The gift of time

Donna (not her real name) is unwell and facing a major operation. When the time comes, it will require several weeks off work to recover. Although Donna is a private person and has not made her situation public, someone in her workplace found out about it. This kind-hearted individual approached the HR department and asked if it would be possible to donate her own unused sick leave for Donna to use. This kind offer was agreed to and arrangements were discreetly made.

The giver remains anonymous, but Donna now has one less worry ahead of her at this stressful time.

Crazy Happy: A film

Crazy Happy is a documentary filmed in Whangarei, following a group of people with mental health issues as they participate in a 100-day project to promote happiness. At the beginning of the project most of the participants suffered from depression, some to a debilitating degree.

The idea was quite simple: each day the participants had to take a photo of something that made them happy. Once a fortnight the group met and each person had to share a photo with the group and talk about it. The effects were astounding!

This unique approach to mental wellbeing was introduced to New Zealand by Alison Davie, who wrote and directed the film, assisted by producer Zuleika Gilbert.

See a trailer and/or order the film on Vimeo here


A father and son went fishing one day. After a couple hours in the boat, the boy suddenly became curious about the world around him.

He asked his father, “How does this boat float?”

The father thought for a moment, then replied, “Don’t rightly know, son.”

The boy returned to his contemplation, then turned back to his father, “How do fish breathe underwater?”

Once again the father replied, “Don’t rightly know, son.”

A little later the boy asked his father, “Why is the sky blue?”

Again, the father replied. “Don’t rightly know, son.”

Worried he was going to annoy his father, he says, “Dad, do you mind my asking you all of these questions?”

“Of course not, son. If you don’t ask questions, you’ll never learn anything!”

Inspired drawing

A Kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they were drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each child’s work.

As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was.

The girl replied, ‘I’m drawing God.’

The teacher paused and said, ‘But no one knows what God looks like.’

Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, ‘They will in a minute.’

When the good go bad…

How is it that so much harm is caused in the name of religion? How can people who do dreadful things look themselves in the mirror and think they are right?

I believe it has something to do with language. Not just the way we use words to justify what we do, but the very fact that we have language at all. Something in the human brain urges us to classify and categorise things. Language gives us names for our experiences; sentences encode our beliefs about them.

Most of us have moments of clarity and understanding, and many people have profound spiritual experiences. If only we could stay in touch with that profound understanding I’m sure there would be peace in the world. But once the moment of clarity has passed, humans feel the need to put it into words and then use the words as their guide. You could say the experience is spirituality and the words are religion, but it also applies to non-religious situations.

Words can be used to mobilise groups of people. But if the organisation, church or institution does not allow its members to connect with the internal/eternal truth that first inspired the words, they become rules, regulations and policies with a life of their own. I have heard that many organisations that start out with a holistic ideal, over time can become narrow, prescriptive and commercialised as people lose touch with the original aim.

I’ve come to believe that single words like love, peace and kindness are a more helpful guide than sentences. A sentence gives instruction or advice and often contains a value judgement, but a single word invites you to engage your heart and mind as you reconnect with its true meaning.

Be careful who you trust

Recently I decided to self-publish a novel I wrote before I went overseas. As a published author already, I am aware of the scam run by a lot of so-called ‘self-publishing’ companies. What these companies do is charge the author a large sum to help them design and print their book. They set the price of the book and take a commission on the books sold. The reason an author might sign up for such a deal rather than do the design and printing themselves, is the opportunity to be marketed by a large international company. Apparently some major publishing houses have set up ‘self-publishing’ branches, trading on the good name of the main company.

The scam is, the company has no vested interest in marketing or selling your book. They make their profits from the authors themselves. Many authors find themselves trapped into deals where they have to keep making payments for so-called ‘services’. If their book makes it into print, the marketing involves simply listing the book on a few websites.

Although I was aware of this scam, I was naïve enough to believe that someone with a good name – a person known for their contribution to society – would not stoop to this kind of dishonesty and using people in this way.

When I saw that Hay House, the publishing company of LOUISE HAY, was offering self-publishing help for writers of uplifting books, I became interested. Although cautious, and put off by the haranguing phone calls at inconvenient times from a hard-sell American woman, I put my trust in the Louise Hay name.

After I allowed them to take over $550 from my credit card, simply for the privilege of being able to read the contract, I read some absolute horror stories about this company and told them I would not go ahead. The agreement had stipulated that if an author pulled out before submitting their work, they would get a refund, minus $225 I admin fees. Otherwise two more payments of $550+ would be taken out at monthly intervals.

Interestingly now that I have pulled out, the phone calls have stopped and nobody is answering my emails. I have received no refund and I realise I will have to cancel my credit card before they help themselves to more money from it.

It seems I was wrong to put my trust in the Louise Hay name. This is absolutely a scam.

Another lost wallet returned

Recently, while driving, flatmates Chantell and Gerri spotted a wallet lying in the middle of a busy road. They braved the traffic to rescue it, which included chasing paper money being blown down the street in the wind. The wallet contained a driver’s license, but no address. What to do?

Luckily there was a hairdresser’s appointment card, so Chantell rang the salon and explained the situation. The hairdresser gave her the customer’s phone number, and the wallet was able to be returned to its owner. Now there’s a good deed that took an extra dose of courage and ingenuity!

An honest stranger

Tony writes that he had just scrapped his car and got $200 cash for it. An hour later he couldn’t find the cash. He backtracked and asked at the Post Office, where the teller told him that an Indian lady had found it and handed it in to a shop across the road. Relieved to get the money back, he sent the finder a bunch of flowers and a thank you card. Big smiles all round. 🙂

In my day…

When I was young we walked six miles to school every day, sometimes trudging in thick snow with schoolbags full of heavy books. Boy, did we feel silly when we found out there was a bus!

Happy Nation Motivational Groups

Change is hard. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, get fit, save money, manage your time or be more spontaneous, old habits and situations can get in the way.

A Happy Nation Motivational Group can help you turn your positive intentions into real success. In small groups of four to five people, we explore what helps and what gets in the way of change, be it external factors or your own thought patterns. With a focus on practical application, we help you clarify your aims and put your plans in place, providing an appreciative audience for your successes. It’s fun, positive and easier than trying to go it alone!

Week 1 – Getting started.

Week 2 – Overcoming obstacles

Week 3 – Celebrating successes

Week 4 – On a roll

Week 8 – Check-in and fine tuning

Watch this space for upcoming groups in the Hawkes Bay and Waikato.