Tag Archives: terrorism

Happy New Year…Sydney!

Sydney wishes you a Happy New Year!

On the count of midnight,  Sydney became an exploding supernova as a firework extravaganza illuminated the night sky and the deep, still waters of Sydney Harbour showering such colour.

To read about our incredibly exciting NYE, check back to my previous post: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/sydney-fireworks-a-prelude-to-midnight/

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Midnight was pretty low key here. With 15 minutes to go, we woke up the kids to join us for the countdown. The countdown being as much for the midnight fireworks as the New Year.

As you could imagine, even sitting watching the fireworks at home, I couldn’t resist getting out my camera and photographing the fireworks like a photographer on assignment.

I wasn’t disappointed. Indeed, I was amazed. Not bad!

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The incredible beauty of fireworks… peering right inside the flares.

Just in case you’ve never seen Sydney’s NYE fireworks, the finale usually involves a cascade of “melted cheese” over the edge of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Even though we’ve seen it all before, we hang on for that incredibly intense, stunning moment when the entire Bridge erupts. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and so full of superlatives that words can’t do it justice. You simply need to feast with your eyes and feel yourself come to life.

 

With all the excitement of the fireworks and just being at home with the kids and of course the dogs (Lady still panting heavily with renewed terror as more fireworks went off at midnight), we forgot all about singing Auld Lang Syne…an Australian NYE tradition harking back to the UK.

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So perhaps we could sing it together. It’s also better singing it with the words in front of us. I usually mutter and mumble my way through:

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne!

Chorus:
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

Robert Burns

 

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Just as we forgot Auld Lang Syne, New Year’s resolutions also passed us by. I think the list is looking so long that it it could simply be summed up by four simple letters…HELP!

I suspect no fairy Godmother is going to tap me three times on the head while I’m asleep tonight and give me a clean slate. Then again, I must’ve learned something about life so far and do I really want to start again from scratch? I don’t think so.

Maybe, I just need to have a bit of faith!

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The Kids Watching the Fireworks.

So, we wish you a very Happy New Year and if this time of year is difficult, you’re in my prayers and I’ll keep you close. All that exuberant joy, can either give you a lift or more than likely, amplify your grief. Take care!

Meanwhile on a global level, I pray for peace. “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”. Not giving to terrorism or violence but through somehow reaching a global acceptance of our humanity and all that unites us. In the words of Lennon: “You might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one!”

I also pray for our planet. That humanity will wake up to the warning signs of global warming and general exploitation of our beautiful blue planet. You can’t keep taking and taking before she starts to fall apart.

Anyway, while I’m getting all deep, I’m having a glass of Moscato, a Scotty Dog shortbread biscuit and a Lindt chocolate while sort of watching a real 80s throw back: “You Can’t Stop the Music”, featuring the Village People. It is so retro. I even saw a cassette tape.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure where Lady is hiding. She finally calmed down from the fireworks but after being in my face all night, she’s conspicuously absent and I suspect she’s snuck her way in somewhere. Lady is definitely looking like a liability…

So, wishing you and yours a Happy New Year and I look forward to reading about NYE around the world.

Love & best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

Scrooge’s New Year!

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!

–Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

No point adding any commentary to the mighty words of Dickens.They stand alone.

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As we move into a new year, which doesn’t really have such a  clean slate after all, I pray for peace in our time for 2016 and that love may fill our world and every and every breath.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I remain a believer.

How about you?

Thanks to Merrill Smith from Yesterday and today: Merril’s historical musings for putting me onto this brilliant quote!

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Wishing you an “Almost Happy New Year” with two days to go. Our peace and quiet will be turned up several decibels this afternoon when the kids arrive back from their grandparents’. Then, the sounds of kids, dogs and “Ollie” the robot will replace the sounds of silence.

We love our rich and busy lives but a little pause every now and then is also appreciated!

xx Rowena

Goodbye 2015 Weekend Coffee Share

Welcome to the Goodbye 2015 Edition of the Weekend Coffee Share.

We hope you and yours had a Merry Christmas. You can read about our Christmas here as well as about the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race which set sail on Boxing Day: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/12/26/an-aussie-boxing-day/

I’ll also mention that during the last week Beyond the Flow hit 30,000 views and kept going. I am pretty stoked with this as I’ve reached about 20,000 view this year and the blog is really starting to make steady progress.

All up, 2015 has been a pretty good year for our family. Of course, there were the usual ups and downs but we’re all good.

However, unfortunately the same can’t be said about the wider world. While there is so much beauty in our natural world, the human element is questionable at best.

What are we doing to each other?

Even though we might not like the answers to this eternal question, we need to keep asking, we need to keep striving for peace on Earth and equality and freedom for all peoples as well as respect for all living creatures and the Earth itself.

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Our planet needs compassion + action.

Although we’ll no doubt never create heaven on Earth, we still need to keeping trying to make things better. We need to keep searching, keep asking and keep trying to make some kind of difference…not matter how small. Both good and evil build up like Lego bricks and it’s up to us which tower rises and falls.

So, as we head towards another year, I am reminded of these inspirational words:

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_DxNpW1kHQ

While I used to have quite a local focus when it came to social justice, since I’ve been blogging, my backyard has extended, becoming more global. Just because something is happening overseas, I can no longer just switch off and ignore what’s happening. Be unaccountable. Once you become informed, either you respond or you are also guilty of neglect turning your back. Not being the Good Samaritan who stopped and helped and made a difference.

 

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Hercules holding the world for Atlas.

That said, we can’t be like Atlas carrying the world on our shoulders. We can’t save everyone.

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Michelangelo: The Creation of Adam c 1512.

So, we are left with that gap. A gap that shouldn’t stop us from trying but which reminds us that as individuals, we can not do it all.

In February 2015, I heard about a global blogging network called 1000 Voices for Compassion and while we are still only a small group, we have stuck together and I do believe that through our monthly posts, that we have made some kind of difference in 2015. You can read more about the group here: http://www.1000voicesspeak.org/

Through this group, I have really been able to spread my wings and be part of something truly inspirational.

So, as we head into the New Year, I pray that our world will be a safe place full of opportunity for all. That we humans can overcome so many of the differences which divide us and come to appreciate our commonalities more.

Lastly, if we were having coffee I’d wish you a Happy New Year and ask whether you’ve set any New Year’s resolutions? I am still working on mine and I am taking the whole process quite seriously and I’ll get back to you next week on what I’ve put together.

In the meantime, I’m going to tackle the pile of photo frames stacked up around the house and finally get them up. We’ve only been in the house 15 years! On that note, I’m heading off real quick before I really start to freak out at a rather lengthy “Should Have Done List”.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Part Time Monster and please check us out at the linky http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=593302

Love and best wishes,

Rowena

PS Update on the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race: Wild Oats XI retired with broken mainsail last night. In the greatest resurrection since Lazarus, Comanche just resumed the lead after announcing last night that it had retired with a broken rudder. The two leaders are halfway across Bass Strait.

 

 

 

 

 

The Quest for Compassion at Christmas Time.

Every month, I take part in a global blogging movement:  One Thousand Voices For Compassion. For almost a year now, we’ve been writing a post every month about some aspect of compassion which we’ve come together and shared. I know that for me, focusing on compassion every month and sharing these values with like-minded crusaders has truly expanded my horizons and my world. It’s been such an inspiration!

Here’s a link to the link-up: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=592285

So, here I am back again thinking about compassion. I haven’t watched the news for a few weeks so events beyond my own microcosm are something of a mystery but I know our world is in crisis on many, many fronts. However, I also know that there is much beauty and love in our world as well. As an optimist, I have to believe that ultimately goodness will triumph evil. That one person, even one little person like myself, can actually be a part of what makes a difference…especially when we come together… just like grains of sand joining to make a rock.

I have already contributed a post about visiting Sydney’s Lindt Cafe 12 months after the terrorist siege which shut down the Sydney CBD and resulted in three deaths. This was a very emotional moment for me, especially as I knew one of the hostages: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/sydneys-lindt-cafe-12-months-on/

However, while it is important to be mindful of events making headlines around the world, so much flies under the radar and I feel that by addressing some of the smaller stuff, that we could indeed make inroads on some of the bigger issues.

After all my pre-Christmas trials and tribulations, I have been reminded yet again about the dangers of perfection. Moreover, in the context of Christmas,  how expectations of perfection can all too easily destroy the spiritual, social and fun aspects of Christmas turning it into a horrific ordeal where everything we truly hold dear could well go up in smoke. By the way, I’m not talking about your precious turkey or Christmas pud here but relationships. Love exploding into smithereens under the pressure as nothing or no one could ever possibly measure up to those unrealistic standards of perfection. After all, who really lives on the set of Vogue Living…especially if they have kids, pets and experience any sort of joie de vivre?

Even though I’m pretty laissez-faire about the house, even I’ve found myself getting caught up in this perfectionist trap this Christmas.

Let’s start off with the tree.

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Our Christmas Tree

Even though our tree might look pretty slap-dash with it’s cluttered eclectic menagerie of mismatched ornaments and the poor angel precariously perched at the top looking like she about to jump off, a lot of thought went into that tree. The tree is fresh and was specially ordered in, as we didn’t want a big tree. We have way too many ornaments and so I went through the boxes with my daughter only picking out the best, the favourites and made a mental note to chuck out the broken ones. Cut back.

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Christmas Stocking made 1982, aged 13. Close-up of my crappy needlework.

I know it’s not the done thing to hang your broken ornaments on your tree, especially pride of place. However, what are we supposed to do with broken people? Do we throw them out as well? I don’t think so, especially when you think this through a little further and realise we’re all imperfect or broken in some way.  This, of course means, that we’re either all in. Or, we’re all out!

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My not so perfect shortbread Christmas Trees.

Again, I was struck by the perils of perfection while baking shortbread Christmas Trees. While turning shortbread into shapes seemed like a good idea, it certainly wasn’t child’s play. Trying to extract the shortbread mixture from the cookie cutter involved surgical precision, especially when it came to removing the trunk intact. It even required a scalpel AKA butter knife. By the time I’d finished, no two trees were exactly the same. Yes, you could tell they’d been cut by the same cutter but there was also some other force at work. It’s called being handmade. Not something churned out by a factory where each and every detail is identical and any variation is either chucked out or sold off cheap as “Factory Seconds”!

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Heart Teddy is missing an eye. Does that mean it’s officially broken and should be chucked out? I don’t think so!

That is also what it means to be human. Excluding identical twins, no two humans are exactly alike. There are themes and variations and just like my shortbread biscuits. We need to embrace everyone without expecting to see ourselves reflected in every mirror. Well, may be not embrace but at least accept. After all,  I’m not suggesting that you need to go hugging complete strangers to be compassionate.

Humanity needs diversity, a kaleidoscope….certainly not identical, factory-made clones.

However, accepting diversity doesn’t usually come easily. It requires compassion, empathy and, above all else, love. Not just towards others but also ourselves. If we can’t accept imperfection in ourselves how can we possibly hope to accept it in others? That said, for some of us we’re much more critical of ourselves than others. Then, our journey is more about learning to show compassion, love and acceptance to ourselves at least to the same degree that we shower it on others.

This all leads me to my greatest Achilles Heel…having the house neat and tidy for Christmas. Quite frankly, this just isn’t going to happen. All house is bursting at the seams. We’ve had to move and rearrange things to fit in the tree and a piano load of decorations. Moreover, we’ve had so much on, that we’ve only had time to dump and run, which does nothing for maintaining the house. Yet, we’ve performed in end of year concerts. I’ve been doing my blog. Made a Christmas cake, shortbread and I posted 35 Christmas cards today. Is a spotless house really going to bring any joy to anyone? I don’t know but fortunately, we’ll be having Christmas lunch at my aunt’s place. This, of course means, that the house can wait! As long as Santa can squeeze in, we’ll be happy!

Our home might be somewhat overstocked but at least it has a heart and there are far greater crimes about humanity than a bit of dog hair on the carpet!

After all, Baby Jesus was born in a very humble manger in a stable surrounded by barnyard animals and his first visitors were lowly shepherds. That is what we are really honouring at Christmas which is so, so far removed from our contemporary notions of the “perfect Christmas”.

Yet, I am who I am and I still feel like all my efforts have fallen painfully short. That nothing’s quite right. I don’t even know if I’ll manage to convey what I know matters most…love. Trying to show others you love them isn’t a perfect art. We all know how those efforts can backfire. I can only hope that the spirit of Christmas somehow fills in all the cracks, converting my best intentions into something which touches their hearts like a magic wand.

After all, isn’t that’s what’s truly important? To know you are loved and for others to know you love them?!!

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“Heartman” Drawn by Mister 2010 aged 6.

So, embracing the spirit of compassion this Christmas may we embrace each other and ourselves with love and acceptance just as we are…whatever that means!

If you would like to read more about compassion, here’s a link through to the link-up:

Our family wishes you and yours an Australian “Merry Christmas”. This is a greeting which covers most creeds and cultures here and largely refers to the man in the big red suit, some Christmas “cheer” and time off work, which could well be spent at the beach. This is how so many Australians unfortunately find themselves wearing patchy red birthday suits. More compassion required!

Love and Best Wishes,

Rowena, Geoff, Mister, Miss, Bilbo and Lady

PS: “Happy Holidays” is not a greeting used in Australia and so despite wanting to be culturally sensitive and all-embracing, I feel that I need to be true to where I’m from and what these words mean where I am. Merry Christmas is just like saying “G’day mate” and has lost much of its Christian heritage. I’m not too sure what I think of that either.

 

 

Sydney’s Lindt Cafe Siege…12 Months On.

As I gingerly entered Sydney’s Lindt Cafe yesterday, nobody handed me a bravery award, or even acknowledged the deeply troubled significance of my visit. That I wasn’t there for chocolate or even coffee.

A year after Sydney’s horrific terrorist siege in the Lindt Cafe at the heart of Martin Place, I was there to pay my respects.

Like so many, I had been glued to the TV screen during the siege. I’d broken my foot the day before. Immobilised and in pain, I vicariously experienced the horror, the not knowing and witnessed those gunshots which brought the siege to an end with three deaths and a blinding flash of light.

You don’t have to be there anymore to experience a sense of such trauma. Even if you have only half a heart, watching such trauma on TV, absorbing the aftermath of personal stories and being walked in their shoes, are enough.

As I said, you don’t need to be there.

Yet, for those that were, how do you ever move forward and yet they have no choice. Life goes on. It doesn’t stop. Pause. Hold its breath. It just keeps going and like running late for the train, you just have to get onboard.

I haven’t vowed never to frequent the Lindt Cafe but I still stand by what I said last year, with such a plethora of choice, I’d rather go some place else. Somewhere I can smile, laugh relax, write without being pursued by dark shadows.

As I said, I was far from being comfortable being in the Lindt Cafe. I could feel the gunshots going off and yet I couldn’t smell gunpowder.

All I could smell was chocolate. That intoxicating smell of chocolate and yes, that smell was very particular. It was Lindt chocolate. I was absolutely divine, heavenly and I can’t believe I resisted it all. However, it was such a hot day and I wasn’t going straight home so I didn’t even buy a drop. Even resisted all those gold Lindt teddy bears…two for $10.00!

When you enter the Lindt Cafe, there’s the chocolate shop on your left and you have to swing around to your right, to enter the cafe.

That was all fine. Didn’t affect me at all.

However, seeing the staff wearing the very same dark chocolate-coloured aprons which had been worn by the hostages,  triggered an awful sense of terror. The simple aprons made me feel ill.

It’s not surprisingly really. After all, the main images of the siege featured terrified Lindt employees wearing these very same aprons, escaping from the terrorist and running for their lives. There was one girl in particular. The horror etched into her face. She was running for her life… a survivor escaping a war zone.

You don’t forget that.

At least, I don’t.

I left without buying anything and would’ve liked to light a candle for Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson who were killed during the siege. I didn’t see anywhere I could do that but I did stop at a memorial out the front.

Yet, what can you say?

More and more I am finding words are so inadequate and like so many at Christmas time, I have no spare cash.

I walked out of the cafe and back into Martin Place.

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“Heartman” Drawn by Mister 2010 aged 6.

Not unsurprisingly, being around lunchtime, Martin Place was humming. It is the hub of Sydney’s CBD. Of course, the Christmas Tree was up and I was conscious that for a second Christmas, Katrina Dawson’s kids didn’t have their Mum. As a chronically ill Mum with two young kids, I feel that. We’ve had a few Christmases where my life was hanging in the balance and have had our own horror. Of course, I’m going to be mindful of those experiencing what I’ve feared with all that I am.

Yet, despite this churning vortex of intense, grueling emotion, I was strangely comforted by a classical guitarist performing in Martin Place. I noticed him a couple of blocks away and somehow the notes hooked into my heart. Like the children being lured by the Pied Piper of Hamlin, I felt myself being irresistibly drawn towards his melodious song. Quite often, I find myself drawn towards more melancholy music, but this was so upbeat, happy and just what the heart doctor ordered.

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An incredible CD of classical guitar to lift up your soul.

Thank you Joseph Zarb! You can hear him  too at http://www.jose.net.au

Still feeling reflective, there was now a spring in my step.

Music helps the heart to heal and to hope.

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This iconic photo known as “Dancing Man” was taken in Elizabeth Street, Martin Place celebrating the end of WWII on 15 August, 1945.

It is an intriguing coincidence that one of Sydney’s most iconic historical photographs, The Dancing Man, was taken virtually outside where the Lindt Cafe stands today. This photo captured the jubiliant excitement of the end of World War II. It doesn’t deny it’s horror but it does celebrate a better future…peace!

Jean Julien Peace for Paris

Jean Julien “Peace for Paris”

Since the horror of the Lindt Siege, there have been two major terrorist attacks on Paris and there’s a heightened level of vigilance and dare I say, fear.

However, that doesn’t mean we resign ourselves to the status quo. Stop fighting for freedom and that ultimate goal, which, even though it might sound rather cheesy and corny…world peace.

As John Lennon said: “Give peace a chance”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkZC7sqImaM

give peace a chance-yoko ono-lennon

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

A Conversation No Parent Should Have.

Last night, I had a conversation with my nine year old daughter which no parent should ever need to have. We talked about what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

I didn’t instigate this conversation but I didn’t shut it down either.

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My daughter is performing at a large event in a capital city and Australia is on a high terrorist alert. While a terrorist attack at her performance is unlikely, it’s not impossible. In the past, our geographical isolation  has protected us from global conflicts. However, isolation can so longer save our precious country from what happens “over there”. It has already happened here more than once and a former work colleague of mine was among the hostages in the Sydney Siege this time last year. So, I know first hand that these things can happen to you or someone you love.

While this awareness could turn you into a victim, being a Scouting family,  my thoughts were for her to “Be Prepared”. That this isn’t a time to stick our heads in the sand…especially when she has concerns.

Our daughter simply asked Daddy where she could buy a suit of armor. He told her that you couldn’t buy them and that he thought they were illegal. I’m not sure if he said any more but I decided to follow up her question. Given events in Paris and, as much as I have minimized exposure to the news, I knew what she was really saying. She is afraid of a terrorist attack.

When I was her age, a notorious murderer broke out of jail and I was terrified. In my mind, he was heading straight to our place and I was locking the windows and barring the doors. My Dad reassured me, talking about the likelihood of him turning up at our place, a tactic he has often used since and is a classic approach to reducing anxiety. He also told me that he would protect me and knowing that my Dad was some kind of super hero, I believed him. Of course, he didn’t turn up and Dad retained his incredible super powers.

If we were dealing with the same kind of threat, I would give my kids much the same kind of advice. I’d also tell them that our dog, Bilbo, would fight to the death to save us. We all know that while he looks cute and fluffy, he knows how to be ferocious and would die for us.  No questions asked. He’s a dog!

Bilbo shadow Palm Beach

Our Philosophical Dog walking along beside the tide. He doesn’t like getting wet paws.

However, these terrorists aren’t operating by the old, conventional rules. These days, having a simple cup of coffee or going to a football match or a concert, can be life threatening. These terrorists are striking at the ordinary, which means that your average Jo(e) needs to be prepared.

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Obviously, a writer-poet without any military training, is definitely no expert on surviving a terrorist attack. However, I read how people survived inside the Bataclan Theatre and have also had my dose of TV to add to the mix.

This was my advice:

  1. Try to stay calm and think. Keep breathing.
  2. Find the exits. If you are close to an exit, try to get out. Getting out safely is your best option.
  3. Hide. Try hiding under your seat.
  4. Pretend your dead.
  5. When you’re outside, find the Police.

I forgot to mention about listening to her teacher. We know her really well. Of course, she would look after our children like her own but under exceptional circumstances, Miss might just have to do the bolt.

Amelia's dancing shadow

My daughter exudes such joie de vivre dancing at the beach. She shouldn’t have to think about shadows!

While the chances of her being caught up in  a terrorist attack are slim, talking about what to do in an emergency is a good idea. That’s why we have things like fire drills and we just can’t assume that we will be with our child in an emergency. Or, that we won’t get separated in the chaos, like an Australian father and his 12 year old son in the Bataclan Theatre.

Indeed, the day of the Paris Attacks, we had a severe hailstorm here. I had just ducked out for a few minutes and while I was gone, the hail smashed through a section of roof. Rain was pouring in and we had to get the State Emergency Service out to put up a tarpaulin. We’ve been living in this house for 14 years and I’m pretty sure it’s the first hailstorm we’ve ever had. So, the unexpected can happen in all different shapes and sizes and a few survival skills go along way. That, in addition to book knowledge, we all need life skills. We need to know how to get through a crisis. How to save ourselves.

For my daughter, too, knowledge also means being empowered. She has some skills. She has some ideas about what to do and how to respond. So, instead of going into a panic, she can be level-headed and perhaps even help others in all sorts of emergencies.

So, I’ve now come round to thinking that this is the sort of conversation all parents need to have with their kids. Not just about terrorism but about how to respond in an emergency. Children might be young but they’re incredibly resourceful and being small can be quite an advantage. Being good at hide & seek could even save their life.

Being prepared isn’t giving in to worry. Instead of weakness, you’re actually coming from a position of strength.

If you have ever read the words of La Marseillaise, fighting the good fight is what it’s all about. We don’t lie back and let the bastards win.

 

Take care and and I feel we are all particularly conscious of just how precious our loved ones and our communities are and I continue to pray for some kind of resolution and a new beginning.

Family shadow Byron Lighthouse Easter 2014

Our Family 2014- Byron Bay Lighthouse, Australia.

I would be interested to know your thoughts. We really do live in a new world where the old rules no longer apply. Now, the anticipated target could indeed be the exception. While this doesn’t make sense, this is our new reality.

xx Rowena

 

Iced Coffee + Heat Wave …Weekend Coffee Share.

If we were having coffee today, you’d be asking for extra ice with your iced coffee or tea. You’d even thank me for pouring ice down your back or offering an ice-filled bath!

Indeed, temperatures shot up to 43° C or 109.4° F and it was so hot, that my eyes actually burned. Desperately seeking relief, I evacuated to an air-conditioned oasis…printing photos out at K-mart. It was my husband’s birthday and due to the heat, I put off making a cake and we went out for dinner to an air-conditioned venue. While we have air-conditioning at home, we don’t like the financial aftershock. Much better to use someone else’s!

Happy Birthday, Geoff!

Happy Birthday, Geoff!

So, how are you? How was your week?

If we were having coffee, I’d have to tell you that I’m feeling better this week. That’s not to say that I’m fine but at least, I’m not feeling shell-shocked anymore after last week’s damaging hailstorm and events in Paris https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/weekend-coffee-share-paris-and-the-week-that-was/.

You might enjoy reading I post I wrote about recovering from the storm, especially after the physical damage has been fixed but the emotional scars remain: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/11/17/recovery-after-the-storm/.

I also really enjoyed this post from Diana at Part-Time Monster who had a very “interesting” bath during a storm: http://parttimemonster.com/2015/11/18/how-to-take-a-bath-when-its-storming-in-20-easy-ish-steps/

A week after the Paris attacks, I’m not quite sure what’s what. Stories about the survivors and the dead, have been truly chilling. I felt such empathy for the victims. I celebrated my 22nd birthday in Paris and been in their shoes walking those streets. Hung out in Parisian cafes drinking cafe cremes. I felt numb. Yet, Monday morning still came around again and the routine started up again without me. I had to really slap myself. Reality check. It really annoys, even grieves me, that life callously moves forward without so much as a glance over its shoulder. Doesn’t shed a tear.

However, if we’re not to remain victims and if we’re going to be prepared for the inevitable terrorist attacks to come, lying face down in the mud isn’t an option. Indeed, the Parisians took to the streets singing “La Marseillaise“. They’re not going to sit back and let the terrorists win!

By the way, I just thought I’d Google to words of that and it’s no wonder the Parisians are singing it with such gusto. It’s more than just a national anthem. It’s a call to arms: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Marseillaise 

With the horrors of last week, I completely forgot to mention our good news. Our daughter has been accepted into what’s known as an Opportunity Class for her last 2 years of Primary school. These classes are for high achieving students and they need to sit an entry test. It’s going to be quite a commute but she’s really keen to go.

For all of you taking part in Nano, how are you going?

Although I’m not doing it, all the talk of word counts has got me going.  Although storm damage to the office stonkered progress on the Book Project, I participated in a flash fiction challenge at Carrot Ranch writing about the incredible connection of holding hands https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/11/17/flash-fiction-11th-nov-2015/

I’ve also completely  re-written a manuscript for a kid’s book I wrote about 5 years ago and am really pleased with the results. The original was way too long and this version is well under 1000 words. It’s currently “stewing”, allows all those creative juices to penetrate the page and mature.

However, I must also confess that I have a lot of “stews” experiencing total neglect and it wouldn’t surprise me if the dogs have even eaten a few. Leaving stew unattended around here is a very risky business. Indeed, we’ve lost a couple of meat pies lately.

I've taken the dogs for a few beach walks this week.

I’ve taken the dogs for a few beach walks this week.

Moving forward to next week, Monday morning I’m getting stuck back into the book project. I’m aiming for Monday because, as everyone knows, everything starts on a Monday…diets, exercise. No more pressing the snooze button on more fronts than I’d dare to mention!

Little Miss in front of our Morris Minor.

Little Miss in front of our Morris Minor.

Next week, Miss will be performing in a huge, multi-school choir as part of School Spectacular to be held at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. It’s a huge deal to be a part of this and so exciting. I don’t even know if we’ll even be able to spot her on stage but it’s an opportunity of a lifetime. We’ll definitely be needing our binoculars.

Happy Birthday Dddy/Geoff!

Happy Birthday Daddy/Geoff!

If we were having coffee, I would also tell you that today was my husband’s birthday. He’s been away at a conference for work this week and it’s been great to have him back. His main present has been a memory book. Both Geoff’s parents had passed away before we were married and so the children have never met their grandparents but are very close to my parents so I wanted to even things up a bit. This is one of those store-bought pre-printed books with headings and spaces for memories and photographs. Rather than having it all written out and finished, I’ve made a pretty good start and plan to get Geoff and his sisters to contribute. This is one instance where you really do need to know what you’re writing about.

I've taken the dogs for a few beach walks this week.

I’ve taken the dogs for a few beach walks this week.

It’s now Saturday and thank goodness the heat has eased and we’ve had a blessed cool change. Rain is threatening and there are strong winds, roaring like  a rough surf. Took the dogs for a walk along the beach today and chatted with a friend. Needed that.

I hope that you’ve all had a good week and that somehow your faith in humanity has somehow been restored. That there have been some uplifting moments as we as a global community try to live with the lurking shadows of terrorism and try to reach some kind of solution.That will no doubt be requiring some kind of super-strength cup of coffee but we need to have faith and we need to keep trying. Never give up!

Meanwhile, our prayers go out to those affected by terrorist attacks in Mali yesterday.

Go on check out the other coffee share posts over on Diana’s Blog Part-Time Monster and join the linky yourself!

Love & God Bless!

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

Recovery…After the Storm.

When I was trapped inside my tin can with hail pelting against the car and it looked like the windscreen could smash any minute,  it was hard to believe that the sun would ever come out again and life would go on…seemingly without a second thought about what had happened. What we’d been through.

After all, shouldn’t time pause after any kind of storm or catastrophe? Allow you to actually catch your breath and process things a bit before you have to go back out there again?

You’ve got to be kidding!

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Moreover, once the sun comes out and the mess has been cleared up and damage patched, it’s like the storm never even happened. It must have been some kind of myth, a nightmarish dream or perhaps even something you watched on TV.

Yet, there’s that gut wrenching angst in your stomach. You might have locked the doors and barred the windows and going back out there again might even be more than you can face…even though the sun is shining.

lifeguard board

The Approaching Storm.

While it’s important to know that recovery and healing are possible, it’s equally important to know that it can take time. That while some of us appreciate sharing our storms with our friends, be they local or online but others need to go into their cave to somehow put their house in order and work their way through it.

Bilbo sand cliffs Ettalong 2

After the last storm: Bilbo wasn’t too sure about the beach disappearing!

Somehow, however, there does need to be a way for the hurting, no matter how long after the event, to say: “I am not okay”. They might not need sympathy or any assistance but equally, they might also need a hand to seek professional help. Someone to go with them or to suggest a name or somewhere to go. Or, just someone to go on a walk and have a chat.

Or, indeed, just borrow your dog for a bit.

Flowers in Martin Place at 9.30am on Tuesday.

Floral Tributes in Martin Place Following the Sydney Siege.

We live in the world of the 3 day news cycle and soon Paris will be replaced by other headlines. Indeed, my hailstorm which also took place on Friday 13th has already been overshadowed, before the mess has even gone.I still feel a bit edgy but feel better after getting out today. Indeed when it comes to processing trauma, in Sydney we are rapidly approaching the first anniversary of the Lindt Cafe Siege held in Martin Place.

Much worse has occurred around the world since then but that doesn’t discount what those hostages went through, how the families of our dead still grieve and how the horrors in Paris must have reactivated all of this. reverberating through their bones. I send them my love and my prayers. I hope they’re okay.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that long after all sign of the storm is gone, that inner battle can remain and we need to tread carefully around each others’ souls, bathing each other in compassion and understanding. This can be our contribution, no matter how small, to our aching world.

I just came across some inspirational quotes relating to sadness in response to Paris over at On the Vergehttp://onthevergewithshareenmansfield.com/2015/11/14/3-day-quote-challenge-sadness/

Love and God’s richest blessings!

xx Rowena and family

PS Thank you to our local lifeguard who ducked out of his tent for this photo. Otherwise, he’d be wearing his shirt ie sun protection.

DSC_7413

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share: Paris and the week that was.

Although the world is in mourning after the Paris atrocities, I still feel the need to get together for coffee this weekend.  Not out of defiance or as a show of resilience but because I need to be with friends. I want to talk about all of this and what it means. How I was walking the streets on Google Earth last week researching my book and how I can’t understand how this has happened…even though it’s no surprise. Our world is at war but it’s a war with new rules we’re all struggling to understand and work out, collectively and as individuals, how to respond.

Just reminder too, that we live in Greater Sydney, Australia so our time zones here could well be quite different to your own.

However, the week didn’t start or end with Paris so I’m going to rewind a little.  Although what happened here probably hasn’t made the news, we’ve had a few storms in our own tea cup and my nerves were well and truly fried before Paris.

Up until Thursday, I’d been making good progress on the Book Project and after 9 years of procrastination, self-doubt and false starts, I’ve finally made progress and it’s been wonderful. I’m almost delirious with joy. Thrilled.

Poetry Reading Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, Paris.

Poetry Reading Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, Paris.

As I mentioned when we had coffee last week, the book starts in Paris in July 1992 when I did a poetry reading at the Shakespeare & Company Bookshop. I was only 21 and didn’t realise at the time how exceptional it was for a young 21 year old writer to get their own gig. After all, I was hardly Hemingway and had self-published my anthology on the photocopier.

At the Eiffel Tower in 1992

At the Eiffel Tower in 1992

For the last two weeks, I’ve moved heaven and earth trying to squeeze back into my 21 year old self and walk those streets again via Google maps.

It’s been an absolutely incredible journey where I’ve been living, breathing and all but eating Paris.

The mood started to change on Thursday when four Black Hawk helicopters flew overhead, just above our roof. This was the beginning of a terrifying ordeal where they were doing low-flying loops over our quiet, regional beach side town. The noise was unbelievable and that alone inspired terror. But what was the army doing here? I’ve never even seen one army helicopter here before. This was very unusual.

Living in a post 9/11 world, we’ve been told to watch out for unattended packages and to report suspicious activity. So, when we saw these four army helicopters doing loop after loop after loop of town, we were naturally concerned…i.e we panicked! The kids were really getting worried and upset and my heart was racing as well.

Black Hawk Helicopter.

Black Hawk Helicopter.

I rang my husband at work. Of course, my husband is fully capable to handling a national emergency. Daddy can do anything.

When Geoff suggested that there wouldn’t be four army helicopters out there for no reason, that just confirmed my worst fears. I locked the front door and grabbed the laptop. Surely, Google would know.

Well, it turned out to be a false alarm. It was an Army training exercise.

However, those helicopters did seem to herald in the forces of doom.

The Lifeguard's board wasn't much chop for taking on this almighty storm.

The Lifeguard’s board wasn’t much chop for taking on this almighty storm.

Friday afternoon, we were hit by an incredible hail storm. Stupid me who thinks “photography” when she sees huge, towering black clouds dripping incredibly menacing tentacles across the sky, headed down to the beach to get some shots. I ended up feeling like I was trapped inside my tin can with huge golf ball-sized lumps of hail pelting against the car just waiting for the windscreen to smash into a million pieces. Meanwhile at home, the hail had smashed through the office roof and rain was pouring in. Indeed, my keyboard was doing laps of my sodden desk.

Hail Stone.

Hail Stone.

Despite my medical condition, I was moving out piles of books and computer equipment while our daughter was chasing buckets and strategically placed them round the room. Mister wanted to get up on the roof and then went charging down the street to check on the neighbours as I pointed out that we were in crisis. I called the State Emergency Service and their volunteers saved the day, patching the roof with some corrugated iron sheets from the shed. Order was restored…aside from the mess!

The backyard after the storm.

The backyard after the storm.

This storm certainly concerned me because its intensity was uncharacteristically strong for around here, a reminder of another global crisis…global warming.

Our Border Collie doing his agility training...chasing his ball through the debris. He';s an addict!

Our Border Collie doing his agility training…chasing his ball through the debris. He’;s an addict!

I woke up on Saturday morning, feeling absolutely frazzled. My nerves were literally fried. What with the deafening din of military helicopters, I was wrecked.

Saturday, we somehow managed to get ourselves together and out to the opening of the Scout Hall. It was a fabulous day of celebrating with community and it was fabulous to see such inspirational young people and their leaders learning skills that can help them be trail blazers for their peers.

Then, we arrived home to hear news of Paris.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

I am in mourning. The world is in mourning. Can’t imagine what it would be like in Paris , although we experienced terrorism on a small scale in Sydney just over a year ago. Yes, we know that horror and I knew one of the people taken hostage and people who work around Martin Place and had to go back to work and face that horror day after day without knowing if that was the beginning or the end. The courage of the ordinary becomes extraordinary at such times.

Here’s a previous post I wrote in response to Paris: Solidarite: Je Suis Paris https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/solidarite-je-suis-paris/

So, while coffee today might not be very upbeat but coming together at such times, is what coffee and especially that proverbially cup of tea is all about…a welcome cup of healing.

So, this week, I am offering a cup of love, understanding, hugs and even a box of tissues.

I hope and pray that you and yours are okay!

Love and heartfelt blessings,

xx Rowena

This blog is part of the Weekend Coffee Share. Here’s the linky: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=582184  I recommend reading Solveig Werner’s post. She lives in Paris: http://solveigwerner.com/2015/11/14/my-heart-is-aching/

We send you our love!

We send you our love!

Solidarité… Je suis Paris!

In the wake of the horrific attacks on Paris, we must all rise up and stand on the side of good and fight for those values which underpinned the French Revolution: Liberté, égalité, fraternité. These values are so much more than words. They encapsulate all we hold dear and take for granted until evil and hate grab them by the throat and try to snuff them out.

Indeed, our Great Uncle Ralph, an Australian, gave his life in the fields of France for these values in WWI.

These words have not become mighty values through complacency or good luck but because inspired, passionate people fought to defend them.

Sacrificed their lives for the greater good.

Watching the news reports of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, there are talks of peace keeping forces…as in military solutions.

Yet, somehow the rest of us need to rise up and in someway, no matter how small, show that we will not tolerate terrorism in any form. We each need to play our part.

Perhaps, my part might simply be using my pen instead of the sword but I have to believe that even this very small, invisible role can join up with a greater whole and make some kind of difference..

Others, are donating blood in Paris, leaving flowers, lighting candles while those who knew and love the dead and injured grieve. Indeed, Paris and the world grieves. The heart knows no distance. We are all Paris.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House wears our hearts on its sails.

I don’t know how else the individual can fight back to defend these freedoms in this modern terrorist era. In the past, our men signed up but this is a new world.

I keep coming back to a quote from Edmund Burke:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

That means us!

I pour out my love to the people of Paris and  everyone who has a piece of Paris in their hearts. We pray for a swift end to these horrors and for Liberté, égalité, fraternité to triumph!

Peace for Paris and for our world!

Love and Blessings,

Rowena and family.

The featured image was by artist Jean Julien.