When the business began to keep me consistently busy I made a commitment to donate annually to charity. Last December I made my first donation – a humble $50 to Brainwave Aotearoa Trust. Here's the post. This decision falls out of some introspective work I did in 2016 around my long-term goals – and it also reflects all the learnings I have taken from the hardest (best?) times of my life. Let me explain...
In 2016 I wrote my 'list of 100 dreams' - a simple activity that helped to put me in the mindset of finding my purpose, my why. The list is still not yet complete, it's hard to get to 100! Entries on the list range from honest, material wishes (own a MacBook Air) to heart-driven aspirations (speak up for children's rights). When I looked for a cause to support, I came back to this list and searched for a dream I could align with. So I picked Brainwave Aotearoa - a great organisation whose work I enjoy and believe it has the power to really change young Kiwi children's lives as their parents learn more about how they are developing.
If you can know your bigger picture and ensure that your actions and decisions align with it, things just feel clearer.
The second aspect to my decision to give relates to how I feel when I give. I think back to harder times, specifically my early experiences as a new mother. It took me a long time...far too long in hindsight...to emerge and connect with the community in which I had found myself. By the time we were ready to welcome baby #2 into the family, I knew that being 'out there' was a happier place for me. In a blog I wrote for a friend's website about feeding my second son, I said "..each time I indulged the sobbing and sat up all bleary, there was still a dirty house filled with hungry boys waiting for me. So I just got up and got on with things. That has been a huge life lesson for me, to just get on with something because nothing was ever fixed from waiting and wishing."
So being 'out there' was as much about being busy inside the same four walls as it was about NOT getting stuck in my own head. I've written about that before too...And being 'out there' also meant being outside the home and it connected me to groups that were giving something important to the community. And I started giving alongside them, because it felt right on all kinds of levels. I worked in a voluntary capacity (like so many other mums) for quite a few groups, but probably gave the most to Playcentre. I felt that what we did at Playcentre made an inherent, positive difference to the lives and wellbeing of our whaanau. It was bloody hard at times and ironically meant that I was often LESS available to my own family than they would have liked, but it saved me.
It saved me to be selfless. Giving of my skills, giving of my time to something worthwhile was the big leveller. Years later, I first heard the term 'servant leadership' and that seemed like a good description. Giving, serving, being of service, helping others – it takes many forms. It's an indicator of our health, individual and collective, to pause and look at how much we are serving others.
Because then there was an election.
And I thought to myself, I can't wait until December this year. I do not have a blind eye to turn. I have two eyes and two ears and I live in New Zealand in 2017. What I see all around me is an increasing pressure on families who have less than my own. So with my privilege and my good fortune and my capacity to share firmly acknowledged, I have given again to a new cause.
They are called The Aunties. If you feel inclined, their givealittle page would appreciate any help you can offer.