Helping in hard times

Whether in drought or not, life doesn’t stop for anybody or anything, people have to manage with the circumstances they have got, right?  To some managing is all about assisting and helping others, to others it’s about helping themselves and as I stated in my first blog, farmer first family second, farm third and no matter how you look at it women put themselves last.

We always think of others and in small communities, such as country towns when people need assistance, women find it easy to give but not to ask or accept as we can always find some one else who needs it more, can’t we? In our paddocks includes those within our environment who need us to be there, to hold them gently in your thoughts whilst they struggle., to find that extra dollar and give it away if you can.

I managed a quick catch up coffee with a dear friend today, one that has gone the extra mile for me when I was struggling mentally living in a small town, kilometres from the town, hundreds of kilometres from my daughter and family and felt I never fitted in she was there telling me I did and if it was a friend I needed she was there right in front of me. I gladly and willingly accepted this friendship and value it highly.

She has listened whilst I spoke and today it was my turn to listen and I asked if I could write my blog about her and what she is going through currently  and she said yes so I’m going to ask all of you that can, please do.

1 year ago this month she was in hospital, after having done a market stall approx 300kms away from home when she hurt her back and ended up in hospital there until they got her home, weeks later. Her husband and 3 children managed without her and when she got home she picked up work and began her recovery. She is doing fantastically, 7 weeks ago her husband took himself off to the Dr with a swollen arm, 3 hours later they were in Adelaide and are now on the ferris wheel of chemo, separation, financial stress and homelessness – thankfully they can live in the Leukaemia village whilst their children attend school 300 kms away.

Lana travels weekdays to her casual job in Keith, weekends to spend time with her children in Penola or to collect them and take them up to the city for them to see their dad. She will travel to spend time with Damien whilst he is having chemotherapy and can not work.

I think she is doing an amazing job as a wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter and is coping as best she can with the stress of travel, finances, work, motherhood and being a wife, where is the time for her? When will she get her ‘me’ time I ask myself as she doesn’t ask the question? Her focus is on family, husband, finances and finding a place for them to reset up their roots whilst all of their furniture and goods are in storage. We need to nurture her to ensure her mental health is as balanced as it can be and whilst she is doing these things the thing we can do is ease the financial burden as best we can.

What can I ask my friends to do for her?  this go to the page, read her story and donate. I know most of you give every year to charities, put the presents under the tress in churches and shopping centres. This year I’m asking you to go to this page and assist as every dollar will get them closer to having a bond and rent for when they can move out of the village as well as cover life expenses whilst Damien is in treatment.


In Our Paddocks

Thank you all for the over whelming response to Tears, Drinking, Coping, Drought it was snippets of stories of what goes on In our Paddocks  and kitchen sinks. It’s the story of others that makes it interesting, heartwarming and according to one of the emails I received overnight gave comfort that she was not alone in her thoughts and feelings.

Relationships women share with each other are bonds that can be broken, a wrong word, a withering look or breaking trust will destroy even the strongest of friendships. We’ve all seen it, friends that leave and never come back and you may never know what happened but they left without so much as a backward glance, a goodbye and along with it left you with a feeling of isolation and sadness.

Drought can bring on the same feelings, but for the woman who gave me the honour of telling me your stories, calling  and writing to ask me if I’m ok and to say thanks for sharing small snippets of them, it made them feel valued and less alone. It also gave them an outlet away from the farm, family and those closest to them as it broke their day.  I am doing ok for those that asked.

One of them told me of a life long friendship that over the past couple of years has been made difficult as she can not disclose how tight money is and they are no longer  “popping down to Adelaide for family celebrations,  spontaneous get togethers or shopping expeditions”. In fact she wrote the invitations have stopped coming and the correspondence of any sort spasmodic, but the biggest thing she has noted is the amount of times the friends have traveled to be with them on a weekend. Not once she wrote not once, it was in fact a city based friendship that has not been two ways despite the numerous invitations. She is unsure how she will approach it once things improve or even if she will bother.

There are also the funny times or moments as well, I have read and heard stories about farmers coming home in the Utes wearing only their hat, they get out of the Ute not realising there is a visitor or stock agent sitting at the table waiting to chat with them, as they walk through the door naked. One of the things farmers do in drought is spend hours in the hot dry sun checking all water points for animals, they will do this twice a day if need be and if things go wrong they will jump into tanks, walk in dams and work around flooded troughs to ensure stock have water.

Another said in the middle of a fight about “nothing”she said he looked at her and said “but I just want to drive the tractor” in a tone like a 3 year old and they both burst out laughing. For a farmer the tractor is like a briefcase to a lawyer or a stethoscope to a Doctor, their tool of trade and when he said it she said “he sounded like their son at 3 who only wanted to play with his lego”.  It will be months before the tractor will be driven unless it’s loading and unloading hay to feed stock.

One of the things that is good about living on a farm you can grow stock for eating and many farm houses have freezers full of meat, but this year one says they decided to eat all of the meat out of the freezers and turn a couple off to save electricity. She now tells me she can “write a cookbook on 101 ways to cook and side dishes to put with a lamb chop”. “The struggle to make dinner nightly and make it appealing was a struggle with only lamb chops as a base, there was 45 nights in a row they had lamb chops, how did she know ? he counted guess what he got on the 46th night? yep nothing, she had wine & cheese.

I can write with some knowledge on this topic and I now understand why cricket is part of the Australian culture. Cricket comes with summer, summer can be tough on the land so when it’s too hot to go out, cricket can be watched in the cool of the house.

As women we all need to support each other as we are doing a great job supporting the farmer, the family, the land and the diversity the seasons bring. The Channel Country Ladies day in QLD looks like it’s a model we need to repeat here, I am starting a face book page In Our Paddocks – let me know what you think about a not for profit weekend of women celebrating women in SA and I’ll get me function hat on and start to plan it.

Don’t forget if you need help call LifeLine Australia 13 11 14

Feel free to keep sending me your stories and snippets

is there really ‘fun’ in fundraising

I was at a function this week for thelongwalkhome2012

check out this blog and follow and donate to her she is an amazing young lady who is walking the Simpson desert to raise funds for the RFDS and I am proud to say she is also my cousin. But after all of the work I have been doing for the Keith Hospital in the ‘fun’draising capacity, I drove from Keith after work to attend this function at Glenelg, stayed with my daughter and then got up at 430am to drive back to Keith to work.

For those attending a ‘fun’draiser they go knowing they have to pull out their wallets and bid, play games, toss coins, participate in auctions, donate goods, products such as key rings, stubby holders to purchase and this is after you have paid to get in. This is not a go at the process this is to highlight how the process works. There is food to consume, drinks to swallow, meeting people who come from everywhere to support the cause. There are speeches to go through  and stories to hear. Most times inspiring, poignant, sad, happy and people want to hear them. It makes one feel attached to the cause, understand the motives as to why funds are needed. Once we know this many are happy to spend, we do then go home and forget it. I have found many are happy to attend and those that are not won’t come, for many and varied reasons.

Jenna Brook is attempting to walk the Simpson to raise funds for the RFDS and when she started she wanted to do it for nothing. Then her family told her to do it for a cause. In raising funds what people don’t see is the people or person behind the scenes that do the do. They are the ones who ensure the ‘fun’ is in ‘fun’draiser. They chase people, write letters, take the flack if it doesn’t work out. They make the calls no one else wants to do and most importantly they ask for money. This is a really specialised skill and one which many people can’t do. I have been in sales for many years and I have been able to do this, I have people in my own business who are shocked when I ask them to pay me before I let them out of my shop. But when ‘fun’draising I have no fear or shame as the money is not being gleaned for personal use it is for the ’cause’.

Good luck to Jenna and all the others who today are out doing things for other people. We are an amazing race, where we try to help others, I watched Dick Smith this morning and he should be held up as a national treasure instead he is treated with disdain as he offends the government with his push to support our dying industries and as a philanthropist he is probably unmatched in Australia, if there is somebody else greater please let me know. Oh and by the way the next time you are asked to a fundraiser – having seat warmers is good for the figures, you don’t really have to buy any of the additional extras.

saying yes when you meant to say no

I have always thought I was a strong person but at some stage in my life, I can’t even recall when i started doing it perhaps I always did but I can’t pinpoint the incident when I said yes and knew I meant to say no. I have thought about it a lot as I sometimes feel I could kick myself for putting me in the situation where I don’t want to be. It’s terrible and I am sure I am not alone with this practice. I hear this voice coming from my mouth that says yes and my head is saying no, sometimes the action is there as well, it is not a nod of the head but a shake as you hear yourself saying yes. There are pages and pages on this topic in google so it must be that we all do it at sometime in our lives.

I find myself in a situation where most times I can now use the distant card (300km from CBD of Adelaide) to beg off from doing things I don’t want to do but sometimes distance is also the reason why I can’t get there and feel I miss out. But I wonder sometimes when I feel at a low ebb or happy to connect with someone who I find myself saying yes when I KNOW I meant no. We all strive to maintain friendships and business connections so sometimes we are calculating in our response of saying yes. In this instant it is to further a career, get out of a rut, expand our lives or just generally to increase our profile,

In a social setting or in the art of getting acceptance we say yes. There are many parents on their children’s school committees that I am sure that are there as they want to say no but feel a duty to the organisation that is looking after their child or children or want to help smooth the way through the years of schooling by getting involved so say yes. Being part of a group or committee makes saying yes a bit more pleasurable and it is important to children that parents are involved in the school, I remember doing canteen and the delight on my daughters face when she saw me there. By being involved in groups or organisations means a different network of people.

In doing what I do for the Keith Hospital I have been asked to do many things, be media spokesperson for the group when we have protested. I have been asked to take on tasks that have put me front and centre of the Keith Hospital campaign. I have organised and rallied groups to keep our campaign alive and in the forefront of media and the general public. Though our fight is still ongoing and getting desperate daily we are slowly sinking into an abyss that may or may not lead to extinction. I am fighting to fight as hard as I can to prevent this happening but it may be futile. In doing this it puts you at risk of criticism, personal attack, back stabbing and gossip. It is not a nice place to be and it is slowly wearing me out. I have been asked to run events when I have no clue and wanted to say no but felt obligated to say yes. It has done me no favors, it has made some ungrateful and selfish.

We have a new CEO at the Keith Hospital who started this week and I am quickly growing to like him enormously. I find him approachable, he sits in his office with an open door and is inclusive and consultative in his manner. I am currently acting DON (Director of Nursing)  which was one of these I wanted to say No but yes came out of my mouth. It has shocked some in Keith as many are unaware I am a triple certificated RN currently (very slowly) doing my Masters in Health Admin and still practising.

I have been invited to a Business Development Meeting with a friend who does Amway and found myself saying yes when I meant no. Luckily for me it is the same time I have to run a daughter around to one of her friend’s wedding. But here I sit knowing this and can’t bring myself to call my friend and tell her. It is not her fault it is mine, it is nice catching up with her as she has recently moved back from Kangaroo Island but it wears me out. I don’t want to sell Anyway it is one of those party plans that puts people off side. But that is a topic for another day. I hope this week I can say no more times than yes but smoothing the way is a priority when we need to keep the Keith Hospital alive. So when I ask for help, send someone from your organisation to the Arkaba Ladies High Tea, April 20th 2012 details at


my Grey Streak

I am putting it out there, I have a grey streak that has appeared in my fringe. It stares back at me every time I look in the mirror. I have watched it ‘grow’ over the last couple of years. Some days it is not noticeable depending upon how much I inspect my face, others in the sunlight tell me, it is “a grey streak”. No I didn’t put it there it just appeared.

I was at my daughters yesterday helping her and my husband, do some tree clearing and gardening. When we come down from the farm we try to get to her place to give her a hand, my husband is great like this, he will do and take the thanks as payment. He noticed my streak and laughed, I asked should I start colouring my hair? I haven’t put a colour in it for over 10 years and he stated don’t (he is completely white) as he liked the ‘salt and pepper’ that is appearing in my hair but I have about 10 yrs to  go to catch up to him.

There are so many things in this world one can not change but work towards, there are so many things on CAN change and will do so willingly. Here is my streak I now have options, I can choose to change or leave. I look at it with a critical eye in the mirror, it is me, it is who I am and I quite like it. It represents a few years (as if I was going to tell you all my age) of my life I think it started when I turned 40. I didn’t want to turn 40, it was a really hard birthday for me, it scared me into thinking about my bucket list, my future and past. Some things I didn’t like but others I wanted to come back. I thought of friendships I have lost and those that I have gained. I thought of past loves and regret along with current loves and the way forward, my daughter was 20 the year I was 40 and this was difficult, I hope when she is 40 I am a healthy 60 but part of that will be how I live my life.

My streak is me and I have settled into myself, I know I have many things in life left to do and have started my bucket list. I have married for the first time (after 40), I have relocated to the country, I have become a volunteer Keith Hospital but mostly I have become me. I like who I am and though others may not, I have changed and my streak has been there as a reminder.

I have a dear friend who is suffering from early onset dementia, she is a beautiful person and I am honoured to call her my friend. She is now the subject of ‘unintentional talking behind her back” she is a beautiful blogger and this is keeping her mind active. I have told her that people who talk behind one’s back as an adult “KNOW” this is mean, go and read her, she is deserving of medals, praise and love but I think what she would value most is more time before this awful disease takes her memory.My streak shall stay and my bucket list continue to be ticked off for if that is all I suffer at my age I am blessed. Click on the link and head over to read Kate Swaffer