Balancing Act – start stuff now

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Photo from
Photo from

Two down, one to go of three weekends in a row with no parenting responsibilities. The spontaneous going to see music, taking in a yoga class, late nights and breakfast with friends has reminded me of the days before I had a child.

It’s made me reflect how much the Cheeky Monkey has changed my life. Things are more settled, I’ve moved cities and countries less with only two big geographical moves in the last 9 years and I’m more involved in the wider community.

The marking of time has become more apparent too. The Cheeky Monkey is ten years old. How did that happen? I feel the same (denial I know) but I must be different. I look at him and know I’m getting older too.  I feel an urgency to get things done, to take the bull by the horns. Or is to make hay while the sun shines? Idioms have never been my strong point!

As a younger person, my life seemed boundless, the edges not visible to me at all. Now I can see our finite existence and feel the urge to make things count.

I love this awareness. I really believe that if you want to do something, you should just get out there and do it. Don’t wait for the right this or that. Start off small and create the right time, place and situation. It’s possible and necessary if you want to get those dreams out of your head and into the world. Starting in on your dream project doesn’t mean you have to do everything all at once, or all by yourself.  Lots of small actions add up over time.

I know it seems easier said than done.

Plunging into the unknown has always been my favourite way of operating. Got a problem? Great, let me help solve it. Want to go travelling to faraway lands? Count me in. Need a buddy for adventures? Please pick me! But risk taking and parenting don’t always go hand in hand. In my time as a parent, I’ve really come to understand the value of the long haul. The past 8 years or so has seen me in a permanent and fairly stable job, the longest stretch of fulltime employment in my life. I didn’t work a Monday to Friday job until I was 27 and even then I quickly requested different hours from 9-5. I lasted two years. I didn’t work fulltime again til I was 36.

To my surprise, there have been benefits associated with this relative stillness in these years since Cheeky Monkey. I’ve got great networks, personal and professional. I’ve been able to spend time with immediate family on a more regular basis. I’ve learned the beauty of putting in time in a place, on a project, with people and reaping the rewards of friendship, support and knowledge, and being in the midst of things not just at the beginning but during the middle and the end too.

It doesn’t mean I still don’t prefer the unfamiliar and new. I do. But I’ve realised I can have the best of both worlds with a bit of tweaking. Working on your dreams doesn’t depend on your situation – it just depends on you putting yourself and your wellbeing front and centre. You can manage big risk if you do this – take a you-centred approach.

I’ve loved my weekends with no plans or responsibilities other than to myself, feeling single and free. For the third weekend though, I’ve decided I’m going to take my Cheeky Monkey out on a date and do something new. Just him and me – single and free can mix it up with responsible and being a mother.

[If you need help getting your projects started, talk to us at Binky. We can help you get your ideas out of your head into the world. Contact us at]

Binky 2014 and beyond

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Krampus image from TinyOwlWorkshop

The end of the year is coming and Binky will have a little break over the Christmas/New Year period. Over at the Grateful Project, we’ll be starting a challenge on 21 December to take you through Christmas and the New Year with gratitude. So if you haven’t already, join the group and have fun with the prompts designed to help you access gratefulness through the holiday period!

It seems like a good time to reflect on the past year for Binky and what a year it’s been. We started off riding high on the success of our Pozible campaign.

Getting out the rewards to our supporters, processing the images, printing them and sorting out the exhibition venue ensured February and March were super busy. Fortuitously we held our exhibition on Harmony Day once more and were able to donate all funds raised to the Multicultural Development Association, helping refugees with the settlement process. The night was great – many thanks to all those that supported the exhibition in one way or another. We couldn’t do it without you.

We were also lucky enough to come top ten in the Happy Project.  Even though we didn’t win, we’ve decided to go ahead and make this project come to life anyhow. Named HeartStrings, we hope to bring this project to you in 2015. It’s a bit under wraps at the moment but we have high hopes of bringing a bit more happiness into the world!

August saw us at the Darwin Festival for our YarnHeart Project – combining craft, gratitude and hearts! YarnHeart encouraged an exchange of gratitude across culture and place, emphasising the elements that join us as human beings – love, gratitude, happiness. The images from this project were amazing, and the hearts received from across the country made their way to the Bagot Indigenous Community for exhibition at the Bagot Festival. It was a huge success. The handmade hearts reside in the community and we hope to be able to build on this project in the future, bringing it to other communities and embedding it in Bagot as well. Unfortunately some unforeseen challenges have meant that not all the hearts were able to photographed. Big apologies to those who missed out – we haven’t given up but some tragic circumstances made our tasks a little bit harder to accomplish.

After a bit of recovery time, we got straight back into another gratitude challenge on the Grateful Project. The group just continues to grow and grow, down to Louise’s dedicated and thoughtful moderation of this wonderful coming together of lovely people from around the world. Each challenge elicits new ways of seeing the world and sharing in the good around us. We have some plans up our sleeve for next year for the Grateful Project and hope it will continue to evolve and evoke.

Finally, if it wasn’t for everyone who supports the Binky crew every day, on the many different social media channels, as well as face to face and more, we couldn’t bring these amazing projects to life. It’s been a wonderful year of trying out new things, meeting new people and connecting.  Friends of Binky – Tribe Media, Tiny Owl Workshop, Naked Crackers , G&V Design and Fabrication, Sunday Assembly, Fieldworx –  we love you all. Thanks so much for all you give.

As we grow our projects, we’d love to have more people get involved. If you think you’d like to volunteer to help or would like to start your own project for social good – let us know.  We can provide opportunities for social media management, project coordination, event management and more.

You can contact us here on the blog, on facebook, or on twitter (@binkycollective). Looking forward to a hella good 2015.

Peace out til January and don’t forget to be excellent to one another.



Spending for Good

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It’s 36 days til Christmas. Gulp! It can’t be denied. Christmas is coming and so is the annual consumer pilgrimage to buy stuff. I’m already being regaled daily by the Cheeky Monkey with additions to the ever growing Christmas list. The look of horror on his face when I suggested that he might be a bit old for Santa. You’d have thought I just told him Santa was actually a flesh-eating Zombie. It was enough to tell me that Santa gifts are here to stay for quite some time. Added to that are all the obligatory gifts – work Secret Santa, older relatives, people for whom Christmas retains a special meaning. I don’t hate shopping – entirely – just not good at compressing the process for a specific purpose. It seems so manufactured somehow. And of course, don’t we all have enough stuff in the first place?

qart-christmas-card-pack-of-15-hhxSo imagine my joy at coming across Good Spender, an online shopping platform that connects you directly with goods and services from social enterprises. You can shop AND make a difference at the same time. Win win!


A partnership between Social Traders and Australia Post’s Our Neighbourhood program, Good Spender gives you access to fashion, art, homewares, food, jewellery and lots of other great things. You can even buy wine to support charity!

Your dollars go to a bunch of great social enterprises, and that means helping out causes like fairtrade, young people, the environment, food security and many more. The website lets you search by product category or by cause you want to support. Each social enterprise has its own storefront on the site with information about their cause, their returns policy, shipping rates and any other relevant information.


This is such a great way to support a cause without even really trying. Coincidentally, Good Spender is offering free shipping today and tomorrow 18 and 19 November. Go check them out!

Draw Happy

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When we were in the middle of the YarnHeart project, and doing heart making workshops, one of the things that turned out to be challenging was explaining the concept of gratitude to children. We talked a lot about what gratitude meant and how it made you feel. Of course, one of the things we talked about was how gratitude gave you a feeling of happiness. Many of the kids would then tell us the things that made them happy and that they were grateful for them.

Draw Happy is a global art project exploring happiness by inviting people to draw what makes them happy.  The project founder Catherine Young, talks about how difficult it was getting people to draw what makes them happy.

Interestingly, results were not as straightforward as I thought they would be. In my initial round of asking 100 people in Iceland, some people who rejected me did so because they refused to draw even the most basic of shapes and stick figures. A smaller population were surprised that someone even bothered to ask them this question, because no one else previously had and neither had they asked this themselves. I decided to go forward with this project and ask everyone – friends, colleagues, teachers, and strangers back in New York (and the world) – to DrawHappy.

Our chats with the kids were extremely rewarding, especially when they finally ‘got it’ and started listing off  things they were grateful for in their lives. The realisation of gratitude also seemed to have an empowering effect on the kids – knowing that there were good things in their lives that they could be grateful for.

When I read about Drawing Happy, I felt there were definite similarities to what we experienced. Sometimes taking that moment to think about what makes you happy or what you’re grateful for makes all the difference,

Might have to get those crayons out after all  as Louise recently suggested in our Grateful31 challenge with this post about drawing and colouring.

image by Jessica Cardenas,
image by Jessica Cardenas,

Happiness – synthesized vs natural OR do we really know what makes us happy?

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Thanks so much to Brain Pickings for highlighting this TED video featuring social psychologist Daniel Gilbert talking about his research on happiness and our cognitive bias in determining what we really think will make us happy. According to Gilbert, human beings really aren’t good at predicting what makes them happy and ultimately, choice is the enemy of happiness. Watch the video and then go find his book Stumbling on Happiness. Gilbert is an engaging speaker – it’s an easy 20 minute watch and you’ll be surprised how easy it really is to be happy!


#Grateful31 starts today!

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And we’re off. Our new 31 day grateful challenge starts today, and it has already made me feel so happy. I almost couldn’t wait to share how grateful I am to be alive in this amazing life, waking up to sunshine and birdsong. Oh grateful challenge, how I have missed thee!

Then I came across this wonderful post from Christine Carter in my inbox and just had to share it with everyone. It’s a really lovely read about noting down the good things that happen, even if you are not a journaler! I totally relate – I must have at least 5-10 notebooks with a few pages filled. And when I read them, I realise that in the past I have often written when I am sad. Re-reading my notebooks can sometimes take me to places of profound sadness. So how important to now also remember to jot down when I am happy, and today is definitely one of those days. I also love her tips about texting your kids. I’m gonna try that next week when my cheeky monkey is back from his Dad’s place. I am already anticipating the funny look on his face to receive a message and photo from me!

In the meantime, hop on over to our Grateful Project facebook page, or tweet or instagram #Grateful31 all those grateful feelings. It’s guaranteed to make a difference!

Binky’s Darwin YarnHeart adventure

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imageWow. Darwin was amazing. Much fun and heartmaking was had amidst the festivities of I Heart Bagot and the Darwin, errr…Festival! It was all very festive, what can I say?! 

The response to YarnHeart was wonderful and we are still churning out the portraits this week and probably for the next couple of weeks. The heart installation space was in Bagot House where folks could go visit, have a cup of tea, see the fabulous hearts sent from near and far and enjoy learning about the history of Bagot Community.

Big thanks must go to Producer Kieren Sanderson. This project was conceived over emails and phone calls but could never have been delivered without the amazing on the ground skills, coordination and leadership of Kieren. Thanks also to Louise Doble, who’s incredible design talents were put to good use with our beautiful YarnHeart logo. Louise is also the unofficial Binky photographer and archivist and took many wonderful images during our time in Bagot community – we’ll share more of these over time. Thanks also to the talented Zoe Davis, photographer and the plethora of amazing production crew who made our time at the festival just so much more wonderful – Ally, Sophie, Vanessa and anyone else I’ve missed. And thanks to Darwin Community Arts Centre for supplying the crafting supplies for the YarnHeart space. What a collaborative effort! We couldn’t have done it without you.

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