Tag Archives: seed

Sowing the Seed for Rio.

Perhaps, if you are able-bodied, it’s hard to understand what the Paralympics means to people living with a disability.

Indeed, it’s even taken me awhile to get it, despite being born with a disability. After all, I’m a wordsmith and my training’s been in my head, not up and down a pool or athletics track.

However,  through watching the Paralympics in Rio, I’ve gained a much deeper understanding of what the Paralympics mans to people living with a disability, especially those with a passion for sport. As I have recently discovered through dance, just because your body struggles to do something physical, it doesn’t mean your heart and mind aren’t passionate about it. That you’re not a sports person. Rather, there are so many ways people living with numerous disabilities can get into sport and turn that sport into a  career. We might just need to look a bit harder to find our thing and find a way to pull it off.

walking-the-great-black-line

Walking the Long Black Line in Rehab 10 years ago.

This story has been repeated so many times throughout the Paralympics in Rio, that you can almost take this progression as a given. However,  for each and every athlete this progression is a triumph. After all, there were no guarantees that triumph wouldn’t get eaten up by despair along the road.

I have been following up on a few of the athletes online after their events and sharing their stories on my blog. Not that I’m much of a sports commentator but I have lived through that despair and found my way out through my family and my writing. I wanted to pass on these athletes drive and determination as well as how they were inspired, or perhaps helped, along the way.

dylan_alcott_-_3b_-_2016_team_processing

Dylan Alcott 2016 Australian Paralympic Team portrait.

Last night,we were totally blown away by Australian Paralympian, Dylan Alcott’s speech about the need to include people with disabilities into all spheres of life…and work! It was such an inspiration that it was easy to lose sight of the ten year old boy who became a paraplegic following surgery to have a cancerous tumour from his spine  removed. It was at this point that Starlight Children’s Foundation stepped in. As Dylan puts it: “Depressed and upset, the Starlight Children’s Foundation came to my rescue and granted me and my family a wish to swim with the dolphins at Sea World on the Gold Coast. It was a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience that has stayed with me my entire life.”

Buoyed by a new outlook and determined to maintain his fitness, Dylan took up wheelchair tennis. Yet, while Dylan’s success might seem a forgone conclusion, he still had a long journey ahead.

“I was an insecure kid about my disability. A few kids used to call me a cripple and I hate that word. I used to believe them,” Alcott, 25, says.

“If you told me back then when I was 12 and not wanting to go to school that I’d be a triple Paralympic gold medallist across two sports, I would have said ‘get stuffed’.”

So, Dylan’s story emphasises once again how we can either be that person who sows the seed in someone else’s life. Or, we can be the lawn mower, running them down and chopping them up into bits. It’s a choice.

This is something we all need to think about but we also need to extend our compassion to people living with disabilities who aren’t in wheelchairs or wearing a neon sign advertising “what is wrong with them”. This can begin simply by not having to rush, be in a hurry and almost running over someone with a walking stick or takes their time. It means not parking in a disable parking spot without a permit. No excuses!! It means accepting some level of imperfection and offering a gentle correction, rather than swearing and putting other people down to make yourself look good. It means accepting other people for the unique lovely individuals they are instead of trying to mold the human race in our own image. These things aren’t easy but are really nothing more than common courtesy.

Just in case you’d like to help kids like Dylan, you can click here  Starlight Foundation  to donate.

As Dylan sums up: “Having a disability can be very hard, especially for kids growing up. These donations will assist in granting wishes for sick children and purchasing equipment to enable them to live better lives.”

xx Rowena

Sources

http://www.smh.com.au/sport/rio-paralympics-2016-dylan-alcott-claims-gold-for-second-time-in-24-hours-20160914-grglpl.html

https://starlight.org.au/what-we-do/our-stories/fundraising/dylans-story

Staying on Course II: Husband & Wife

As a writer, I am very good at theory and not so versed in practice. After all, if you use up all your time writing about your dreams, hopes, goals and aspirations, unless you are mighty fast on the keyboard, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for implementation…the doing part of the equation…especially when it comes to spending time with my husband! Hmm….

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a photo of Geoff and I kayaking together but Geoff is behind the camera in this  shot. Hopefully, I’ll update it next weekend when the kids are here to take the shot.

Monday 20th January, 2014

Well, as usual I was in prime form yesterday morning. Despite desperately wanting to go out in the kayak with Geoff for some couple time and to also show him the mangroves which I’d explored with Mister on Friday, I spent at least an hour writing about Geoff’s tips on kayaking…writing about how to kayak instead of kayaking itself. We live in a tidal area and you have to take the kayaks out at high tide or you can’t get back. There is some leeway but to some extent it is a case of act now or you’ll miss out. You can’t really procrastinate, defer or delay.  You just have to go. As I was philosophising away on my theories, the water was literally ticking away…tick tock, tick tock…dong!

My justification of course was that I wanted to “seize the advice” before it drifted through one ear and paddled downstream straight out the other ear.

Yesterday morning, Geoff and I set out on a kayaking adventure together… an opportunity to put some of my new found paddling expertise into practice. As it turned out, Geoff had many more tips hidden up his sleeve and kayaking also had a lot to teach me about how to achieve my goals.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6T3RS78Tp58

As I mentioned in my previous post, Geoff is an experienced white-water kayaker. He’s traversed the infamous Corra Linn Rapids in the South Esk River in Tasmania where the original Solo Man commercial was filmed back in 1986. Geoff knows how to operate a paddle and keep a kayak afloat under very adverse conditions so paddling up to the mangroves and back was very elementary. (Geoff also pointed out that the original Solo Man Iron Man Grant Kenny went through the rapids in a “bus” not a real kayak. You see, he might have been the original Solo Man but he wasn’t a Tasmanian!)

I was really looking forward to spending time together and being in our own small couple bubble as we ventured among the mangroves exploring new worlds. We both really love being at one with nature and a million miles away from care, almost melting into the landscape.

Due to my muscle weakness, I find it quite awkward actually climbing on board the kayak. I seem to have two left feet and it’s a bit like trying to do a reverse park with a hill start in a manual. There’s a lot of manoeuvring back and forwards and glancing around between the kayak and my feet to work out what goes where first without tipping the whole thing over. Given the unstable nature of the kayak as well, it is a little daunting but once I’m seated, I’m quite fine and good to go.

Finally, we were out on the water and my kayaking lessons began in earnest.

Geoff had already worked out which way the wind and the current were flowing. This is almost innate to him. He just knows. He reminds me that you start out against the wind and current so you return back with the current behind you when you’re tired on the way home. Energy conservation is a jolly good strategy.

Next, Geoff starts working on improving my stroke to get more power. While I thought I was paddling along okay, Geoff advised me to hold my paddle more vertically. I also needed to sit up straight. We were using the Power Stroke. This was a bit of a struggle with my limited arm strength as well as being a new, uncomfortable position but I persevered. I wanted to learn how to paddle properly and become a Solo Woman myself. Building on the Power Stroke, Geoff then advised me how to use my feet and push with the foot on the side of the paddle so that I was using my entire body to move the kayak forward instead of just my arms. This would really give us more momentum.

While we are paddling along, Geoff is “reading the water”: looking out for obstacles such as shallow water where we could get stuck and tracking the strong headwind. He is enjoying the ride and also looking out for fish. A guy on a windsurfer shoots past and that looks pretty fun too.

As the more experienced and stronger paddler, Geoff compensated for my weakness and there were times where I had to stop paddling and rest and he carried my load. This was much appreciated because reaching the mangroves was beyond my capabilities but we pulled it off because he compensated for me and we worked as a team.

Such detailed advice isn’t always appreciated between husbands and wives. Just consider a parallel situation of a husband telling his wife how to drive a car. You can really feel the sparks fly. Yet, a bit of constructive criticism really should be welcomed on board, acted on and seen as an opportunity for growth, not viewed as an attack, put down or condemnation. I really appreciated Geoff’s input which came from his much greater experience of kayaking. I had the opportunity to learn, grow and improve from my husband and it didn’t cost me a cent. Moreover, we had the opportunity to spend some time together on our own doing something together which we both enjoyed.

From this experience, I could definitely appreciate the value of having a coach to help you reach your goals. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel and you can fast track your progress by coasting through on the wake of their experience.

There is also greater strength in numbers and while there are times where it’s great to be the quintessential Renaissance man or woman…the all-conquering individual…there are also times where you don’t want to go it alone. That is a tremendous relief to have a problem shared and such pleasure in sharing the experience and having your horizons broadened through someone else’s eyes and vision. We all see something unique and different even looking at the very same spot. This is the exciting and challenging thing of being a living, breathing, flexible and integral part of community.

However, for the full benefits of a coach to be fully appreciated, you also need to be coachable. Willing not only to listen and act on that advice but know how to handle constructive criticism and use it as an opportunity for growth instead of a perceiving advice as a personal attack. I have experienced fairly intensive advice and criticism in my violin lessons and it has made such a difference. Remember, I received that A in my preliminary exam…a result I achieved because I listened and acted on advice instead of being “precious”.

Unless you are open to criticism, correction and inhaling and implementing advice, you’ll never grow. While it may be less confronting to read a book of life lessons and apply them to your life, it is far more effective to heed the advice of someone who knows us well and loves us and applies that personal but probably more painful touch. This is probably the greatest gift we could ever receive. Yet, rather than being thankful and appreciating the inherent risks of speaking out, we’re more likely to beat our loved ones over the head with a stick or go off and sulk. Somehow, we need to learn to be more gracious and  listening, accepting feedback and find ways of implementing the required changes to grow. Become the very best person we can be.

I am now coming to appreciate that personal growth and change is an ongoing life-long process. We are constantly refining and refining ourselves in a never-ending process of growth. Growth which isn’t a striving towards an oppressive perfectionism but rather the joy of feeling yourself extend beyond what you thought was possible and to enjoy fresh green buds and emerging flowers and feel your entire being come alive and you step out of the chains of bondage. For me, this means being able to love and give more freely because despite what’s going on in my life, I am fine. I might not understand what is happening in my life or why but somewhere it is all integrated into a larger whole and God is walking with me guiding my path taking me on an exhilarating journey.

After all, none of us is set in stone.

Rather, we are a seed.

The funny thing about seeds is that they usually don’t just fall straight out of the tree and instantly start to grow. Rather, there is usually some kind of journey involved and these adventures usually aren’t very glamorous at all! An animal eats the seed transporting it a very long way from home and it takes time before the seed can sprout. Many seeds go astray. Just think about how many kids find an acorn and stick it in their pocket? Of course, the child doesn’t know what they’ve done. That they’ve taken all that awesome potential and stuck it on hold. The acorn simply can’t grow into an oak while it’s sitting on the shelf. Of course, the acorn probably gives up and thinks it is the end of the road but there is always hope. The acorn is still a seed and perhaps it is just a matter of time.

We need to embrace our own journey and then plant ourselves, our goals and our dreams in fertile soil and nurture them with sun and rain. Then we can become oaks with soaring branches deeply rooted in love.

I should also point out that the ultimate purpose of all this personal growth and refinement isn’t about the self-indulgent pursuit of personal happiness and fulfilment. It is actually geared towards being a fully functional, giving part of our community with a body, heart and soul which is able to give and give abundantly. Becoming the wondrous oak tree in the park providing shade and shelter to birds, insects, children with its strong and sturdy branches stretching up to the sky and absorbing the sun.

Finally, Geoff and I had a really lovely paddle together. Geoff seemed to be focused on looking for fish while I loved looking at the reflections of the mangrove trees on the water. Geoff always seems to see so many little things which I miss like the oysters growing on the trunks of the mangroves. I did see many, many little fish among the mangroves. That was very encouraging because I do wonder just how many fish are in the ocean these days and whether they are running out.

Unfortunately, I can’t share any photos with you because I didn’t want to risk the camera getting wet. It hasn’t learned how to swim yet.

We are a living breathing work-in-progress constantly changing and never standing still.

PS Tuesday 21st January, 2014

I would like to remind you that I am currently going through chemotherapy and also having high dose infusions of prednisone. These are drugs just like any other kind of drug and I know they are very definitely influencing and shaping not only my writing but also my vision…what I see. A lot of my friends who have been on high doses of prednisone talk about going on cleaning frenzies and I am starting to wonder whether that is as much about seeing what’s around them more clearly as much as having the added steroid energy boost.

I have definitely found a level of clarity and insight that has been quite staggering and intense. At times, it’s been like a thunder bolt has hit. I see something so clearly. I can see something in someone else so clearly that it is mind blowing. Now, I can’t always test these insights out and know if they are real or just the drugs talking but it is certainly interesting and you see those kids with cancer on TV and they get very profound and it is profound when you are facing your own mortality but there are also the effects of the chemo and I don’t know what they are.

As a bloggers, I think most of us are seekers. We are looking out there for insights into life and hopefully how we can become better people and collectively make the world a better place. We can’t experience everything in life and face it, who really wants to go through the chemo experience. However, this has been my lot, my journey and I am trying to share it with you as earnestly as I can. Putting you in my shoes. You can come to chemo with me and the good news is that neither of us are going to lose our hair!

xx Ro

Another PS: I just chose the title for today’s post and thought it deserved a bit more attention. I chose to continue the staying on course theme from my previous post and it is about kayaking and goal setting but staying on course is a serious difficulty in any relationship. When I was a kid, you’d hear stories of couples having another baby when their marriage was on the rocks to bridge the gap. I don’t know if that happens anymore because I most of us realise that as much as having kids draws you together as a couple, it also divides. Add years of living with a chronic, life-threatening with all it’s inherent medical emergencies and it is very difficult to invest enough time, energy and nurturing into that relationship to keep it fuelled. Fortunately, my parents took the kids for yet another night while Geoff was still on leave and we were able to get out there on the water kayaking together despite my incessant writing and we were able to go out for dinner just the two of us two nights in a row. We were about to feed our relationship and help some of those ragged nerve endings grow back. Our relationship needed to rebuild its neuro pathways as well and reconnect.

Love Spawned…Embracing the Great Minecraft Challenge.

Love is a seed. For love to keep growing and ultimately survive, you have to keep watering it. That’s the hard part. Keeping up all that boring maintenance…especially long after all the flowers have died and what’s left of the plant should be kept well and truly out of sight until next spring.

I don’t know about you but I’m not good with all that long term, routine kind of stuff.  As much as I love gardening and all my pretty flowers, I must confess that I’ve had quite a few plants die of thirst right next to a tap and I’ve felt so bad!!

You would think that I could make that very small effort to give them a drink, especially when I didn’t even need to go out of my way?!!

Yet, sometimes even those small, seemingly painless steps are too much even for the strongest and deepest kinds of love which go way beyond seeds, plants and gardening and involve the very people we love and cherish the most.

For me, learning to play Minecraft was about watering these seeds and nurturing our family, knowing full well that it would catapult me right out of my comfort zone and dump me into hostile, crocodile infested waters. Snap! Snap! You’re gone!

I have to admit that I was quite terrified of playing Minecraft, especially after my introduction last week. It was nothing like Space Invaders. Nothing like Space Invaders at all!

I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of Minecraft because you can Google that or check it out on Wikipedia. That’s what you do when you want to learn a new computer game, isn’t it? Apparently, it’s not. Most people actually play the game and don’t feel compelled to write about it either. It’s just me.  Geoff said this proved that I didn’t “get” Minecraft or I’d be playing it instead (and hooked on it like the rest of the family!!)

Well, he has a point!

When my great Minecraft challenge began, it reminded me of arriving at the dentist knowing I was about to have root canal. I sat in my chair and the iPad was put on my lap. As much as I knew it was going to hurt, I knew the alternative would be far worse (something like tying a piece of string around the offending tooth and slamming the door shut without any form of anaesthetic.)  I had to go through with it. Waves of panic completely overwhelmed me. I’d been catapulted so far out of my comfort zone and wanted to boomerang back there again. But writing about doing things with your family is no substitute for spending time together. I just had to do it. Embrace all those horrible, uncomfortable feelings and walk with them hoping that as time went by, I would somehow feel more at home.

The trouble with Minecraft is that is involves a number of my weaknesses and while working on these would ultimately help them to improve, getting to that point is hard, frustrating work. It’s like scaling Mt Everest using your bare fingernails and who doesn’t want to avoid that kind of stress?

It wasn’t just a matter of learning Minecraft. I didn’t know how to operate the iPad either. Not that it should have been that difficult because it is like my mobile phone. However, trying to learn Minecraft at the same time, seemed to compound my difficulties and the whole thing felt crushingly difficult. I was freaking out. I have no shame. I really am one of those old dogs who doesn’t like new tricks.

However, as Mister so kindly pointed out: “Mummy, you can’t runaway from Minecraft. It’s coming after you.”

He was right. I persevered. I embraced the terror and kept going. That said, I did have the timer going. I was going to be playing Minecraft all day!!

Anyway, I made some interesting observations during my time in Minecraftland:

Firstly, if you keep focusing on your feet, you have no idea where you’re going. A few times, I was wondering why I couldn’t get through a doorway when I was actually bashing my head against a dirt wall. It always helps to see the bigger picture.

Secondly, beware of the power of touch. I would be tapping on the screen trying to open or close a door and instead, I accidently dumped a mound of dirt in my tracks. I also accidently bashed a few holes in the wall with my wooden pick axe. Such acts of wanton vandalism aren’t usually appreciated by the other players.

Thirdly, despite being in a virtual world, you are still “you”. With my poor sense of direction and spatial reasoning, I get hopelessly lost in real life and the same applied in Minecraft and it felt just as awful. I was constantly lost, which felt really, really unnerving. Nobody likes getting lost even if it is just “a game”.

A few times I wondered what on earth I was doing in my lost state and Geoff would call out: “where are you?” I was so lost that I’d somehow become “beyond lost”.

Anyway, I just found a story I read about rescuing missing bushwalkers and it gave me a bit of insight into my “lost” behaviour:

“They say to find a missing bushwalker you first have to try to think like one. “We try to get in to the psychology and understanding what common mistakes people would make while they are walking. People do unusual things when they are lost,” said rescuer Caro Ryan.

People will unintentionally make themselves more lost. They will make decisions you don’t usually make.[1]

Geoff must have picked up on this because it didn’t take long for him to suggest: “Follow me!” It was as close as he could get on Minecraft to actually holding my hand. He was protectively and encouragingly lead me not only through the house we’d built but also though the minefield which had become Minecraft. There was so much to learn.  I had to follow him very, very closely and he really looked out for me too which was nice.

I also learned that the kids don’t close doors in Minecraft just like in the real world. In real life, they let the dog out and in Minecraft, they let the creepers in. Grr!

Yet, probably what I appreciated most is what it actually takes to get someone you love to take on your interest to a point where they can truly understand and enjoy it, join in and want to do it again. You need to put yourself in their shoes and somehow walk at their pace even if it might be excruciatingly slow to the point of irritation. You might need to steps down into bite-sized chunks or even micro-bites so they can pick it up and feel they can do it. You want them to feel good about what they’re doing! When I was lost and Miss took me off on a wild goose chase leaving me vulnerable to the creepers, Geoff firmly explained to her that if you want Mummy to play again, you want her to have a good experience. Enjoy it and want to come back.

Harper Lee summed this up pretty well in To Kill A Mockingbird:

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

DSC_6402

Big shoes…Little Feet.

Another thing I found interesting was juggling the balance between caution and risk. In Minecraft, you need to build defences to protect yourself from the creepers but you also want to actually do some stuff.  The first time I played, I found myself a nice deep tunnel and stayed inside. I was surrounded by stone walls on almost all sides and I was very safe but I was doing nothing. I was just sitting there in the dark waiting for the sun to rise. With all that waiting, the iPod went to sleep and disconnected from the server. This meant I’d lost all my tools etc and had to start over.

Being so safe was also pretty boring. It was like when you’ve found a really good hiding spot in Hide & Seek that you’re still hiding there when everyone else has moved onto the next round. It gets a bit boring after awhile. Beign so safe was pretty boring and I did start wondering whether it would be more fun outside chasing creepers instead…even if I died!  Besides, you don’t actually die in Minecraft. You respawn but you come back with nothing and have to start over.

Lastly, I don’t really see the excitement in doing all these virtual jobs on Minecraft. Even virtual jobs feel like too much hard work. Moreover, if Geoff and the kids enjoy all those jobs so much, they should get started on the house but I guess real work doesn’t quite have the same appeal.

I don’t think they’ll ever make a gamer out of me but at least I’m having a go. I’m watering the seeds. You never quite know what is waiting around the corner and when those few minutes of my time might actually make the difference.

Moreover, by seeing me attempt to do something I find difficult, it shows the kids to persevere, keep fighting and as Pink so aptly put it to: “Try! Try! Try!”

xx Rowena


[1][1] The Sydney Morning Herald, February 23-24, 2013 pg 11.

Sowing the Seeds of Love

This morning our family, all four of us, played the violin together for the very first time. It was an incredible experience. Not because we were any good. We weren’t but that wasn’t the point. The important thing was that we were doing it together. While I had carefully prepared the soil, we were all planting the golden seed. I have to admit that this seed didn’t come nicely labelled in a packet so we have no idea what it might grow into. Yet, we’ve planted it in good soil with plenty of sunshine and must remember to water it. Even the most robust seeds need a bit of TLC to thrive.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

While I have no idea what this tiny seed will become, I’m sure that it’s the start of something beautiful that could take an entire lifetime to grow. It might have nothing to do with the violin but that seed will know what it means to be nurtured, loved and given the best opportunity to reach its awesome potential. Isn’t that all that really matters in the end?!!

The family playing violin

The family playing violin

This morning was also Geoff and Mister’s first real official violin lesson. You see, Miss and I play the violin together while Geoff and Mister play the guitar. Mister has been learning the guitar for about a year.  He is steadily improving and can now play Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars. Last year, he actually won the Junior Enthusiasm Award at the music school. He’s slowly but steadily improving and  is now starting to have a bit of fun. The other night, he said: “I was born to play guitar.” That might be a fleeting thing but it was great to see him so happy!! He had found himself…at least for the moment.

While the guitar might be his instrument, he has also expressed a keen interest in my violin, which is hardly surprising given my own unbridled enthusiasm. I practice for at least an hour most days and I now think and breathe the violin along with writing, of course! He has seen me start out as a scratchy beginner and improve and has been very encouraging throughout this process. He has also picked up my violin and had a go himself. Impressively, it didn’t squeak and seemed to like him, which is quite unusual for a violin. They can be very anti-social at times!

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

It’s been quite difficult to know quite how to respond to Mister’s interest in the violin. Whether to encourage it by buying him a violin and giving him a few simple lessons myself or whether to keep him firmly focused on his guitar at this early stage. Learning the guitar is hard enough and the violin is known for being a notoriously difficult instrument. Naturally, I didn’t want him to fail.

Miss cuddling her new violin. I'd found someone selling two Stentor II violins on Ebay.

Miss cuddling her new violin. I’d found someone selling two Stentor II violins on Ebay.

At the same time, I sensed Mister was feeling a bit left out. While he practices his guitar with his Dad, Geoff often gets home too late from work, which has left Mister to practice on his own while Miss and I play our violins together. He could see how much I love the violin and that I was sharing my passion with his sister and he wasn’t a part of that. Sure, we have listened to him play his guitar and have even danced along but it wasn’t the same. I wanted him to feel more included but I didn’t want to overwhelm him either.

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

Some might describe me as a pushy, ambitious mother trying to fulfil my own failed dreams through my kids. I certainly encourage the kids with their music but playing the violin was never my dream. It wasn’t even on my radar. Rather, it was my daughter’s dream and somehow the violin chose me. I had no intention whatsoever of even learning an instrument or doing anything vaguely musical. I wasn’t into music and didn’t even listen to music unless I was driving. Writing is my thing and I prefer to write in complete silence so music and I were pretty much incompatible. Or so I thought.

Mister playing his new violin

Mister playing his new violin

In the end, as crazy as it seemed, I asked Mister if he would like his own violin. He was really excited about it, especially when I was bidding on ebay and those final minutes were counting down. He really wanted his own violin and couldn’t wait to play it!!

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

Well, the violin arrived yesterday and we decided to have a “jam”.

As we all know, doing things as a family can be fraught with disaster as all our best intentions crumble into an all out brawl.

Violins can also be very badly behaved.

Moreover, I don’t know anyone who has successfully taught their own children a musical instrument and everyone tells you never to learn an instrument from your partner or spouse. It’s doomed to fail just like learning to drive! So who do I think I am? What makes me think I can succeed where others with so much more experience have failed?

Yes, I know I’m a dreamer but sometimes your dreams can actually come true and for us, even for this brief moment in time, the impossible happened. The four of us played the violin almost together and it was a truly beautiful thing.   I’m not quite sure whether you’d call our experience an adventure, an experiment or simply having a go.  It’s too early to tell but it was good. The biggest problem was trying to fit us all in the lounge room. Bowing takes up quite a lot of space.

I went through the names of all of the strings and how to hold the violin and then we got started on a very basic tune. Mister’s violin doesn’t have the dots on it so we were limited to the open strings. That was good because we all need to learn in small, manageable steps, even when we’re trying to catch up to our little sister! He played well without any screeches or playing two strings at the same time, although his bow did stray diagonally across the strings and he was struggling to work out where to put his chin.  With the violin, you not only have to struggle to produce a decent sound, you also have to learn how to stand, how hold your violin, where to put your fingers and how to hold your bow. Nevertheless, Mister was concentrating deeply and I could see the violin was speaking to him. I was just intrigued about what it was saying.

Meanwhile, Geoff was starting to play Silent Night by ear on his first lesson. He seems to be a very promising pupil!

Geoff playing the violin.

Geoff playing the violin.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken

By the way, Geoff and the kids gave me my first Minecraft lesson on the iPad after our violin lesson. That’s an entirely different language but I’m giving it a go.

 I can’t help wondering where this journey will take us. It certainly feels like we have chosen Robert Frost’s The Road not Taken and so far the risks have paid off. It will be interesting to see what will become of this seed and how this journey will make a difference.

Actually, I suspect that it already has.

Update 24th February,2013

Our little family quartet is steadily improving after what’s now been 4 family practice sessions. We are now getting started on Suzuki Book 1 and playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Variations. I know this is just the very beginning but to pull this off, well to be honest almost pull it off as a family, is beyond my wildest dreams. It encourages me to believe that almost anything is possible.

Keeping in mind that Geoff and Mister play guitar together, Geoff made these comments after our jam session today:

“We’re doing well for something deficient on strings and particularly frets.”

Mister says he’s enjoying playing two instruments.

The dog even hung around for today’s performance. We must be sounding better!

xx Rowena

 

Jonathon smiling during practice tonight. He looked so happy.

Mister smiling during practice tonight. He was really enjoying himself.