Tag Archives: resolutions

Sydney Fireworks: A Prelude to Midnight.

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

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Not a bad shot from the TV!

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

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

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

That was 17 years ago!

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Humph!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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One frantic puppy dog.

Now, we are too…so much for romance!

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll briefly be back at midnight.

Happy Almost New Year!

xx Rowena

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

 

Old Self…New Year: Beware of the Big Bad Wolf!

If you, like me, decided NOT to make any  resolutions at all on NYE, you could also be in for a rude shock. Just because you objected, that doesn’t mean those resolutions won’t come running after you. Now, that NYE is almost a full week behind us and we’ve almost been lulled into a dream, it’s just the right time for the Big Bad Wolf to come knocking on your door when you least expect it:

“Little pig. Little pig! Let me in”.

That’s right. The Big Bad Wolf will huff, puff and blow your house down. That is, if you refuse to respond and open the door to constructive change.

I have to admit that I’d seen the Big Bad Wolf out on the horizon but thought I’d got a step ahead by taking up the One Word Challenge: http://myoneword.org/.

Love...my word for 2015.

Love…my word for 2015.

Indeed, you might have read that I have chosen “Love” as my word for 2015https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/01/03/new-year-my-one-word-for-2015-and-why-i-cant-leave-2014-behind/

“Love” seemed the only choice for me after the week of horror which took place just before Christmas. After all that hate in one week along with the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 earlier in the year, I really felt we all needed to come together in love to cleanse our world of hate.

In order to do this, we somehow needed to learn to “love our neighbour as ourselves”.

Not just our neighbour either.

We also need to treat our nearest and dearest the way we would like to be treated. Or, better still, by having the empathy to treat them the way they would like to be treated. This is so much more than a platitude. I take this word extremely seriously and see this as no warm, fuzzy, soft option. Indeed, the decision, the commitment, to love is a serious undertaking and also involves a word that I’m seriously not good at…”patience”. I failed patience a long, long time ago.

It also involves stopping, which is another concept I’m not that good at. Stop writing and being busy and spend some quality time with those I love…so easy in theory but surprisingly difficult in practice. We all lead busy lives but eventually that excuse wears thin.

With love as my over-arching word for 2015, I already knew that I had my work cut out for me. That love was a sufficient challenge, goal, personal development project for 2015.

Ha! Like so many of us who make plans and goals, these soon get dashed on the rocks. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t given up on love. It’s just that resolutions for the New Year are slowly but surely finding me and they’re being very insistent. I don’t think I have any choice about doing any of this. It’s sink or swim time and of course, I and the rest of the family are wanting to swim. We don’t want to drown.

So once again, I’m left quoting John Lennon:

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

So while New Year’s Eve has been and gone, we are still on school holidays in Australia and my real NYE will be the 27th January…the night before the kids go back to school. By then, I’ll have to overcome my sins of the past 12 months. I must… especially if I love my kids and I truly want them to reach their true potential. Grow up into themselves, without being stunted. I want my kids to grow up into mighty oaks or even eucalypts… not being constantly cut back and cut back into some imprisoned bonsai which never grows up to reach the sun!

Our daughter growing into a mighty eucalypt or "gum" tree.

Our daughter growing into a mighty eucalypt or “gum” tree.

Sure, I was pretty crook last year. You know my story  or can read it here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/about/.

While I can justifiably blame the chemo for screwing up my already challenged organisation, I can only blame chemo for so long before I need to act. Do something. As I said, we don’t want to sink…especially in a sea of miscellaneous paperwork and school notes. We want to swim. Be in  the race…not drown.

Improving my health is another non-negotiable this year. This really is something I can’t mess around with.

Now, I’m needing to develop the infrastructure or scaffolding to keep us on track until the chemo brain wears off. These are the sort of tedious changes that eventually get thrust upon you when there is no other choice ie when the Big Bad Wolf has all but gobbled up the sweet little pig.

So while I am also making big plans for my writing, my blog and work in 2015, I’ve also been force to accept these New Year’s nasties:

  1. Develop a detailed schedule and routine to improve organisation and arrive on time.
  2. Keep better track of upcoming events using diary, planner and wall chart.
  3. Lose 10 kilos. This will improve my breathing, reduce the worsening heartburn and improve my general health.
  4. Exercise 3 x per week. This reduces the risk of a respiratory infection…the greatest risk to my health. It will also help to keep me mobile and improve muscle strength.
  5. Declutter the house for an hour a day. I cleaned my desk up recently and I felt so much better. Need to extend those open spaces.

Despite my best intentions, this list of nasties seems to be growing too.

Of course, it goes without saying that I will still be writing, writing, writing. “Working” on my blog and even though my camera is suffering from chronic over-use, I can’t see it sitting home alone either!!

Out Taking Photos

Out Taking Photos

That said, even though I’ve taken these resolutions onboard under duress, that doesn’t mean I have to love them…even if that’s my word for 2015.

Even this ambitious little pig who is building her house out of brick, has to be prepared.

How are things looking for you in the New Year ahead? If you are struggling with it all, how about you listen to this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPtlSF4TlJE

Try

Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone’s bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die
You’ve gotta get up and try, and try, and try
Gotta get up and try, and try, and try
You gotta get up and try, and try, and try
Gotta get up and try, and try, and try
Gotta get up and try, and try, and try
You gotta get up and try, and try, and try
Gotta get up and try, and try, and try
[1]

 

All the best with the best laid plans of mice and men and of course, it goes without saying, beware of the Big Bad Wolf!

xx Rowena

[1] Writer(s): Michael Busbee, Michael Ford Busbee, Benjamin West
Copyright: BMG Platinum Songs Us, Hello I Love You Music, Legitimate Efforts Music, Jam Writers Group

 

 

NYE Sydney: The Night I Met My Husband.

New Year’s Eve has a very special place in my heart.

While the rest of the world might be celebrating the demise of the old year and relishing the chance to wake up with a clean slate on Jan 1st, New Year’s Eve, Geoff and I met on New Year’s Eve sixteen years ago. It’s our anniversary. That means  I can honestly say that when we met, there really were literally fireworks!

Much younger versions of our current selves met at a mutual friend’s New Year’s Eve Party held in Wollstonecraft on Sydney’s North Shore. The apartment was perched on the edge of one of the hills overlooking the Harbour and of course, we were all there to watch the spectacular fireworks from our privileged bird’s-eye view. This was special.After all, Sydney’s NYE fireworks are up there on the world stage: Sydney, London, Paris, Time Square…only we beat them all to it!!

However,I do have a small confession about the view. We might have had front-row seats but we had what you’d describe as a “back-end view” of the Bridge and we were actually looking at the main fireworks display from behind. There was also a block of units somewhat in the way as well, which the inconsiderate sods didn’t relocate for the night. That said, we did have a very expansive view of the Sydney right out towards Parramatta and we could see all sorts of other locations “going off”. It wasn’t quite as good as being in the chopper but we had it exceptionally good

That said, we wouldn’t have knocked back tickets to the Lord Mayor’s VIP bash  right there on the Harbour and actually facing the Bridge. Who would?!!

Being a young 20 something, there was definitely no way we’d ever stay home and watch the fireworks on TV. That was the sort of social suicide reserved for the likes of “Nigel No-Friends” and we weren’t going to be one of them. No way!

However, another option for viewing the fireworks was joining the  mosh pit of bodies under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. At this point, I’ll remind you that it’s now summer in Sydney. It can get very, very hot in Sydney on NYE. No snow. Definitely no snow but lot’s of sweat.

Personally, I’ve never been game to go under the Bridge.

At the close of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, a group of us ended up in the city looking for a vantage point to see those fireworks. There were hordes of people choking up the streets all desperate for some kind, any kind of vantage point. I still remember our sense of desperation. Where could we go? What was left? Of course, the well-planned amongst us had been camping out for days and we were last minute optimists, cuckoos out to land in someone’s nest. Fortunately, I’d photographed the Wharf Theatre and had a lateral moment and we found a largely unpopulated vantage point down there only metres away from where fireworks were being let off. In our usual style, we were seeing the back-end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge but otherwise had a great, uncluttered spot. That was our moment photographing the fireworks with our legs dangling off the wharf indulging in cheese and champagne. It was incredible! A moment we’ll never forget.

Geoff and I walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge during  the Sydney 2000 Olympics

Geoff and I walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the Sydney 2000 Olympics

Life has taken many twists and turns since then.

Anyway, those hordes haven’t encouraged me to try our luck under the Bridge.

Perhaps, everybody is just charmingly friendly as they crush each others’ feet in the general stompage but we all know what it’s like when some stranger  dares stand on someone else’s rug. That’s right. Their precious square of turf which they’ve been viciously defending like a magpie for days, camping out under a very harsh, unforgiving sun knowing they’ll be straight off to the skin cancer clinic straight afterwards.  Somehow, in the cruel aftermath, it’s all considered worth it but you’ve got to wonder!

Shame about the broken bones and it wasn’t good news for the altitudinally-challenged either,  spending NYE with their nose shoved in some stinky stranger’s armpit. Humph…Happy New Year!

I’m sure those moshers under the Bridge would’ve done anything to have our back-end view.

Yes! We knew we had it good!

Of course, I had no idea I was about to meet my future husband when I knocked on the same door I’d knocked on many times before. That couldn’t have been further from my mind, which I must admit was rather exceptional. You see, up until that freakish moment in time, I’d had a “proactive” approach towards looking out for Mr Right. I actually had a huge, fine-tuned antenna stuck on the top of my head. Moreover, I was also known as a notorious (but quite successful) matchmaker. Indeed, I could have stuck a plaque outside my place and I would have done a roaring trade…especially if I’d known a few more girls. I had a lot of male friends who kept turning up to parties doused in optimistic aftershave only to be let down once again by a severe gender imbalance.

Anyway, as I said, I wasn’t looking to meet anybody that night. As incredulous as that might sound, I’d just been unceremoniously dumped and I was in rough shape. Guttered and yet, at the same time…a survivor. I went off to this party with one New Year’s resolution and one resolution only: “No Nick 1999!”.

That’s probably the only NY resolution I’ve ever pulled off.

Well, chatting away with Geoff watching the fireworks that night, he gave me some excellent advice: “Just be friends. Take time to get to know someone.” That was the general gist of it all but it all sounded rather profound at the time and I really took it to heart. I went off to another party later that announced that great advice. Well, you know how it is. Love and romance can creep up on even the most unsuspecting of characters. We met up at a few social things with our mutual friend and somehow that led to email which then resulted in some comment about: “You know you can pop over” and an invitation to join him and his niece to visit Taronga Zoo. All I can really remember about that is feeding carrots to the giraffes and by this stage that finely tuned antenna of mine was working overtime. I must admit that I was now concerned about his so-called “good advice”. How on earth we were ever going to shift gears out of friendship into something else  but  I guess that’s where Cupid steps in.

Geoff and I not long after we'd met photographed in his Austin Healy Sprite...not as romantic as it looks!

Geoff and I not long after we’d met photographed in his Austin Healey Sprite…not so romantic when it rains!

In retrospect, meeting Geoff was one of life’s serendipitous, “meant to be” moments where God and fate intervened and a whole heap of incidentals all lined up and for just once in a lifetime, didn’t conspire against us. I almost didn’t end up going to that party after being dumped that afternoon. However, my friend had only invited a select few to watch the fireworks and I didn’t want to let her down. Besides, she knows how to throw a party and was renowned for her vodka jellies and chocolate mouse. We are turning back the clock to another, very different lifetime but I do have photos of a friend dancing with a bunch of flowers after partaking of these legendary vodka jellies.

However, this party seemed relatively quiet and I do remember standing out on the balcony photographing the fireworks, albeit from our quirky backend perspective and talking about photography with Geoff. He was interested in photography…tick. He also drove a green sportscar and that sounded very romantic even though he warned me straight away that she was 30 something English and temperamental. There was something about water and leaks in the conversation that I only really came to appreciate drive up to Byron Bay during particularly heavy rain while we were both wearing raincoats. That is, inside the car!! Yes, we were still wet.

Watching NYE on TV with my broken foot. Not quite what it used to be but at least I've found love.

Watching NYE on TV with my broken foot. Not quite what it used to be but at least I’ve found love.

Fast forwarding right along to 2014, New Year’s Eve doesn’t quite have the same air of possibility or wild excitement that it used to. No Vodka jellies or chocolate mouse although we managed to organise going over to a friend’s place with all the kids to watch the fireworks on TV and I’d made pavlova. That is what an exciting New Year’s Eve entails these days. To be honest, that’s even been an improvement on having to babysit two anxious dogs freaking out from the loud nasty banging fireworks or having babies to attend to.

Sadly, we’re quite used to watching the fireworks on TV these days although there is still that spark. That memory of… once upon a time.

The family together on New Year's Eve.

The family together on New Year’s Eve.

So there we all were watching the fireworks on TV and I couldn’t resist. I had to take some photos. That’s right I was being incredibly daggy and photographing the fireworks on TV. Old habits die hard. Of course, they weren’t award winners and there was that sense of crazed desperation, which could also be called determination. An all conquering spirit which says never says die. I am who I am.

There is still a photographer and a party animal buried somewhere deep within my soul,  which has somehow overcome the descent into middle-age, mortgage, kids, muscle-disease and lives on.

I will not be beaten.

Hence, I’m already making plans for next NYE. Somehow, I’d like our family to get down to Sydney. This is more of a wish than a resolution…along with getting to the Easter Show. Not always easy but we’ll at least try to find a way.

Perhaps, I should give the Sydney Lord Mayor a call…or maybe just friend her on Facebook. I wonder if that would be enough?!!

Happy New Year to you all!

Love and Blessings,

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

PS Bilbo and Lady report they were not impressed at being left home alone  to fend for themselves against all those nasty loud banging noises. Lady ended up burying herself in the garage and once the humans were home bounced on mum’s lap. Many dogs end up “doing the Harold Holt” and get lost on NYE. Like a good Martini, though, we were shaken but not stirred.

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