feel like I’m running after a fleet of runaway steam trains. Or, perhaps I should make those Japanese bullet trains…something traveling much much faster. Indeed, traveling so fast, that the passengers can’t get their bearings or make out anything through the window. School assignments for the kids are due in and my daughter’s also going for auditions for anything she can audition for at the moment…great practice and I don’t expect her to land some of the more prestigious professional roles, but I think it took me an hour or so just to email everything off. I have also been writing letters to and about our National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) which provides me with domestic assistance, OT and physio but knocked back my electric recliner and savagely cut back my budget in my second plan.

All these things give you, or should I say me, the feeling that you’re wrestling with an imaginary dragon, and it can feel very overwhelming. Too much to deal with and no one to delegate it to. After all, Rowena is a sole proprietor, even though my husband does an enormous amount, he still has to work.

It would be really lovely to get away and write in my notebook somewhere picturesque like I used to once upon a time. I remember going up to the Blue Mountains, West of Sydney when I was about 19 and I went bush walking at Katoomba with a friend. We went down the Scenic Railway, which was much more rustic than the one that’s there today although the track is just the same and just as scary steep. At the bottom, a track takes you round to Katoomba Falls which is dotted with tree ferns from memory. I remember writing at the bottom there…a perfect spot.

I also remember writing poetry beside the River Seine in Paris right near Pont Neuf at around 2.00AM and it was just me and a group of Africans listening to their ghetto blaster on the other side. Dumped and feeling like my heart had already been cut out by a dagger, I probably felt there wasn’t enough left of me for anyone else to kill off, harm or torment. After all, how many of us really ever think that as bad as it is, it could even get worse. Indeed, most of us humans are so good at shooting ourselves in the foot, that we often make it worse for ourselves without any input from anybody else. Anyway, let me just say that I know God was looking after me then, because I wasn’t looking out for myself. Added to that, I had good friends. They also stepped in.

“People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.”
– Harlan Ellison

Isn’t it funny what comes out when you just sit down and start writing! You have no idea where it’s going to take you and what ideas are going to crop up be it absolute drivel or creative brilliance…the germination of a masterpiece.

And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
– William Shakespeare (from A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

If you’re a writer or creative, do you believe you have a masterpiece inside? The ability to produce that best seller which is going to launch you into the dizzy heights of success, stardom and hopefully being able to buy yourself a cappuccino without counting your pennies. The lot of the true writer is hard, hungry and your blood, sweat and tears are etched into each and every word, especially if you’re writing by hand, which I do now and then, particularly if I’m on the train. It takes me about 1.5 hours to get to my medical appointments on the train and I can get in a bit of a hurry and forget to pack some paper and have been known to write endless words on those last few pages they leave at the end of a novel.

Have you ever wondered why they leave those blank pages there? Not every novel has them and I certainly see it as a mark of a tight-fisted publisher when they use up every inch of paper and don’t include those precious blanks. Indeed, I can see them all sitting beady-eyed around the boardroom table talking about how much they’ll save and how much they’ll make if they cut those pages out.

Personally, I feel like these blank pages are a gift from the author to the reader to go and write their own story. Have a creative response to all they’ve read. To write a poem. Jot down some ideas. But not for a shopping list. A To Do List or anything so mundane and practical. Well, that is unless your to do list is only about visions and dreams and how to launch into that flight of fancy.

Strangely, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately working on schedules, routines, calendars, planning, time management as I try to get my kids organized for new school year. Being the eternal optimist that I am  and having very little recent experience of organizing such matters, I thought this was something I could set in stone. Work out a system. Get it in place and walk away. Get back to my writing and leave the real world “far behind me” (remember somewhere Over the Rainbow…)

So far, no such luck. I think I’ll have term 1 sorted out just in time for term 2, but hopefully we’ll get that set up with the wave of a magic wand.

Do you ever just sit down and write late at night as though you’re letting out some kind of poltergeist or energy inside and you just have to write and write and write either with pen on paper or through the more convenient but not so romantic clicketty-clack of fingers on the keys.

However, as much as I’m addicted to these late night sessions, I must admit that I’m trying to get into more regular sleeping patterns and firing my brain up at midnight might not be the best recourse. Perhaps, I’d be better off ignoring the heebeegeebies and sleeping. Counting sheep instead of words? It’s very easy for other people to tell you what to do,  but they haven’t walked in your shoes. They haven’t slipped inside your skin and been you for a few days. Indeed, I’d really like to trade places with someone for a week or two just as long as I didn’t get stuck inside and couldn’t get back. That’s always a risk.

Well, on that note, I’m off to find my camera to photograph my little patch of rainbow light. I hope you like it!

xx Rowena

 

An Extreme Colour Weekend.

Why is it that we tend to paint ourselves grey, when we were born with such stunning butterfly wings painted in a kaleidoscope of colours? Indeed, why are we so afraid of colour? Could it kill us? Give us cancer? Mentall illness? Possibly even bring on the plague or ebola? Is too much pink, red, turquoise or even periwinkle, is going to kill us? The way we hide away from it, you’d think so. Why is it so hard for us to live as butterflies? Spread our coloured wings out against the sun and radiate magic sparkles across the sky? Or, even colour ourselves in with a thick brush oozing with luscious paint…

“Color possesses me. I don’t have to pursue it. It will possess me always, I know it. That is the meaning of this happy hour: Color and I are one. I am a painter.”

– Paul Klee

“With color one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft.”

– Henri Matisse

“Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways”.

-Oscar Wilde

“Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.”

-Claude Monet

Rather than embracing colour, we’ve been taught to fold up our wings. Blend in. Don’t stand out.

Yet, how would we feel, if we could only view our world in shades of black & white? As bad as that sounds, if that’s all we’ve ever seen, we wouldn’t even know that the world had any colour in it at all. We’d think that’s all there is. We wouldn’t know that the sky is sometimes blue. That the sun is golden yellow and that the grass comes in many varied shades of green and brown. Unfortunately, I suspect this is how way too humans actually perceive our world and themselves. So, they just stick to the tried and tested black & white and shades of grey or beige and wonder why there is no bounce in their step at all.

Life is like a box of crayons. Most people are the 8 color boxes, but what you’re really looking for are the 64 color boxes with the sharpeners on the back. I fancy myself to be a 64 color box, though I’ve got a few missing. It’s okay though, because I’ve got some more vibrant colors like periwinkle at my disposal. I have a bit of a problem though in that I can only meet the 8 color boxes. Does anyone else have that problem? I mean there are so many different colors of life, of feeling, of articulation. So when I meet someone who’s an 8 color type… I’m like, hey girl, Magenta! and she’s like, oh, you mean purple! and she goes off on her purple thing, and I’m like, no I want Magenta!”

– John Mayer

Perhaps, I should apologize for having this rant about colour. However, this weekend as we celebrated our daughter’s 12th birthday, there was so much shameless colour and it felt so good. Indeed, as I applied a generous layer of mauve lipstick at Sephora and left it on for the rest of the afternoon, I felt quite liberated..like I’d been let out of a vault. Wearing purple lipstick also felt a bit naughty, breaking a tabou and openly flaunting it, but for once it didn’t matter. No one was judging or condemning me or calling me a “weirdo”. I just was. That was a huge step forward for me, although it shouldn’t have been. As an extroverted extrovert, I should be allowed to be me.

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Stepping out there in mauve lipstick.

While I’m not into make up and fashion and it’s taken me awhile to feel comfortable at Saphora, I am starting to love it. This is more than picking up on our daughter’s infectious enthusiasm. Rather, I’m finding my own way, which started out with seeing the eye shadows as palettes of colour, paint for your eyes. Yes, that’s what it is…paint and as with any true artist, you can create a masterpiece. When we were in there yesterday, the staff had made up their faces into national flags. For the Greek flag, one consultant had applied cobalt blue eye shadow with some white eyeliner and paired it up with matching lipstick. It looked so amazing and other worldly and definitely belonged in the category of art.

Not unsurprisingly, I’ve never thought about wearing blue lipstick, but my daughter put it on along with some blue mascara and it looked amazing. Then, just for the hell of it, I put on the mauve one and much to my surprise, I didn’t die and no one mocked me either.

However, the wild colours didn’t end there. My daughter had a Rainbow Cake for her birthday cake. This was very easy as we just bought it from our local Coles Market and saved me from tackling something highly creative and risky in the Australian Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book, which is an established Australian birthday tradition, also with all the nail-biting stress.

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Then, there were the home made cup cakes with vienna icing. The girls were all too full to serve them up at the party and I was thinking today that they were going to get tossed Out, when Miss and her last surviving friend, were going to decorate the cupcakes. Although she’d initially asked me to leave the icing white, they ended up mixing so many colours together and being so creative that I was really impressed. There was a blue Cookie Monster wearing a red bow tie, another cupcake became some movie star my daughter has a thing for. All of them, were brightly coloured and I confess, loaded to the hilt with artificial colouring.

It’s not that long ago that artificial colourings were banned in our house and were even banned at school and social activities for our kids. They really responded badly. One holiday camp, they fed our daughter orange cordial and fairy bread and she was speaking like a chipmunk afterwards and was almost flying. That was stopped immediately. Mum was bad cop.

As the kids have grown older, they handle the colours better, but that said, they’re not a part of our diet. I make most of our food from scratch and don’t touch the stuff.

“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.”

– Marcus Aurelius

However, like most households, things creep in. Just as she likes bright colours in her make-up, she also adds food colouring, coloured playdoh or paint to the numerous slimes she makes at home. If you don’t know what slime is, consider yourself lucky. Also known as flubber, making this stuff at home’s become a huge crazy and bedrooms around the world are being turned into slime producing labs. The kids add foam balls, glitter and all sorts of stuff to varying the texture and the slime itself is made from a variety of ingredients depending on the desired effect. There’s shaving cream, borax, PVA glue. From where I sit, it’s art meets science which could be considered educational but you also need to be careful in confined spaces or it becomes glue sniffing and bad for the brain.

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However, tomorrow it’s back to the real world and all our colours have been packed up and it’s now raining cats and dogs outside and we’re back to grey skies.

I don’t know how I’m going to maintain a bit of colour from now on. Perhaps, I should get the paints back out and use some of the empty canvases still floating round the house like lost sheep. I also have some beautiful Prismacolour coloured pencils which have really vibrant colour…yum!

Anyway, it’s very late here now. The Internet slowed right down and time ran away.

How do you feel about a little bit of colour? Are you daring or do you prefer to play it safe?

xx Rowena

 

Rainbow Crumbs with Dog Hair & Chocolate Storm.

You try having a foot spa with a cup of tea and slice of cake without the famished, fur-shedding Border Collie all but eating the cake off your plate. You can see from the photo that Bilbo’s left significant DNA evidence behind. Yes, he was most definitely at the scene of the crime. Except, I beat him to it!

xx Rowena

Rainbow Bike & the Bookshop…Weekly Smile

Last Thursday, while I was being led astray by detour after detour after detour, I felt a strong twitch which turned into something of a magnetic pull and before I knew it, I was inside yet another bookshop.

Yikes! There’s something about bookshops for me, which is like the call of the wild and I am absolutely powerless to stay away. Like the children being lured away by the Pied Piper of Hameln, I am always lured in,. Moreover, shame upon shame upon shame, I almost never leave empty handed. Resistance is futile. It’s beyond my control.

Anyway, last Thursday I went on a bit of an “excursion”. To be exact, it started the moment I left the doctor’s surgery in St Leonards when instead of catching the train North towards home, I jumped platforms and was soon click clacketting my way across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, through the city and alighting at Kings Cross Station. From there, I explored the Anne & Otto Frank Exhibition at the Sydney Jewish Museum and then took a right and stumbled across Darlinghurst Gaol, which is now the National Art School. Struck by it’s imposing sandstone architecture, I HAD to explore it further especially as I had my camera with me. Before long, I was in Surry Hills, my usual stomping ground.

That’s where I stumbled across The Oscar & Friends Bookshop.

Well, in terms of budget control and not spending any money, I kept stumbling over.

Or, you could look at it on the bright side and say I only bought two books. One is a gift for my brother so I won’t give it away but the book, which I bought for myself, was very pertinent:

Tim Harwood’s Messy: How to Be Creative & Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World.

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‘Utterly fascinating. Tim Harford shows that if you want to be creative and resilient, you need a little more disorder in your world. It’s a masterful case for the life-changing magic of cluttering up’ – Adam Grant

Ranging expertly across business, politics and the arts, Tim Harford makes a compelling case for the creative benefits of disorganisation, improvisation and confusion. His liberating message: you’ll be more successful if you stop struggling so hard to plan or control your success. Messy is a deeply researched, endlessly eye-opening adventure’ – Oliver Burkeman

Now, I know that when you’re a bit quirky and spend your life swimming against the flow, you can get rather excited when you finally find someone who agrees with your point of view…AT LAST!! Indeed, given the thrill of finding a so-called published expert supporting your long held philosophical stance when you’ve been as a lone ranger on a tiny Pacific atoll,  is such a relief that you don’t even question whether the author’s legit. Indeed, here’s finally the proof you’ve always been looking for that messy desks beat tidy desks. Yippee!

Anyway, as you might gather finding Tim Harford’s book is a good enough reason to smile.

However, as I’m leaving the bookshop, I spotted a bicycle, which had been painted in luscious rainbow colours and I was in heaven.

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Indeed, I thought about riding that rainbow bike right up into the sky and into the heavens. That was, until I spotted the very secure bike chain.

While everyone has their own perspective of what rainbows mean to them, I love all the bright colours and how rainbows are formed by that mingling of sun and rain which must be viewed from the correct angle in what must be a fusion of magic and science.

Rainbows make me smile.

Hmm…and now thanks to Tim Harford I can ignore all the crap on my desk until my keyboard gets buried again and a rescue mission is required.

What has made you smile this week?

This has been part of The Weekly Smile hosted by Trent’s World. You can click on the linky here to check it out.

xx Rowena

 

Be a Rainbow In Somebody Else’s Cloud.

“The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God – if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That’s what I think.”

Maya Angelou

I stumbled across this quote tonight and it really reflects the desires of my heart. Must admit, I’ve also had those moments where I’ve appreciated those rainbows in someone else’s eyes…family, friends…even the eyes of a compassionate stranger.

xx Rowena

Catharsis!…A Poem.

Words trickle down the page;
iridescent raindrops
growing wings,
taking flight.

A catharsis,
the fog now lifts.
A croakiness clears.
The lark has returned.

Rowena Newton

written on the train on the way to Sydney yesterday 17th August, 2015. I’d had a rough time getting the kids off to school and was heading off to Surry Hills on the way to a medical appointment. Well, Surry Hills wasn’t on the way but nothing better than a detour.

My apologies to the lark for substituting it with a sea gull in the photo but this gull is in a league of it’s own…a Jonathon Livingstone Seagull perhaps…

xx Rowena

My First Haiku

Being a rather verbose writer who prefers rambling along in free verse and isn’t even good at counting when it comes to playing my violin, let alone at counting syllables, I’d never even considered writing Haiku.

That’s the trouble with bthinking “never” because God, serendipity, fate or whatever you call the convergence of forces which plucks you out of your current journey and plants you somewhere else, seems to be conspiring against you.

Last week, I attended an Author/Illustrator event at our local library and I was astounded to find out that we had a Haiku writing guru just around the bend at Pearl Beach…Beverley George. Hearing her talk about Haiku and other Japanese forms of verse, aroused my interest and I started thinking about how many of my photos would suit Haiku… particularly the one of the seagull taking flight in front of the rainbow, which I’ve titled “Seagull Ascending” (a play on words with a violin piece called “Lark Ascending”.)

Anyway, tonight we were attending open night at the high school where our son will be attending next year. These open nights are a very impressive, inter-active affair with all sorts of activities for upcoming students and parents. I guess it’s all aimed at bridging that terrifying gap between the relative safety and security of Primary School and the shark-infested waters of high school.

Now, even I’m almost convinced everything is going to be okay. That’s a real achievement!

Anyway, while Mister was off in the science labs undertaking all sorts of investigates, which I hear included dreaded dissections, I hooked up with the writing teacher who was running a challenge to write Haiku. What a surprise!

Although Haiku might be the flavour of the month, I must say that I felt a “call to action”. That this was more than coincidence and it was time for me to cross the bridge and dip my wee little toe into the deep and scary waters of Haiku.

So, in case you can’t read the text clearly in the photo, my Haiku read:

Rainbow skies dance
above the noble bird
Thunder rumbles.

I was pleased. Stoked actually because, as I said, counting isn’t my thing and neither is working in syllables or a few words.

So, I guess as I face my 46th birthday tomorrow and begin another year, perhaps this is a sign of things to come and I hope that I like that seagull, can keep finding the courage to take flight mid-storm and never give up.

xx Rowena

The Rainbow That Got Away!

Photography is like fishing.

There is always that perfect shot that “got away”. That idyllic moment you, for whatever reason, missed.

A few days ago, as I was driving home after the dropping the kids at school, I noticed the most intensely coloured rainbow arching over the beach. I absolutely adore rainbows and experiencing a sort of visual lust peculiar to mad photographers, I felt that tell-tale pitter-patter in my heart which was rapidly crescendoing into a frenzied explosion.

The colours were so intense but although I was completely intoxicated and absorbed by this stunning rainbow, my camera was at home and we all know about the fleetingness of rainbows and how quickly they slip through your fingers. After all, they don’t want to get caught…not even in 6×4.

Not to be deterred, I raced home and picked up the camera and the dogs.

Of course, by the time I returned, the rainbow was gone.

Indeed, it looked like it had never even been there at all. It had vanished without a trace.

Yet, there was still so much to photograph. The sky was a foreboding dark grey with a trail of pure white clouds scudding across and incredibly moody. Storm water had carved an impressive estuary through the sand and the beach had a raw, powerful energy and felt a little wild.

Bilbo fogging up the windscreen with angst while I photograph the rainbow.

Bilbo fogging up the windscreen with angst while I photograph the rainbow.

While I ran around taking shots, the dogs were still in the car as they’re not allowed on this section of the beach.

They weren’t happy!

While I was disappointed at missing the rainbow shots, I was philosophical about it all. Sometimes, you are just meant to feast on such things with your eyes instead of trying to recreate perfection and somehow lose the magic in the translation.

Jonathon Livingstone Seagull Opted to Walk in the Rain.

Jonathon Livingstone Seagull Opted to Walk in the Rain.

I called it a day and started driving home when I noticed the sun starting to force it’s way through the rain clouds with a determined, golden haze. My hopes raised a little. Sun and rain equals rainbows and as I turned into my street and threw a passing glance back at the beach, the rainbow was back.

Yes!!

The elusive rainbow finally captured over Lion Island.

The elusive rainbow finally captured over Lion Island.

One very quick U-turn later and the dogs and I were moving like greased lightening, albeit under the speed limit…of course!!

The rainbow was arched right over the top of Lion Island, which was shrouded in a foggy haze. Serenely beautiful, it was a veritable fairyland with an ethereal beauty!

Wow!

After I’d taken my shots, the sea gulls, which had parked themselves along the beach captured my attention. Perhaps, they were also admiring the rainbow. I don’t know. A few of them suddenly started taking off, so very much like planes on a runway and the seemingly ordinary took on a new serenity at that moment. They reminded me of Noah’s dove…except the rain hadn’t stopped!

Jonathon Livingston Seagull Finds His Wings!

Jonathon Livingston Seagull Finds His Wings!

Indeed, it’s still going and while it hasn’t snowed here, it’s snowed heavily in places which are usually lucky to receive a dusting.

So, you could say we’re needing a rainbow at the moment and I would love to escape to rainbow island if only there wasn’t the perpetuate battle between sun and rain.

Of course, in my idea of the perfect paradise, there is only sun!

xx Rowena

Photoshopping the Future

While I was was frantically cooking dinner with my head poised over a hot pan, my daughter approached me with this statement…this wish:

“I wish I could Photoshop the Future!”

Miss, Aged 9, Monday 22nd June, 2015.

Photoshopping the future…I’d never thought about that.

Sure, all of us have photoshopped the past, more particularly OUR past, in some way or another…a bit of a snip here deleting the past from a photograph. Journals burned. Moving to another city or even country to start over.

Yes, we’ve all done a bit of that.

However, photoshopping the future had me thinking…What did she mean?

Of course, she’s at school while I’m trying to nut this out and perhaps my musings and interpretations are more profound than her intentions but we do use photoshop at home. Usually, it’s just to give an image that lift that you used to get in the photo lab back in the day. However, we also have a bit of fun changing the colours and upping or downing the hue and saturation. This is where you can totally alter your reality and end up in a world of lurid fairy floss, dazzling skies and it seems anything is possible!!

Is this what she meant? Did she want to live in this way out, psychedelic world of the imagination where anything was possible with the touch of a mouse? A world that is creative, fun and stretches (if not breaks) all the rules?

Or, was she perhaps seeking a perfect world where there is no sickness, no death, where everyone is nice and there are no bullies and everyone is your friend? Knowing her and how she also wants to be Queen of Australia when Australia finally becomes a republic, she probably wants all of that and I’ll put my order in too.

Why shouldn’t we photoshop the future and start turning the world into a safe and happy place for everyone, despite those old divides of gender, race and class?

I’d also like to add a new divide: difference. “Difference” embraces all those who don’t easily fit into any box and struggle to find a friend or a soul mate. This also includes those who could well be perceived as part of the group and yet keenly feel that sense of difference. Even though they might fit in on the outside,they don’t fit in on the inside. They’re extremely conscious of being on a different wavelength and not fitting in, not connecting with the herd. They might not want to fit in either…or just now and then but in some way that doesn’t involve completely selling out.

Feeling the need to blend in and conform to a set of rules and ideals, is something I’ve experienced myself. Like trying on a new pair of jeans, I’ve felt the rules restrict and constrain as I try to squeeze in and force the zipper shut against the odds. On the other hand, the jeans have also been too big and they’ve fallen down, swimming by my ankles. Yes, we do need social rules, the law and some sort of social boundaries, but we also need to love and offer acceptance to a broader concept of what it means to be human, “one of us”, part of the herd.

At best, the alternative is a dull grey or poo brown world where all the diversity and colour has either been mix in so much it disappears or it is left out entirely.

That’s not a world I want to live in. How about you?

We, therefore, need to become the change, stepping out of our comfort zones and building bridges towards those we have perhaps ostracised in the past and look for what we have in common, instead of what divides.

After all, right around the world, we have already experienced evil at it’s ugliest worst.

It is up to us to be the spark which creates, or indeed, “Photoshops” a new, much brighter future.

Love & God Bless,

Rowena

PS I have Photoshopped the rainbow painting used in this post in keeping with the theme. The original photo had a bit of glare and so I started Photoshopping that out as well but before I knew it, I was also Photoshopping out the brushstrokes, which gave it character and individuality as well as imperfection. So, after doing the blue, I stopped. This gives you an appreciation of the effects of conformity and using the machine to standardise and perfect whereas the other colours show a more “slapdash and expressionist” approach. Indeed, when it comes to describing my painting style, that’s actually a perfect description!

Sydney Pakistan Cairns: the Bumpy Road Ahead.

A few days ago I read a post about the siege in Martin Place which I’ve reblogged called: Still Our Sydney.

Among the comments, I found a detailed message from Petrea King, author and speaker who is the CEO of the Quest For Life program which runs courses to help people living with cancer and chronic illness. She has written a number of intelligently written and compassionate books dealing with when the going gets tough including: Your Life Matters (which I’m in the process of reading) and Sometimes Your Heart Has to Break.

Petrea’s words really touched me. Not just in the aftermath of what I’ll simply call: “Sydney Pakistan Cairns” but also as a means of getting through and emerging from our own traumas. This is golden advice. The sort of stuff we all need to have up our sleeve not only for when our own lives are shattered and challenged but also to know how to be there for a friend or even a complete stranger. This is something to print out and keep on file.

I hope Petrea doesn’t mind me posting her words on my blog but right now, I’d like to fly them from the roof top. These are very important life skills and we need to know how to respond to the bad and even the traumatic instead of just even moving forward pursuing happiness without so much as a backwards glance.

Thank you Petrea:

“Kaz, you’ve captured beautifully the mood of many. Thank you.

If I could share a few thoughts from having worked with many thousands of traumatised people…and because I’ve had more than a few myself…

We have all been deeply shocked by what has happened. We are confronted with the precariousness of life and how randomly and quickly it can change – change profoundly, irrevocably, instantly, tragically. We are confronted by our mortality and what the death of our, or our loved one’s life means to us.

Such shocking events don’t have intrinsic meaning. If we are to find a peaceful pathway forward, one that allows us to collectively heal from the trauma we have experienced, then we need to acknowledge and embrace the pain and anguish – as has been demonstrated by so many publicly and all of us privately. Through the laying of flowers, we honour Katrina’s and Tori’s sacrifice and the awful tragedy and trauma of it all and, at the same time, we affirm our commitment to a peaceful, compassionate society that refuses to be enslaved by fear, prejudice and judgment – all of which lead to disunity. We demonstrate collectively our commitment to tolerance, compassion, connection and love.

We can then further honour Katrina’s and Tori’s lives and the trauma everyone has suffered by how we choose to live ours. We can choose to respond with courage, creativity and with a commitment to establishing peace within ourselves so that we can have peace wiithin our communities. Imagine if we all responded to this atrocity by consciously choosing to create some act of peace within ourselves, our family, our community, our nation?

Right now we are meant to feel numb, dumfounded, bewildered, distressed, angry, fearful or whatever it is that we feel moment to moment. Sometimes it will be a mish mash of feelings. Confusion, spacinesss, dislocated, despairing – all these feelings are normal and it’s fine to feel anything. It’s what we DO with our feelings that is important. Do your best to witness these feelings without judging or resisting them. Recognise that feelings come and go. You are more than your feelings because you’re able to witness them.

Avoid reacting from challenging feelings as you may say or do things you later regret. If you’re feeling really distressed then reach out for help. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you are not entitled to the feelings you may be experiencing because you weren’t directly involved. Your were directly involved whether you work in Martin Place or you watched the nightmare unfolding on television, through tweets, FB or other media. You may feel traumatised. That’s because you have a good and compassionate heart and you have been deeply disturbed by what has happened. You may have felt great fear and a sense of helplessness. Why wouldn’t we be feeling distresssed? If these feelings are overwhelming you may find it helpful to find someone to talk with that you trust. Your GP? A relative, friend, counsellor?

Be with people you can be ‘real’ with; people who will listen to you and allow you to ‘have’ the feelings you’re experiencing without judging you or trying to ‘fix you up’. Perhaps, if you feel retraumatised by talking about what happened then put some clear boundaries in place by telling people that you would prefer not to discuss it. Others may find it useful to limit how long they are going to talk it. Do what you need to do to stay emotionally healthy.

The Storm

The Storm. Painting: Rowena Newton.

People who are feeling overly anxious or already dealing with grief, depression or other trauma may find their experiences heightened at present so it is important that we are all as gentle and respectful of one another as possible. It would be good to cut each other a bit of slack at present and recognise that everyone is feeling upset or traumatised and that some may be having a hard time managing their feelings or are finding them overwhelming. Some may benefit from attending a retreat to regain their inner equilibrium, make meaning of their experience and find a pathway forward. Our retreat, Healing Your Life is designed for people who have experienced trauma and are having difficulty integrating their experience and who want to move forward, feeling more empowered to live their life. The program is supported by NSW Health and the Quest for Life Foundation and we endeavour to turn no one away on financial grounds. Info can be found at questforlife.com.au.

Take extra care to do the things that nourish and replenish you in these days and weeks ahead. Perhaps it’s exercise or solitude, time with a hobby or sport, doing the things you love, being with people you love, sleep, making or listening to music, being in nature, ritual, prayer, yoga, meditation, playfulness, soaking baths…whatever brings you to the moment where you will reconnect with a more stable and grounded part of yourself. Exercise is particularly good as it shifts the chemicals of stress out of the body. Eating fresh, whole foods is helpful. Go gently with alcohol and don’t use it to suppress your feelings. Find someone to talk to instead. Avoid isolating yourself but make sure you have time for solitude if that is your resting place.

There is no one way forward. If we are ever to find peace beyond this then we need to do as we are doing. We are taking on the enormity of what has happened. We have gathered to overcome violence and difference, with a show of unity and love. We have affirmed that collectively, we are the beating heart of Sydney. From this foundation we can grow.

In time, it might be useful for us all to create an act of peace within ourself, our family or our community as a way of consciously honouring the suffering while making a commitment to creating more peace in our lives, individually and collectively.”

Petrea King

December 18, 2014 at 12:19 am

http://www.questforlife.com.au/

I hope you have found this as helpful as I have.

xx Rowena

Ever during the most violent of storms, never lose sight of hope. It takes sun and rain to make a rainbow.

Even during the most violent of storms, never lose sight of hope. It takes sun and rain to make a rainbow. Painting: Rowena Newton.