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Thursday, 21 November 2019

The Reverse Advent Calendar

Last week I read about the Reverse Advent Calendar over at Tired but Crafty Mummy. The short version is, for every day in December you get a non perishable grocery item and put it in a box, and then donate it before Christmas. I have decided to give to a food pantry, and have emailed the two near me to see if they will take them. You could also approach refuges (Women's, men's or refugee centres) or with the bush fires, possibly evacuated communities. Take your pick.

I'm using the Food Pantry's web page suggestions of what to collect.
"We welcome all non-perishable pantry items that are in-date and personal hygiene and household items. A few key items include;
  • Deodorant, soap and body wash
  • Shampoo, conditioner and sanitarian items
  • Baby wipes and nappies
  • Dish washing liquid and detergent
  • Canned fruit, vegetable, soup and fish
  • Noodles, pasta, and rice
  • Baked beans and spaghetti
  • Baby food and formula
Please don’t feel limited to our suggestions – we accept non-perishable food, alcohol-free and tobacco-free donations."
So for now, when at the shops, I'm checking the specials and chucking a few extra items in the trolley...
Today Bunnings starts the collection for Share the Dignity's It's in the Bag Christmas Campaign. You have until the 7th December to make your bag up and donate it.

Link your Christmas posts for this week's #XmasLinky.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Teacher Gifts

If you have a teacher who you think is doing a great job, it is lovely to thank them. If you want to be generous, email the class and try to organise a collection for a group gift. The upside is you then have a substantial amount of money to get them a voucher or something tangible with (though we tend to go with vouchers so they can choose the perfect thing).

The upside of the group gift is that they don't get 30 x boxes of chocolate/soap/wine (they may not drink). My SIL gives most of her teacher gifts to charity - an organisation that makes hampers for families in the country. While that is a lovely gesture, it means the parents that gave her the gift really gave her nothing.

Don't set an amount. Don't harass people. Just email the class with your bank details, or ask for cash in the playground. It  means those with little spare cash can contribute what they are comfortable with. Those that want to make a big donation also can. And those that want to give nothing can also do that.

To me, this is the perfect gift to the teacher. You then sign a group card or the kids draw a picture to be in the group card. If the teacher has been extra amazing for your child, write a detailed note separate from the gift and let them know.

Our high school organises a morning tea - you can donate food for the morning tea as a way of thank you. I think it's a lovely idea. It takes pressure off cash strapped parents to thank 8-10 teachers that may have helped their child throughout the year.

The ultimate gift, in my opinion however, is to protest against this government's attempt to shut down the unions. The teachers union is instrumental in pushing for their meagre pay rises. It protects their very few entitlements. It attempts to get better funding for our children. If you really want to give a gift to teachers, write to your MP about this disgraceful Integrity Bill. Please note work related asbestosis sufferers and cancers the firemen get as a result of their job will all risk being not covered by workers compensation if this bill passes. The Fire Union has a massive campaign about it last year, and only managed to get a few of the cancers covered. (Shame on us). It is the thin edge of the wedge to take work place entitlements off people in industries that all ready have few. (I am not in a union represented job. This personally will not impact me if it goes through. I just believe occasionally you have to stand up for other people and what is right). You can outline clearly the level of corruption the bill can target if you think you support de-unionising this country. State criminal activity under the crimes act only, or some such description.

Christmas is a time to say thank you, and help the less fortunate. Unfortunately, that latter group is growing at a rapid rate in this country over the last 12 months. We must do better.

Linking with #Lifethisweek #OpenSlather and #XmasLinky

Look Up

I was walking home and saw this. I love this photo.
It's a good reminder to keep your chin up.

Linking with #PictorialTuesday #MCoW #WWOAT #ThruMyLens #WordlessWednesday #SayCheese #WWOT #MySundayBest and #WanderingCamera

Saturday, 16 November 2019

You just don't know it yet

I have spent the week talking to a number of friends whose kids are having hard times finding themselves. Life is tough. Tough because they're gay and this country at the moment seems particularly unkind to those who are just trying to make their way in the world like everyone else. Tough because their high ATAR didn't seem to bring them what they thought it might. Tough because their parents seem to have expectations at odds with their happiness. Tough because they just don't know how to find their passion or place in the world.

I have also met a number of adults at parties that seem to be in the same boat. Age doesn't seem to have speed up their ability to find what makes them happy and flourish. Neither in work or interests. Unfortunately, the older you get, the more foreign the idea of change becomes.

I've just discovered MOTi and the very wonderful advice in his song, 'You just don't know it yet'. To all those kids and their parents, just remember, while struggling to find where to fit in "You will find that heaven's in you, you just don't know it yet".

There is a light buried inside us all. You just need to find out how to turn it on. It may not be the path you thought you would take, and there's a very good chance it won't be the path your parents or school told you to take. It probably won't be the 'should' that gets given to you by others. It may be a few steps down the wrong path and then a sharp left. Who knows? If you are doing something that makes you unhappy, there's a pretty good chance that whatever you are doing is not it. Try something else. Focus and work hard on whatever your current endeavour is, even if it isn't your passion, so you know for sure when it's time to move on that it is for the right reasons. But know when you do find it, and love it, you will be fabulous.

Everyone deserves to be fabulous*.

Linking with #Dreamteam and #StayClassyMama. Also linking with #MLSTL because it's never too old to find your passion (or a new one)

Also the #XmasLinky is live for this week if you want to swing by with your Christmas themed posts.

 *This line is from Kick Ass with Mel Robbins,

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Christmas, Who gives a crap? #XmasLinky

Long time readers will know I'm a fan of the Christmas edition of the environmentally friendly and charitable Who Gives a Crap?.  Their impact statement is here but in short, 50% of the profits goes to building toilets, to charities that help source water and hygiene and the production is treeless and low water and energy consumption. This year, I learnt the importance of toilets, or at least concrete floors and contamination avoidance in this really interesting podcast of Sydney University's Raising the Bar talk on The value of human waste by Jacqueline Thomas (I've linked the itunes version here but you can also listen on Soundcloud or Podbean or other platforms - free and fabulous).

You can even gift individually. Perfect for someone who has the sh*ts 
I ordered my annual Christmas supply - wrapped perfectly for joke gifts, or to display in the bathroom at parties (for handy use), or to save on gift wrap but wrapping all Xmas presents in the toilet paper wrap...(Note there are also gift cards if you want to give as a gift).

Note they also do paper towel and tissues. This is one of my favourite new (and kooky) Christmas traditions. I was genuinely excited when the festive box turned up....(file that away in the strange but true category). Orders can be placed here.

 What's your strangest Christmas tradition?

For the next 5 weeks, every Friday I will host a Christmas link up. Add your Xmas themed posts here for #XmasLinky   (old or new - but non xmas posts will be deleted).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Linking with #OpenSlather

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

That's a bingo!

Last Friday I went to Bongo's Bingo - one of my favourite nights out. There's a bit of singing, a lot of dancing and some bingo in between.

A friend who hadn't been before said midway through the night 'This is just what I needed! It's the best stress relief!'. I couldn't have put it better myself!

Our crew was spread out across the table and when we noticed a group of young 20-something men were standing, we offered to squash up so they had somewhere to sit. We moved to the end of the table so they could sit next to the group of young 20 something women because as my friend said "They'd rather sit with them than next to us" (Us being old married ladies...but old dancing-mad women intent on having fun).
As the night progressed, however, they joined our group, dancing with us and classily playing beer can jenga, even though we were literally old enough to be their mothers. I thought back to when I was their age, I would have made snide judgements about a 30 year old in a nightclub, let alone someone over 50.

Yet again, these Millennials seem so much better to me than our generation. They are judged so harshly in the media and yet I continually see them outshine us and our small minded attitudes time and again. They appear to be naturally inclusive of others, no matter what the difference.

Perhaps, as we live in a country that wants to legalise discrimination and exclusion, we need to listen more to the youth of this nation, before we completely destroy it for them.

 I am loving the high that I woke with the morning after the Bingo, that carried me through much of the week. I am loving the hope that the youth of this country gives me, that they will make it a much better place to live than we have, for everyone. Now we just have to wait for the next time the Bongo's Bingo hits Sydney....

What are you loving this week?
Linking with #WednesdayAroundtheWorld #TwinklyTuesday #OurWorldTuesday #GlobalBlogging  #KCACOLS #RubyTuesdayToo and #StayClassyMama
Note the #XmasLinky is live for this week over here! Come and link your Christmas themed posts.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

A week in China - Share my Snaps!

I was lucky enough to spend a week in China seeing some of the most amazing history in the world to celebrate my milestone birthday. We spent 2 days in Beijing (needed more), a day and a half down at the Wall in Jinshanling, a full day travelling including 4 hours on a Bullet train and a full day in Xi'an (also needed more).

We managed to cram so much in a day and then spent the nights roaming the city to see the modern side - the bars and art and shopping.

Getting around China takes a long time, so there was a fair bit of time in transit, which is a pity, but it was a great trip and we had so much fun. It blew away all our expectations.

There are three posts on it so far on my travel blog, for those interested, and more to come.

I really loved this trip and had a blast with my very easy going long time friend of 47 years, an excellent travel companion, who made the difficult things funny and relaxing....

Have you been to China? Did you love it?

Linking with #WednesdayAroundTheWorld #TravelTuesday  #MCoW #TwinklyTuesday #GlobalBlogging #OurWorldTuesday #ThruMyLens #Lifethisweek #WanderingCamera #WWOT #WWOAT #RubyTuesdayToo (for the lady in the red dress) #SayCheese and #MySundayBest

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Winter is coming.

No, wait, Christmas is coming. That's pretend snow....

Every year, I hold a link up every Friday for Xmas themed posts. This year, I plan to do the same. 

This Friday, and for the next 7 weeks, join in with me sharing (or trying to build) some Christmas Cheer.

No rules on what you link, as long as it's Christmas related. As for start time, you know me, I'm fairly flexible on times so first thing...

I leave you with this Christmas song, to get you in the spirit. If you haven't seen the fabulous Furnace and the Fundamentals, there are still tickets available to their Xmas party at the Oxford Arts Factory in Sydney on Wednesday the 18th (I'll be at the sold out 19th gig). You will never dance so much in your life! Tickets available here. As Molly would say 'Do yourself a favour!'

Remember Christmas posts only. I will delete non related posts. Gift suggestions, however, are welcome.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter
Also linking with #TheRandom #WordlessWednesday #PhotoTunes and #MondayMusicMovesMe

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Keep your magic close

This weekend saw me enter magical universes. First an underground speakeasy at Beyond Cinema's Blind Barber in the tunnels under the Coal Loader. Then in the Japanese inspired Strike Bowling and lastly in the world of Wizard school (not Harry Potter for copyright reasons...) at the Wizards Cauldron. 

There is something so fun about dressing up and taking on a different persona. It's all the fun of play that you lose as you get older. You escape yourself, and more importantly, all the troubles of the world, and for an hour or so, enter a world of delights in another dimension.

Don't worry about looking silly. If you dress up, commit. Don't worry if you're too old, once your in character, you can be whoever you want to be. As I said to my youngest when she was upset about the tooth fairy, after a friend had told her: 'Keep your magic close. Sometimes you have keep it just for youself to keep it alive. With magic, you can choose to believe just for a little bit, just for the experience, like when you see a magician.'

The same goes for self conscious adults, sometimes you just have to throw yourself into it, just to keep the magic alive. It is surprising how revitalised it can make you feel. I found this quote below, and I think it's spot on. If you throw yourself into the fun, or life, you are caught up in the joy of it, and less likely to hear that critical inner voice that likes to steal your delight.

 “Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.”
― Kevyn Aucoin

Do you like to dress up or play make believe?

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Share the Dignity - #Itsinthebag #iitb

Long time readers will know Christmas is coming when I start thinking about Share the Dignity's #Itsinthebag campaign. It's one of my Christmas traditions that cheers me up. I love finding the bags and stocking them with toiletries and little gifts.

Bunnings is again kindly taking donations from the 22nd November until the 7th of December.

This year, as well as the women's bag and teen bag, there is also a Nappy Bag.

If you're too busy to organise a bag, but want to support a great cause, you can donate money here.

Full details can be found on the Share the Dignity Website.

I'll also take this moment to point out the website also has a Seek Emergency Help tab covering shelter, food, counselling, and other every day things. If you know someone in need, you might be able to direct them. No one should have to go through this stuff alone.

My annual #Itsinthebag post also heralds the start of my Friday Xmas Link Up. Swing by on Friday, starting on the 8th November to link up any Christmas themed posts. Hope to see you Friday with your Christmas cheer, as we count down to the end of the year.

Small dignities make a big difference.

Linking with #MLSTL as single women over 55 is the fastest growing demographic of people experiencing homelessness and we really need to do something to help (or better, change that). and with #OpenSlather

And please note the Xmas link up is live for all your Christmas related posts #XmasLinky

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

An invitation from the Prime Minister

Yesterday I received an invitation from the Prime Minister. Well, from the Prime Minister's Office. The Prime Minister of Finland. It was an invitation to attend the International Gender Equality Prize Ceremony and Reception. In attendance would be the Prime Minister, the Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Ombudsman for Equality (Helsinki), the Minister for Nordic Cooperation and Equality and the MP and Chair of the National Council of Women of Finland (Helsinki) - who I might add, is a woman logically, unlike ours was a few years back. I think these are people our country could learn a lot from. Note the Finnish government has almost parity of gender - not from quotas, merely by chance because women are valued as people.

I am very excited, as I nominated the Daughters (and Sons) of Cambodia for their work to improve gender equality, getting women and trans men out for prostitution and violent situations by educating them with skills to work in other fields. For those that continue to work in the sex industry, they support with health testing. It is a religious organisation, but you don't need to convert to receive help (as true Christians know. Shame on those applying charity with 'strings').

I have my fingers crossed that they win, as they would make good use of the cash injection. If you are looking for Christmas gifts, maybe check out their site and see what the shop has in store.

I toyed with the idea of going, as the city of Tampere has a Moomin Museum, a Spy museum and their Vivid on (The Festival of Lights). And I would get to hear these wonderful forward thinking people speak on a panel, discussing ways forward for equality.

However, I've decided not to make the journey, as exciting as it would be. The money, the emissions (and the 27 and 29 hours flying time) for only 2 days in Finland, seemed too extravagant, especially when I will be there in January.

So I will just have to get myself invited again. Next year.

Thus this week, I am loving the feeling that there is a better way to do things, and that I'm vaguely somehow part of it. I'm loving the hint of hopefulness that I may have enabled something to help  people doing good for a lot of people living a devastatingly hard life. I want to thank the Finnish Government for their generous $300k prize that goes out globally, and for realising their role is bigger than their own borders.

We can do better, we must do better.

What are you loving this week?

Linking with #DreamTeam

PS Happy Halloween everyone. I fell in love with this display and am declaring them the winner of our neighbourhood. I am currently trying to work out how to take my youngest and her friend out trick or treating and be home to answer the door so the middle one can study for his exams tomorrow without being disturbed. Any suggestions are welcome!

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Throw the shade away

I am not a fan of reunions. I don't really see the point. I'm friends with my friends and just because we spent a few years together back in the day, I don't feel the need to meet for one night and return to our very separate lives.  It's like speed dating with people you don't want to sleep with, so why bother? Who wants to have the same boring conversation 30 times in a row?

So you can imagine I was not thrilled at the prospect of a 50th with a lot of people from my past. They were the popular kids and while I mixed with them, I was more the outsider, often present but not really connected. However, there would be enough people from my present, and enough strangers to busy myself with, I figured, so it would be alright.

The first person I bumped into was from my past and we stumbled around awkwardly conversationwise for a bit, summing up our lives, and then her husband joined us so we talked normally to include him, and we all relaxed. 

Later in the evening, a person from long ago came up to me and said "So how have the last 30 years treated you? Have they been good?". I considered the question for a millisecond and replied "Good. Really Good. That's the best way to cover all that. Now we can just be normal" and so we then moved on to all manner of things, including how whales slept and the moons of Jupiter, and things that actually interested us. Of course, the longer we spoke, personal details of our lives were revealed, but in a natural fashion. Not this listing of what you've done and how many kids you have and so on. Not a pointless comparison of experience.

Over the course of the night I spoke to a few more from the past, and many more I'd never met. I had a lot of fun with a couple of people in particular. We seemed to click quickly outside the 'social norms' of conversation. Shared history wasn't necessary, and neither was knowing it. It was all very here and now. Other than the 'how do you know the host?' as a starter, we didn't even really cover traditional 'ice breakers'.

The interesting thing, I pointed out to my husband later, was that people kept offering up why they weren't living in their dream house, or why they didn't really use their University degree. Even though I hadn't asked, they'd just launch into it. I kept wondering why they even cared what I thought of them, as to bother giving me an explanation. It was perplexing for me that the self conscious introvert had somehow become the most self assured person there. Purely because I literally didn't care what they thought of me. There are a million and one things I hate about ageing (and the toll it's taking on my body) but if this is part of the bargain, it's definitely worth the price. 

I am not good at parties, even if I know everyone I find the big group thing quite difficult (I've decided my brain is Finnish and I can't deal with small talk. Like the Finns, I just don't see the point. Which is not to say I'm not interested in what you've been up to if we are friends, obviously). With the rash of 50th parties, I've had to push myself to make conversation with strangers. If I see someone or a couple standing by themselves, I just go over to them. I figure we're all friends of the host, so we should make it a successful night for all, out of respect for our mutual friend. Sometimes they're quite grateful, often they're very interesting but sometimes they're quite rude. However that's on them, and I don't need to take any of their attitude on board. 

While googling a title for another post, I came across this article with the best advice "Act as if you’re a host, not a guest. Reach out to people standing by themselves...those that look obviously uncomfortable...Don’t be afraid to approach people...If you focus on the other person’s comfort, you can lose your own self-consciousness." I was relaxed and confident  at that party because I was focused on them. As I learnt from Augusten Burroughs, the secret to confidence is to focus on the person (or thing) in front of you, and all self judgement disappears.

As I said to someone on the night, 'The thing is, everyone at our age has baggage. You don't get to live this long without going through the wringer a few times. Anyone who pretends everything is perfect is lying and not worth talking to'. You don't need to take on the opinion of others at a party, just throw their shade away. As for me, I've got plenty of emotional baggage but I'm working on carrying it well.

Linking with #StayClassyMama  #DreamTeam and #KCACOLS
PS I don't know what this song is actually about, but I'm co-opting it for my purpose. Whenever you are feeling a little 'less than', blare it out. You just throw the shade away....

PPS Please note the Xmas Link up is live for all your Christmas related posts. #XmasLinky

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Sydney by land and sea

 With fortuitous indulgence, I spent Thursday night at the Opera House for a show...

 ...and Saturday on a boat on the harbour. I say it many times but I love this city and I never get tired of it's beauty.
We also delighted in the Steampunk extravaganza of Cirque Du Soleil. It's one of the better shows we've seen from them visually, so if you haven't got tickets for Kurios, definitely check it out. You won't be disappointed. My daughter and I got to go backstage to walk across the bridge before the show started, and I'll admit I got that giggly wave of excitement seeing all the props in waiting...

Lastly a lost little Harry Potter was put on display in the local car park. It brought a smile to my face. Sometimes it's the smallest thing that makes your day.

Linking with  #TravelTuesday #PictorialTuesday #WednesdayAroundtheWorld #AnApelADay #MCoW #WordlessWednesday #SayCheese #MySundayBest#OurWorldTuesday  #ThruMyLens and #WanderingCamera