Written by Kirsten Macdonald
A small town often holds within it a treasure. Humble treasure in the form of a person.
Golden humans who go beyond care and into a level of compassion and dedication that fills hearts. In a world that can often feel self-serving and lonely, this kind of treasure is vital. Why? Because when acts of kindness and kinship enter a person’s life for no other reason than the recognition that they need a little help- it changes lives. In Kyabram Victoria, Liz Dillon is this treasure.
Liz is a vocal and performance coach and the founder of The Gift. The Gift started as a passion project to help raise funds to support local people living with Cancer. It is now a fully teamed Charity that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars alongside community bonding through social events and fundraisers. She is humble and whilst I know she will cringe at this article’s title, she is a Queen of hearts for many people. (She’s also very funny) Liz has been the heart and soul for many aspiring musicians in the area and according to locals has been a life support for many burgeoning artists.
How do you unwind and reflect?
Reflection- well, it’s funny you ask; my daughter and I recently pulled up at a new set of traffic lights in a town we tutor in, and she said how much she didn’t like them ( the new lights). I said, “I like them…it gives me time to reflect” she looked at me frowning, and I smiled. I reflect every moment I get to pause.
These lights are on our way home, and I usually drive solo. I get to these lights, and if they are red, they remind me to breath and reflect on the day.
How do I unwind? – Look, I don’t think I actually ever do completely. Music is a huge part of my day; I often turn to it as a distraction for what else needs be done. ( best procrastinator in the world). Classical music does take me to the closest level of relaxation and unwinding. -And Gin.
Knowledge is powerful. Do you have a gem of wisdom you now know that you wish you knew when you were younger? Something you want young women could know too?
Many things- why stop at one?
That I am worthy. Yeah ….. we are worthy, and talking about periods is normal. Whoops, that was two.
Your incredible dedication to the town of Kyabram extends well past the town boundary and into hearts everywhere. Your pursuit of musical education and joy through Dillmac entertainment, as well as The Gift, is more than a smidge inspiring. What part of you spurs you on to lead on these projects? Has this always been a part of your personality?
That’s hard to answer simply because I find all these things to be just a normal part of life. Shouldn’t everyone do this? YES – every town needs a Gift.
Every child should have access to an education in music and charity begins in the home….(that’s what my mum always said- I used to think it meant our home as a kid.)
My mum taught me about charity and empathy. Whether she knows it or not, I wouldn’t be doing what I do with the Gift if it wasn’t for her. My mum is charitable and still, at 81 years old, gets out there supporting the community. We did meals on wheels together for a few years that really opened my eyes to a different part of our community.
But what drives me to keep going with the Gift?~ just the people. Their stories. Their fight.
Why should families have to drain their life savings for expenses associated with everything cancer brings? Why can’t our community pay for that? So we do. Our community does that. And otter towns help too. We raise funds all year. And it helps. It’s a gift.
My music. It was my Saviour. Always. I couldn’t have gotten through school without it. Through life so far without it. I see the joy, feel the joy it brings to not only the amazing humans we have at Dillmac but their family, friends and us tutors.
I think this deep heavy ( wrong word ) feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hear and see the kids perform. And I cry – ha! Yeah, I cry a lot from pure joy and such great pride. And admiration and even still a bit of disbelief that this is my life and these kids can do this.? Music and these amazing beings. So lucky. So privileged.
This month we are looking at the practice of Hygge – the Danes have it down like a boss. What is your ideal cosy corner? What would it look like?
So much comes to mind. My constant go-to is, of course, my family. They are my comfort zone. But I am my own cozy corner. Wow. Did I just say that?
I just love to be alone. Not always, but I enjoy my time being alone. I’m never lonely when I’m alone. I feel safe. There are a few certain people in my life that I feel the same whilst in their company. I can count them on the one hand. My corner would be my family, my five on the one hand – music and a month of Sundays.
If you wrote a letter to Cancer, what would the first sentence say?
Dear Cancer. I hate your stinking guts.
You make me vomit; you are the scum between my toes.
( letter from alfalfa to Darla – little rascals)
If I had a chance to write two?
How does get @#*ked sound?
I took that chance and wrote two.
What are you reading right now?
Honestly? My new timetable for work …. three weeks it’s taken me. No time for reading until the term is well on its way, and then I have a pile of books to catch up on. A pile. All survival stories. Surviving against the odds.
What is your favourite way to celebrate your successes in life?
My husband and family are my successes. They are my happiness. I celebrate life with them whenever I am with them. Alive for many days- but dead once.
Who are you listening to right now?
At this time of the year…everything. We are picking songs for our students to learn. But I always revisit, no doubt – Baby Animals and Pink.
Moulin Rouge the movie version, She used to be mine from Waitress (Sara Bareilles singing it, not the musical version ) and Jagged Little Pill – the musical and the whole album, ( yes Alanis Morissette’s music in a musical )
They- by Jem ( who are they – ), ok stopping now.
Best sad song?
Everybody Hurts- the REM version is good, but the Corrs version, wow! Need a cry? Get on it!
The Story -Brandi Carlile –
Feels like home -Chantel Kreviak
Even when I’m sleeping -Leonardo’s Bride.
When it comes to romance, you can not stop at one…
What is that musical Earworm that gives you the shits, but you sing to it anyway?
What is the song that gets you moving?
Dance wise…omg, not a dancer, but… I love a private jive to ~ I Will Survive!
Treehouse or cubbyhouse?
Never treehouse afraid of heights. Thinking about a balcony in a unit on holidays weakens my knees and stomach… so much so it nearly makes me cancel every time and just book the ground floor! So cubby house for sure! And now I play in the cubby house with my grandkids,… well I would if I could fit in it. 🤣
What do you love about living in a country town?
Easy -My family. And the community spirit. Anytime someone needs help, this community will rally…. all small towns do the same, but I’m in this one …so yeah, it’s the best. I’ve done Melbourne and Sydney. Regional is the best kick out the rest, and around the corner really means around the corner.
If you want to listen to Liz’s Playlist- click here; we compiled her curation in our Music Playlist for the month.
Thank you to our sponsors Australian Skin Face Body- click here to find out more about them!
Ponderers and counting...
We ponder with Alana and Michele Scarce, sisters who infuse every endeavour with their infectious energy, spirited leadership, and humour. The founders of Raw Pawz spill the tea!
We ponder with Warren Davies, known as ‘The Unbreakable Farmer’, an icon of rural mental health in Australia.
In the enchanting realm of Wallington, there exists a story of love that transcends mere emotion. It’s a tale woven into the fabric of an abode that’s more than a venue – The Barn Wallington.