Tag Archives: the golden rule

An Old Dog Teaches Humans New Tricks About Love.

For some reason, many humans arrogantly believe they are innately superior to dogs. That they have all the answers and there is nothing at all they could possibly learn from their best friend.

I beg  to disagree.

If only humans could only interpret paw prints, they’d know that their canine counterparts also have a significant understanding of matters philosophical and psychological, although like so many of our canine achievements, they have gone unnoticed.

Perhaps, you’re already aware that I am quite the dog philosopher. My particular field of research is how to teach old humans new tricks.

Unfortunately, I’m not having much success.

Although you might think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, this is all lies. Pure human propaganda!!

Dogs, both young and old, are more than willing to learn new tricks…just as long as we consider them worthwhile. Of course, there has to be a point… a sense of purpose. After all, we’re dogs…not robots!!

I’m sure you’d understand that once you’ve worked hard to reach that all-important 10,000 hours of practice and have finally become a champion, be that a champion ball chaser, stick fetcher or sheep herder, you don’t want to start all over again and lose all those precious skills. You see, whenever, you take on a new skill, there’s that very steep learning curve and you have to put in quite a lot of time and effort to reach the top of the hill. So, if you’re already dedicated to your chosen field, you might not have the capacity to take on something new and master that as well. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn new tricks. It’s a matter of choice. After all:

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Although I’m not all dogs, I’ve been quite willing to try new things and extend my horizons.

In the last two years, I’ve gone from being your garden-variety backyard dog and stepped out into the world of extreme sports. I’ve been sailing, kayaking and hardest of all, I’ve even welcomed another dog into our household. Hence, I’ve had to share the things I value most with my uninvited “guest”: Mum, Dad, the kids and even my precious tennis ball.

To further stretch my patience and my heartstrings, Lady, the new dog in our family, still hasn’t worked out that tennis balls are for retrieving. Instead, she ignorantly runs off with them and parks herself on the grass where she chews them up and even pulls their fur out bit by bit. I might be patient but that’s a lot for The Ball Fetching Champion of the Universe to endure.

However, in the spirit of love and acceptance, which is key to all my philosophical beliefs, we have become friends. Lady has also taught me the power of positive thinking and that it’s good to wag your tail once and awhile.

This is what it means to live in harmony.

On the other hand, my research has shown that humans are very set in their ways and can’t even teach themselves new tricks. Instead, they just keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over again non-stop.

In my first post, I mentioned that humans seem to have a strange aversion to being “nice” and that indeed there’s quite a lot of “haters” out there. People who would much rather hate than love, accept and encourage. I found this very difficult to understand because most dogs innately try to be good. We want to love and be loved, although there might be a few exceptions. So many humans, on the other hand, seem to be hell bent on being mean, hurtful and just plain nasty.

On the home front, I’ve mentioned how my very own family takes great delight in throwing my ball into the water at Palm Beach, even though they know how much I suffer. Then, adding salt to the wound, Mum takes photos and video footage of me writhing in agony thinking it’s funny…a huge game. That is, instead of saving my ball and helping me out. That really hurts…especially since Mum uses the Golden Rule as her mantra:

The Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated.

As we move further afield, you just need to turn on your TV.

Last year, we had the shooting down of MH17, the Sydney Siege, the Pakistan Massacre, seven children murdered seemingly by their own mother in Cairns.She also murdered their cousin.

Fast forward to 2015, the United Nations Year of Light, and we have Paris.

Perhaps, I’ve missed something but from where I sit, the humans haven’t learned anything at all.


That’s not entirely true because you can’t judge the many by the few.

Australians mourn the loss of hostages in the Martin Place Siege. We send their family and friends our heartfelt condolences.

Australians mourn the loss of hostages in the Martin Place Siege. We send their family and friends our heartfelt condolences. Photo: The Age.

Indeed, following the Sydney Siege, the heart of the city was overflowing with genuine grief and floral tributes. There was an overwhelming outpouring of love. One man might have been evil, pure evil, but millions were good. While that couldn’t change what had happened, it did show that the humans do have a capacity for love, compassion and empathy. There was also that campaign #I’ll ride with you that reached out to show love and acceptance to Muslim women in the aftermath of the siege.

This very encouraging development was certainly something new. Perhaps, the humans are learning, after all.

We’ve been on holidays this week so it’s been difficult for me to really process what has happened in Paris with limited TV access. However, I did see people coming together and lighting candles and another hashtag emerged: “#Je suis Charlie”. While I don’t believe all those people loved the magazine itself, they supported free speech and not being shot for your opinion.

While hate tried to tear down these cities, love has triumphed. It really has.


Love. Photo: Rowena

But that doesn’t let us off the hook…humans or dogs.

I don’t have all the answers but if we perhaps start with the Golden Rule and treat others the way we would like to be treated, humans and dogs will both be learning new tricks and helping to spread  love throughout our aching world.

“For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Reach out and connect with somebody beyond your comfort zone. Share the incredible power of love.

Reach out and connect with somebody beyond your comfort zone.  Share the incredible power of love. Photo: Rowena

However, I’d just like to request one little furry exception to the Golden Rule…

Do I really have to be nice to cats?

This thing between cats and dogs goes way beyond me and that pesky cat next door. It’s in our blood…our genes. As long as there have been cats and dogs on this planet, it’s been war and that isn’t going to change any time soon.

Humph, this Golden Rule is more of a problem than I thought. It’s all very well to treat everyone you like the way you’d like to be treated but it’s quite a different story when it comes to your enemies. However, there can be no exceptions to the Golden Rule. It doesn’t work like that.

Humph. At this point, it’s very tempting to head back to my laboratory and stick to research. There’s such a gaping void between research and practice and I have no idea how to build a bridge. I might be smart and The Ball Fetching Champion of the Universe. However, being the change myself is just too hard.


Perhaps, I’ll have to bring in an expert. I have heard about households where cats and dogs are family but there certainly aren’t any in my particular neck of the woods.

Yes, indeed. This is a great place to launch the next phase of my research.

Who knows, perhaps with a bit of training and some loving support, even I might just be able to love cats after all but I suspect that dogs will be living on the moon long before that happens.

Love & a fairly cautious wag of the tail,





Martin Place: Only 9 Sleeps Before Christmas…

As you would probably know by now, the siege in Martin Place ended tragically with the deaths of two hostages and the gunman. While the siege has been coveraged in ample detail in the media, I wanted to offer a tribute. I didn’t feel I could just keep blogging about our Christmas and dance and christmas concerts and making Christmas cake with my son under the circumstances. I wanted to honour the victims of the Martin Place Siege and send my love to their families, friends and colleagues and as a mark of respect.

Tori Johnson, 34, was the Manager of the Lindt Cafe. Like most of us, he’d simply gone to work but he never came home. Johnson was killed attempting to disarm the gunman.

His parents released a statement describing their pride in their “beautiful boy”:

“We are so proud of our beautiful boy Tori, gone from this earth but forever in our memories as the most amazing life partner, son and brother we could ever wish for,” the statement released through 2GB presenter Ben Fordham read.

“We’d like to thank not only our friends and loved ones for their support, but the people of Sydney; Australia and those around the world for reaching out with their thoughts and prayers.

“Our deepest gratitude to the NSW police, armed forces and paramedics for their tireless efforts.”

Former colleague Genevieve Collier posted on Facbook: “R.I.P Tori Johnson, at times we both hated each other, and at other times we’d be hysterically laughing. You gave me so many chances even when i was a little s*** eating all the lindor balls and pretending I was a barista. You had a good heart, and I knew you were in there protecting everyone.”



Katrina Dawson, who died protecting her pregnant friend, was a wife and mother of 3 little children aged under 10. Like all children, her kids would be counting down the number of sleeps before Christmas and then suddenly…

Katrina also had a brilliant mind and was a very respected and successful Barrister.

She loved her husband and her children with all her heart and no doubt that love helped sustain her during those 22 hours…along with her concern for her pregnant friend also being held hostage. She also had a mum, a Dad, a brother, friends, colleagues. I have a 10 year old son and an 8 year old daughter, so naturally I relate to her very strongly as a Mum and a wife and like everyone else, am thinking of and praying for her husband and kids.

Barrister Katrina Dawson was simply having much loved hot chocolate before work.

It was just an ordinary Monday just like any other Monday.

There are signs hung outside the Lindt Cafe wishing a Merry Christmas. These same signs were above the windows where the hostages were forced against the glass. The media blurred their faces but we could see their hands so clearly right underneath that Merry Christmas sign.These same signs were intended to spread Christmas cheer and good will to all mankind…along with a box of Lindt chocolates, of course. Indeed, I have 3 large boxes of Lindt chocolates in my cupboard…some intended as gifts and others for personal use. Lindt is the ultimate in convenient chocolate luxury.

Ooh!!! Right then my 8 year old daughter just appeared with a Lindt Chocolate and it seems while I’ve been immobilised with a broken foot and compassion for this awful tragedy, the kids are raiding my Lindt Chocolates. This just reinforces the awful paradox of what happened in that cafe. Lindt chocolate are heaven and that siege was hell… 22 hours of pure hell and a lifetime of heartache for the victims families and friends.

How do you reconcile that? Lindt Chocolate heaven, Merry Christmas and a gruesome siege where two innocent, very much loved people who were just going to work and drinking coffee were killed? The love that our community feels for the victims and their loved ones, versus the hate which drove a lone wolf to attack Sydney at its heart?

You can’t.

Yet, at the same time we have to keep believing that love can triumph over hate, good over evil!

Despite what some of our community leaders are saying, many of us can’t just get on with it as though nothing has happened. We’re not made of stone. We’re living, breathing, loving human beings who want to do something, somehow to show we care. That such acts of terrorist violence are not acceptable. That we will stand up and fight …if only we could work out how. There’s one thing I do know. It certainly doesn’t mean picking on innocent Muslims and becoming what we despise.

Perhaps, we just need to keep following the Golden Rule. Treat others as we would like to be treated. Perhaps, it really is that simple, after all! Child’s play.

This is not the first time that Australians have been affected by terrorist violence this year. On the 17 July, 2014 38 Australians were effectively murdered when Flight MH17 was shot down over the Ukraine. On the 24th September, 2014 an 18-year-old man who was being investigated over terrorism was been shot dead after stabbing two police officers in Melbourne’s outer south-east.

As much as we like to think of ourselves as being geographically isolated from such evil, we have now well and truly lost our innocence. We are no longer immune if, indeed, we ever were.

I can’t get into the city to leave a wreath of flowers thanks to my broken foot so I decided to put this memorial on my blog.

Little people like us might feel powerless when confronted with such evil and tragedy but together goodness is a mighty chain and we must all join hands united against terrorism, violence but also discrimination…not just against the Muslim community. Right now, that includes accepting and helping Muslim women and other mainstream members of the Muslim community feel love and accepted.

It also means not turning people with mental health issues into the villains here either. Truth be told, who hasn’t had mental health issues at some time and certainly some are worse than others and there was Port Arthur but over all have mental health issues doesn’t make you a crazy terrorist gunman.

We know that this guy wasn’t a lone wolf. There are others out there. Not just in Australia but also around the world. Reports today told of Muslim community members who are reporting extremists and have been unhappy with the response from authorities. I pray these people are flushed out before history repeats itself somewhere else and more innocent people are put through this severe kind of anguish.

My blog is about my life and what’s going on around me and I just felt I couldn’t keep writing about all our Christmas festivities without acknowledging this dreadful tragedy before I moved on.

We sent our love and prayers to the families and friends of Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson. May God hold you in his arms and wrap you up in his incredible love.

xx Rowena


Infinite Love…MH17.

Our family would like to send our love to all those affected by the horrific shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 17. We feel so much love for you and we also want to express our outrage at this heinous crime.

Last Saturday, our children made red love hearts, which we taped onto paddle pop sticks and we sent these to some of the schools affected by the tragedy. This was something that I felt inspired to do. In other words, this wasn’t an idea that came from myself.

The children making the love hearts.

The children making the love hearts.

I suspect these hearts were inspired by the red poppies the children make every ANZAC Day at school to honor our service people who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. The children draw poppies onto red paper and then cut them out and sticky tape them onto paddlepop sticks. A poppy from each class is then planted in the memorial garden underneath the Australian and Aboriginal flags.

As someone who didn’t lose a loved one in this incident, it is hard to know whether to respond publicly or to remain silent out of respect. But I feel in a sense compelled to step out beyond my comfort zone. We couldn’t send these hearts to everyone we wanted to. The task was beyond us but I guess I thought that by sharing the photos I took of the hearts, that they might help someone somewhere. That it might help someone grieving in Amsterdam, or Melbourne, Perth or Malaysia that families they’ve never met in a different place, are holding them in their hearts and really and truly care. Quite frankly, you’d have to be a lump of stone not to.

Also, as much as we might struggle to find the words to say the right thing, what is the alternative?


The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing- Edmund Burke.

I don’t know if fields of red love hearts can grow beyond the realms of my imagination but we have sown the seeds of love and hope they can provide some comfort to those who mourn.

Love Flowers

Love Flowers.

Before we posted the hearts out, I photographed the hearts in the grass at home and also at the local waterfront and I’ve shared them here. You will notice the hearts cast a shadow…the heartache of those who are grieving their loss.

Love & Shadows

Love & Shadows

For all those who are grieving, particularly the families and friends of the victims but also those who never knew the victims in life but also feel, we send you our love. I have experienced the love of a stranger at particularly hard times in my own life and it really touched my heart. It is genuine and real. We send you that love.

Love and God’s richest blessings,

Rowena, Geoff, Mister and Miss xx oo


Once They Were Six

When I decided to blog, I never set out to comment on world events or interpret such things. I am simply somebody who is trying to change and improve her own life and I’m documenting this process on my blog.

Then, a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut and killed innocent children, teachers and other members of the school community.

How am I supposed to respond to that?

Yesterday, I was working away on a post about my ongoing frustration with my violin practice but there was this nagging thought at the back of my head: “Can I just keep blogging on about my own life in the aftermath of the horrific Newtown Massacre?”

I don’t think so.

That said, I’m not quite sure how to respond.

What are any of us supposed to say or do when something of this magnitude happens?

I don’t know. Given my own health situation, we are already very conscious that life is short…so very fleeting. I already appreciate my husband, my kids even if we are busy trying to fit a couple of lifetimes into one day.

I’m not a psychologist or a forensic anthropologist so I can’t begin to explain why this has happened, although I would like to suggest that it’s complex and perhaps we will never know. I do hope we will get some serious insights into how to prevent such shootings in future. For me, that includes serious gun control measures but also goes well beyond that. A gun doesn’t pull its own trigger.

I live in Australia. This event is well and truly beyond the scope of my backyard. I’ve never been to America and I don’t know what it means to be American. Yet, whether we like it or not, we do live in a small world and whatever happens “over there”, also appears in our homes at least on our TV. We are part of a global village.

I care. I care very much.


There is one element of this tragedy that really hits home. My daughter is also 6 years old like many of the children caught up in this dreadful massacre… both those who lost their young lives and also those who have somehow survived.

I haven’t even thought about what if it had been my daughter. It hasn’t even crossed my mind that something that awful could ever happen at our school. Not because our school is any better than any other school but because our school is like an extension of our family home. I help out with the reading and do the publicity for the school, a role which includes photographing the kids. I am on a pretty friendly basis with a number of teachers at the school and they have been very supportive regarding my health issues and just loving and caring for my kids and all the kids at the school. It’s not a perfect place but it’s certainly special!

I gather this is how most families perceive their school and that contributes to our overall outrage.

Having a six year old daughter, I wanted to honour those children who lost their young lives and those who survived by sharing some insights into the world of a six year old. I can’t really say I always know what makes them tick but here are some observations.

Six year olds have such a precious view of the world. They really feel so grown up but are still pretty small and still need a chair or stool to reach the taps or get things down. They still believe in pretend and are only just stepping out into the world. Their explanations for how and why things happen can really be quite amusing.

Our daughter's letter to the tooth fairy.

Our daughter’s letter to the tooth fairy.

Having your teeth fall out has to be one of the most important things for a six year old. My daughter is currently missing her two front teeth and she has another wobbly tooth. Last week she announced: “I’ve lost 5 teeth in one year. That must be a world record!!” When I meet up with her friends, they also show me their wobbly teeth and tell me how many teeth they have lost. There’s lots of wiggling, wobbling and lots of gappy smiles and giggles. You don’t want to be the last kid to lose your first tooth.

Having your teeth fall out, goes hand in hand with the tooth fairy. There are many discussions about how much money the tooth fairy has left behind. There is still faith in the tooth fairy although perhaps if there’s an older sibling, there can be a bit of doubt. My friend tells her kids: “you have to believe to receive” and I will borrow that one when the time comes. My daughter refused to put her first two teeth out for the tooth fairy because she wanted to keep them. By the time tooth number 3 fell out, she was ready to part with it and wanted the money. She also wanted to catch the tooth fairy so she could learn how to fly. She also told stories about how she woke up with special fairy dust on her hands.

Isn’t the world of a six year old amazing?!!

The other thing that stands out about six year olds is just how much they adore their teachers. My daughter has been home from school sick and literally cried for her teacher. Last weekend, it turned out that her teacher was coincidentally attending her end of year dance concert and she was over the moon. The teacher was just as excited too and was looking forward to seeing her dance. If we ever see one of the teachers down at our local shops after school, it’s like seeing Elvis or Justin Bieber. The kids are so excited!!

My daughter is still scared of the dark and asks me about monsters living under the bed. I tell her that there’s no room for monsters under her bed with all her Barbies stashed under there but she is not convinced.

This year's Santa Photo

This year’s Santa Photo

She still believes in Santa and asked me yesterday whether Santa lives in an igloo because he lives at the North Pole. We agreed that he lived inside a gingerbread house like the witch in Hansel and Gretel. She had no trouble accepting that and she’s a fairly discerning character.

She also believes Santa can get her anything she wants pretty much because his elves will make it. She is currently desperate for a DS (an electronic game). I have told her that they are expensive but she says that’s fine because Santa can get it. I don’t have to pay for it. We have tried to tell her that Santa is very old and not good with technology but then she thought of the elves. She has an answer for everything.

Being six is also a fickle world where friends can be a bit fragile. You can be BFFs one day and then there’s the chant of “you’re not my friend”. Six year olds can become very emotional.

It also seems to be a year of transition from being a pre-schooler into a school kid. Once loved Dora, is now considered babyish but t-shirts with pictures on them are still preferred fashion. Gaudy glitter and sparkle fashions are also cool and pink and purple are still the favourite colours with the girls.

Six year olds, at least the six year old girls I know, all seem to love drawing rainbows. I have some beautiful rainbow drawings both my children  have done on my fridge to remind me of the beauty of the world when I’m having a hard day.

There is also a naivety there. A few weeks ago when we were baking together, my daughter ate some Self-Raising flour and then asked me if she was getting taller. She had interpreted the name on the flour quite literally. Like most kids, she is wanting to grow up way too fast.

Needing to fit in and conform also seem to be important (at least, for our daughter). When we had our dog clipped recently, she didn’t want me bringing the dog to school because she’d be teased for having such a weird dog. He is a Border Collie and he did look rather weird after his haircut (he went from black and white and fluffy to light grey was all but skinned) but I had to remind her that he is still the same dog, whom she loves.

As cute as six year olds might be, they also have plenty of attitude. We sometimes call our daughter “Princess” and it’s not a compliment. She can expect to have everything done for her, waited on hand and foot. She likes to get me to carry her school bag and her brother to run errands for her and she usually forgets to feed the dog. When I asked madam to put her leotard in the washing basket, she said to me: “I am not your slave!” I was not impressed.

Fighting with her brother also seems to be a favourite pastime, although they also play very well together too.


This is the world Adam Lanza destroyed when he took the lives of those innocent children, their teachers and other members of their school community.

It is important that we, as citizens of our global village, acknowledge and respect that. That we don’t just ignore what has happened because it’s too hard. We must continue to fight for a world that is free of violence and hate and make our world a safe and loving place for all people. That fight begins with each and every one of us as individuals and is acted out each and every day in how we react to people and situations. If we each followed the golden rule and treated others as we would like to be treated maybe kindness would someday rule the world.

I will leave you with the words of AA Milne:

Now We Are Six

When I was one I had just begun
When I was two I was nearly new

When I was three I was hardly me
When I was four I was not much more

When I was five I was just alive
But now I am six, I’m as clever as clever;

So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.

Love & God Bless,