Posted in Animals and conservation, Charity, Elephants, Happiness

There’s still time to give a gift that keeps on giving.

It’s Christmas Eve but it’s not too late for the most valuable presents of all.

We used to always buy a gift and put it under the Kmart Wishing Tree. My youngest, Blake would help pick the gift and I enjoyed watching him giving to a child who didn’t have the same opportunities as him. He’s 21 now and asked if we were going to do it this year.

I said, “It’s okay we’ve done our giving this year by sponsoring our elephant Tundani and a staff member at Umoja Orphanage Kenya.” Plus, there is no way I’m going back to the shopping centre in the madness that is Christmas Eve. “We’ll check out if we can do it online.”

The chances of carpark shopping rage, shopping trolleys with a life of their own hitting my car, crazy women running me over (that actually happened at Robina Shopping Centre and lucky her bonnet only clipped me and I wasn’t hurt. And no she didn’t even stop to check on me), so no I’ll keep safe and finish my giving at home.

It’s the 29th year of Kmart Wishing Tree and if you can’t make it into a store today you can still donate online. All gifts are distributed by The Salvation Army and Mission Australia. It helps families who can’t afford Christmas gifts to enjoy their Christmas and reFoster parent program the david sheldrick wildlife trust. Elephant.ceive something nice.

Last week I re-sponsored our baby elephant Tundani. Tundani is part of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Baby Elephant Foster Parent Program. These elephants have been orphans (often through poaching) and the DSWT have carers who first rescue the babies, hand-rear them at the nursery and gradually reintroduce them to wild herds and transition them back into their natural wild life. Each elephant has its own personality just like a human child. I’ve found the greatest joy of being a foster parent to Tundani is seeing his personal journey through the diaries of his carers. DSWT keep extensive records of the orphans’ progress and plenty of photos as well. It’s a gift of giving that you and your family will get so much joy from and hopefully elephants will not become extinct.


If you’d rather be involved with something closer to home, you could volunteer at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. From meet and greet of visitors to helping out at the Wildlife Hospital there’s plenty to do for our own Australian Wildlife. You can also foster an endangered native Australian animal like bilby, echidna, wombat and Koala.

If you read this blog regularly you’ll know of my support for Umoja Orphanage Kenya (founded by Australian Cathy Booth). You can do all sorts of sponsorship but their Christmas appeal is about sponsoring the staff. For as little as $5 a week you can help this wonderful cause that, not only helps orphans in Ukanda, Kenya, but the community in the surrounding area. This is a self-sustainable orphanage project that helps break the cycle of poverty. You can set up a recurring donation via Rotary at

While most of us are enjoying a nice home, copious amounts of food and alcohol, pressies, family and friends; spare a thought for those who have very little, particularly the homeless. You can give them a gift by donations or volunteering your time. The Bill Hoyer House was opened on the Gold Coast 20th December. You can go online to donate for the accommodation and support of homeless youth. For more information on other homeless support services the Uniting Care Community have hubs both ends of the Gold Coast.

My favourite giving gifts list:

So giving doesn’t need a wrapped present. It just needs to be heartfelt and meaningful.

Enjoy your Christmas whatever your religion, culture or country. I wish for you happiness, health, shelter, love and kindness, not just at Christmas, but always.

Posted in Family life, Happiness

Don’t miss the beauty in front of you

I woke after a blissful sleep (a very overdue new pillow will do that) and the sun was shining. I stretched and found my neck was (for once) not aching. Waking with a smile has got to make you grateful. Then while sipping my morning coffee and considering posting the rest of my photos from Swell Sculpture Festival, I notice my beautiful shrub out the front has bloomed. It only does this in spring/summer so it’s always special when it buds and the flowers come out. I was told it’s name (and have forgotten it) so if anyone out there knows what it is please remind me. In the meanwhile I’ll just enjoy it’s beauty.


It reminds me of, not only nature blooming, but people too. We shouldn’t just walk past without appreciating any kind of beauty, which of course is subjective. If someone has a new haircut, dress, shirt, healthy glow, or such say that you like it. If they’ve improved their health or bounced back from some life hurdle take notice and let them know you’ve noticed. You never know if that compliment will make their day. Smile more often and be kind to everyone you meet. Appreciate the beauty and don’t just walk past in your own little world. Engage in the world you are in.

Some things that make me smile:

  • Sun shining in the early morning (there’s nothing like that subtle soft light)
  • An elderly couple holding hands
  • A dog eagerly walking with their two-legged family
  • Colourful Lorikeets enjoying the native bottle brush
  • My niece doing something that makes her happy
  • Schoolchildren in whispered tones giggling at a secret joke
  • My granddaughter’s cheeky grin
  • The full moon in a still blue sky
  • A new flower in my garden

We should all pay more attention to the beauty around us. It can help alleviate a bad mood and make you appreciate the little things in life.

And a smile cost you nothing.

If you would like to try to be more grateful and train your mind to really see the beauty, you can try things like Calm (I’m enjoying this app) or Headspace to train your mind for a healthier, happier life.