Archive for January 2012
I want my children to grow up knowing that being part of a community – locally and globally – involves sharing what we have with others. This doesn’t just mean finances, although that is certainly part of it, but also our time and abilities. We have a responsibility to make a positive difference in the world around us.
The reality is that for most of us, a general philosophy of giving is the best we can do. A full-time focus on fundraising or charity work is not possible. We have work and family commitments, health and financial issues, and limitations in our abilities and knowledge that make it difficult if not impossible to dedicate ourselves 24/7 to a cause, no matter how important or significant we believe it to be.
In the midst of the busyness of everyday life and the crowds of people sharing their focus and attention across a range of activities, causes, priorities and interests, there are those few inspiring people whose passion for a specific cause burns bright and focused. These are the people who get their hands dirty and their hearts bruised as they try to make a difference.
These ambassadors for a cause can sometimes leave the rest of us feeling uncomfortable. Their passion and willingness to do without to make a difference highlights just how much we have and how little of it we share. How much we waste – time, money and effort – and how distorted our priorities sometimes become.
In the past few years, Cate Bolt has been one of those passionate advocates, catching my attention again and again. Her relentless campaigning for the causes close to her heart is inspiring and while her flame does occasionally burn white hot and blind with its intensity, it also offers warmth and encouragement for those who want to find practical, everyday ways that they can support a cause that makes a difference beyond the walls of their own home or the streets of their suburb.
Cate is a passionate campaigner for the homeless and voiceless everywhere. She speaks out for those that society chooses to ignore. You can read more about Cate’s work and causes at her personal website and the Foundation 18 site.
Cate’s latest project is The Giving Bowl, which offers us all the opportunity to make a difference both the causes close to her heart and to those close to ours. Buy a handmade Giving Bowl from The Giving Bowl Etsy shop and you will be helping Cate to provide support to women and orphans in Indonesia. You can then fill the bowl with your loose change and donate the money to a cause that is important to you.
Today I ordered two giving bowls, one for our home and one to give away. I think that this is such a wonderful idea and I can’t wait to encourage my children to not only contribute, but to help us decide who will benefit each time the Giving Bowl is filled.
I would also like to offer a Giving Bowl to a reader of this blog. If you would like to receive this mini Giving Bowl (8-9cm wide, 5-6cm high, pictured to the left), please leave a comment below. You can either mention who you would like to support with your Giving Bowl change, or maybe share how you and your family choose to make giving a priority in your home.
• Open to Australian residents only
• Giveaway will close Friday, 27th January at 10pm, EST.
• Bowl pictured is as ordered from Etsy, but colour may vary.
• Winner will be notified by email. If no response within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected.
This giveaway is now closed. The winner of the Giving Bowl is Dannie from A Dose of Dannie. I hope you enjoy your Giving Bowl and I hope that the donations you make bring a cure for your husband’s condition one step closer as well.
Several weeks ago, the National Library of Australia (@NLAgovau) tweeted about a music book from their archive collection, Play Day in Happy Holland. I was sure that my sister had sung songs from that same book for a concert when we were children, so I decided to see if I could track it down.
Not only did I find Play Day in Happy Holland, which was apparently bought for my mother when she was a child for a concert (price 2/-), but I also uncovered some music belonging to my grandmother that I had almost forgotten. My grandmother’s music was her only indulgence and it was also a very special connection between the two of us. I have my grandmother’s piano and every time I play it, I think of her hands on the keys and know that she would be pleased that I still cherish the piano in the same way she did.
So, for those who love music, history or musical history, I’ll share a small sample of the treasures I uncovered.
First, the music book that started it all. I give you the juvenile operetta Play Day in Happy Holland containing the toe-tapping favourites My Bulbs are My Children, Burgermeester Grumpygrowl and Cheeses.
There was a wonderful mixture of music including these ABC Community Song Books:
Australian classics like Where the Dog Sits on the Tuckerbox, A Pub with No Beer (featuring a youthful Slim Dusty on the cover) and the Aeroplane Jelly song.
And for something a little bit more upbeat, Johnny O’Keefe’s She Wears my Ring and John Farnham’s Sadie.
There was Christmas music:
Songs for children:
And, much to the delight of my daughter who helped me sort through the music, songs with really, really strange names. Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellen Bogan by the Sea, anyone?
Just so that you don’t think my grandmother was only interested in that crazy modern music, there was a large helping of classics and more ‘serious’ music:
There were so many memories stirred by different pieces of music – music I remember my grandmother playing, music I have played myself. My grandmother has been gone for some time, but with the pile of worn pages in front of me, pages that she held and treasured, I felt connected to her. Robin’s Return reminded me of her stubbornness and determination. She learned to play it despite being told that it was too hard for her. A Beautiful Lady in Blue reminded me of duets with my grandfather (playing violin) as my grandmother enjoyed a cup of tea, Dad’s Birthday Waltz was a family favourite and Fur Elise has always been a piece that I simply love to play, a piece that I often practised when I visited her.
I’m so grateful that a random tweet from the NLA sent me on my treasure hunt and I’m glad that I was able to share the wonderful memories the music stirred with my daughter, who is learning to play the piano on the same instrument that her grandmother learned on. More wonderful memories in the making.
I’ve spent two hours trying to write a Goals and Dreams for 2012 post. I thought it would help me to have some specific goals to aim for in the coming year. Instead, it has highlighted for me all the reasons that I have blogged so infrequently during 2011.
In the past 18 months, blogging has become less about writing and connecting with people and has instead become yet another task where I feel that I am coming up short of the mark. I don’t blog regularly enough. I don’t network enough. I don’t put enough effort into writing the types of posts that attract readers and build a following.
Starting this blog was part of a plan to create something that ticked all the ‘blog marked for super blogging success’ boxes. Brands would be chasing me. I’d be inundated with comments and emails. Instead I’ve blogged rarely, usually only when the words have built up to a point where they just have to come out. I have felt frustrated when I sit at my keyboard and the words in my head refuse to conform to the ‘proper’ format.
Instead of being a place where I could play with words and ideas freely and somewhere where I could encourage others to tackle the challenges in their lives, I have felt pressured to pay attention to all the blogging rules and guidelines and blogging has become yet another area of my life where I have failed to meet expectations. Blogging, and with it writing, became another burdensome task.
I want to write and I enjoy writing. I don’t have dreams of writing the next Great Australian Novel or even a Mediocre Australian Novel. I just don’t have that kind of creativity in me. I do love to write though. I love to twist words around each other like one of those balloon-artists, starting with something everyday and ending up with something delightful. I love the idea of having a blog where I can play with words, writing each day and indulging my love of language.
Time to press the reset button and work out what I’m really doing online. As I watch my über-blogger dreams drift slowly away, I feel a wonderful sense of relief. I want to blog, I enjoy blogging, but only because it gives me an outlet to write and an opportunity to start up conversations with people that I wouldn‘t otherwise meet. I would love to blog for a business, to write for them and help them to build up a community, but for myself, I just want to go back to playing with words.
This year, I will write. Reading Upside Down and Living Upside Down will allow me to play with words, to write each day without the limitations of deadlines, submission guidelines, words counts, style guides and expectations. I will continue to write articles for Suite101 as they rebrand themselves, I will write children’s book reviews for Kids Book Review, blogs and articles for Happy Child and occasional pieces for local parenting magazine Newcastle’s Child. I would love to find work blogging for a business online and/or other freelance work.
This year I will write. Now there’s a New Years’ resolution that I can live with.
No fancy New Years’ Eve resolutions today. I’m sure that I will be all introspective and enthusiastically hopefully at some point in the next few days, but today I’m sticking with the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
2011 was not a good year. There were many blessings and wonderful moments, but overall it was an emotionally and mentally challenging year in far too many ways.
In an attempt to get things back on track and find a better way of dealing with my circumstances, I have come up with one over-riding philosophy to help me focus in the coming year. Here it is (brace yourself):
This year, I will make the best of what I have.
Not particularly earth shattering, but I think that this is the key to moving forward this year. I’m going to try to make sure that my expectations of myself and others are much more realistic. I’m tired of feeling let down, frustrated and disappointed. Time to adjust my focus.
2011 was a difficult year and I expect that 2012 will be challenging too, but wishing that things were other than they are is getting me nowhere. Time to put on my big girl’s pants and get on with things. That doesn’t mean that I will be charging full steam ahead, because that way lies madness. Instead, I will simply deal with each day as it comes. I’ll be grateful for the blessings, deal with the challenges as best I can and, above all, I will be kind to myself.
I think we can all do with a little more kindness.
Happy New Year. I wish you and your family all that will brighten your world in 2012.