Tag Archives: success

The Wisdom of Christopher Robin: Quotes Day 3

“Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think”.

A.A. Milne- Christopher Robin.

The real Christopher Robin and Poo9h Bear.

The real Christopher Robin and Poo9h Bear.

I really had to put a bit of thought into choosing my last quote for this challenge. Being a lover of motivational quotes, I naturally have quite a swag to choose from.

Lately, I’ve really become conscious of just how much most of us under-estimate our abilities, sell ourselves short and ultimately kill off all sorts of opportunities far better than any bully ever could.

Knowing we have this responsibility is liberating in a sense but also a heavy load. Despite the twists and turns of fate, the many ups and downs, setbacks and disappointments, we are often much more capable than we realise.

This is why I also love the song: “Try”: While this song might havfe been about love, it’s subsequently been used to represent just about any challenge.

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

-“Try” by Pink. www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTCDVfMz15M

Many thanks to our friend Melinda from purpleslobinrecovery, who has nominated us for this Challenge. Melinda blogs about her journey from slob to clean queen, and her ongoing battle with the Clutter Fairies, who we think must be related to the Slapstyx Goblins!

Thank you to Annabelle Franklin from https://annabellefranklinauthor.wordpress.com/ who nominated me for the challenge.

Rules of the Challenge

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you
  • Publish 3 quotes on 3 consecutive days on your blog. It can be your own, or from a book, movie or from anyone who inspires you.
  • Nominate 3 more bloggers to carry on this endeavour

I would like to nominate:

  1. A Momma’s View: https://amommasview.wordpress.com/
  2. Alex Hurst: http://alex-hurst.com/
  3. Diana at Part-Time Monster http://parttimemonster.com/

I hope you’ve all enjoyed these quotes and felt uplifted by them. Now, it’s time to actually pump them through the heart and convert them into some form of action…even change.

Good luck!

xx Rowena

Done: 20,002 Views!

After watching the number of views sit at 19,999 for an absolute eternity this morning, it finally skipped ahead to 20,002 view!

Wow! I’m now a “Happy Little Vegemite”!

That, by the way, is how some of us Australians express absolute bliss!

You probably have to be Australian to get this. After all, how could axle grease ever be the supreme expression of bliss? We're a weird mob!

You probably have to be Australian to get this. After all, how could axle grease ever be the supreme expression of bliss? We’re a weird mob!

Many, many thanks for your support and encouragement.

You’ve made my day!

xx Rowena

19,963 Views…The Countdown to 20,000 Is On!!

No doubt, we have all experienced that sense as bloggers, that we are only talking to ourselves and that no one is reading our stuff at all.
Well, late last year, I finally clocked up 10,000 views on Beyond the Flow and the possibility of reaching 20,000 views felt like a pipe dream.

However, in the last 6 months, I have managed to build up those 10,000 views which had taken me two years to build up before. That is such a wonderful feeling…a real breakthrough. Sure, it’s not shooting a rocket into space or being the first woman to walk upon the moon but for me it’s a blast. Indeed, I’m so excited that I wanted to share this final countdown with you. You who aren’t just “my readers” because this place is more of a community and a sharing of words and ideas…a pond.

So, I wanted you to be thinking of me as the countdown continues and I’m thinking today could indeed be the day.

I can’t wait. Hang on. There’s a champagne cork heading your way!

xx Rowena

The Ultimate Ball Fetching Champion of the Universe.

Welcome back to Bilbo’s Dog Blog.

Since I last blogged, I’ve finally been crowned: The Ultimate Ball Chasing Champion of the Universe!

Quite an apt title really, even if I did kind of award it to myself. That said, I did get quite a bit of assistance from Lady. She’s great with publicity, being  one of those extroverted types always trying to jump inside someone else’s skin. Frankly, I’m more than content inside my own. It usually even takes me awhile for me to warm up to a pat from visiting friends…even when they’re coming to feed me.

Yes, I know you probably wrote me off as yet another one-post wonder… like so many other dogs. However, being an entrepreneurial dog in my own understated, Border Collie way, I decided to give this blogging thing a bit of a whirl. Unlike others of my species, I can see the benefits of extending my sphere of influence far beyond the local telegraph pole and onto the world wide web and beyond. After all, dogs have been in space before so I’m not going to let some small world, backyard outlook stop me from spreading my paws and paw prints.

Indeed, I can just imagine looking up at the moon from my kennel on a dark cloudless night and seeing my paw print up there… How amazing! What’s more, it won’t get washed away like down at the beach. My paw print will be there for eternity. That’s forever and ever and ever!!

Laika the first dog in space. While in some ways a hero, she was killed in the name of science, which we obviously don't condone.

Laika the first dog in space. While in many ways my hero, she was killed in the name of science. As I’ve said before, humans need to pay more attention to the Golden Rule.

Hmm…The moon is an intriguing kind of place. Perhaps, one day dogs will even live up there but we’ll certainly look funny wearing one of those space suits with a goldfish bowl over our heads but I don’t know how we’ll ever manage to eat let alone chase a ball.

Anyway, I know you probably thought I was showing off  in my last post. Even though I am a good dog, this bravado was definitely out of character. Being a typically mild-mannered and understated character who doesn’t go jumping all over complete strangers or whacking other dogs in the face with their over-exuberant joy, I usually don’t advertise.

I also have to be a bit careful about what I share online. Sadly, way too many dogs and humans lump “good” in the same category as “nice”. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. However, as strange as it might seem, being “nice” is somehow a bad thing attracting many  haters. Unfortunately, this can become quite a problem and even a threat to your life.

Even though I’m a highly intelligent dog whose abilities have been honed through countless generations of highly selective breeding, this aversion to niceness remains another one of life’s unsolvable mysteries. So, if you can work that one out, I’d really appreciate an explanation!! After all, aren’t being “good” or even”nice”  meant to be virtues? Wise and noble character traits that should be at the top of everybody’s shopping list along with the dog food? (Mind you, even dog food seems to slip off their shopping list at times!!)

Apparently not!

Anyway, I’ve already told you that I’m good at being good but that’s not my only strength.

I’m also particularly good at being persistent. Mum doesn’t know that I can read but when I was just a wee little pup, I read this on her fridge:

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Calvin Coolidge
30th president of US (1872 – 1933)  

Being a Border Collie, persistence is in my blood. After all, how do you think generations of my kind have been rounding up all those silly sheep?

Since I don’t exactly have access to any sheep in the city and rounding up the kids is even beyond my genius and skill, I’ve applied all that generational expertise and breeding to the fine art of rounding up my tennis ball. Indeed, I’ve become something of a ball herding champion. Indeed, Lady suggested I should call myself: Bilbo the Ultimate Ball Fetching Champion of the Universe. As much as I am adverse to too much publicity and like to keep a low profile, I reluctantly agreed.

My dedication and persistence is so intense that the humans always wear out long before me. They have no stamina whatsoever. Indeed, I usually have to wait for some unsuspecting visitor who doesn’t have their own dog to turn up. They’re usually most obliging. At least, for awhile!

I might not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound to catch my ball but I do have some very impressive manoevres. That is, despite getting on in years and acquiring these rather generous love-handles. My increasing girth has complicated things a little.

While my career prospects were certainly looking very good for awhile there, even The Ultimate Ball Chasing Champion of the Universe has some limitations. While I can leap in the air with great agility all things considered, I hate getting my paws wet. Indeed, for a long while, I simply refused. No negotiations or even  a “go see my agent”!!

Quite a few times now while I’ve been training over at Palm Beach, my beloved tennis ball has fallen in the water.

Bilbo watching his ball drift out to sea.

Bilbo watching his ball drift out to sea.

The first time it happened, my entire body went into shock and all four paws were frozen to the spot. Only my eyes were moving, doggedly fixated on my ball as it rapidly went South with the rising tide. If you have ever witnessed a true ball chasing champion, you will appreciate my distress…such angst! Oh my goodness! It was almost like watching my dinner drift out to sea.

Almost mocking my terror, the family calls out: “Where’s your ball, Bilbo? Go and get your ball!”

While I’m combusting with horror, Mum has no sympathy at all. Instead, she’s doing her usual paparazzi thing and  glaring at my distress through the camera lens.

“This will make Funniest Home Videos for sure!” She calls out.

Nobody, not one member of the family, was trying to help me. They were just making fun of me as my heart was tearing in two. Did I actually love my beloved tennis ball enough to wet my paws and swim out to save it? Did it mean that much to me? Sure, they  knew my commitment and perseverance bordered on obsession but would it be enough to push me over the edge of my fear?

The agony crescendos.

The agony crescendos.

The kids just laughed and my heart sank. They could have easily jumped into the water and come to my rescue or even pulled it out with their precious fishing net. At least then, they would have caught something more than stupid seaweed. Something precious and as much as they keep saying they love me, this would have been the proof. A dog needs more than a pat, you know.

It was at this point, I decided the family needed to learn a thing or two about that Golden Rule they keep talking about. They needed to learn how to turn those precious words into action.

Treating  others as you would like to be treated, definitely meant getting my ball. No doubt about it.

I was an emotional wreck. My precious tennis ball heading out to sea and my family…my precious, beloved family, laughing in the face of my misfortune…and even taking photos, film and selling it off to a TV show and all. I was disgusted.

Like so many other rules, it seemed that The Golden Rule only applied to others and not to themselves!!

Anyway, they finally got with the program and fished my ball out with the broom.

Finally some assistance. Miss puts Bilbo out of his misery!

Finally some assistance. Miss puts Bilbo out of his misery!

At least, they rescued it that time.

However, they now know my Achilles heel and they seem to take great delight in throwing my ball in the water…especially when my persistence is right at it’s peak and they know me well enough by now and that I’m not going to jump in after it. I don’t need to. Eventually, once all that water goes away, my ball is usually waiting for me on the sand. At least, my beloved ball has some concept of loyalty!!

As I’m sure you can appreciate, it’s not easy being The Ultimate Ball Fetching Champion of the Universe but it could always be worse.

I could have been a cat.

xx Bilbo

PS All this ball chasing can make a dog rather hungry. So, anybody wanting to support a future champion, can please send bones through to this blog. I’m not too sure how you convert them from images into something I can eat yet but as I mentioned before, I can be extremely persistent. You just ask my Mum!!

Note from Mum: Today, Bilbo’s powers of persistence even proved too much for his ever-faithful tennis ball. Unfortunately after yet another misguided throw, it ended up in the water and actually sank. Turns out excessive love and persistence had eternally punctured it’s soul.

 

 

 

 

Perseverance

When it comes to endurance, perseverance and overcoming hurdles, I’d never put learning the violin in the same category as marathon running but that’s all changed.

As much as I love my violin, it is also hard work, endurance, perseverance. Never giving up.

Just like new babies look so sweet but makes some truly dreadful sounds, my violin also has its own theme and variations of the “witching hour” something akin to a Tom cat howling at the moon while being grabbed by the throat.

Two years ago, I took up the violin by default. I’d had no dreams, aspirations or even vague thoughts of taking up an instrument midlife. I didn’t like music. Didn’t even listen to music. I was a writer, a photographer and music interfered with my thoughts. It was at best distracting but mostly annoying. Turn it down. Switch it off. Although much of my family is incredibly and even professionally musical, I was musically stunted…the runt…despite many, many years of piano lessons.

That said, despite my best effects, I can still play the first page of Moonlight Sonata and play it whenever I visited my parents on their Steinway grand piano (the piano of serious pianists!)

Anyway, my daughter has always shown a strong love of music and when she started school, the big moment of choosing an instrument finally came. I was all set for her to start off on the piano but she wanted to learn violin. Was quite insistant on the violin. I wondered if she felt some kind of special connection with it and decided, against my own council, to let her have a go.

When we arrived at her lesson, the teacher said I could sit in and it soon became apparent that I needed to be more than just a taxi driver. She needed hands on encouragement. We pulled Geoff’s grandfather’s violin out of the cupboard and I joined in on her lessons.   I didn’t know it at the time but Suzuki actually believed the mother should learn the violin first in order to encourage the child and I was unknowingly following in his footsteps.

I actually had some background with the violin. My brother had learned Suzuki violin for many years and had actually performed at the Opera House a number of times at annual concerts. I had learned for a couple of terms but had abandoned violin in disgust when I couldn’t hold the bow properly. So whilst I couldn’t remember much about playing the violin, I wasn’t a rank beginner and could actually help.

Miss and I practiced well together through term one but after not practicing during the holidays, she sounded terrible when we went back to lessons. She had a few colossal meltdowns and I decided to keep her spot warm until she was fit to return. I never doubted her love for the violin. She just needed a bit of a break.

Another term went by and by this stage, I had fallen in love with the violin, despite all its quirks and difficulties. I read that it took 10,000 hours of practice to become a concert violinist and worked out that it would take something like 28 years at one hour a day and I joked about making my concert debut at the Opera House using a walking frame.

Playing my violin at the Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay

Playing my violin at the Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay

Meanwhile, our musical school put together a violin ensemble and we performed at the end of year concert at Lizotte’s, a local rock n’ roll venue. January, I packed up my violin when we headed to Byron Bay and had Geoff photograph me playing outside the iconic Byron Bay Lighthouse. Well, I wasn’t actually playing. Just posing. I wanted the shot.

While I still had my heart set on my debut as a concert violinist, I first had to sit for my preliminary exam. This is the first and most basic exam and to be perfectly honest, you usually sit for your preliminary exam at the tender age of something like 5 maybe 6 years old…not 44! To further put the pressure on, I had scored an A in my preliminary piano exam when I was around that age and I couldn’t recall doing a lot of practice. Therefore, logic argued that I should easily score an A as a more mature violinist who had actually bothered to practice. That is practice for at least 30 minutes every day and not just under duress.

However, as I said, the violin’s middle name is perseverance. While preliminary should have been easy, a piece of cake and my “A” almost automatic, it was actually hard work. I really struggled to get a true and pure sound without even the faintest squeak creeping in. In a real act of contrariness, my violin would play two strings when I only wanted to play one but when I was trying to play two strings simultaneously for double stops, I would only play one. Infuriating!

We all know how easily love can turn to hate…

Yet, at the same time, my violin was teaching me so much more than just how to make music. It was teaching me how to stick at something I found difficult and to keep practicing and practising until I got it right, instead of simply giving up at the first sign of trouble. That was a huge leap forward for me. When I couldn’t do something in the past, I’d simply say it wasn’t me and give up. “I couldn’t do it” but now I had the example that if I really wanted to do something and if I put the hours in, I could probably do it or perhaps I could find around my hurdles.

Here I am skiing at Perisher.

Here I am skiing at Perisher.

I really put this into action on the ski slopes when I found the whole skiing experience quite overwhelming. I remember sitting on the chairlift which I really, really loved wondering why I was putting myself through the stress of learning how to ski when sitting on the chairlift was so much fun and so effortless. Yet, at the same time, I found the challenge invigorating and it was great to learn a new skill and improve. As I was tackling the mountain, I reflected on how perseverance and practice had worked for the violin and these principles would also apply to skiing. I had private lessons with my instructor and practiced inbetween and I really started to improve. I become a skier. I was immensely proud and when we arrived home, I was really chuffed to hear my son tell the Deputy Principal that Mummy had gone skiing even though she was afraid. That hopeful told him volumes.

Getting back to my violin, I was working towards my exam and the end of year concert when I developed pneumonia and spent 3 weeks in bed. No practice. My auto-immune disease had also flared up and I lacked the muscle strength to hold up my violin. The first day I returned to ensemble practice, I made a zillion mistakes and it sounded like cat claws traversing the strings. It was disgusting and soul destroying. I wondered whether it was all just too hard. That trying to learn the violin while battling a life-threatening illness was all too much. Was I pushing myself too hard? Should I just relax and fall into the easy chair and stop?

You know what it’s like when you’re down on the ground and you are facing that fork in the road. Should I keep fighting or just quietly let go of the dream?

I didn’t know.

My Dad mentioned something about it being good to have goals but what was the point if I couldn’t breathe?

He had a point.

I was still coughing and coughing and coughing…the pneumonia leaving a nasty legacy.

Still, I was slowly improving. Practicing again and as yet, we hadn’t received any notification of my exam date. That probably meant I had a good 3-4 weeks of practice up my sleeve.

I hadn’t given up yet.

Then the date arrived and I was scheduled to be at the AMEB offices in Sydney at 9.15am. I live about 2 hours away and I couldn’t see how I was going to get there. While this could have been a sign to withdraw, instead I wrote a letter asking for my exam to be moved to Gosford. Mentioned my health and disability issues and was given special consideration and my time moved to 2.55PM. After this kindness, I felt I had to front up…even if I failed!

I found an accompanist.

It was on.

My violin and I caught the train down to Sydney and I had lunch in the park watching the Ibis prey upon hapless office workers. As much as I love my trips to Sydney, I couldn’t relax.

I turned up to my exam half an hour early. There is a practice room but apparently this is only for tuning your instrument. I had left home early so I could warm up and I needed at least a thirty minute practice beforehand. My body doesn’t work well at the best of times.

A selfie of me playing my violin in the bus shelter, Sydney.

A selfie of me playing my violin in the bus shelter, Sydney.

My violin and I exited stage left. There we were on Clarence Street in the heart of Sydney looking for somewhere, anywhere, that I could practice my violin with even just a modicum of privacy. Office workers were rushing back and forwards and lanes of traffic crawled past. I investigated a few brick walls outside a couple of pubs but then spotted the bus shelter outside the AMEB building and set myself up. I know that any decent musician would have been too self-conscious to play but I was desperate. I had to get my fingers moving. My teacher had emphasised long, smooth bow strokes and I tried to picture her long, flowing blond hair moving slowly through the water like a mermaid. It seemed to work, even surprising myself. I was quite impressed and thought that at last I had finally “got it”.

Not on your life. I wasn’t overly nervous about the exam but at the same time, I knew I made many mistakes. I just wasn’t comfortable and that’s the hard thing about the violin. When you stiffen up, your bowing goes jerky. Your fingers don’t move properly and I was mixing up C and C sharp. I just wanted to escape.

I told my teacher that I thought I’d got a C but harboured fears that there was also scope for a D.

Fortunately, the results were due out after Christmas and so I could get through Christmas lunch and not feel I’d brought total disrepute on the family. I was always so proud of my goals and so determined to achieve them but what with the pneumonia and my auto-immune disease playing up, I figured that it was okay to fail. Walk away. Focus on my writing. Be a writer. After all, that’s who and what I really am. The violin was only second fiddle and certainly not worth dying for.

Well, the results didn’t wait until after Christmas. I received a very nice, very surprising early Christmas present…an A! I couldn’t believe it and re-read my teacher’s email several times before I believed it.

Perseverance did pay off after all!

I’m a violinist!

On Yer Bike, Mummy!

It’s a conspiracy! As much as I have endeavored to avoid exercise, it still finds me. Despite my very best avoidance techniques, it still haunts me like an obsessive, deranged stalker. There is no escape!

Why? Why does it still bother? Why doesn’t it just give me up as a lost cause?

I don’t know because I’ve seriously played hard to get. I’ve prayed for rain so I wouldn’t have to go swimming. Back at school, I was permanently excused from PE after having an asthma attack during the cross country. I was sent off to sick bay where sister gave me cough mixture and then sent me back to class. I was away from school for a few days after that and my parents wrote a stern note. Forget being stoic. This had been some kind of near-death experience and needed to be taken seriously. I wasn’t allowed to do cross-country ever again!!  I have to confess that I also felt like I was going to drown in the school pool. That was when we were doing our Bronze Medallions in lifesaving and I had to swim lap after gruelling lap fully clothed to pass. It was torture! I was excused for awhile after that too.

I was pretty sure that  I’d done enough exercise back at school…especially after completing the cross-country asthma attack and all. Apparently, I was mistaken. You see, exercise isn’t like fat, which you just keep storing up. Exercise runs out. In fact, it runs out pretty quickly because you need to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes three times a week for the term of your natural life. On the other hand, when it comes to fat, that one chocolate bar you ate ten years ago is still hanging round your hips and waving at you every time you look sideways in the mirror. It’s not going anywhere.

I also have another more personal gripe with exercise these days. Quite frankly, you’d think having a muscle-wasting disease would let me off the hook? That I’d never have to do exercise ever, ever again!! That I could just curl up in my arm chair and go to sleep? Let someone else do all the exercise on my behalf?

You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But even as a “sick” person, I still have to exercise. That was what the lung specialist prescribed to help improve my lungs… rotten exercise. Of course, he didn’t prescribe some luscious chocolate pill to get me better. Oh no! He had to prescribe exercise!

I also have to admit that as much as I protest, my muscles work better with a bit of exercise…use it or quite literally in my case, lose it!

Moreover, I hate to admit it but what they say about exercising improving your mood is true…especially when it also involves conquering personal hurdles. I felt great afterwards, even if my legs were a bit sore and my ankles are a bit stiff and sorry tonight.

I am yet to find out if I sleep any better. For that, I actually have to go to bed!!

However, as much as I need to exercise for my health, that wasn’t why I went bike riding this afternoon.

It was a small, soft voice inviting me for a bike ride: “Mummy, I want to go bike riding with you!” Miss looked at me with those huge, grey-blue eyes which don’t always understand that I can’t do everything that other mothers can do. She is just a little seven year old girl who wants to go bike riding with her mum.  That’s all. So how could I resist?

I could do it!!

It’s been at least 8 years since I last rode my bike. I was a bit apprehensive but I couldn’t really see any reason why I couldn’t do it. I just wouldn’t be able to ride very far.

Mummy riding her bike.

Mummy riding her bike.

Mummy getting on her bike was a photo opportunity or at least it was for me. It was a gold medal moment.

The kids, on the other hand, just took my bike ride for granted. Of course, Mummy can ride a bike. That’s normal.  What they’d expect. I don’t remember hearing “well done,Mummy!” afterwards  but they did enjoy bike riding together. That was special. For us, doing things like bike riding together are special and not something we can take for granted.

Bike riding with the kids

Bike riding with the kids

Actually, going for a bike rise together was quite a big deal for us even though it was only in the cul-de-sac down the street. Miss only learned to ride her bike two weeks ago and Mister finally got there last weekend after quite a few stop starts. That was quite a relief. We have been trying to teach them to ride their bikes without training wheels. Miss finally had a proper go and picked it up pretty quickly whereas Mister was vowing never to get back on his bike ever again after he had a bit of a crash at my parents’ place. He had sounded pretty determined but there’s something about your little sister learning to do something before you  that can be pretty motivating…in a nice way of course. Miss loves riding her bike and has been riding almost every day and she has a kind of infectious enthusiasm that drags you along with her, even though she can also be a pretty shy kid at times.

It’s also been hard to teach them how to ride a bike when I haven’t been well and we’ve had hospital visits for my treatments every third Sunday. I was starting to think I was going to have to add teaching the kids to ride a bike to my bucket list…not that I have one. I’m going to be immortal. I’m never going to die. Well, not yet anyhow!!

I am quite stoked that the bike riding went well. As much as I joke about avoiding exercise, I’ve had some serious attempts because my life may literally depend on it and I’d be a fool not to do it.  I quite like walking but have had some serious falls due to cracked footpaths, weak ankles and no doubt the muscle disease. I am hoping that riding my bike might be a much safer option. I have been swimming for a few months but it’s starting to get cold now and I might have a break for a few months. So the bike riding has come at a good time. It got my lungs working and it’s a form of exercise I can do with the kids.

As much as part of me wouldn’t mind being a one-ride wonder, the bike riding isn’t going to end there. There are now plans to ride the bikes to school. Miss also thinks I should go bike riding to get fit.

“On yer bike, Mummy!”

In the meantime, I’ll be off to watch Mister and possibly the pair of them play Australian Rules Football in the morning. I had been hoping the game had been washed out but I’m out of luck. The exercise conspiracy continues.

xx Rowena

PS I was just uploading the photos for my post and I was struck by the ordinariness of these photos. We live metres away from a beautiful, stunning beach which would make such a stunning backdrop to our bike riding photos but we weren’t ready to venture that far afield today and so our photos celebrate the everyday, the ordinary without dressing it all up and turning it into some fancy moment. It was just great to just be!