Friday, February 17, 2017

Why I'll never host another fundraiser.

Some of my friends will be secretly overjoyed to hear this news. It sounds harsh but it’s true. In a society where most people are over-committed there’s little time for family, let alone sitting down at a table with a bunch of people they barely know for brunch. No matter that it raises money for a charity - there simply isn’t time. Lots of people are time poor these days and Sundays are precious. 

I get it.

I’ve always loved to help. It makes me feel good. I’ve volunteered, run in fun runs and I favoured baby showers in support of a charity over gifts. But after my latest ‘brunch’ I’m left feeling sad, jaded and even a little bit selfish. 

You see a year ago my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was the darkest few months of my life and it shocked me how quickly life can be turned on it’s head. How lonely and isolating it is to have someone you love face such a disease. If ever I was afraid my mum was my first confidant. No longer could I confide in her about what was the greatest fear I’ve ever felt in my life. 

What surprised me most was the hopelessness that wedged itself in my heart and wouldn't let go. Not to let me sleep, or enjoy my children, or even to eat or participate in things I used to enjoy. My life just stopped in the panic and despair that only someone who has been diagnosed with cancer or has had someone close to them go through it will understand. 

Waiting on results was torture. How bad was it? How far had it spread? The terror at the thought of losing my mum or what she’d have to go through was suffocating. Luckily the results couldn’t have been better. She was stage 1 (in situ) which meant surgery, a full mastectomy, with no chemotherapy was all the treatment she would need to be in the clear. Relief of this news was sweeter than the birth of my own children! 

It was during my mum’s surgeries that I met the wonderful women behind the Chicks in Pink charity. They were amazing and it only heightened my enthusiasm for fundraising. I saw first hand how important this charity is to women touched by breast cancer. There were so many services offered and extraordinary support. It was overwhelming. Obviously it became a charity close to my heart. I’ll never forget the day mum and I ran in the Chicks In Pink fun run. We crossed the line together and I could have cried. It felt so good to have done something so positive together for a charity we’d become so reliant upon and to give back. 

So it wasn’t long before the Breast Ever Brunch fundraiser caught my eye and I decided to host in honour of what my mum’s been through over the past year. I’d raised money for charitable causes in the past, but they weren’t personal. They hadn’t touched my life directly. This was different. It was personal and it was painful. In hindsight I realise it was too raw, too soon to be raising money for a charity that became so important to me. But I couldn’t help myself. So mum and I bought, baked and decorated like crazy and out went the invitations to our Breast Ever Brunch! 

Unfortunately it wasn’t a big success. Okay that’s an understatement - it bombed! Of the 20 people we invited only four people came to brunch. There were a lot of last minute calls and texts the night before and on the morning of the brunch from people who could no longer make it. I was terrified to look at my phone. I was so worried that no one would come and embarrassed that my mum might feel let down. She was just a few weeks post-surgery and was already feeling vulnerable. It turned out to be a lovely morning with delicious food (lots of!), with good friends and we did raise almost $200 for a great cause. 

But the disappointing turnout is not the biggest reason I’ll never host another fundraiser. It wasn’t just that our feelings were hurt, it was the way it made my friends feel too. So many people felt bad that they couldn’t come, even though I tried to reassure them that it was fine and things pop up. They felt guilty. It’s not a great feeling and I’m sure some resented that they felt that way. 

So instead of feeling great at having done something positive, we both ended up feeling sad and even a little guilty ourselves. It was personal to us but it wasn’t like that for everyone invited. It was too much pressure, not just on ourselves in hosting the event but also on the people we care about who were unable to come, due to other commitments or illness. 

So in future I’ll still support this important charity, in fun runs or simply making donations when I can, but I won’t ever put myself in a position where other people feel pressure to be part of something - especially when it’s so personal. 

Have you held a fundraiser that bombed and it was personal? 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Never regret kindness.

I was struck not so long ago by the simplicity of an answer to what seemed like an awesome question ... what do you most regret? It came up in an interview with the late Bryce Courtney who was asked if he had any regets in life. He had just one; I wish I had been kinder. 

Now, I didn't know Bryce Courtney personally (I wish!) but judging by the amazing love of his friends and family he was a kind, caring and compassionate man. But still, when asked - knowing his time on Earth was limited, he was terminally ill - his answer, so simple - kindness. 

I'm sure we could all be kinder. I must admit, when I've faced adversity in my own life I've become more humble, more compassionate ... and yes, kinder. I remember Random Acts of Kindness being fashionable years ago, when the movie Pay it Forward was released. I wonder sometimes if we're all becoming too busy for kindness. I know I'm guility of it. Can you remember the last time you went out of your way to be kind?

Here are 10 ideas to increase your kindness quota.

  1. Really listen. You'll make someone feel important. 
  2. Send someone an unexpected gift 
  3. Write a real (kind) letter - with pen and paper. 
  4. Cook a healthy meal for a loved one
  5. Call a friend (no texting, Facebook)
  6. Make a birthday card 
  7. Take your pet (or a neighbour's pet) for a long walk 
  8. Volunteer your time 
  9. Give compliments at every opportunity  
  10. Hug, smile and laugh, a lot ...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

1 in 10 babies born today will have a food allergy

Today I found out my son is probably the one in ten. 

Four years ago my daughter was also displaying allergic symptoms, including hives, severe eczema, dry skin, sleepless nights, crying spells and digestive discomfort. 

She was diagnosed with serious food allergies, which may cause anaphylaxis, at just eight months old. 

So it came as no shock my son's reaction to the introduction of solid food at six months was due to food allergy. 

Luckily this time I was prepared. I knew the signs of allergy and took steps to eliminate the foods most likely to be allergenic such as cow's milk and wheat, which are commonly found in jars of food for babies over the age of six months.

Research into allergic disease continues but remains inconclusive. The best advice to parents of allergic children are the three As - Awareness, Avoidance and Action. 

Charity lobby group Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia's (A&AA) 1 in 10 Campaign is in its second year and will again help raise awareness and funds into allergic disease and hopefully uncover why allergy is skyrocketing, especially in children. 

The campaign, supported by Blue Wiggle Anthony Field and comedian Peter Hellier, among other celebrity ambassadors, asks people to paint one fingernail (or one fingernail a different colour to the rest) during Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 13 - 19th, 2013) to represent the children who have food allergies and to donate at 

The most common food allergies:

Cow's milk
Peanut/tree nut 
Fish, shellfish 

The most common reactions to food allergies:

Tingling or itching in the mouth
Hives, itching or eczema
Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, or other parts of the body
Wheezing, nasal congestion or trouble breathing
Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting

For more information visit 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

these precious moments

Technology, and more specifically social media, almost robbed us of one of life's precious moments just the other day. It all happened so innocently too. It was a Sunday morning so we weren't in a hurry to be anywhere or do anything important. My daughter was sitting playing with some toys and my five-month-old son was getting acquainted with his new jump activity centre.

Now until today the activity centre was just something we thought he'd grow into as his enthusiasm for it wasn't mind blowing. Then, without warning, he seemed to really get the hang of this Jump n Gym, because he was bouncing from one foot to the other, giggling like it was the most fun he'd ever had in his entire life.

So I jumped up, rushed for my iPhone, which unsurprisingly was right beside me, admittedly hiding under a cushion, and captured the whole jovial experience on film. Of course, I then hit 'share', as you do, so my plethora of Facebook 'friends' could also enjoy to their heart's content.

Now this is where it gets a bit scary. So if you're a social media junkie, you might want to stop reading now and live in blissful denial. You see, at the same time my son was discovering the true joy of jumping, my husband was glued to his mobile phone, on Facebook as it turns out (unsurprisingly).

So when he sees his son pop up in his news feed, he's delighted and hits play. He even discusses with me how clever our son is and perhaps even advanced for his age (LOL), not for one moment taking his eyes of his phone.

It took a few seconds for me to realise the moment was happening in real time, right in front of his eyes. "Babe, he's doing it now,"I say half laughing, half absolutely horrified! He looks over at his son, still happily jumping from foot to foot, "Oh, yeah," responds my bemused husband.

It was a funny moment, yes. But it highlighted the fact that our gadgets get in the way of quality family time. Has anything similar ever happened to you? Do you think social media is stealing precious moments from your life?

Friday, March 30, 2012

The art of giving.

There's a U2 lyric that comes to mind whenever I contemplate philanthropy, 'why is it that the first to take is the last to give, every time...'

Isn't that the truth. But why is it that some people give more of themselves than others?

Australia's biggest study into this very topic by the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (Queensland University of Technology) has found that life changing events were the catalyst for 40 per cent of people who set up charitable causes.

Lead researcher Dr. Wendy Scaife says, "we found also that seasoned business folk or the middle aged or older were asking the questions, what now?

"We've raised our children, they're independent, we've got a capacity to give - should we?"

The study also found that people wanted to add meaning to their lives, outside of just making money. "People want their life experience to have meaning to others so they channel not just money but energy and contacts into something that's important to the community and themselves."

When it comes down to the bare bones of philanthropy - doesn't it just make us feel good? And isn't that reason enough to reach out to others? So where does that leave the takers...are they all miserable?