Monday 28 April 2014

What difference can one person make?

A few weeks ago, I was overwhelmed with the urge that I needed to start changing things, but I didn't know where to begin and I had that futile feeling I was one person in a sea of many, trying to swim upstream. (Here if interested, but not necessary to read for this post).

While I was away, I learnt the lesson of what a difference one person can make. I will be covering the huge broader issues of this topic later but for now, I am just looking this story for the point of one person can make a difference, and I apologise if the cursory storytelling seems insensitive.

Aki Ra was a child soldier for the Khmer Rouge, as a teen he changed sides and fought with the Vietnamese troops against them. In those years he learnt a lot about landmines.

Cambodia today, is covered in over 5,000,000 landmines, and the same again in UXO (unexploded ordinance). After years of fighting, Aki Ra started returning to the villages where he'd laid mines, and began ridding the land of them. Initially on his own, with his wife and uncle, and with his home made tools.

One person out of every 290 in Cambodia will be a victim to landmines or UXO. In the villages, there were many child victims of the mines, who were living a poor and desperate existence. So Aki Ra and his wife started to take them home to care for them too.

They opened a little museum in their home to raise money for the work and care they were doing. This has grown, evolving into the current facility, The Cambodian Landmine Museum and School. The school now houses over 3 dozen children, not just landmine victims but those with physical, emotional and family difficulties.

Aki Ra started an NGO (non government organisation), Cambodian Self Help Demining and his team grew. Aki Ra has personally removed 50, 000 land mines. In 2006 he was told his way was too dangerous by the UN, so he stopped. However, a year later he was retraining in the UN safety approved methods and continues his work today.

The CSHD removes land mines from 'low priority' villages, making it safe for those not represented by the big organisations.

I tell this story because one person can make a difference. He just started doing it. Over time, it grew into not one but two organisations that help many, many people. Both the orphanage and the work clearing the landmines has changed thousands of lives for the better.

So if you are unhappy with choices our government is making, do something about it.
If you are unhappy with the issues of climate change, do something about it.
If you are unhappy with inequality anywhere in the world, do something about it.

We can make a difference, we don't need a grand plan, we just need to start doing it.
Even a small axe can fell a big tree if it is sharp enough.

If you are interested on reading more or donating, these are useful links.
Cambodian Self Help Demining
Cambodian Land Mine Museum and School
The Australian Project
Vietnam Veterans Mine Clearing Team

Linking up with #Blogtober I am grateful there are people out there making a difference. I am picking up a donation today from a stranger off FB to give to the Women's Refuge. She asked me what my connection was with them and I had to say nothing - I just wanted to start making a difference somehow. It's small, but it hopefully helps someone. 

Sunday 27 April 2014

Conversations with a Superpower (The Power of NO)

Occasionally we see the word NO as a Superpower - we tell our daughters to say 'No' to pressure from boys to go to bed with them too soon, back in the day Nancy Reagan told us to 'Say NO to drugs' and we warn our kids to say 'No' to strangers. In those cases it's a superpower that keeps our kids safe and happy.

Usually we see it as a mean word, a villainous word that we don't like to say to our kids. In fact we'd rather get chips banned from the swimming pool shop for everybody than have to say this terrible word to our children each week. Parents these days seem to go to ridiculous lengths to avoid saying the word, to avoid being the 'horrible' parent.

Somewhere along the line, we've lost our confidence in the word NO. We've become scared of it.

I want you to see the word 'No' a little differently. It's not evil. It's like Captain America's shield. We can stand behind it with confidence and we can us it to protect ourselves and those we love. We can use it to maintain justice and social order.

I grew up in the '70's, and back then, parents said NO all the time. We got used to hearing it, and it made no difference to how we loved our parents, it was just part of life. We'd ask for chips and they'd say 'No'. End of story. The difference, is in the '70's, our parents didn't feel bad about saying no. There was no guilt attached, they weren't obliged to indulge our wishes. There was a pecking order and rules (and usually a lack of disposable income) so the adult could say no to a child and not give it a second thought.

This guilt we have about not indulging our children is a disservice to them. They need to hear the word 'no' without it being something we are uncomfortable with.

So to the parents that want junk food banned from the weekend sports grounds, I say, just don't buy it. The rest of the world doesn't need to be rearranged around your fear of the word 'no'. You need to become more comfortable saying no. If you say it enough with ease, you'll find it a very useful parenting tool.

As children become teens, you will find you will need to say it a lot. You will also find that some children are given freedoms that you don't consider are safe, and you won't be able to ban those activities from the world. You will be the one who needs to make sure your child wears a helmet on his skateboard, when no one else does. You will need to be the one who doesn't let their kid go to the park at 8pm at night with his friends. You will be the one who refuses to buy alcohol for your 16 year old. If you have been comfortable saying no with confidence when they are little, it will help you be able to say no on these other issues, when you feel you are swimming against the flow in this era of laidback parenting.

In his book "Why We Suck" Dennis Leary says "Will your kid hate you? Yup. And here's a little headline for you: your kids are SUPPOSED to hate you. Your kid is your kid - not your goddam best friend. Believe me - they may hate your fat ass now but they will thank you immensely later on....My mom always kept our feet nailed hard and fast to the ground. She told us no when we wanted to hear yes and my dad was right there to back her up." For the record, from his book he seems to be very fond of his own parents, and seems to have a close relationship with his now adult kids.

Kids want to hear yes, but that's not implying it's mean to say no. Saying no means you care. It means you are looking out for their best interests. It means you are parenting. And sometimes that's not fun, but that's the gig you signed up for.

So I say embrace the word NO with both hands. Use it with confidence. You are using it to fight the good fight. It is your gift to your children, that they grow to be well adjusted adults.

Linking with #ParentPower


Friday 25 April 2014

Second star to the right, then straight on till morning.

I woke from my uncomfortable slumber to see this:

The photo does no justice but it was truly awe inspiring to watch the sun come up at 39,000 ft. I watched the great ball rise up then promptly shut the blind and went back to sleep.

The world is an amazing place.

Some times the simplest things have the greatest impact and sometimes it's the incidental moments that make you realise how lucky you are.

Wishing magical moments, large and small, to you all.

Linking up  with #FavouriteFotos. I just really like this pic, even tho 'technically' it isn't the best.

Monday 7 April 2014

Letting Loose Around the World

You can press play for background music while reading this announcement (it's an atmospheric blog today) - There's nothing to watch on the clip.

I'm off on a jaunt, to follow in the footsteps of Christopher Lee in his Bond days and Lara Croft (That's two locations, in case I'm being too obtuse).

I will be MIA until the 26th. So enjoy the peace, and I will hopefully have some wonderful tales to tell on my return. Blogger bowling will be organised shortly after that on (3rd May), for those that want to come and wear sexy shoes (and watch me dance).

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Vote here:

Sunday 6 April 2014

I must confess I've never seen...

I've never seen Platoon, but I've watched Tropic Thunder a lot.
I've never seen the last 4 Harry Potter movies because the last one I watched was so boring I thought I might die. And I've never read the books.
I've never read 50 Shades of Grey and never intend to.
I've never watched or read Twilight. Vegetarian vampires? Plu-eaze!
I've never watched Madmen. But I might.
I am thankful I've never had to watch Glee or High School Musical, though I do love musicals.
I've never read Catch 22. I intend to.

So many popular culture books and movies that people constantly talk about, how is it possible to cover them all. Or even be interested in them all?

I've never seen lava fall into the ocean on Big island, or the heads on Easter Island. I've never seen the Great Wall of China or the mind boggling dunes of a true desert (Sahara or Atacama). Or the great vast expanse of ice at the poles, or the Northern Lights.

So many places in the world to visit, so many amazing things to see and do. Alas, so little time in a lifetime.

 "Regret, it piles up around us like books we haven't read" (Jack Ryan, Shadow Recruit I have seen.)

What is missing from your popular culture knowledge?

Linking up with I must confess.

Vote here: (not that I'm sad or desperate or anything - much.)

Saturday 5 April 2014

What I learnt from Captain America

No spoilers, as I'm only discussing two points that came up in the film. And don't bring your hate on Cap. I love Captain America, something to do with his earnestness. So shhh, keep it the criticism to yourself....(Though I will say Black Widow could have been more of a tough nut).

The film has a scene in a self help group, like AA but for returned Veterans. The counsellor is saying 'You some of the stuff you leave over there, a lot of it you bring home with you. You need to decide whether you want to carry it around in a big suitcase or a tiny purse'. Now, I know that's easier said than done, but I think it's a great analogy of how much work we put into maintaining our baggage (and we all have it). Do we want it to tire us out, carting it into every relationship and interaction we have? Or can we make it small and manageable? Our fears, our neuroses, our habits and behaviours, can we work on those that aren't working for us, and make our baggage more manageable and less exhausting?

Secondly, and I am well aware of the irony of what I'm about to say, is that the 21st century is a digital book, where all our details are wide open for all to read. Our bank details & medical records, our shopping habits, all the information we voluntarily offer up to twitter, facebook and instagram, and of course, all the personal information we offer up on our blogs. It's all there, telling the world all about us. This lack of privacy makes it very easy for Big Brother, or any nefarious pirate, to access and file us as they see fit. Like the kid arrested at the Pink concert for the tweet about a bomb (that was actually a lyric), the innocent aspect of this information may be eventually used against us. I'm quite careful with what I offer on FB or usually with what I tweet, but I have noticed a carelessness when I comment on other peoples blogs. I tell stories and make statements that down the line may come back to bite me. We need to think about what we share and what images we choose to offer the internet (as we know somewhere, all that data is being used for something). Every time you see those ads pop up for something you just looked up on the internet, remember that someone, somewhere is watching your habits and pause a moment to consider what extra information you just offered them. Maybe it will all come to nothing, but maybe it won't. Yesterday I received two emails from different companies alerting me to the fact they have changed their privacy policy, meaning they are now selling my details, when they initially weren't. In this case, it just means I'll get more spam, but that may not always be the case. The state of play can change instantly. Just something to think about.

   Image from Wikipedia Commons (Attribution: Frederik Hermann)

No points for guessing the man I like best in this photo...the one and only, Stan Lee! Ninety two years old and still going strong!

"Everybody wants to feel that you're writing to a certain demographic because that's good business, but I've never done that ... I tried to write stories that would interest me. I'd say, what would I like to read?... I don't think you can do your best work if you're writing for somebody else, because you never know what that somebody else really thinks or wants."

STAN LEE, Brandweek, May 2000


Thursday 3 April 2014

Be the change you want to see in the world

You know it will be an indulgent post when it opens with a Ghandi quote, but blame Zanni with her prompt of Earth for Sunshine Sundays. I racked my brain* and nothing came. Then came an email I receive weekly from someone who signs off  with the Marshall McLuhen quote "There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew."

Fuelled with the wisdom of the Lego Movie (which I can't quote because it will give things away), I decided I need to make some changes. I am currently looking at a planet, that is quickly destroying itself, and at a globe of people that don't seem to care about each other.

I have children, and I love them enough not to want them to be parents that have to watch their children suffer, and that is the time frame we are now talking about for climate change.

A few years ago I started looking at the packaging of what I purchased, and the overall level of consumerism. I cut back, but I'm no saint, and the over abundance of wrapping is in the bin each week again.

I drink tea and coffee, I fly, I drive (and watch motorsport). I'm not going to get all preachy to you. I am talking about me. I need to make some changes. I need to make a difference.

I would like to do something to stop some of the insane governing decisions that are announced daily. I don't want to just sit complaining about the current government to whoever will listen. I want to start something that makes a difference. That stops the downtrodden being even worse off.

The problem is, I don't know what to do, or how. I just get overwhelmed with all the terrible things we do on this planet, all the needless suffering and all the hate & violence that seems to lurk in every nationality.

So, I will think a little on this, and start with easy small changes. Then hopefully grow it.

Feel free to throw me ideas.

Linking up with Sunshine Sundays.

Pssst: Vote for me if you aren't in it yourselves!

*On a side note, I thought you wracked your brain, but apparently, you do not.