Can We Get a Refund?

Hey America, I’ve been looking around at all the wonderful days of celebration you have on offer and I’m wondering if we can get a refund. It seems we bought the wrong day.

I’m fine if you have a ‘no refund’ policy. A straight exchange will work just as well.

It seems that here in Australia we’ve bought into the whole Halloween thing you were selling. Yep, I know it didn’t originate with you, but we seem to have bought your version of the day anyway.

Every year in October our supermarket shelves are filled with more and more skeletons, pumpkins, ghouls and ghosts. We’ve bought the whole package from you and every year we see more and more children wandering the streets begging for ‘candy from strangers’, a thing we advise against for the other 364 days of the year.

I know that Halloween is often dressed up as simply a day for dressing up, but I think I’ll pass.

So, back to the whole refund thing, or as I say, perhaps a direct swap.

If we give Halloween back, can we have Thanksgiving?

Again, I know it’s not necessarily an exclusively American thing, but from my long-distance perspective, you seem to do Thanksgiving pretty well.

We have so much to cause us to be thankful in Australia, and while I would love to see a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude all year round, a day dedicated to counting our blessings would be a very good addition to our calendar.

There’s been some excellent work done around a National Day of Thanks down under but unfortunately, it hasn’t gained the widespread acceptance and celebration it deserves.

While I don’t quite get the whole turkey pardoning thing (I don’t even know what the turkey did to need pardoning) I do like the idea of being thankful to God for His blessings to us. I also like the idea of sharing that thankfulness among family and friends around a meal.

Being thankful seems to have so much going for it.

In a world that presses us to want and strive after more and more, pretending that it will eventually bring us some kind of happiness, it’s helpful to look at our lives and see what we already have.

On days when I’m low, a quick reminder of just how good I’ve got it will often get me through. I’m not saying it’s the answer to everything that troubles us but thankfulness or gratitude can have proven, very real, physical benefits.

Psychologists find that, over time, feeling grateful boosts happiness and fosters both physical and psychological health, even among those already struggling with mental health problems. Studies show that practising gratitude curbs the use of words expressing negative emotions and shifts inner attention away from such negative emotions as resentment and envy, minimizing the possibility of ruminating over them (a hallmark of depression). – Psychology Today

The simple act of being thankful and expressing thankfulness can make a real difference in our lives.

Studies show gratitude helps us build stronger immune systems, causes us to be less bothered by aches and pains, lowers our blood pressure, gives us higher levels of positive emotions, makes us more alert, alive, and awake. There are many more benefits including making us more helpful, generous, and compassionate, more forgiving, less lonely and isolated. What’s not to like?

So, maybe we won’t grab every aspect of an American Thanksgiving, but can we pinch the general concept from you?

I would be incredibly thankful if we could see our nation recognising what we have rather than what we don’t have. That doesn’t mean blindly ignoring important issues that need our voice and attention but ensuring that we also give our voice to gratitude and thankfulness.

So what do you say, America?

Do you think we can do a deal? If we try to find the box it came in, can we return Halloween for a great big box of Thanksgiving?


And no matter where you are in the world, I’d love to hear why you’re thankful today? Do yourself and your health a real favour by practising thankfulness and gratitude right now. Leave a comment on this post with some of the things that make you thankful.



Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading Can We Get a Refund?? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂

What am I going to do with a goat?

(This is an updated post from previous years.) If you’ve been to a shopping centre recently or watched any television, you’ll know that Christmas is rapidly approaching and there are plenty of businesses that are keen to ‘help you celebrate’ with their products. While the big day is still just under a couple of months away, we know that it all starts to ramp up from here.

Once again, I’m conflicted. If I’m honest, I don’t really need anything for Christmas. If no one bought me a gift for Christmas or any other occasion, I could survive. In fact not just survive but continue to thrive.

The conflict comes from the fact that I still enjoy receiving gifts. I love the unwrapping and the excitement of having something shiny and new. I also love the fact that people care enough to choose something for me.

It concerns me that while I’m enjoying lovely new things that I don’t really need, there are people in many parts of the world that don’t have the basics that they need to get on with the daily task of just keeping their families alive.

If Christmas is about celebrating Jesus, surely we should be doing something that honours him and his heart for the poor, rather than overindulging while most of the world goes without.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting we should all be miserable and not fully enter into the celebrations at this time of year.

Balance

I suppose that’s where we all need some kind of balance between the giving and receiving of gifts between friends and loved ones and our wider responsibility to those in need around the world. We live in a global village but most of the villagers are missing out.

Those of us who’ve been blessed by simply being born in the right place should spare a thought for those who only ask for the gift of life this Christmas.

I might not have a lot of use for a goat but for a rural family in a developing country, the simple gift of a goat could be just what they need to break free from poverty.

Compassion

So where do you buy a goat and how do you get it to someone who needs it? Compassion Australia’s Gifts of Compassion is open and ready for business. Their gifts help people who are battling desperate poverty.

They can take your money and turn it into a very real solution to poverty. You can buy everything from mosquito nets to a toilet block with lots more in between including chickens, cows, toothbrushes and baby vaccinations.

Your support really does make a difference.

I’ve visited churches partnering with Compassion in seven of the 25 countries where they’re working and I can personally vouch for the work they do. When you support those in poverty through Compassion, the aid really does make it to those who need it.

In fact, it was after seeing the work of Compassion that I decided that I would do all I could to advance their work which is why I’ve now been working full-time for Compassion for the last six years.

This Christmas I do want to receive something for myself, wrapped in thought and love, but I also hope that someone will give me a goat or a chicken or a health bundle for someone I’ll never meet.

What about you?

Go on … you’ve thought about it before but unless you let your loved ones know now it’ll never happen. Ask those you love to buy something for someone else this Christmas.



Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading What am I going to do with a goat?? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂

Loving the Philippines

It’s been a little quiet around here lately so I thought I’d add a few short videos from my visit to the Philippines in September.

I was there seeing the work of Compassion, releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

You can click play on the three videos below.




Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading Loving the Philippines? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂

RetroRadio – Guy Sebastian

RetroRadio is a series of posts of radio interviews from my time working at 98five Sonshine FM covering everything from issues of spirituality to chats with visiting musicians and celebrities.

Hopefully, the interviews spark a few memories and a few thoughts.

These days he’s the newest coach on hit television show, The Voice Australia, but since bursting onto our screens and winning the first series of Australian Idol back in 2003, Guy Sebastian has amassed an amazing list of accomplishments.

He has performed alongside and in front of some of the biggest names in the music business, won a swag of awards and was Australia’s representative at the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest.

Back in my radio days, I had a number of opportunities to chat with Guy. Here are a couple of those interviews.

Firstly, here’s an interview from October 2007. Guy was just about to release his Memphis Album. The wonderful thing about that album was that Guy enlisted the help of top soul musicians such as Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Steve Potts, Lester Snell, Dave Smith, Rick Steff, Jim Spake, Kirk Smothers, Scott Thompson and Howard Lamb.

Many of those musicians wrote and recorded the original versions of the songs on the album with the likes of Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Al Green and Wilson Pickett and were members of the MGs, playing with Booker T, and the Blues Brothers Band. Steve Cropper, who co-wrote In The Midnight Hour, Knock On Wood, and (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay, also produced the album with Guy.

I remember having a representative of the record company in the studio during our interview. She gasped when Guy revealed that some of those giants of the industry would be his backing band for a tour early in 2008.

The only downside of having Guy live in the studio was that he had a terrible flu, which I then managed to catch.

Listen to what he had to say about his music all those years ago using the media player below.

In October 2009 I had the opportunity to catch up with Guy again. Once again we talked about his musical journey and his album at the time, Like it Like That.

Once again he was a delight to interview. I was particularly encouraged, and a little embarrassed, by his final words to me in the interview. I guess he enjoyed the interview as much as I did.

Just click play and enjoy another catch up with Guy Sebastian.

[Note: All RetroRadio interviews on RodneyOlsen.net are a snapshot of the time they were recorded. We all grow and change and so the opinions and thoughts of those in the interviews at the time of recording may or may not necessarily be the same as they are today.]

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading RetroRadio – Guy Sebastian? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂

Riding the Storms

The rain is coming. Storms too. It might get pretty wild over the next week in Perth but I’ll just stay inside.

Warm. Dry. Safe.

I wonder what it might be like for people who don’t have that option.

Sometimes when I’m drifting off to sleep I think about some of the people I’ve met who don’t have the luxury of a comfortable bed and the security of a locked door. The anxieties of the day might sometimes keep me awake but at least for those nighttime hours, I am relatively safe.

I’m not kept awake by rain falling through holes in a grass roof or localised flooding surging through my home. I’m not wondering if this is the night that someone will toss aside the iron sheet that serves as the only barrier between my family and the rest of the world, intent on stealing, destroying and causing personal harm.

This October I’m doing more than thinking about the terrible situations that many are helpless in changing. I’ll be taking on a 500 kilometre Ride for Compassion from Albany to Perth to raise funds to provide new homes for children living in dilapidated shelters in Uganda.

These children are currently living in deplorable conditions that are unsafe, unprotected from the weather, and at risk of collapse.

Staff at Ochegen Child Development Centre regularly visit the homes of Compassion assisted children to provide support. From these visits, staff have identified an urgent need to improve living conditions for 14 Compassion assisted children and their families.

I know that you and I don’t have the capacity to provide a shelter for every child living in extreme poverty around the world, but together, we can make a massive difference for the 14 families who will benefit from the funds we will raise through the ride.

The need is real and urgent.

You have the opportunity to make a tangible change for families who need your help now. Follow this link to donate now. Gifts are tax deductible in Australia and with the current financial year rapidly drawing to a close, now is the time to take action.

Projects are always based on children’s most critical needs, as determined by the local church who knows each child and their situation individually. This project was identified as essential to children’s healthy development for the following reasons:

• Most of these families earn less than US$4 per month; two families are led by single mothers who are struggling to make ends meet, relying on casual labour like gardening.

• Currently, children live in grass-thatched shelters that cannot protect them from varying weather conditions, increasing their risk of pneumonia, flu and other airborne diseases. One child describes how food often rots in their family’s house because of its damp conditions.

• Most of the families have seven members who sometimes share a shelter with their livestock. Children often share sleeping mats with their siblings. Without privacy or adequate resting space, the current living conditions have affected the children’s psychological wellbeing, emotional development and academic performance.

• In its current state, these shelters are unsafe and susceptible to collapse. The homes are constructed with grass roofs, causing poor ventilation and a daily reliance on firewood for cooking, which exacerbates the risk of fire.

Ride for Compassion 2019 will take place from the 19th to the 26th of October with around 22 cyclists and a dedicated support team travelling from Albany in the south west of Australia to Perth.

I hope that by helping to provide more suitable shelters, both you and the families who will benefit will sleep easier at night.

Please follow this link to donate now.

If you’d like more details about Ride for Compassion, just drop me a message or visit the Ride for Compassion website.

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading Riding the Storms? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂