It’s nearly the new year, it’s the come down after Christmas, and for me that always involves a lot of thinking. Some who know me would argue that my entire life is burdened with (over) thinking… yes I suppose it’s true, but at this time of year particularly so. (Many apologies to those around me during this time.)

My intense thinking period usually begins around November when I’m deciding what to make for Christmas gifts. That gets me thinking about how I can teach the girls to care and understand the plight of other people (not just think about what presents they are going to get), how we can avoid the onslaught and pressure to buy everything at this time of year, why we celebrate Christmas (given we are not religious), what we value and then of course how to support those values in our everyday lives which therefore equals what we want to align ourselves more closely with and how we should try to live in the following year to achieve that. With me so far?

KB and I both give ourselves a small fortnightly allowance to spend on things like coffee and books and individual pursuits (mainly so we don’t argue about who has spent more on takeaway coffee: sideways glare) and for a long time I have been looking for a cause or an issue close to my heart to donate to. In the end I chose an organisation that supports women and girls, with a focus on birth control and sexual protection and education, as having three little women of my own it’s an issue I understand and strongly support.

While exploring and flipping this way and that in my mind, I realised that no matter what the cause, the issue or the side of the fence I sit on, there’s always going to be evidence to support my point of view, as well as the opposing. I could sit around for years thinking “will I or won’t I?” but there comes a time when I need to stop reading books and articles and watching TED talks (guilty!) and just decide one way or another where I stand in that moment. Sometimes it won’t be the “right” side of the fence and I may go through a period of discovery. Sometimes thoughts on an issue might change. But if a decision isn’t made at some point the danger is that I will just continue passively reading and observing and sitting on the fence and thinking things like “Oh, that’s terrible,” or “But the issue is just too big for me to have an impact,” and not actually take any positive action. Making a decision (even if temporary) means that for now, someone benefits from my decision in some tiny way, and if it should change in the future then so be it. And please don’t mistake what I am saying: I don’t believe you have to donate money to an issue to have an impact. Every step you take, every purchase you make (or don’t make), everything you eat/wear/say/do can have an impact – good or bad. It’s your choice as to which way you go.

Christmas day was a fantastic day for us. Since having children we’ve slowly been embedding traditions that sit with our values around Christmas time: thinking of others, making that the real meaning behind Christmas. This year the girls chose a gift for a child in need and that process of going to the shops, choosing a gift, purchasing it and writing a card was really tangible for them, as opposed to donating online. Every year I feel more and more uncomfortable about the consumerism surrounding Christmas, and every year I desperately try to balance it out by continually coming back to our values around Christmas in the best and most ethical way I can think of: by making gifts, by making thoughtful and ethical purchases, and by supporting others as best we can during this time which is not always pleasant for everyone.

Our lives are very short. Personally I feel that I have a responsibility to educate myself and make decisions about my values as a consumer, as an employee, as a mother, as a human being. If I change my mind in the future, if I learn something new that changes things, that’s ok too. The important thing to me right now is to take action in the best way I possibly can without entertaining any illusions that I need to be perfect or make the perfect decision. I don’t want to stumble blindly through life.

Are you searching to make some positive change in your life in 2016? It might not be about a charity or a cause or a political issue, it might be about a way of life, a way of eating, or to shape a thought. If you are interested in the things that I’m interested in, you may like the following websites, blogs and documentaries that I have enjoyed this year (just some super light holiday reading/watching for you…!):

// 80,000 hours: how to make a difference with your career

// The why and how of effective altruism: TED Talk

// Give Well: top charities

// Down to Earth: simple living

// CowspiracyMission BlueThe True Cost and Chasing Ice: my favourite documentaries of 2015

I hope that wherever you are, and whatever you believe in, you are happy and well.


It was 2.15pm this afternoon that I picked up the phone and called for help. It’s such a hard thing to do, to reach out. There are all those conflicting feelings; you’re putting someone out, you should be able to cope on your own, you’re putting someone on the spot. But it was 2.15pm, it was hot, I’d been in and out of the car with the kids what felt like a thousand times, little Pea had barely slept a wink all day and the Pixie had fallen asleep half an hour before Bird’s school pick up. A dear friend from mother’s group is always offering to help and I thought: now is the time. I picked up the phone and dialled her number. Half an hour later she arrived with her two children, took the baby from my arms and sent me off to school pick up, SOLO. Ah, the freedom of getting in and out of a car ALONE! In the playground I saw one of our other friends and invited her and her daughter over too. Twenty minutes later the three of us were sitting in my lounge room with hot cups of tea and coffee while the children ran in and out, shedding more and more items of clothing each time we saw them until over half of them were naked. Kids!

It’s amazing how community can enrich your life, give you confidence, make you feel at ease. Belonging is a wonderful thing.

By the time my friends had left one had washed my dishes (which, by the way, were climbing the walls) and the other had brought in a bag of hand me down clothes for Birdie, and I was feeling moderately sane again after some adult conversation and good company.

We really aren’t designed to live in silos, are we? I will forever be wondering why…

a wintery solsticey bonfirey night

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Last weekend it was the Winter Solstice down here in Aus. For the second year in a row we went in to a community celebration organised by some dedicated and hard working family of mine. What an expert bonfire-mulled-wine-lantern-making family I do have! And all I did was front up on the night to enjoy the festivities and complain about all the hoards of people.

Celebrating the Winter Solstice is only something I started doing three years ago when I made it my mission (when Birdie was barely out of the womb) to celebrate every damn celebration I could so that I could say that My Family Has Traditions. I went a little crazy, even so far as to write them all down on brainstorm chart. I am so embarrassing, I hope I didn’t write about that on this blog somewhere because it really was just a little OTT. Three years down the track I’m really happy to say that of the 75 billion traditions I decided we would suddenly celebrate out of the blue with no rhyme or reason, the Winter Solstice is one that we have stuck with. It really is such a beautiful thing to recognise the seasons around us, to pay attention and to pay some sort of homage to the earth and the coming and going of the light and the history of such things. It fits in with our desire and effort as a family to work with the seasons, to eat seasonally, to live mindfully.

If I could tell my new-mother self one thing (actually this is not the one thing I would say if I could only say one thing but for now I will just say this one thing) I would tell her to take heart – never fear – for as a little tiny family evolves, traditions do come, even without the chart.