Tag Archives: teens

Learning to “Dream Again” After “Standing Tall”.

Today, I am standing taller after watching Standing Tall, a powerfully inspiring event geared towards bringing out the best in our youth, helping them soar towards their dreams, and ultimately help them resist the notorious pitfalls lurking around. Acknowledging the “challenges” of the past two years, this year’s theme was “Dream Again”, which was very apt.

Okay, I can hear you saying that even in the wildest realms of my imagination, I am not a 16 year old schoolgirl like our inimitable Miss. “Who do you think you are? Go and take a look in the mirror and grow up!”

Well, in my defence, I want to make it clear that I wasn’t just watching Standing Tall for my own benefit. Yet, my motives were not purely altruistic either. I have a heartfelt passion and concern for our young people, especially after the last two years of covid and extended lockdowns. In that time, so many dreams and realities have sunk like stones, seemingly to the very depth of the abyss never to return. Moreover, two weeks ago, I attended a two day course given by Lifeline covering suicide intervention. As a parent of teens, I did this with particular thought to the young people who cross my path, hop in my car or occasionally sleep on our couch. Yet, there’s a space well before despair sets in where the seeds of self-confidence, hope, and hard work can grow and bear fruit. After all, we might never know what a difference a smile or a few words of encouragement can make to someone else’s life. This is where Standing Tall fits in.

Anyway, although covid is still around and has been joined by a nasty flu, the tide has turned and we have new beginnings. In recognition of these renewed hopes, the theme for Stand Tall 2022 is Dream Again, which is good for all of us.

So, I’m going to recommend straight up that after you finish this post, you go straight to the live stream replay. If you know some young people, especially living in Australia, see if you can get them to watch it too. It will be available free online for the next three months. By the way, if you can’t get them to watch it, watch it yourself and try to drop a few of these golden seeds of wisdom and encouragement into conversation.

“Every student has the capacity to make someone else’s experience of school better.”

Hon. Jason Clare, Minister for Education at Standing Tall 2022

Now turning to Standing Tall, each of the speakers encouraged me enormously. As I mentioned earlier, my interest in Standing Tall wasn’t purely altruistic. I’ve been in a state of extended limbo after having chemo to treat my muscle-wasting auto-immune disease. It took me quite a long time to get back on my feet, the family had been through a lot, and I also wasn’t the same person that I was before. I didn’t want to go back. I wasn’t well enough to move forward, and certainly I wasn’t too keen to fast-forward too far ahead either. I didn’t expect to be here. However, thankfully that hasn’t come to pass, and ironically I’ve actually been a lot better since covid came along. I haven’t caught so many chest infections and I haven’t caught covid.

So, to use Facebook parlance, my journey has been “complicated”.

I have also given a few motivational talks myself. I’ve also written numerous posts here on Beyond the Flow touching on things. However, I haven’t written the book, and considering I’m a writer, it becomes more of a sin of omission than for someone else. Yet, at the same time, as my writing lecturer at university, Michael Wilding, used to say: “writing is a thinking process”. So, when those thoughts are incredibly traumatic, it’s no wonder the writing process pauses or even stops.

“What you are going through doesn’t define you.”

Duku Foré

Now, getting back to Standing Tall, the first speaker, Duku Foré, really hit me right between the eyes. Duku was born in a refugee camp in Uganda and lived there with his family for ten years. His life changed abruptly when his family came to Australia as refugees. However, in many regards Australia wasn’t the promised land. It wasn’t easy starting out in a new country. For many years, he was the only black child in his class and also had a severe speech impediment. He was bullied at school, and also got into trouble himself. Despite all of this, he set out to inspire others through motivational speaking, and at 19 represented Australia at the United Nations. If you would like to hear more about his story, here’s another interview.

“Do something today that your future self would be proud of…”

Michael Crossland

I’m not going to go into every speaker or I’d be writing for a year. However, I also wanted to mention humanitarian and cancer survivor Michael Crossland. His journey is particularly relevant to me as he has overcome numerous life-threatening health issues, and is still here to tell the tale. Although he’s told this story many times before, he spoke with an emotional rawness as though he was telling his story for the very first time. However, his story wasn’t just about recounting his traumas. Rather, he has made what would be considered extraordinary achievements for the average Joe, and yet he has ongoing, diabolical health issues. How is it so? I don’t know but his mother also has this extraordinary fighting spirit. Grit. Tenacity. Supernatural strength and optimism. Michael is also a humanitarian and has given back, which includes buying a house for his mum. My words feel dreadfully inadequate. So, here’s a direct link to another motivational talk which overlaps with his talk at Standing Tall.

Another speaker I found particularly interesting was model and blogger Harmony Butcher. She spoke the dangers for young people about self-image on social media. Indeed, she wrote this enlightening post about self-image on her blog. As she spoke, she mentioned a statistic that 25% of people feel they need to change some aspect of their appearance to be feel acceptable on social media. Being a bit more mature in years, I found this statistic staggering. Yet, I just realized that I’m guilty of this myself. It’s exceptionally rare for me to have any photos taken of me wearing my glasses, although I wear them all the time. Indeed, although I’ve been posting here at Beyond the Flow for ten years and fairly open, how many of you have seen me in my glasses? Sure, it’s only a small alteration, but so is airbrushing out pimples, freckles or wrinkles. To be fair, this what we do with makeup anyway, and who really puts their real, undoctored physical self out there anyway? Well, let me assure you that aside from the glasses, what you see of me here is what you get. I rarely wear makeup in real or online life, but I’m also currently living the quiet life.

“Some people would do anything to have your bad day.”

Michael Crossland

I also wanted to share the story of Danny and Leyla Abdullah. On the 1st February, 2020 their lives were shattered and changed forever when a drunk driver mounted the footpath and killed three of their six children: Antony 13, Angelina 12, and Sienna 8, along with their cousin Veronique Sakr 11. The randomness of the accident and that one family would experience such a catastrophic loss, especially due to a drunk driver, was devastating. How could they go on? Understandably, there was strong community outrage towards the driver. Yet, a few days after the accident, Leyla Abdullah publicly forgave him. How could this be? Indeed, in her talk, she emphasized that she forgave the driver before he apologised. Extraordinary. She also said that “forgiveness is a choice. It’s like a muscle. The more you practice it, the better you get.”

Danny and Leila Abdullah didn’t stop there. They have created a national day of forgiveness, i4give Day, to remember the loss of their children and niece, and for everyone to think about someone they can forgive or ask for forgiveness. Forgiving others is critical, releasing our hearts from the toxic poison of hate, resentment and revenge.

The Abdullahs also had a special surprise at Standing Tall. It was their little bundle of joy and hope…their 10 week old baby girl, Selina. Of course, she doesn’t take the place of her lost siblings, but seeing a new life created out of the ashes was so encouraging. Indeed, I was jumping for joy in my chair.

“You can’t silence fear, but you can turn up the volume of hope and faith and drown it out”.”

Eloise Wellings

Next up, was Olympian and long-distance runner, Eloise Wellings, who is also the co-founder of the Love Mercy Foundation. Eloise had some really good things to say, which focused on overcoming setbacks and disappointment, believing in your potential and to keep going. She also mentioned something I’ve observed, and that some young people had developed a culture where it is better not to try than to fail. That they use the term “to be a sweat” to knock down people who apply themselves. When I was at school, the term was “swot”. Eloise was really encouraging and said: “you won’t regret trying.” She also advised focusing on the process rather than the big goal. “Get the next step done.” Talk about good advice, and certainly applies to me and the book project.

Bella Taylor Smith deserves an extra-special mention as she not only spoke but also performed. For those of you who may not know Bella, she won The Voice Australia 2021. Bella has her own story of overcoming adversity and is now touring with Guy Sebastian.

Think about whose footprints you’re following.

“It’s not what happens to you. It’s who you choose to become”.

Alex Noble.

Last, but not least, there was 19 year old Alex Noble On Sunday the 21st of October 2018 16 year old Alex Noble was doing what he loved best – playing rugby. As a rising sports star he was training with the Under-17 NSW Rugby Sevens youth selection squad. Tragically he was badly injured on the field, breaking his neck and severely damaging his spinal cord. Since then, Alex has poured all the tenacity and resilience he’d applied to his rugby training into his recovery and has made incredible progress. He has also started the Alex Noble Foundation whose motto is “I fight you fight”. (I’m looking back at my notes now and I see the phrase “We are unbreakable” circled. I know from personal experience what it’s like to experience a gruelling physical setback and barely be able to move myself. However, thanks to a reasonable diagnosis with treatment among other things, I am now doing remarkably well!)

So, what were the take homes from this extraordinary day?

I think the bottom line was that even the most extraordinary dreams are possible if we work hard, persevere, and develop the resilience to be able to bounce back from setbacks. At the same time, we might also have to find a new pathway when our dream sinks, regroup and find another. Secondly, we are not alone in our triumphs or tribulations. When we triumph, think about others around you and pitch in. If you’re at rock bottom, you are not alone. Help is at hand. It is also possible that while you’re at rock bottom, you will meet others who aren’t being reached. So, even in the depths of your own despair, you can offer hope to others. Well, I added that bit, but I know it to be true. This is another of my own observations… we need to keep ourselves in good physical, mental and spiritual shape because we don’t know when adversity is going to hit and the bumps will be less intense if we’re in good shape. As the Scout motto says: “Be prepared!”

Standing Taller after watching the live stream and going for a walk along the beach.

I hope this encourages you to check out the live stream so you can absorb and apply their wisdom and zest for an abundant life, and I would personally like to thank everyone who contributed towards the day for having such a big impact on me and my family.

Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from you, especially if you attended Standing Tall or like me tuned into the live stream.

Best wishes,

Rowena Curtin

Swim Between The Flags, Terrigal – Thursday Doors

Miss is now 16 and learning to drive. Not only that, she’s also found going for an extended late-night drive, can be rather relaxing. So, we regularly head out together in the Forrester together bound for Terrigal, which is a pretty hip and happening place on a Friday and Saturday night, and not just with the young folk either.

Anyway, that’s where my contribution for Thursday Doors came from this week.

I spotted this truck parked beside the Terrigal Surf Lifesaving Club. Australia is famous for our surf lifesavers who are unpaid volunteers who patrol our beach saving lives. The iconic red and yellow flags you see painted on the back of the door, feature on our patrolled beaches, and on an official level signify where it is safe to swim, and that this section of beach is being patrolled. However, the flags are also helpful for meeting friends at the beach, and “see you between the flags” is common parlance. I also park my gear under a flag, because I’m as blind as a bat and that way I’ll find it again.

Seagulls Terrigal Beach a few years ago.

Here are a few photos of how Terrigal Beach looks by day. Yes, it is pretty stunning, but it’s a bit like the Surfers’ Paradise of the Central Coast. Well, that’s probably exaggerating things, but I tend to prefer a more relaxed or even outdoorsy pace these days, which is probably a sure sign I’m getting old.

Meanwhile, I was struggling to find any really good photos of Terrigal so I might have to head back there again and recapture the place through my lens.

Anyway, this has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Dan Antion at No Facilities: https://nofacilities.com/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 4th April, 2022.

Welcome To Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Miracles do happen! We are experiencing two consecutive days of sunshine and I’m almost beside myself after that eternity of rain. I’m surprised I’m not outside soaking up some rays, but I have a few things to do, and even in Autumn the midday sun can be a bit much, and I’ll head out later this afternoon.

So, what tickles your fancy? Tea, coffee or something more exotic?

How was your week?

Last week, was pretty incredible for me.

Above: The Young Endeavour sailing in to dock.

The excitement and dramas began last Monday night when we received a surprise call from our son onboard the Young Endeavour. He wasn’t allowed to use his phone onboard and they had no WIFI access, so we weren’t expecting to hear from him at all while they were away. Of course, that should’ve alerted me to something being wrong. However, he was in good spirits and it wasn’t one of the “Navy Higher-ups” calling on his behalf to say he’d fallen from the top of the mast and was incapacitated. However, the news wasn’t good and I should’ve been expecting the clanger. That morning, they’d all had covid RATs, and three of the youth crew known as “youthies” had tested positive and had to leave the ship. Fortunately, they’d already arrived in Sydney and were docked off Watson’s Bay at the time. So, although their journey was cut short, they did manage to complete the journey from Geelong to Sydney. The news hit the crew hard, as even in those brief seven days they’d bonded really well and had become one. Obviously, there was also the question of whether the rest of them would come down with it either onboard or when they arrived home. Golly, don’t you hate how covid just has to go and rain on your parade?!! Meanwhile, there were even implications for us parents. We wouldn’t be allowed on the base to greet the ship and be a part of their disembarking ceremony, although we could watch them land from the nearby Coal Loader Wharf which had a breath-taking view across the Harbour towards Balmain and Birchgrove (we were out of sight of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.) My parents and our daughter were all planning to be there. However, Dad is having an operation today and had to pass a RAT and be well) and our daughter has a lot of school assessments and dance commitments. We’ve managed to avoid covid so far, and were hopeful that him being triple vaxed and the power of prayer would spare him (and it did). Meanwhile, we cleared out the caravan in case, but he’s mostly been confined to his room.

Youthies on Floral Shirt Day

Of course, for a storyteller like myself, the return of the sailor was a bonanza and fortunately he was really chatty and didn’t object to a gazillion questions from mum, while I was hastily writing down everything he said as close for word to word as I could. I’m a pretty rapid notetaker so I was more than up for the task. Then, we rang my Dad who sails and so was well versed to ask him pertinent sailing questions and I jotted all his replied down there. By this stage, I had pages of notes and was feeling pretty chuffed. However, this was only the beginning and I’m now behind and have pages to type up. I had another win when he got onto Google Earth and took me on the journey from Geelong to Sydney and telling me stories of what happened along the way. Unlike his mother, he has really good navigational skills, and he was very specific abut where they’d stopped. Btw I thought you’d love to hear that they were moored near Taronga Park Zoo on their last night, and he could hear the elephants trumpeting, especially at 8.00am for some reason and he could also see the seal show.

However, the return of Popeye the Sailor wasn’t our only news this week. We actually had quite a busy weekend. On Saturday, it was Open Day at the dance studio and they gave us a sneak peak into the excerpt of Swan Lake they’ll be performing at production later this year. Miss also performed her new ballet solo for the first time, and it was also her first time wear her new tutu. I was absolutely dazzled, although it seemed strange because I’m so used to the old ballet solo and it’s a very different look. It will be really good to see it when she competes in the competition in a few weeks’ time up on stage and under lights.

That afternoon, I drove up to Long Jetty about 30 minutes or so away where my cousins were holding their studio opening. Gina and Katie are sisters. Katie’s business is Mudita Collective https://www.mudita.com.au/. I must admit it’s funny seeing my younger cousins all grown up and a real businesswoman. This is how she describes what she does: “Inspired by nature’s earthy tones and bohemian vibes, Mudita bursts with femininity and whimsical feels. All of our fabrics are ethically sourced and produced by talented artisans.” Meanwhile, I quite fancied this article from her blog about salvaging your old clothing and turning it into beeswax wraps. I see so much beautiful fabric at the charity shops in clothing that’s too small for me. It’s often really cheap, and I have bought a few pieces with grand ambitions of rebirthing them. So, perhaps making these beeswax wraps might be the way to go. You can read about it here: https://www.mudita.com.au/blogs/mudita-blog/upcycle-your-old-clothing-with-beeswax-wraps

Meanwhile, Katie’s sister, Gina’s business Ginagee Creations has a completely different vibe. This is how Gina describes herself:

“Ginagee creations is a reflection of my creative journey. This forever evolving array of hand-crafted pieces started from a very young time in my life where I was drawing, sewing and crocheting. The more I created, the more I was able to learn and grow as I explored new techniques and ancient crafts. I have not stuck to one particular idea or craft. I am constantly expanding and trying new things to make unique creations. Combined with a deep passion for mother earth, I also source as much sustainable, local, recycled, second-hand materials as I can, so I leave less impact on this precious land. It also allows me to bring a second life and a story into my handmade treasures.” https://www.ginagee.com.au/

Yesterday, the action continued when I went for a picnic on the waterfront with some friends. It was wonderful to see them again.

So, as you can see, I’ve been out and about a lot more this week, but with covid still around, this will probably be more the exception than the rule.

Meanwhile, you might like to join us over at the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Off On The Young Endeavour.

This afternoon at 1600 hours, our son set sail on board the Young Endeavour out of Geelong bound for Sydney on what’s going to be the adventure of a lifetime, and we’ll be collecting him in nine days time in Sydney. Just to put you in the mood, check this video of the trip out: https://www.facebook.com/YoungEndeavour/videos/389567701984131

Our story begins back in January 2017 (now Five years ago), when we went to see the Young Endeavour in Stanley, Tasmania while we were on holidays. Aside from our daughter, we’re a sailing family and my Dad also sails. So, we were pretty keen to check her out.

The Young Endeavour in Stanley January 2017.

However, the weather conditions at the time were pretty treacherous. Stanley is on Bass Strait between Australia and the Australian Mainland, and it gets rough. It also gets very windy, and Stanley was blowing at her best that day. All of this meant we weren’t allowed on board. However, we did have a chance to speak to some of the youth team, and we heard about the ballot system which is used to secure yourself a berth. It all sounded like an unlikely gamble, and what were his chances of being lucky enough to be drawn out of the hat? However, to use another hat analogy again, you’ve got to throw your hat into the ring to stand a chance. I made a mental note to myself to make sure we didn’t forget to apply when he was old enough.

Jonathon in the Australia Day Regatta

Recently, while I was sorting through some paperwork, I came across the postcard we’d picked up in Stanley and places were open. I didn’t need a second thought. I was filling out the paperwork online and I can’t even remember whether I asked him about it. I probably did. However, a set of car keys was missing at the time, and he was otherwise occupied. Besides, I didn’t really expect him to be offered a place straight away, and if he was ever going to be lucky enough to get a spot, it might take a few years. However, the very next day I received an email. He was in. He was really excited and thrilled to be doing it. So, it was full speed ahead.

There was just one very small minor detail which remained. He had to pass a PCR covid test last Friday, and what I didn’t know, is that he also needed to pass a RAT this morning before he could board. So, there was every chance that after winning the lottery to get a spot, he might be let down just as he was about to board. Fortunately, I think they all passed, but wouldn’t that have been awful to have your dream go up in smoke like that at the last minute?!! (Covid has a lot to answer for!!) However, that was all good, and at 3.00pm (known as 1500 hours in Navy lingo) he climbed on board.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there in person because Miss had a dance audition locally. However, Geoff compensated very nicely by having me on FaceTime and I was standing with him dockside watching him climb on board, having a bit of a welcome ceremony including introductions, and then they raised the gangplank, untied the ropes and motored off into the pending sunset. (I must say I was surprised a replica of The Endeavour came with a motor, but I bet there are lots of mod cons on board belying the outward appearance and history of the ship.)

The Young Endeavour, Geelong, at sunset over the weekend.

The ship itself is under the command of members of the Royal Australian Navy, but the young sailors or “Youthies” as they’re called, are trained up along the way and on the final day, they take charge of the ship, which sounds both thrilling and terrifying. In addition to the regular staff and the youth, there are also two naval staff doing a “suitability voyage”. Staff are assigned to the Young Endeavour for 18 months to two years, and they’re on board to see if they’d like it, and there was a comment: “No pressure guys. Just a ten day interview”. I was also pleased they have a navigator on board, even though poor Mister has been needing to give his grandmother and myself directions since he was just a little tacker.

In addition to all the sailing aspects of the trip, there are also some additional details which, as my Dad used to say will “put hair on his chest”. First and foremost, they’re not allowed to access their mobile phones on board. Now, just think about how that would impact most of us. For many, it could well be on par with giving up smoking cold turkey. Mister is also a gamer. So, none of that for a week either. Now, you’re talking about serious deprivation. However, the flipside of that will be liberty, conversation and face-to-face interaction. They’ll also be climbing straight up a vertical cliff metaphorically speaking but they’re all in it together, which should foster strong bonds. However, after nine days, probably also some irritation factor too. I hope they all packed their deodorant.

For those of you with an interest in sailing, adventure, or just want to keep up with the trip, the Captain does a Captain’s Log every night which goes live at 22:00 Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEST). Here’s the link: https://youngendeavour.gov.au/the-voyage/captains-log

I also thought you might appreciate this Youtube video where Lieutenant-Commander Andrew “Kenny” Callandar, Commanding Officer gives some wise tips on leadership skills. It starts out with “Don’t be someone you’re not”. Great advise for us all really. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQXkICIWtVQ&list=PLLPshwXEivQ2logIPpZ7dukcDpSvJuz9Y&index=1

By the way, for those of you who are new to the blog, I should explain that I’ve been writing this blog for ten years from when Mister was eight and Miss was six. I didn’t want to use their actual names, and these alternatives seemed to fit quite well back then. However, he recently turned 18, and he clearly needs an update. I’m working on it.

Lastly, if any of you have been on board the Young Endeavour and have any stories to share, I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Dinner For Four – Milky Lane, Terrigal.

Many moons ago, I used to lament not having that special someone, and being able to go out for that much longed for dinner for two. These days, however, Geoff and I have been married for just over 20 years, and those days are long gone. Indeed, these days a family birthday dinner out is our mission impossible. Traditionally, these have included my Mum and Dad taking the festivities to six. However, thanks to a nasty combination of covid and covid lockdowns, Mum and Dad are still in isolation and the “kids” wanted to celebrate their birthdays with friends and also have oodles of activities on. This means the family dinner has been hard to squeeze in.

A rather dramatic Door Shot to satisfy door aficionados from Thursday Doors

However, we finally managed to get out to what is most definitely a young person’s hangout, although they didn’t turf us old fogies out. Well, make that one old fogey and one well camouflaged one who apparently lost ten years a week or so go when I got my hair done again.

So, we ended up at Milky Lane in Terrigal. You might recall seeing Terrigal Beach during my recent beach-crawl driving round and round with our daughter who is learning to drive. Milky Lane classes itself as a “burger restaurant”. However, that’s the understatement of the century. McDonald’s is a Burger restaurant and Milky Lane is in a different league. The only trouble I had was trying to ensure I didn’t fill up on my burger, and miss out on dessert. Or, worse still, overeat and make myself dreadfully ill.

The Mister now 18.

Meanwhile, while I throw rapturous praise around the food, the decor was out of this world, and so mind-blowingly atmospheric and a great backdrop for photography, especially if you could find more enthusiastic photo models. People who aren’t more interested in eating their meal (what I came here for) than having their photo taken. I could’ve taken photos for a decade in their especially if I had a revolving cast.

The Miss now 16.

Obviously, the last two years in more on than off lockdown has knocked me about. I’m not what I was. Who is? Two years is too long for anyone to sit still anyway.

Me age unspecified.

Anyway, we had a wonderful night out, and afterwards we crossed the road and walked along the beach a bit.

The moon looks like Saturn speeding past.

There was an almost full moon which was hanging over the beach like a golden beacon. A row of ships waiting to access Newcastle Harbour to the North were lit up in lights, and along the promenade a row of massive Norfolk Island Pines were lit up in lights like Christmas trees, although it’s March. The Rainbow Lorikeets had also congregated in the tree and were conducting a noisy chat. The waves were rolling in, and I could’ve stayed there for hours, but the kids wanted to go home.

Terrigal Beach by Night

So, Happy Birthday Mister and Miss!

Love,

Mum

Weekend Coffee Share – 14th March, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee!

How are you all, and how was your week? I hope it’s been great, and I look forward to chatting with you over a cup of tea or coffee and no doubt you’d prefer a few Tim Tams to Vegemite toast!

Mr with his t-shirt from Jeremy Clarkson’s Didly Squat Farm.

Last Tuesday marked the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one. Mister, who was six years old when I first started Beyond the Flow, turned 18 and is now an adult. Or, in other words, he’s become a man (whatever that means!!) He had a three course dinner for his friends, where yours truly acted as Caterer-in-Chief while his father did the shopping, and did his best to keep me sane. Catering to Mister’s last minute requirements could be rather challenging. Indeed, I could be excused for thinking I was working for a rock star. However, truth be told, his requests were quite reasonable if not quite what you’d expect.

Mum’s famous sponge cake reborn.

One of the great complications in the great birthday party preparations was the birthday cake. Just to complicate matters, I am famed among my friends for baking quirky and extravagant birthday cakes. I am also famed for my pavlova which sends most people into a spin. That’s not to put tickets on myself. I’ve been baking all my life, and it’s something I generally find easy. Not everything works out, and sometimes I’ve had to cover-up my mistakes, but usually I manage to save the day, and all is well. (It’s quite a different story when it comes to anything technical or finding my way around. I am notoriously always getting lost.)

Mum sitting down in the kitchen before I fall down.

Meanwhile, our son’s favourite cake is the caramel mud cake from Aldi. This is fine as an option at home, and something to dish up for himself. However, as the featured birthday cake for an 18th birthday party, it was clearly inappropriate. (Well, at least, it was to me!!)

That sent me into an incredible tailspin about what to bake. It was worse that trying to choose my wedding dress. I managed to find that at the first shop, and even managed to find the dress I loved in the bridal magazine hanging on the rack. How lucky was that?!! Anyway, after going through a gazillion recipe books, I went back to my Mum’s traditional sponge cake with jam, cream and raspberries inside and a dusting of icing sugar on top. By this point, I was wondering how I could ever have considered anything else, especially as Mum and Dad couldn’t make it. They’re still keeping a low profile due to covid.

Anyway, the party went well. I still haven’t written a designated post about him turning 18, which I’ll have to get onto. He still looks and acts the same, but he now has right of entry into pubs, can buy alcohol and has the right to vote. We all know that for an 18 year old how these rank in order of importance!

Meanwhile, I’ve been on something like a five beaches tour of the local area, with Miss at the helm of the Subaru, which has somehow been rebadged “Siberia” in a text which seemed appropriate as it’s white. All has largely gone well in Siberia, except when Rosie joined us for a drive to Terrigal. I’ve never had a dog who doesn’t like going for a drive. However, Rosie metamorphosed into a quivering mess, dribbling the whole way there. Somehow, I managed to miss the climax until we pulled up. Rosie had been sick, and it looks like she must’ve eaten Zac’s breakfast as well as her own. The joy of parenthood. When your kids grow out of such issues, you get dogs to take their place.

Iron man salvaging a coffee table from the beach, much to his wife’s disgust.

The beaches were all closed as the water’s been contaminated by recent flooding. It has been interesting to see how the flood waters affected the different beaches. The Hawkesbury River which experienced significant flooding, flows into Broken Bay where we’re located. So, our beach has copped a fair bit of debris. A poor Clydesdale washed up here last week, and they managed to trace it back to its poor owner who lived up the river at St Albans. I hope she appreciates that at least some of us thought of her loss. That her horse was honoured in a small way.

Meanwhile, Lismore up on the North Coast has been decimated by the worst floods in living record. I can’t do what’s happened justice, but this video is personal and powerful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhIylzniCTM

I incorporated the Lismore floods into my flash fiction piece for Friday Fictioneers this week: The Last House Left Standing: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2022/03/10/last-house-standing-friday-fictioneers-9th-march-2022/

I have been following what’s happening in Ukraine to the best of my ability. My response is very simple: “Putin, go home!” However, as we all know, that isn’t working. I listened to a podcast my Irish author and philosopher Michael Harding about our emotional and spiritual response to what’s happening in Ukraine and found it interesting and comforting. Here’s the link: https://shows.acast.com/MichaelHarding/episodes/lets-find-a-way-through-this

Well, I think that’s about covered the last week. So, I’ll thank you for joining me, and turn it over to you.

Meanwhile, you might like to join us over at the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Driving to Pearl Beach, Australia.

The white chariot headed out for a relatively short drive over to neighbouring Pearl Beach with young Miss at the wheel again rapidly accruing her driving hours. In case you missed the big announcement, about ten days ago Miss got her Learner’s Permit and now has mostly me bailed up in the front seat while she accrues her mandatory 120 hours of supervised driving. She seems to love driving, and mostly finds it very relaxing, and it must be such a great feeling to be driving herself to all sorts of places we rarely ever seem to get to ordinarily. We are going to know our local area like the back of our hand by the end of next week at the rate we’re going.

Today, she drove us around to Pearl Beach in between dance classes, which only allowed me to squeeze in a quick walk, take a few photos and to also check out the Little Book Library by the beach, which has long been an absolute treasure trove.

Indeed, that reminds me that the Peal Beach Annual Book Sale will be coming up soon on the Easter long weekend. This is a time to leave the family at home and to ensure the car is empty. For booklovers like myself, this is TEMPTATION and by my very own definition of evil last last when I was referring to the pokies, EVIL. It appears that even something good for you can become evil in excess (and especially when your house is already bursting at the seams with books!!)

Meanwhile, I was also curious to see how the beach was looking after the recent floods. The last time I was at Pearlie about a week ago, a great river had opened up and was carving a path from a back estuary straight through the beach. Indeed, it looks like it has always been there. However, I don’t recall seeing the beach carved up like that before. Then again, I don’t recall it raining like this before either. It’s been so intense and seemed to out last Noah’s 40 days and 40 nights by a country mile.

There was still a trailing snake carved deeply through the sand where the flood waters had been, but the river had almost dried up.

What I did find was one of these little “houses” made out of driftwood on the beach. Although it wasn’t anything like approaching a proper house, and was little more than a handful of sticks thrown together, it spoke promise to me…hope, optimism, new beginnings.

Wedding at Pearl Beach today.

Then, I noticed a wedding taking place further down the beach. How exciting was that. Not only were the bride and groom celebrating their big day and promising to love each other through it all, they had a dry wedding and glorious sunshine. They must’ve been deliriously happy, amazed and grateful.

Stick Tepee

However, that wedding is but a bright spark in an uncertain world. Lately, I’ve really been wishing I could wave my magic wand over the Earth and just make everything better. End this dreadful invasion of the Ukraine. Magically restore homes, businesses and lives lost during our extreme flooding here in NSW and Queensland. Getting rid of covid is another aspiration. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a miracle worker?!!

Such a loving dog! This is how many hours are spent, usually with my keyboard resting on his back.

Meanwhile, I’m back home and Zac is sleeping on my lap, and the troubles of the world seem very far away, and yet our son is coughing and our daughter is staying overnight at her friend’s 18th. Potential trouble is never far away, even if it doesn’t actually knock on your door. However, hope is also there as well, often to be found in the little things, especially at first, and so it can be so easy be missed.

How are you going in your neck of the woods? I hope you are doing well, and thank you for popping in.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 7th March, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you? I hope you’ve had a great week!

The last week here has been somewhat obliterated by the news that legendary Australian cricketer, Shane Warne AKA “Warnie” died suddenly of a suspected heart attack on Saturday while he was on holidays in Thailand. It came as a super shock, that someone relatively young with so much life and vitality got snuffed out like that. Warnie was also a couple of months younger than me, and seemingly in much better health. So, it just goes to show, you can never know.

Meanwhile, Miss has passed her Learner’s Permit Test and has been out driving for a couple of hours most days. Ironically, almost all this driving has been done at night under wet conditions which you would see as ideal for a new driver. However, the roads have been virtually empty and it’s give her a chance to build her confidence. She also had an opportunity to go over the curb, but all things considered, she’s doing very well. She’s so proud of herself to and chuffed when she drives to qa new place and extends her range further. She was really happy to take on the Drive Thru at McDonalds where she works, and that one of her friends was on at the time and saw her. She needs to get up 120 hours of driving time and has to wait 12 months before she can sit for her Provisional Licence, but she’s made a solid start.

Tomorrow the infamous “Mister” turns 18. I can’t believe it, and I know many of you who have been hanging round here for quite some time, can’t believe it either. He will be old enough to vote, buy alcohol and if it hadn’t been for all the covid disruptions of the last couple of years, I’d also say be independent, but that will come. He’s having a small party tomorrow night and apparently our family dinner has been deferred to next week.

Meanwhile, Jonathon is running a fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy Association, who support research into Muscular Dystrophy and neuro-muscular conditions. In case you feel like supporting his efforts, here’s the link to donate: https://www.facebook.com/donate/941861509874336/941861523207668/

I probably shouldn’t put this so far down the pecking order. However, yesterday I attended a writing workshop with bestselling author Graeme Simsion who wrote the Rosie Project, which has evolved into the Rosie Series. He recently released The Novel Project, and this formed the basis of the workshop. A copy of the book came with the workshop, which was great but I hadn’t had a chance to look at it yet. However, in a nutshell, Graeme had done a scriptwriting course and the Rosie Project had started out as a script, but he dramatically reworked it and produced it as a novel but hd used the classic three act scriptwriting structure, and it’s really worked for him and a number of successful authors. I first got onto this at a writing workshop at the Sydney Writer’s Festival conducted by Director and author, Mark Lamprell, who was seemingly part of the furniture at my grandparents home many moons ago. All this structure, is good for me in a way because I unashamedly write from the heart, the soul but am coming a cropper when it comes to larger works. All this structure could well be good for me. Yet, at the same time, it seems rather mechanical and like a factory processing line what with writing on all these cards. However, it’s probably a process I’m currently doing in my head as I edit and reedit my work, and it might actually be rather helpful to extricate that process out of my head and put it down on paper where I might also be able to come back to it later. Trying to stop writing without losing the thread and being able to pick up where I left off, has been a big problem, especially with my more detail WW1 history bios. I am often writing late into the night bleary-eyed not wanting to let go. So, I will try to dig out the cards I bought after attending Mark Lamprell’s talk, and really give them a go this time.

By the way, I’d be interested to hear what you feel about a tightly structured approach to writing a larger work like a novel. Does it take away all the fun? Or, is it the secret ingredient for converting good writing into a finished book?

Meanwhile, last Wednesday night, I found myself wandering along the streets of Pisa, Italy looking for inspiration for a flash fiction prompt for Friday Fictioneers. This week’s photo was the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and no immediate inspiration came to mind. So, I fired up my rocket and zoomed over to Pisa via Google Earth and touched down outside a chicken shop. I wandered round the streets for an hour expecting to see the tower any minute. After all, how could I miss it? When you see it in photos, it seems to be on a patch of grass and standing alone and isn’t crowded in my more recent newcomers like so many modern cities. Anyway, I gave up trying and went back to the search and this time when I opened my eyes I was right there about a nose length away from the tower itself. Wow! It was a mind-blowing experience. There it was. I also came across the Cattedrale di Pisa which was basically next door, and Trent let me know that the Leaning Tower of Pisa was actually constructed as the bell tower for the Church. Makes sense, and it too has a slight lean btw. Anyway, I came across a Youtube video about climbing up the tower and that helped inspire my story: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2022/03/03/stairway-to-hell-friday-fictioneers-3rd-march-2022/

Seaweed has overtaken Terrigal’s ocean pool during the heavy rain.

If you feel like a wander around Pisa, then you can check it out here: https://wordpress.com/post/beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/66442

Meanwhile, the rain’s still going here and wreaking havoc.

More grey skies at Pearl Beach looking towards home.

Well, I’d better keep going. I’m needing to cull back the photos for tomorrow night’s slide show.

Meanwhile, you might like to join us over at the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 17th January, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Believe it or not, it is actually Sunday night. Or, more accurately early Monday morning, because it’s after midnight and I’m not about to confess just how far after midnight it might be. Let’s just say the cow jumped over the moon quite awhile ago now. So, I’ve actually made good headway and hopefully won’t be rushing it through on deadline again. After all, it’s a whole new year, and I’ve been reformed, transformed but strangely still look, feel and act much the same as I did last year.

Awhile back, I remember hearing someone say covid was from the Devil. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that. However, as time goes by, I’m increasingly pointing the finger at the man downstairs and wondering whether he does have something to do with this mess after all. After all, he’s not going to leave his calling card out as he spins his evil web. If he’s really smart and let’s just say he’s had a lot of experience at being the Devil, he’s cunning and knows how to cover his tracks. He’s not like the two year old who stole the chocolate bar and is denying it while having chocolate smeared all of his his face and tiny hands. He slips right under the radar and probably even convinces you it’s all your fault when it was him all along. Anyway, we have people like myself boarded up at home avoiding covid. We have people holding covid parties to try to catch the darn thing now and get it over and done with. I even read a story tonight about someone who hosted one of these parties and everyone else caught it but him. In the last 24 hours, NSW had 48,768 reported cases. However, that’s a spit in the ocean. It’s mission impossible to get tested and the big question on everyone’s lips is where can you get RATs? Perhaps, I should start selling off the residents of our roof if they’re still up there. They could make me a pretty penny right now.

How many of you have had covid or had someone in your household with it?

You know things are weird when you’re teenager goes shopping with her friend and brings home a slab of toilet paper.

I live in Greater Sydney, and until now we’d largely been spared. I didn’t know anyone locally who’d acquired covid and we could do our typical Australian thing of thinking we’d be right. Being relatively isolated, we can hide away from quite a few of the world’s ills. However, our politicians in their infinite wisdom, decided to “let it rip”. Now, to quite a friend, “it’s everywhere”. The NSW Health Minister says “we’re all going to get it.” Sounds like I might as well just throw myself under the bus and get it over with. However, my dad heard that the health department expects only 50% of the population to get it, which is much better odds, and he’s determined to be in the 50% that doesn’t get it. I’m out to join him. Meanwhile, our son is at youth camp and very likely to bring it home. We’re trying to be prepared for that. A number of my friends have caught it, and are still isolating at home. Where it gets tricky is how to manage it when you have a household especially where someone is vulnerable, how to you contain the contagion? As the days go by, things have escalated so quickly and we’ve gone from very low cases numbers to an explosion and it’s no longer in Italy, USA, UK it’s our our favourite cafe. It’s at church. The hardware store…but only a case here and there, but now it’s in our homes. The Grim Reaper MKII is actually in our homes. Indeed, it’s even invaded some of us. It’s not very nice.

Meanwhile, I’ve been beavering away on my family history, and trying to enter it into Wikitree. I’m really pleased to be getting it online to share it, but also if something happens to me, my research will be out there. I’ve been doing it for years and my kids aren’t hugely interested. At least, not yet. Hopefully, someone or someones will appreciate it all or in part.

One of the interesting things I found out a few years ago is that two of my Great Grandfather’s uncles married Aboriginal women and that he had cousins who were Aboriginal and a number had been put in orphanages, and were part of the stolen generation and really had a rough time. I’ve known about the Stolen Generation and known members of the Stolen Generation and heard their stories. Indeed, my aunt wrote the national history of the Stolen Generation and I was living with her at the time and read through some of the drafts. She was so strong reading through all their stories and interviewing these people and taking all their heartbreak on herself. Of course, I cared about that and was outraged. However, it’s quite a different thing to know that someone from your family went through that, and to hear how that not only impacted on them personally, but also for generations to come. It’s made the racism in the country which is directed at our indigenous people even more abhorrent. You might not be aware of this, but Aboriginal used to be classified as fauna on the national census. They weren’t even considered human. So, I’ve entered all these names into Wikitree and hope it helps someone out there to find their roots.

He hasn’t quite hit the road yet, but he’s turned on the ignition. Geoff is talking to him through the window. Must remember to keep it simple. He asked which pedal was the brake. We do so much on auto-pilot.

I’m inclined to tell you that nothing much has happened around here, because truly it hasn’t. I’m locked away avoiding covid, and it’s very humid outside and I’m struggling to breathe outside and need the air-conditioning on. However, this I remember and it’s so bad that I guess I filed it in the denial basket. A 13 year old local boy was stabbed and murdered by another 13 year old about a 15 minute drive away. To be honest, we assumed initially that it had happened in our local park after dark. However, it happened further afield but that won’t make a different to the family and friends. My daughter’s friend’s brother was good friends with the boy via the football club and the two families are friends too. I bought a succulent in a pot for the brother and wrapped it all up in cellophane just to acknowledge he’d lost his friend and that mattered. I also gave a bunch of sunflowers to his mum. It’s just awful. This fight was unfortunately was pre-meditated so it’s not looking good for the guilty party. Two lives ruined in an instant, and families shattered. It also reminds me how vulnerable teens are to making truly life-changing mistakes. I bought a book on leadership for teens by a friend of mine Dr Tim Hawkes who is a retired headmaster. I’m hoping it can knock some sense into my kids, although I doubt they’re read it. I’ll try and glean the wisdom from it and slowly but steadily drip feed it through.

I also just remembered that I’d written last week’s coffee share post before we had our drama, and something did actually happen here. Last Monday afternoon, Geoff was out the back working on the trailer, when he cut his leg open and rudely disturbed by cup of tea. Indeed, I was told to call 000, and fetch the medical kit. At least, we had one this time. A few weeks ago we couldn’t even find a Band-Aid when our son burned his foot on his campfire. Geoff went into shock and didn’t quite pass out, but he wasn’t able to speak and sweat was pouring off him. Good thing I was under the misguided belief a ambulance would pull up any tick of the clock, because although I was stressed, I wasn’t in total panic. As it turned out, that Monday was not a good day for the ambulance service and they advised me to take him myself in the end. That day, a woman gave birth to a premmie baby at home and there was no ambulance for them either and they drove themselves to hospital and she was giving the baby heart massage in the back seat. After hearing that, our drama was nothing.

Our son leaving or Summer Camp. I told Geoff that he at least could’ve photographed his face, but at least he got no protest. The poo brown esky belonged to Geoff’s mum and is probably now a collectable despite being baby poo brown.

Meanwhile our son has gone off to youth camp. He’s gone for three days and we fully expect him to have covid when he gets back. However, he has such a good time there and I couldn’t bare for him to miss out.

Shopping with her friend. Masks are our second-skin around here.

Our daughter is currently on school holidays putting in a lot of shifts at McDonald’s and the holiday dance classes have started up again. We are also starting to thinking about buying her a special tutu and we were just browsing through a few to get some ideas. It’s like shopping for a wedding dress without having to worry about what happens afterwards.

Well, how was your week? I probably should’ve asked you that at the outset and not the end. However, I have pictured up having coffee together. Indeed, it’s been a rather long coffee because once again deadline is looming and I’m about to miss out.

Meanwhile, you might like to join us over at the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Ambulance Driver & Crew

Perhaps, I should’ve kept my big mouth shut. After all, as the saying goes: “be careful what you wish for”. However, I was quite clear about what I wished for. That was “fun”. I’ve barely been out of lockdown since late June, and it’s wearing thin. However, when I said I needed more fun, I certainly didn’t mention anything about “drama”, or God forbid…”panic”. Moreover, I’m doubly sure I mentioned nothing about medical emergencies, or wanting to live out the show: “24 Hours in Emergency”. I’d also like to add, that Nurse Nancy is a Little Golden Book character, and should also stay well within its covers, and well away from the real world. While we’re at it, I’ll also clarify that I’m a taxi driver, not an “ambo”.

However, that all changed today.

I was sitting inside having a cup of tea when the phone rang. It took me a bit to grasp what was going on. There was just a “hello”, and I was trying to work out who it was and what was going on. Of course, you’d expect me to recognise my own husband’s voice on the phone. However, the voice sort of sounded underwater. However, in what seemed like an eternity, I managed to ascertain that Geoff had had an accident in the backyard, and had a nasty gash to his leg. He also asked me to call an ambulance, and bring out the medical kit. I also grabbed a cloth nappy. Although I never used them as nappies for the kids, I still have my stash and they come in handy.

Heading out to the backyard, I found Geoff sitting on the step of the garage. On the phone to the ambulance, I handed him the nappy to wrap around his leg, while wrestling with the medical kit one-handed trying to get it open. Geoff also ended up having to open that up himself. Meanwhile, the operator was asking me a lot of questions about how Geoff cut himself, and the wound itself. However, by now Geoff is unresponsive, and I can’t get a word out of him. I’m feeling like Johnny come-lately. I know nothing about what happened. He’s also sweating profusely. Yet, while it should be panic stations, I was relatively calm. After all, I was talking to emergency and any minute those sirens will be blaring and everything would be okay. Like miraculous, heaven-sent angels, they’d soon be here to save the day.

Now, they’re asking me if he hit an artery. With no blood in sight, it doesn’t look like it. I should be relieved, but he’s still unresponsive, and he’s clearly not okay. While he’s not bleeding to death, I don’t want him to plummet down their triage list just yet, although I know he has. I’m well aware our hospital system and ambulance network is seriously overstretched responding to covid. However, fortunately Geoff perked up, and was probably more in shock. Despite being asked not to move him, it’s hot and muggy outside and we get him inside and into the air-conditioning – me too. My breathing isn’t good, and with my bad lungs, stress and humidity, I might be needing the ambulance myself.

A paramedic calls me back to touch base. We weren’t forgotten. With an extended delay ahead and Geoff doing much better, he explains it would be better for us to drive Geoff into hospital ourselves to get him seen faster. There is a risk of infection, and after six hours he’ll be needing intravenous antibiotics. Obviously, that’s best avoided, and someone else has been already been waiting for 12 hours in the queue. I ask the paramedic if he minded if I talked it through with him. I’m not quite sure I can do it yet. As you may be aware, I have disability and health issues. So, it wasn’t a straightforward consideration. To make matters worse, I wrote the car off in the hospital carpark a few years ago when I was taking our son to Emergency. However, I’ve come a long way since then and started believing more in myself. That I could do it.

Of course, I knew we could ring a friend, and ask them to drive us. However, I was feeling okay. Besides, we had help…our number one son. He turns 18 in a couple of months and now has a man’s strength. Indeed, he is actually quite strong. “Of course, he’s strong,” I hear you say. However, I’m his Mum. While I haven’t thought about him being “my baby” for a very long time, he might still be “my boy”. All these years, we have been his strength, even through the very worst of my debilitating muscle weakness. Now, in the blink of an eye, he’s grown up. Strong as a rock, he would be there to help get his dad into the wheelchair and into the hospital. That sounds so ordinary, yet it was incredibly profound. At least, it was to me. I hope it meant something to him too, and he was encouraged.

We arrived at the hospital. To my macabre sense of humour (which is always more heightened in medical emergencies), I felt like we were on the set of The Godfather. Instead of driving the red Alfa, I’m pulling up in a black, mafia mobile with really dark tinted windows, and we’re turfing him out on the pavement outside the hospital with a bullet hole in him somewhere, instead of this cut to his leg.

This is what happens to your loved ones these days thanks to covid. We’re not allowed to go in with him, and in all honesty, I can’t go in anyway. Covid is literally everywhere, and I’m very vulnerable. I do not want to go anywhere near the hospital. So instead of sitting lovingly by his side, our son fetches a wheelchair and someone to push it, and he disappears behind closed doors.

By now, it’s 6.30pm, and time for dinner. Geoff doesn’t eat seafood, so we head off to the local Chinese restaurant to order Honey Prawns. However, being Monday night, they were shut, and I had to settle with our son’s choice of KFC.

Meanwhile, after packing Geoff an overnight bag with PJs, a couple of clean shirts, undies, toothbrush, and phone charger, we’d barely got through dinner, when the phone rang. He was all patched up and ready for pick up. I’m not good with keeping track of time, but he might’ve been there for an hour. Apparently, the wound wasn’t as deep as he thought. However, it still warranted 18 stitches. So, to translate that into the Australian vernacular, it was an impressive “scratch”.

A scratch? We went through all of that for a scratch?

To be perfectly honest, we didn’t go through all of that for a scratch. It was for love, and as cheesy as it sounds, because we’re a family. Family isn’t confined to your genetics. It can also be a choice….a special connection, a bond. However, having someone to ring when you’re in trouble and who will be there for you in that special way, is life changing and it stops people falling through the ground when the chips are down. Of course, we also have our faith and know God is always with us. However, his ways aren’t always our ways and our time here is finite. That’s not something which stares me in the face every day, but it is something I factor into my expectations.

So, while I was looking for fun today, I found drama, but also a renewed appreciation of our family, and so much gratitude for the growth in our son.

I’d like to share a poem I wrote about him when he was five not long after he’d started school. I was helping out a lot in his classroom and helping to teach the kids how to write and hat all important thing of leaving a finger space in between the words, which for them wasn’t something they could just eyeball and get it right. It was quite a slow, conscious, and very physical process of actually putting their finger on the page and writing around it and they had to concentrate so much. It was hard work. I flashed forward from that moment to when he walked out of that gate and he’d become a man. He still has a way to go and he’s really been up against it with covid, but he’s getting there. Today, as they say, was proof of the pudding.

This post has covered quite a bit of ground, but I’d love you to respond with stories of your own.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I’d just like to add that the road hasn’t been easy for our family, and we have really toughed it out. I don’t know whether I’d describe us as particularly happy, but we’re not miserable either and that says a lot. There’s gratitude, but also envy, disappointment and being human. Whatever else we are and however we might feel in the moment, we are a family…us and our dogs.

Christmas 2020