Deliberate Acts of Kindness

Meet Chris, Ian and Victoria (the sheep) of Purple Dove Awareness Group and Food is Free.

They welcomed Theo and I to their home with (literally) open arms. We had never met before, but that made no difference. A few text messages and we are friends.

This would be the case with anyone they meet, I’m sure. In fact, complete strangers have benefited from their generosity for many years already. Things don’t always turn out the way you might predict.

We’ve come to The Summit, outside Stanthorpe, today to learn how to weave ghastly grey grocery bags into waterproof sleeping mats for those who are sleeping rough. Along with that skill, we’ve learned of the quite phenomenal work of Chris and Ian. If there is an hour in which they can help someone else, they’re probably already doing that.

Within a year of Chris and Ian’s marriage, Ian was diagnosed with prostate cancer and given 10 months to live. That was 10 years ago. Now, between treatments and surgeries, Ian and Chris run garage sales and market stalls and organise the markets at the Stanthorpe Showgrounds on the fourth Saturday of each month. The funds they raise are all sent to support both prostate cancer and breast cancer.

Not long ago, they set up raised garden beds, a lot of them, on their own property in which they grow a variety of vegetables. These are cared for by them and placed in a stand by the road at the end of their long driveway, not to sell, but as part of “Food is Free”.

“We don’t want people to feel bad if they need help,” said Chris. “When it’s like this, they can come past and take what they need without having to ask for it and perhaps feel like they’re being judged.”

And it’s becoming a cooperative part of the community. Someone left a note and a bag of miniature shampoos and conditioners near the veges the other week. They had a surplus and knew someone else might benefit from it.

There are helpers, too. Sometimes there are 10 or more people weaving bags into mats under the watchful eyes of Victoria, the mower sheep.

“Victoria was Victa,” explained Ian, “Then we turned her over and she’s Victoria. We bought her to be friends with out other sheep, but they don’t like each other, so she’s up here with us.”

Victoria spends her days being loved and fed by visitors – including Theo, mowing – obviously, and being followed by the cat. Wherever you find Victoria, the cat will be there, curled up comfortably on Victoria’s body, enjoying the pre-production, nature’s own, walking blanket!

Like me, you probably think that this is a pretty big undertaking for a couple who are, ostensibly, retired. It didn’t start with these activities and it hasn’t stopped with JUST these, either. Not at all.

In 2015/2016, Chris was part of Walk for Life. With Ian trailing her with their caravan and car, Chris walked around Australia for 12 months! Raising money for both prostate and breast cancer, Chris walked each day. They raised about $40,000! And that seems like it was just the beginning of the philanthropic story. As they travelled and stopped to sleep each night, Chris and Ian met many homeless people and those who were living in their cars; it’s more common than I realised. When they returned home, they decided to do something to help and it grew from there.

During the hour and a half I visited, Ian took two phone calls and this meant they were heading out to pick up a large donation of furniture as soon as we left, before a doctor’s appointment later in the day.

“That happens all the time,” Chris told me, “People know we help so they often ring us to pick up things like that. They also know to call us of they’ve got people who need something. We can usually put something together. Do you want to see the container?”

We walked past more garden beds, and Victoria and the cat in the shade, to unlock a newly purchased, roofed by Ian, container. This now holds all the goods that Chris and Ian can’t house elsewhere until it finds its home with someone in need. Shelves of blankets, toiletries, clothes, towels, appliances, furniture, knitted beanies, items for markets and garage sales and….loads of things, line the walls. All are totally organised so Chris knows she can put together a package with ease, depending on the specific need.

I’m sure there is more that I didn’t ask about or find out about, after all we were only there a short time, but I do know that these ventures need time and support. From what I know, Chris and Ian are unlikely to ask for any assistance, but if you’d like to see a little more of what they’re doing, encourage them, and possibly support their efforts to support others, I expect they’d find a need to fill. You can visit their Facebook pages below.

Thanks again, Chris and Ian, for your welcome, your hospitality and the great work that you are doing every day (and the zucchinis!).

Open Invitation – Part 2

This is a continuation of a previous post, now that I’ve had a little more time to think about it.

See the original post HERE.


With the ease of Facebook and other technologies to share information to a mass audience, some people consider the mass invitation a form of spam. I don’t do it in that way. Each time I create an event on Facebook, I go through my friend list and the people I invite fall into one of a few catgories:

1) We’ve spoken about this and I know you want to come.
2) I want you to come and think you’ll be able to.
3) I want you to come (and want you to know that) even though I don’t think you’ll be able to.
4) We haven’t seen each other in ages, possibly years, and this is one way to let you know I still think of us as friends and would like to spend time in your company.
5) You, like me, might be a company hungry extrovert and therefore appreciate an invitation to an event that you didn’t have to organise.

So, if you are invited to things by me and you didn’t understand, I hope you have a better idea now.

And in a few minutes, I’m off to buy lunch……

Want to come?

Veritas, Eski

Permanent Ink?

I have never considered getting a tattoo before. This has been for two main reasons:
1) Apart from God and my family, I’ve never stuck to one thing long enough to warrant contemplating having it inked permanently onto my person.

2) I have a relatively severe needle phobia. This is self-explanatory.

This afternoon, I came upon this blog post:

The Semicolon Project


And I felt a blast of decision. I will do this. I will tattoo a semicolon on my inner wrist to:

1) Remind me to take a pause and keep going. When I struggle with my depression, I need this. Life throws all manner of things at us and we all need to pause and keep going.

2) Start conversations. When I’ve shared my experiences of depression on Facebook, I’ve been whelmed by the conversations that are ignited. People vent and share and feel they’re not alone. I’ve had some people say that they’ve been on the verge of taking their own lives and, having seen my posts, have felt less alone and kept going.

One woman, hearing me describe my decade at a ladies’ conference, came up to me afterwards and said that her grown up daughter felt the same way as me and they’d never understood each other.  She was going home that day to apologise and help her seek help. I’ve seen her since and apparently all is going much better.

During times like this, when I feel like my depression is somewhat sorted and under my control, I often forget to share and the world sees me as ‘normal’ me. I’d like to remind others and myself that depression is often ongoing and the need to support each other is also ongoing.

If experiencing some little pain will help even one person, it’s enough. I’ve been through much better and much worse than an hour or so of needle pricks; I can do this.

I will do this. Who would like to join me?

Honesty – again!

Billy Joel says it best. “Honesty is such a lonely word, everyone is so untrue. Honesty is hardly ever heard and mostly what I need from you.”

So often we present a Facebook status view of ourselves to the world; even those closest to us. That’s one of the reasons I believe Facebook is so popular. It allows us to hide or display ourselves as much or as little as we want to. Now, of course, there are extremes of each.

We’ve all seen, and desperately tried to forget, updates on a person’s bowel movements – with or without accompanying graphic; the selfie in the toilet; the badly framed view which didn’t take the mirror behind them into account; the 2am night out shot – etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum.

And the moment by moment, blow by blow account.

Mostly though, I think we as a society are guilty of the director’s cut life. You know what I mean. Those Facebook updates that make you feel like your life is never going to measure up. By comparison, you – or your significant other – don’t make the grade. Photos of huge flower bouquets from darling husbands for no reason. Happy, smiling families with not a hair out of place. Cute videos of children who walked sooner, further and on a cleaner floor no less, than yours. New jobs, new friends, new hair, whatever it is, it’s always good and it’s always better than yours.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I’ve probably posted about every single one of the things listed above, with the glaring exception of the cleaner floor. It’s what Facebook is for, no doubt, but is it honest? And if we live that way in the virtual world, how much creeps in to our real, face to face, everyday interactions?

Virtual world or not, it’s ridiculously easy to pop on our ‘game face’ and answer, “Fine,” at appropriate moments, but if we do it too often, I believe we actively block real connection with those to whom we could be close.

For real connection, be honest. Be real. Don’t be, “Fine.” Be, “Just awful, but thanks for asking.” Be, “I’ve had better mornings, thanks.” Cry if necessary.

Be you, in all your glorious splendour.
Be you, good, bad or ugly.
Be you. Truthful. Honest
Be you.