Gathering the straws of life together

Recent Posts

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 […]

Cook from scratch at home

Cook from scratch at home

It is a satisfying past-time, if you have the time, to cook from scratch at home. There is nothing like a home cooked meal. A meal that is made from scratch without all the preservatives, sugar and salt additives. You may have read my recent […]

The Happiness Thermostat

The Happiness Thermostat

At what level is your happiness thermostat? At what level is my happiness thermostat? How do we maintain a happy equilibrium in our lives and is it necessary? I know that I feel better about myself and the world around me if I feel okay – I am happy. That is, I am not feeling down in the dumps, or at least not for too long!


As we all know how we feel, our level of happiness, fluctuates. We can feel sad. Life circumstances can cause sadness and sadness is an emotion that will come and go in life. Sadness has benefits as it allows us to work through a situation and come to terms with disappointment, grief and loss. Sadness as an emotion is okay if we don’t stay there. But I must differentiate sadness from depression. We can bounce back from sadness and feel happy again, but it is much harder to bounce back when suffering depression – sadness for no apparent reason. Depression affects our thinking, our perceptions and behaviour. That is why it is good to get professional help when depressed.

Life has its rocky pathways

Is positive thinking the answer?

Is “positive thinking” the answer to staying in the “happy” zone? Over the years I have had so many people tell me that positive thinking will change everything. That is, positive thinking is the key to happiness. One example of positive thinking was when we had our last home up for sale. While there was interest in the house nothing was happening, we had no offers. I was told that I needed to think more positively, and it would somehow magically happen. As I know and more than likely you know, life does not work like this. On another occasion we put our house on the market and without even one positive thought we had a contract of sale within three weeks!

Positive thinking is often the recommended vehicle to get us where we want to go in life – a life of meaning, fulfilment, success and happiness. Positive thinking is better than a negative mindset and while positive thinking is a good start, it is not the entire answer to a happy life. When I think back to when our house that was languishing on the market I firmly had the view that it was a timing matter. I believed the house would sell at the right time – I was optimistic. As it happened if we had sold the house months or a year earlier we would not have been in the position to buy the house we now live in. It was not for sale back then. It only came on the market after we had sold our house and patiently waited in our rental property.

I see the world as a big jigsaw puzzle. At times I must wait for the missing piece and for the pieces to come together before I can see the full picture. Waiting has never been one of my best attributes but now I am older I am more resigned to wait, rather than rush. With such an outlook my happiness thermostat threshold is more likely to remain stable.

Replacing positive thinking with optimism

Positive thinking and optimism are two different realities. Positive thinking can ignore reality – the facts of the situation. Whereas optimism is accepting our reality. All the “positive thinking” in the world will not change our reality. However, if we accept our reality, take steps to make changes if we don’t like our reality – this is a positive step forward. If you want to read more about this approach read what Dr Happy (Dr Tim Sharp) has to say about the subject.

Maintaining our happiness thermostat

Adopting an optimistic outlook on life will sustain our happiness thermostat at the right level. How does it work? If we are going through a bad patch in life having an optimistic outlook will give us hope and keep us buoyant for the journey ahead. That is, while we work out what to do and the changes we need to make. The characteristics of optimism start with gratitude – thankfulness for what we have. Then, holding on to hope in what may be a hopeless situation – gives us strength to change or accept our situation.

When the optimistic person has a setback, they see it as temporary. An optimistic person will manage failure differently to a person who believes positive thinking will change things. The optimistic person will want to learn from failures. Whereas the positive person can be in denial and believe positive thinking rather than decision-making and action will change circumstances.

Then there is the negative person who will want to wallow in their failures or blame others. Optimistic people don’t dwell on all the things that can go wrong in life. Mostly, they don’t expect things to go wrong! On the other hand, a pessimistic person will dwell on the possibilities of what could go wrong! Which is the wrong way to live a happy life!

Optimism is turning lemons into lemonade and seeing the glass as half-full rather than half-empty and believing that every cloud has a silver-lining. I find that looking at life from such a perspective gives me a better life – it sustains my happiness thermostat at the right threshold.

Finding too many lemons in life – make lemonade!

What about YOU? Do you have any ideas about what will keep our happiness thermostat at a threshold where we can live a full, meaningful and happy life?

Happiness and ageing

Happiness and ageing

Does happiness and ageing go together? Is everyone who is ageing – happy? Most developed countries have accepted the age of 65 years as getting older or “elderly”. If you, like me “just” over 65 years old you are a senior, an older person or […]

In bed with Andrea

In bed with Andrea

Yes, I am spending more and more time in bed with Andrea. My One&Only (O&O) knows what is happening and he is okay with it all. I enjoy a relaxed night in bed when I have Andrea singing me to sleep. I know what you […]

Feeding the Farmers

Feeding the Farmers

As a community we rely on farmers feeding us and now it is time for us to take a role in feeding the farmers. My comments come in the context of severe drought conditions across Australia. However, given that I live in Queensland I want to focus on feeding the farmers in my backyard, in Western Queensland. It is a tough life being a crop farmer or a livestock farmer. The worst times for farmers is when there is little or no water. Not enough water to raise crops for feed or not enough water for the grass to grow. The paddocks turn to dust and before long, the dust forms a tear in the eyes of the farmer.

Australia…a land of sweeping plains…of ragged mountain ranges.

Feeding the farmers is an opportunity for all of us who live in the city to lend a hand in time of drought. There are a number of charities that will channel gifts and money to those farmers most in need. If you are thinking of helping feed the farmers there are a couple of charities you could consider. There groups will channel my gift and yours to a needy farmer – Aussie Helpers; Buy a Bale; or the Thirsty Cow.

Want to know more about what is happening for farmers. Read here about Rural Aid Australia and the work they are doing. The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has taken an important step in giving a helping hand and feeding the farmers. The NFF has joined with Rotary Australia and Channel 9 on a national fundraising effort to support drought affected farming families. Mateship is alive and well in Australia.

Reading about the struggles the farmers face with drought is very confronting. Every time I turn on a tap or have a shower I am aware of the value of water. We all need water. The farmers who grow our food need water. My post “what about water” tells another story about water. Whatever way we look at it – we need water for our survival. But now our farmers need our help at a time where a drop of water becomes their most precious commodity. Why do farmer’s keep going when things are so tough? They have put so much hard work into their land and like others even though Australia is a land of extremes – they love their land, they love Australia. Just why they love Australia and just why I love Australia is summed up in Dorothea Mackeller’s famous poem “My Country”.

The love of field and coppice
Of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins.
Strong love of grey-blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies
I know, but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me!

The stark white ring-barked forests,
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon,
Green tangle of the brushes
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops,
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When, sick at heart, around us
We see the cattle die
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the rainbow gold,
For flood and fire and famine
She pays us back threefold.
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze …

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand
though Earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

National Heart Foundation Tick

National Heart Foundation Tick

When I spoke about the National Heart Foundation Tick recently with my sister Debbie, she told me it was no longer trustworthy. I was astonished to hear this and decided to investigate. The National Heart Foundation Tick has been a trusted symbol since 1989. It was […]

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