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In my day job (because every writer needs a day job, right?) I work with student volunteers. I challenge them to tell themselves good stories about the many differences they can make. And this year I’m obsessing over maximising the impact of any giving. What’s my favourite project of the moment happening in the community? I’m so glad you asked. This is a thing. Not a student thing. A small thing. A big difference. If you are someone who can give money, you can buy a night at a safe house which will be anonymously donated to someone in need, then someone else will (anonymously or otherwise) bring a bigass bunch of lilies to another someone of your choice. Because who doesn’t love safety? And flowers? And someone? I’m hoping this year to encourage students to think on all these levels when they go forth and make the world a better place. And I’m hoping they notice how great they feel when they do it. And I’m happy to have a day job that allows me to do that.
BE THE BEST SUPPORTING ACT
It’s not all about winning.
I know we’re all trying to reduce single-use paper but, while we still have the postal service, for the love of all that is crafted and crossed out and inksmudged, write a letter. Tell someone you care about what you’re thinking, how you’re doing. It will maybe make their day when they receive it. And even if you never remember to mail it, you will, perhaps, find it in your next clean up, or usually, in my case, several years later inside a book, and have the delight of reading it, yourself, again. If you don’t think you have anyone to write a letter to (me?), maybe a message in a bottle could be just the thing (glass please, and try not to picture it joining up with the massive plastic ocean flotillas, we’re trying to stay positive right now). Or maybe check out the Prisoner Correspondence Network and start writing letters to someone inside. Or write to all the corporations and politicians you’re mad at. Write to them every week. Eschew the little blue roller thing on the post office counter and channel your anger into licking that stamp. They (the big they) can’t press delete on a letter like they can on an email. Isn’t that how that guy in that Christmas movie got a whole library? Write letters. Get libraries. Who doesn’t want more libraries in the world? If you know the answer to that question, write them letters as well so they at least have a chance to love words.
LISTEN TO MARGARET ATWOOD
Yes, I did drive all the way to Christchurch and back within 24 hours. Yes I did pay the exorbitant ticket price to hear chatting with the (also most excellent) Noelle McCarthy. Yes it was worth it.
Singing in a group is one of the only activities known to light up every area of your brain. Singing in the shower is a close second, because rock-star shampoo hair. Having a soundtrack is good for counteracting negative thoughts inginginginginginginginging around. Mine is currently stuck on a Lana del Ray song: "hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have. But I have it. Yeah, I have it."