ELECTRA: intelligent, organised, practical, creative & strong; mum, wife and person.

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18 December 2014


We'd like to share with you the RAOKs that we've experienced this year to honour the people who are also bringing kindness to the community.

Sometimes it's been random strangers and other times those we know.

People have:

  • Let us merge into traffic when driving
  • Stopped to allow us to cross the road with a pram
  • Passed on women's pre-loved clothing and jewellery
  • Sent leftover ingredients home with us (from the café)
  • Harvested fresh produce from their garden to give to us - rhubarb & lemons; lettuces & oranges
  • Given us a christmas headband 
  • Offered us yarn, fabric and sewing patterns
  • Sent a fruit loaf home with a young lad to share for afternoon tea
  • Made us a jar of creamy lemon curd
  • Given us syringes; and colustrum to feed kittens
  • Delivered apples & a jar of fresh honey to enjoy
  • Given us money - yes, you read that correctly.

The last RAOK was by far the most unexpected, unbelievable, it-will-never-happen-to-me story.

Another volunteer at the café we've been helping out at all year, walked up to me while we were getting ready for the day, handed me an envelope and told me that a mutual acquaintance (who wasn't named) wanted me to have this.  Left alone to open it I thumbed through the 5 $100 bills and burst into tears.  This doesn't happen to me.  This doesn't happen to us.  Yes, we've had a really tough couple of years with Atlas being in chronic pain and incapacitated but hardly anyone really knew the full impact that had on us, save a handful of close friends.  Yet, someone else out there read between the lines and dipped deep into their pockets to absolutely bless us.

I didn't know what to do.  I didn't know whether these folks really could afford to give this to us as it was a huge amount.  What was I going to use it for?  What was the most important need?

What happened as a result affected me on more than just a financial level and I have been struggling with how to put it into words.


Their gift was a release.  

It released tears of validation. Someone had noticed me and our situation.

It released tears of stress.  I hadn't realised the weight of the burden I'd been carrying.

It started to release me from a poverty mentality.  I was able to begin to give things away instead of trying to sell items which in turn released some space in the house and garage too and helped other families in our local community.  This process also released me from being held back as much by the past and instead have a healthy appreciation for it, but to move on. 

It released a blessing on our children who we split the money between.  I hadn't quite known how much they resent us not having disposable income and living with the mindset of not having enough (although we give them what they need, it doesn't often stretch to what they would like, too).


Money wasn't the only thing that I believe came with their gift.  I am sure they were also praying for Atlas and his health. Not long afterward Atlas observed that he'd had a couple of pain-free days and began to really look into what might have been different about them.  His hypothesis was caffeine.  It's not as if he hadn't been prompted to look at diet before but somehow this clicked.  He ran tests on himself over the next couple of weeks and sure enough when he drank tea or coffee or ate anything with cocoa in it the pain was back.  He still has the spasms but has now been able to wean himself off his cocktail of prescribed drugs.  How could it be so simple?

This is such a relief.  He can now mow the lawns again, prepare meals, hang out the washing, bath & play with Kita, & DRIVE.  I don't need to drop everything to chauffeur him to client appointments, trailling the children with me.  He can drive himself to the supermarket to do the weekly shopping; and has even travelled 4 hours each way to a customer's site.

I still don't totally trust that the pain won't return and that our lives won't resort to the survival mode we've become bitterly accustomed to.

For now though life seems so much lighter.  I am finally able to put some time into the extra tasks instead of treading water with meals, washing and commitments.  I am beginning to feel hopeful about the future - almost as if there is a chance that something good might be in it.

I wonder if our anonymous donors really knew what they were giving us? Did they think that perhaps their gift would be used to buy food - end of story?  Did they think that it would be used to pay bills and be gone?  Used for material needs.  Or perhaps they better understood that there was a greater purpose?  I rather think so.  

I am so very grateful to them and hope that I can let them know somehow.

16 December 2014


The intention of our RAOK round-ups was to help make us and our readers more mindful about the impact we can have on those around us.

It has been a good discipline for us to write the acts down and see what we have actually been able to do in some small ways, but at the same time also a little uncomfortable to publicly list them as if trophies or displays of pride.

So while we will continue to actively bring kindness to the lives of others we won't routinely be posting about them.


What we've learned this year is:

  • The cost of the RAOK is not necessary directly proportionate to the impact
  • It's focusing on the person (& empathy) that leads to the best and most effective RAOKs
  • Mass pre-meditated RAOKs can be exciting but draining - you need to pace and be kind to yourself too
  • Many people will automatically say 'no' to anything you are giving away - it's sadly our social conditioning that there's no such thing as 'free' without strings attached
  • Being kind to someone can really turn their life around (and you may not even know it unless they tell you directly!)
  • Extending something you already do to include others is an effective way to include RAOKs in your life ie a meal and hospitality to one or two extras at your own table
  • Kindness starts at home - show as much kindness to those under your roof as you do to 'strangers'
  • Being able to free oneself from possessions and tight timetables puts you in such a better place to be able to see and meet others needs


Our last RAOK for the year, is the same as the one that started this very project - giving away candy canes to perfect strangers in the street but hopefully after this year of seeing people at the Welcome Wednesday Cafe and the Night Markets we will know more of those we would otherwise just pass by in public.

11 December 2014

Hand-knitted woollen items

Home-sewn merino garments


RAOK round-up documents the random acts of kindness or volunteerism that we have been able to do for others over the last month. Our focus is to do something for someone each week. Listing them here celebrates this goal, and we hope may help to make you more mindful of what you have to give too.


Our 12th post marks a full year of doing and documenting Random Acts of Kindness.

We've really put our money where our mouth is this month, giving away many items that could have been sold instead to people we believe genuinely needed them more.  

Keeping the question "Will doing, or getting rid of, this help us get on the road?" in the forefront of my thoughts gave me strength and focus as it is a goal bigger than the present material 'loss' and one I am willing to make sacrifices for.  Having the boxes and boxes of 'stuff' around the house to sell but not getting around to it was like a brick wall to us breaking free into our next adventure, and was hemming us in mentally in the present.  I didn't have the time to prioritise photographing, describing, listing and selling everything either but also knew that I could only 'get rid of them' once whether sold or donated.

Let's hope the clothing and things make someone's life a little easier & brighter.


  • Donated all my maternity clothing, baby boy and girl clothing >2 years, pumps, bottles, bathroom linen etc to Veronica's Place, Waipawa
  • Gave away all our other grown-out-of clothing that has been accumulating, waiting for the last of the children and some time to sort through it to a community drop-in centre
  • Found a home for our high-chair; some of the children's shoes, books, yarn, socks, a candle lantern and other items by offering them free at the end of our driveway
  • Volunteered at the cafe Wednesdays; trained young people on making coffee on Tuesdays (Electra)
  • Vega and Gemma also both volunteered at the cafe - waitressing and serving
  • Vega wrote a job description for waiting staff at the WW cafe to make it easier to brief the new front-of-house staff each week
  • Dropped off 52.3kg of rags to a local mechanic (salvaging 140 buttons in the process)
  • Made a santa hat for a gent who can't buy them big enough
  • Offered a 90l bin full of yarn to customers dining at the cafe which was snaffled up
  • Played Secret Santa with NZ Post for the first time
  • Themed the WW cafe for Christmas with (some gaudy, some gorgeous) costumes, funky music, home-sewn aprons, table numbers, a poster etc
  • Spent time talking to a new friend


Donating the maternity and baby items to Veronica's Place was challenging on many levels.

As I wrote above we could have sold the items as many were new or as new condition.  In fact this was the first time that I had felt we were giving away our very best.  Most of the time we keep items until they are falling apart and no one else would want them (you only have to see the bags of shoes on our bag porch that need to go into the rubbish to attest to that, or note how many kgs of rags were delivered to the mechanic!).  

Yes, it was the end of an era too, but it's one that I was satisfied with leaving behind so that wasn't so hard.  If I were to regret anything it would be that our family didn't come together faster for us, but seeing as we were diagnosed with primary infertility and told we'd need assistance having any, I try not to get too annoyed by that. [Incidentally all our children have been spontaneous pregnancies.] 

It was the tender memories that the clothing held that made me wonder several times whether I was doing the right thing.  Almost as if by giving the things away we were going to forget the moments.  When I was sorting through the baby clothes, there certainly were stories, events and feelings that came to mind; and gratitude for the people that had given us baby gifts (sometimes at a sacrifice themselves); as well as an acknowledgement of the hours I had put in knitting/sewing and such preparing for our first and last babies in particular.  

I tried all sorts of logical ways to mitigate the emotions: 'you are giving things to women with a genuine need'; 'there is no point storing all this until you have grandchildren'; 'none of your friends are going to be having children', but the faint glimmer of hope came when I thought "by giving all this away I am releasing them to continue to make memories and be part of more stories of love, family, and transformation in the world" - weird as that sounds to put into words.

There is no going back now and I hope there are no regrets - although Kita immediately missed his baby bath.  He understands that it's been given to smaller babies, and we've re-appropriated a stacking bin for him so it's okay.

Richard and Roseanne were so grateful to receive what we had to give and I look forward to the stories they have to tell.