Gathering the straws of life together

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Service, surveys and feedback

Service, surveys and feedback

Service may come first but after service there are surveys and feedback. It seems that everyone these days after providing a service is asking me to complete a survey or give feedback. What happens to all this feedback collected mostly via short surveys and some […]

Embrace me

Embrace me

I have not been blogging as regularly as usual. The reason is that I have been attending to my mother’s care needs – she is 92 years old. While demanding it has been a privilege to care for her at this time of her life. […]

The door of opportunity

The door of opportunity

Is the door or opportunity something we find, or does it sometimes pass us by before we notice? I have pondered this at times and hope as time moves on that I do not miss the door of opportunity.

The door of opportunity can come into our lives in many forms. In a job or business, a partner, choosing friends, choosing a home or holiday, where we live, what sports, hobbies, or craft we will invest our time in. What door do we step into and if we find ourselves in an unacceptable situation do we have the courage to step outside the door? Sometimes in our lives we must take the step outside into a new and unfamiliar place, waiting for the next door of opportunity. In life it is not just about taking a step into the door of opportunity we must continually assess whether where we are is the best place.

This is what you would have seen when you stepped inside our front door a few years back – yes it was Christmas time!

Years ago, I made a decision to step inside a door of opportunity that presented itself in my life. It was a new situation, with new people, a community of common minds but I was not enjoying the experience. Are you like me? Do you have the tendency to try and make the best of a situation thinking it will get better, rather than taking action to change it? Then a good friend said to me “is it doing you any good”? The answer was no. It was not adding to or enhancing my life, so I made the decision to step outside the door and wait for another door of opportunity.

On a lighter note. When looking after my heritage hens my task every night was to entice them into their coop and close the door – to keep them safe. In the morning I opened the door to let them out. They had no opportunity to come and go themselves. They were reliant on me to open the door! I began to think there must be a better way and there was. I ordered an automatic door for the coop. My O&O (one & only) and I then installed the door. He did the manual labour and I supervised! We shared the painting. The mechanism is inside the coop and away from the elements. It has been in place for months now and the timer can be changed to suit the waking habits of the hens. Hens awake at sunrise, then they are off to bed at sunset. Their routine never changes! For me, my bedtime routine does change. By having the automatic door means that I no longer need to get up early on a cold winter’s Toowoomba morning, just to let the hens out of their coop! I loved that door of opportunity – to buy the automatic door. It is a great thing I did not let that opportunity pass me by.

Before the automatic door was installed.
After the automatic door was installed.

Many of us have a tendency to dwell on the past, but there is nothing we can do to change it. If we missed a door of opportunity, the moment is gone. All we can do is wait and look for a new door of opportunity in the here and now. If I have taken a door of opportunity and then things do not work out all I can do is to build on what I have learnt and then look for a new door of opportunity. Perhaps the door of opportunity is always before us and all we must do is find it? When we are ready, will the door of opportunity open automatically? What do you think?

Milk and honey

Milk and honey

Milk and honey is a metaphor meaning “all good things” – abundance and prosperity. Milk is a symbol for life. As we know babies drink only milk in the early months of life. Milk is so versatile. We can make milk drinks, use it in […]

Hen Haven

Hen Haven

Living with chickens at our place has its interesting moments as we create a hen haven for our chickens. Backyard chickens are becoming more popular and if you have the space and are able to offer a good home for your girls you will have end […]

As good as it gets

As good as it gets

Have you ever woken up one morning and thought is this “as good as it gets”? I am sure there are many of us as we navigate life and ageing. Not that I am that old – yet! But like all other baby boomers, I am getting older.

I am reminded of the movie “As Good As It Gets”. The movie received multiple awards. Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt and Greg Kinnear (the main actors) all received an Academy Award Oscar for their performance. All together the movie received at least 40 winner awards from 1997 – 1999 and that is not counting award nominations. The awards that actors receive are for a performance, that is, pretending to be someone else and living a life that is not the authentic self.

In life and sport most people aim to be their authentic self. Life is a long-distance race and I believe we will get better results if we are authentic with ourselves and others. Then the best we can do is to keep running the race and never quit, even when the going gets tough – for a while this may be “as good as it gets”.

As good as it gets – a family wedding.

In competitive sports the aim is to win. Competitions include the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and other sporting events across the world. They test the skill, ability and tenacity of sportspeople. But the Olympic Games competition is not only about winning, it is also about bringing a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. Not everyone can win all the time. This is a key lesson for children. Not everyone takes home the trophy but us older people can encourage children to do their best – that is all we should ask of them. However, on a school sports day I always  like to see every child go home with at least one ribbon for trying.

That is why I like the approach of so many sporting icons when they talk about their “personal best”. They may not always win a medal, but they have done their best – and will need to acquiesce. Life has its ups and downs and there are times when we must acknowledge this is “as good as it gets” and then just move on to another goal, another phase of life.

Dinner at dusk, Glasshouse Mountains view – as good as it gets!

Then what about our place of work. Many organisations have staffing awards, those certificates in a frame, I have a few of them. But how much do they mean to the workers? While many businesses, small and large are working out how to acknowledge employees, they need to look no further than Google. Google focuses on results not people, that is the results that people make happen. When they are happy at work people work to get results. At Google the staff receive incentives for their results such as insurance, health and dental benefits, on-site car wash, dry cleaning and the list goes on. There is flexibility in the workplace. As a Google employee I would be thinking this is probably “as good as it gets” and just get on with doing the job and enjoying it.

So, this brings me to think about who is directing our lives? Can I hear a resounding “we are”? Am I director of my life? Are you the director of your life? It can only be “as good as it gets” if we take responsibility for directing our own life story – our life movie. At this time of life, am I having the time of my life?

Matt having the time of his life, fishing. This must be “as good as it gets”.

Certainly, I am chief executive officer (CEO) of my retirement. But I have left out one critical element of my role – quarterly/yearly reviews? How am I going? Am I achieving my goals, my targets, so I can have a fulfilling life and enjoy the race? What results am I getting? Also, am I giving myself enough incentives to get on with life. A little retail therapy; the occasional week-end away; a holiday by the sea or lunch/dinner with friends. I will have to make a plan and reward myself for my results – noting, this could be “as good as it gets”!

At our place, what we have now is about “as good as it gets” and really it is not too bad. It is up to each one of us to make the best of life. It is up to me to make the best I can of my life, recognising that life is not a dress rehearsal, but the real thing! We only get one chance at it, one shot, no retakes like an actor when performing in front of a camera. Today I may say this is “as good as it gets”. Tomorrow though, with me directing my life it could be even better than good!

PS Football finals in Australia today. I am sure all teams will do their best, but only one team can win! I hope to see the Olympic spirit.

PPS – I saw the movie Ladies in Black this week directed by Australian Bruce Beresford. Many reviews I have read missed the meta messages – those about relationships, multiculturalism, encouragement and at the end of the day realising and accepting that this is “as good as it gets”.

Gender equality: secular and sacred

Gender equality: secular and sacred

When I think of gender equality I think of the juxtaposition of the secular and the sacred. There is now a conversation across political parties, in the media and community in Australia about gender equality. This has come about due to the low representation of […]

A Carnival of Flowers

A Carnival of Flowers

Spring is here and everywhere I look there is a Carnival of Flowers and Toowoomba is about to celebrate. Apart from a display of flowers Toowoomba has much to offer during the Carnival of Flowers a yearly festival event held in September. If you live in […]

Online habits – the subtle seduction

Online habits – the subtle seduction

Whether we like to admit it or not most of us have online habits. That is, what we do when we go online. How long we spend surfing the net. How long we spend on social media. If you have a business how long do you spend looking for marketing tips or inspiration? How long do we spend researching that new purchase? Yes, our online habits can control us if we are not aware of the seduction of the internet – the subtle seduction.

Why do I say seduction? Because technology lure’s us into its web. Most of us can’t stay away from it. Yes, even older people, over 65-year old’s, are seduced into the web also known as the World Wide Web (W3).

Therefore, I was surprised recently when out shopping the young attendant looked at my One&Only (O&O) and then looked at me and said “do youse have a computer” meaning she wanted to give us vital information about how we could order online – click & collect! First of I wanted to say “youse” is not a word but let that one go. Then, I wanted to say” I have a computer in my pocket, it’s called a mobile”. But took the polite response and said “yes, we have a computer”.  Doesn’t Generation Z know that even older people are seduced by W3?

Excuse me – my mobile is talking to me!

If you are like me, you are doing more shopping online. The convenience of online shopping is seductive. You can shop 24/7 and then have your shopping delivered to your front door.

When there are the big household items such as fridge/freezers or ovens I spend much time online researching the best product, looking at reviews and hoping that others experience will match mine once I choose the product.

It is better for us if we are at the beach, surfing – “between the flags” rather than surfing online. That is what I tell myself however the seduction is strong and before long I am either on my mobile or sitting at my computer. When I refer to surfing online I am not referring to the “dark web” or other online activity that is illegal or immoral. I am just referring to the convenience of going online and making our life easier. No need to leave the comfort of our home to shop, communicate with friends, check on the weather, research a subject, read a book, or exercise via YouTube videos. The seduction of the internet can mean we spend less time with people. But somehow, we convince ourselves we are spending more time with people due to our social media activity. We are seduced into thinking that this is the way life is.

But is it the way life is? Our online habits can have an impact on our physical and mental health. Too much sitting at a computer and not enough exercise. That is why I like my FitBit – it tells me when I need to move. Does it matter that FitBit or your Apple watch know all about your every move? However, there are ways you can protect your privacy. To find out, just spend more time online researching the way forward!

Then what about social media? I have taken steps to reduce the time I spend on social media, such as Facebook. It is very seductive, and I found I was often picking up my mobile and checking what was happening in the lives of others. People I have met and others I have never met! Then there are those I know but never see and don’t have a relationship with. When you think about this – does it make sense? The seduction is very subtle.

Then there are those who are seduced through online dating. They think they have found the person of their dreams when all they have connected with is a scam. Someone who wants to scam them of their money. The seduction is very real, and lives are destroyed all because of the subtle seduction of online habits.

Then there are children who are unknowingly seduced into an online relationship believing they have found a genuine person who is interested in them. All they have found is a person who wants to seduce them and rob them of their innocence. This is the “dark” side of online habits and dangerous for children’s welfare. Therefore, every parent should know about their children’s online habits and understand their online behaviour. My son grew up without a mobile and without a computer. He spent his time outdoors, riding his bike or skateboard or playing sports. It was a healthy lifestyle. The challenge for parents today is to get the balance between children’s online habits and their offline habits!

Now is time for me to think about my online and offline habits and make sure I get the balance correct. That may mean more time away from W3? What about you? How well are you managing your online habits and the subtle seduction of W3?

Fake honey

Fake honey

It is all over the news and everyone is talking about fake honey. Is one of Australia’s favourite honey producers fooling consumers? Capilano claim their honey is 100% honey. Who is telling the truth? We are yet to find out whether Allowrie Mixed Blossom Honey […]

My Diary

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It is all over the news and everyone is talking about fake honey. Is one of Australia’s favourite honey producers fooling consumers? Capilano claim their honey is 100% honey. Who is telling the truth? We are yet to find out whether Allowrie Mixed Blossom Honey produced by Capilano is the real thing? Until recently we would regularly buy the Mixed Blossom Honey.

While all the buzz is about honey, fake honey is not a new subject. The matter came up a few years ago in 2016 when a Victorian bee keep Simon Mulvany took Capilano to court. Mulvany claimed that Capilano were using imported honey and passing this off as Australian honey. The concern is that imported honey or honey that is adulterated may have toxic substances that could damage our kidneys.

The Australian Honey Bee Industry Council Inc (AHBIC) tell us that only 5% of imported honey is inspected at Australian borders. AHBIC are also concerned that imported honey could have residues of toxic chemicals. Hence, country of origin labelling is important to our health. Even when cooking from scratch at home I often use honey as an ingredient. When I do, I want to use 100% pure honey, not adulterated.

This is the honey we have at our place now!

It seems to me that there are too many food products recalled these days. Have a look at the Food Standards website Australia and New Zealand.

Is honey all about money? Keeping the price low by using an imported ingredient that is not 100% honey?

What would Winnie-the-Pooh be thinking now after finding out he has eaten fake honey? Or more so, falling into a jar of fake honey – even worse!

The media is buzzing around all over the place with the fake honey story. We will hear more and more about honey in the days ahead and how much fake honey is sitting on supermarket shelves.

In the meantime, you can do a simple test to find out whether you have “real” 100% honey.

  • Fill a glass with water.
  • Add one tablespoon of honey into the glass
  • Adulterated or artificial honey will dissolve in water
  • Pure honey will settle right at the bottom of the glass.

I did the test with the Capilano Yellow Box 100% Australian single origin honey and this is what I found.

The honey went to the bottom of the glass. I only used a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon and even then no trouble drifting to the bottom of the glass.

Maybe you would like to try the test with the honey you have on your pantry shelf? Then you will know whether you have the “real” thing – 100% honey.

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