Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Talk to me: What does a contributing life mean to you?

"Check this out", I said to my mum a couple of weeks ago.

I slid the printout of an invitation I'd been emailed across the kitchen table to her.

It was inviting me to a morning tea hosted by the National Mental Health Commissioners Janet Meagher and Jackie Crowe as part of the Commission's Contributing Life Conversations Project.

"We are keen to hear your thoughts on what 'A Contributing Life' means to you..." said the invitation.

Me?

"Why the hell would these important people want to hear what I had to say?" I asked mum.

"I haven't had a paid job in nearly six years. How can I talk about a 'contributing life'?"

My initial response was to not accept the invitation. I'd already said yes to another blogger function about working with brands anyway.




Days went by and I checked out the Commission's website again and looked further into the initiative. The more I read the more I realised that I had to go. The fact that my first thought was that I don't contribute anything to life meant it was really important for me to go as a sufferer of a mental illness and as a blogger with a voice.

And there it was: A blogger with a voice. A tiny voice in this massive blogosphere, but a voice nonetheless. Here is where I make a contribution.

Of course I contribute in a lot of other ways too. I am a mum to a beautiful little boy. That's one hell of a contribution right there! And that's what the Contributing Life Project is all about. Getting a group together - family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues - and sitting down to have a chat about how we all want a meaningful life, whether we have mental health issues or not.

The Commission is encouraging people to meet up between 22 July and 11 August to discuss the four following questions:

Question 1: What's important to you in having a meaningful life?

Question 2: What helps you to have a meaningful life?

Question 3: What gets in the way?

Question 4: What would make the biggest difference to your life (top 3 things)?

If you would like to host your own event further details of the initiative and event packs are on the Commission's website but I thought I'd host a "Contributing Life Conversation" right here in my space and you're invited. I'd love to know what gives your life meaning and purpose. I've certainly got a new understanding of my own sense of purpose since thinking about the above questions.

If you feel comfortable answering any or all of these questions, I'd love it if you'd type your answers in the comments section below (or email me if you want to keep them private). I can then collate the answers, anonymously of course, and send them on to the National Mental Health Commission. They will then use the information to gain a better understanding of what can be done to help drive meaningful improvement for the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians.

So will you talk to me?

V.




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12 comments:

Debbish said...

Great initiative. It's something I've been thinking of lately (the meaningful life thing).

I always assumed that 'a family' would bring meaning to my life. Sadly I'm still single and though I tried to have children (when I gave up on meeting 'the one') I was already in my 40s and it was basically too late. So, when I accepted that the 'family' thing wasn't to be I really had no idea what there was left.

I'd worked and paid taxes, mortgage, bills etc for 20-25 or so years. Suddenly I was almost 45 with little to show for my life.

All of that, however, led me to make some big life changes late last year (quitting work, moving etc). I've realised in retrospect that those first 20 years gave me the freedom now to find some meaning / passion / joy. I've tried before (doing the overseas volunteer thing, changing careers, moving states, towns and countries) but feel it's now or never.



As for the three things which would make the biggest difference to my life: money, losing weight, a relationship. I think.

Emily Morgan said...

Great questions - we all contribute even if we don't realise it, I think.

Question 1: What's important to you in having a meaningful life? - making a difference in someone's life, and that could be your child or other family member - and being fulfilled yourself in doing it.

Question 2: What helps you to have a meaningful life? - thinking of things I can do for others, and doing them. remembering why I am doing the things I do. And working towards my goals.

Question 3: What gets in the way? - the daily grind, negative thoughts about wasted time and opportunities and things I don't have

Question 4: What would make the biggest difference to your life (top 3 things)? More family support in my vicinity. More financial freedom. And more space of my own.



thanks!!

Mrs Holsby said...

Oh man, I was trying to do some quick blog reading and then I found these big questions forcing me to look deeply into myself......
Can't pretend I didn't see it!
1) It's important to me to feel as though my life is meaningful because otherwise I feel as though I haven't achieved anything.
2) Having a happy, healthy and balanced family helps me feels as though my life is meaningful, as does ensuring I nurture my needs and strive for my dreams.
3)Time gets in the way. Each day is too short!
4) I can't ask for more time in my life, because I would have to sacrifice too much else to free myself, but I guess perspective would help. I tend to lose sight that this time with my baby is very short, and my dreams aren't going anywhere. Balance helps.
And chilling the hell out would help too.

AParentingLife said...

Question 1: What's important to you in having a meaningful life?
Feeling like I have achieved something, anything. Watching the girls master something new, learning something new myself. Being able to be there for someone else and help them in some way
Question 2: What helps you to have a meaningful life?
Finding ways to help others. Actively thinking about what I can teach the girls. Knowing I have tried my best
Question 3: What gets in the way?
TIme and patience. Money
Question 4: What would make the biggest difference to your life (top 3 things)? Time patience money

Annaleis Topham said...

1. People - they make it meaningful, the ones you smile a in the street, te ones you put to bed at night. It wouldn't be meaningful without the relationships.
2. Helping, volunteering, offering that smile. It's the return you get however small that makes t worthwhile.
3. By nature us people do not let people in easily. I think our own nature is a barrier. The other biggest one is Time.
4. Access to facilities and medical needs, time, money

babblingbandit.me said...

These are great answers Annaleis. Thanks for contributing! V.

babblingbandit.me said...

Helping others seems to be a theme running through these answers which is wonderful. I also like helping others, particularly my family. It definitely makes me feel valued. Thanks for participating! V.

Jackie crowe said...

It was good to meet you at the Sydney Contributing lives conversation – I was so inspired by you guys you are all amazing people!! …… especially your blogging abilities!!!! …. I had a go at blogging on the week end ….. think I failed…. But “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ― Winston Churchill
And its wonderful people like you that that inspire the National Mental Health Commission –particularly this Commissioner, to have the courage, with out fear nor favor to continue the work to ensure that all people experiencing a mental health difficulty, their family friends and support people can lead a contributing life …….just like every one else ….. thanks for joining us, Jackie

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