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!).

https://www.facebook.com/purpledoveAG/

https://www.facebook.com/FoodIsFreeTheSummit/

Mind Your Language!

It may not come as any surprise to you that I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for words, meaning, phraseology, etymology and all things language. Due to Mummy interference, I expect, my kids learned to read very early on, the latest taught himself. I can validate just about anything; waffle and buzz words are a specialty and my poetic license renews quarterly, but I think this shortest kid, currently 5, is going to outstrip me. The imagination is amazing! I’m actually thrilled! 😚

Tonight’s moment:

VERY SMALL CAT (VSC):

Hiss! Scratch!😼

MASTER 5 (M5):

Ow! Aargh! (Genuine fright and real tears follow) 😢

VSC: exits quickly stage right 💨

M5: is gathered up by next youngest brother and mummy for cuddles

Sniffle. Sniffle. (2 minutes maximum)

M5: I want VSC to apologise! 😡

MUMMY: How would you like her to do that, sign language or meowing? Has an ‘I am hilarious’ look on face.

M5: 😠 I just want her to say sorry for hurting my foot and my feelings.

MUMMY: I know, but how can she do that? ‘Meow-ry, M5’?

M5: I have to tell her she’s not being pleasant and when she does that, I feel like she wants all the love and doesn’t want me to have any love.

MUMMY: 🤤😲😨 Pardon? (Apologies, but WTF would seem appropriate here.)

M5: repeats previous statement, with feeling and lip quiver. 😭😢

Where does he get these things?!

Last week we caught up with friends at an indoor play centre. M5 appeared to be immobilised in a very small ball pit by an unknown Miss 3 waving/hitting with a small kids’ book. From 3 metres away, I could see the look of surprise, shock and indignation on M5’s face, “Why would she do that?!

I called to him to move away, a few times actually, before he shook off the apparent petrification and took two steps backwards. Miss 3 followed, book raised. By this time, all five of the mums with me were watching, interested in the stand off. Miss 3’s mum realised what was happening and stepped in to move her daughter.

Noticing all of us watching, M5, totally serious, raised his still tiny forefinger stiffly and intoned with purpose,

“If she does that one more time…

REVENGE!

I am thankful that I was sitting on the floor. We all fell about laughing, much to M5’s disgust. He walked away to more mature interactions in the cubby house.

I did feel the need to tell my friends, still laughing, that we don’t teach revenge as a matter of course in our home.

Love the odd little being so much!

🤣 Eski

Here’s Your Next Song, 5 Seconds of Summer!

My daughter has been playing me some of her favourite bands’ music recently and I’ve had “Don’t Stop” by 5 Seconds of Summer stuck in my head for a few weeks – just ask some of my classes! I’m not the only one! My 3 year old loves choosing the music that we play in the car and the other day had me confused when he asked,

“Can you play Dawn Star, please?”

“Dawn Star? Can you tell me what else it says, so I know which one?”

“Yes. Dawn Star doin’ whatcha doin! Cause I like it!”

Then I figured it out…”Every time you walk in the room, you’ve got all eyes on you…”

***********************************************************************************

So, on a YouTube wander, I found myself watching  Belgian interviewer, Jolien Roets, interviewing the band. Some of it’s funny, if a bit risqué; some entertaining. Towards the end, the interviewer tells the guys about the Belgian Red Nose Day, part of which is raising money and awareness for mental illness in young people. Jolien then asks if 5SOS have ever experienced that sort of thing.  A couple of the guys answer quickly enough that they have, but no details are given as to what. Ashton Irwin follows up with more, saying that he doesn’t think that they (5SOS) ought to talk about their own experiences, but that they do know that it’s (depression etc) a prevalent thing and that as public figures,  it is their role to talk about and sing about it. AGREED, thanks guys!

Throughout this year, there have been articles on band member Michael Clifford’s mental health; his visit to a therapist and the fans support of him during this time, proving that the group’s followers agree that sharing is caring. I want to add my support to that already given, Michael. I know first hand what it’s like to ride the ups and downs of the rollercoaster (Read about my personal experience here) and of supporting someone who is living it (My son’s story from my perspective and in his own words). I can only imagine what living it out in the public eye must be like. Good for you for sharing about it and for all who support you. Keep it up!

Anyway, back to the title of this blog. With all of the above in mind, and ESPECIALLY since hearing the new album, “Sounds Good, Feels Good,” I’ve been inspired to write you lyrics for a new song that you might like to include in an upcoming album?? That bit is up to you, but here we go. 

I love the sound of the new album and I know that you’ll do an amazing job of transforming these lyrics into a song with energy, anger, sadness and love – all the things I’ve felt over the past 25 years and tried to put into these words. I’ve written two versions of the song; one from the perspective of the person suffering (hate that word) the mental illness and one from their perspective of someone who loves them and is trying to help. I couldn’t decide which one I most wanted to share. Which, and if, you decide to do anything with is up to you. If you do, credit me?

Maybe people will stumble across my blog and these will be a comfort to them, and I’ll be ok with that, that’s what they’re for. 

***********************************************************************************

Private War #1

I’m living in a world that you’d find hard to enter

Blocked by a door that’s locked, I don’t want you here

I need you more than I can say

I don’t understand when I push you away


I tell you it’s going to be ok even when I don’t think it is

Say you love me when I don’t believe it

It’s not even as easy as crying all the time; wish that’s all it was

How can I explain there’s nothing wrong – there’s no reason and no cause


It’s like fighting a private war

Against a very public enemy

It’s like fighting a private war

With the one who means the most to me


I want you to stay with me

Understand I need to be alone.

I reach out to the reaching hand, but find I can’t grab hold

I can’t be left alone.


On days where my blanket is all I can hold

Where I want to snuggle, but my energy’s low

Just laying here staring at the ceiling

Wishing these feelings would fade away


It’s like fighting a private war

Against a very public enemy

It’s like fighting a private war

With the one who means the most to me


Invite me even though I’ll say no. 

Take me places even though I’ll want to run straight home

Wanting to step out and take it; open up and welcome the world

While you’re lifting me out of the bed; I’m pushing you out the door


Try to understand when I don’t answer your calls;

When the best conversations we have are by text.

Sleepless and restless; tired but wired.

Allowing me to cuddle without wanting sex


God knows if you’re ready, to take the vast extremes

The public face, the hyper, the dreamer, even the screams


It’s like fighting a private war

Against a very public enemy

It’s like fighting a private war

With the one who means the most to me


I don’t want to get out of bed today – maybe I can’t.


It’s like fighting a private war

Against a very public enemy

It’s like fighting a private war

With the one who means the most to me


Private War #2

You’re living in a world that I find hard to enter

Blocked by a door that’s locked, no one knows who by

I want to tell you it’s going to be ok even when I don’t think it is.

I want to hold you close and say I love you through both of our tears.


I want to tell you I love you even though you won’t believe me.

I want to help, and try to understand when you need to be alone (can’t be left alone)

I reach out to the reaching hand, but find I can’t grab hold


It’s like fighting a private war

Against a very public enemy

It’s like fighting a private war

With the one who means the most to me


I’ll invite you even though I know you’ll say no. 

I’ll take you to places though we’ll have to go home.

Wanting you to step out and take it; open up and welcome the world

Lifting you out of the bed; pushing you out the door


On days where your blanket is closer than me. 

Where you just want to snuggle, but with your pillow, not me.

I’ll try to understand when you don’t answer my calls; when the best conversations we have are by text.

Allowing me to cuddle you without thinking I want sex


It’s like fighting a private war

Against a very public enemy

It’s like fighting a private war

With the one who means the most to me


God knows if I’m ready, but I’ll take the vast extremes

The public face, the dreamer, the loner, even the screams

When that demon grips your mind, I’ll be there

Though I know that I’m flying blind, I’ll be there


It’s like fighting a private war

Against a very public enemy

It’s like fighting a private war

With the one who means the most to me


You wrap yourself in your hard shell

To protect yourself in your private hell

And it cuts me that I cannot be the answer

But I don’t want to put that guilt on you

Cause I’m afraid you might just snap under the pressure

I don’t know what will pull you through,

But I’d lay down my life for you,

I can’t tell you that cause life is so unstable

Call me when you’re able


It’s like fighting a private war

Against a very public enemy

It’s like fighting a private war

With the one who means the most to me

*******************************************************************************

Anyone reading this – these are for you. The comforter and the uncomfortable; the alone, lonely or loner. You aren’t alone. There are people who feel the same and people who love you. People who want to stop, or help, the “Private War.” I promise.