Realising I Have Become a Shore Girl

The first part of my life in New Zealand was spent in small towns like Thames, and later Dargaville. I settled quite comfortably into West Auckland with only a short stint in the early 2000’s in an apartment in Albany to be close to my work.  I loved that job, and particularly my boss and the geeks I shared my days with and went out for Guinness every Wednesday at what was then called the Brick in Albany.

Seems like lifetimes ago now.

Then I met Grumpy.  A Shore boy from birth.

For those of you not familiar with the concept or location of “The Shore” I will bring it back a few steps and explain. Auckland’s North Shore is located across the iconic harbour bridge to the North of the CBD (central business district) and the East of the Upper Harbour Bridge, also known as the Greenhithe Bridge.

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The Harbour Bridge – Gateway to Auckland’s North Shore City.

The North Shore has long been synonymous with affluence, beautiful beaches, an impressive list of successful Kiwi sportspeople, business people and even celebrities.  I remember thinking of the Shore as place where big parties raged on unsupervised, and rich good looking “it” girls would squeeze into tight white jeans, midriff shirts and platform shoes as they venture out into town or the local bars and eateries.

Everyone has a slightly different idea of what the shore means, and, as anywhere, it has high and low socio-economic areas.  There are enclaves of culture, art, cuisine and diversity, and there are some very old neighbourhoods that are suffering some reticence to gentrification where neighbours just don’t seem to get along as a result of people being unable to breach the gap between old and new. For me it has been home for well over a decade.  We live on the border West Auckland and our back doors open up to overlook Herald Island and Whenuapai airbase.  I Love our home, and our neighbourhood, our views, our garden, our trees, our neighbours, and our friends.

This weekend, I finally accepted, that I am now, and probably will be for the foreseeable future, a Shore girl. There is so much to see and do over here on the Shore. There are some excellent cafes and beaches.  We have one of the biggest indoor malls in New Zealand, the Albany mall is where we break for lunch most work days. There are safe and fun playgrounds for the children, and some excellent family friendly eating establishments complete with book corners and fenced in play areas for the kids to enjoy while parents catch up for a coffee. Most Sundays I take one or more of our four children to the Glenfield Mall where hundreds of other Shore dwellers, from an amazing cross-range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, meet to eat and rummage through the market stalls.

GlenfeildNightMarkets4
Korean Tacos? Kay.

GlenfieldNightMarkets6 GlenfieldNightMarket6

Darling daughter asking for some "pocket money" to go and buy some plastic fantastic junkie treasure.
Darling daughter asking for some “pocket money” to go and buy some plastic fantastic junkie treasure.
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Rain or shine it is always quite busy at the markets

GlenfieldNightMarkets1So this is the weekend that I officially came to terms with the fact I am fairly well adjusted to having my work, play and life based in this leafy little corner of New Zealand. Where do you call home?  What do you like to do in your neighbourhood?  Do you like where you live? It was nice stopping for a moment this morning to reflect on the fact the younger me would never have imagined ending up here, but I am pleased that I did.  This is home and I love it. Have a great week everyone. XXOO Dee

The Importance of Failure

HoooOOoookay. Today I want to talk to you about failure.

PositiveWaysFailureAffectsMind

I’m intimately acquainted with the act and the concept of failure. Seeing as I set myself a rather high bar in most things (except housework… obviously ‘rollseyes’) in life, I am quite familiar with the sting of falling short on expectations.

Truth is, I have felt like a failure most of my life.

Perhaps this feeling has a bit to do with the fact I had identified the concept of white middle class privilege more or less as a pre-pubescent. When I was about 7 years old I boldly announced to my Granny: “We are actually upper middle class because we have a big house and can afford to travel.”

The weight of this realization meant that in my mind, I had all the ingredients to fast-track myself to a life of fame and fortune. I would even practice my Grammy acceptance speeches in the mirror, talking into a brush in my large pink room adorned with a cute little canopy bed and matching comforter.

Barf.

So the whole time I was formulating a plan for total global domination through talent, kindness and superior intelligence, the main motivation was to give something back. I wanted to adopt all the lonely babies, feed all the hungry people, hug all the sad and lost souls.  As an adult I want people to be judged on their characters, skills, and merit, not their gender, or appearance.  And I’d like everyone to work together to clean up the mighty big mess we in the “developed” world have made on the planet.

Where was I going with this?

OH yeah.

Failure.

Needless to say, as a grown up I have not accomplished many of lofty goals I had set myself as a child.

My multi-platinum selling album of show-tune covers has yet to be released. The Dianna Goertz (that was my maiden name) home for sad puppies, lonely kittens and people who need hugs has yet to be built.

I’ve also had some pretty amazing wins though, and that’s due, in no small part, to my impressive catalogue of hard knocks and failures, and the resilience to keep going.

Now I have children. Four of them.

I adore them, and they are all very different. They blow my mind with their talents and how much better they are at things than I ever was.

I am also impressed with their ability to shake off failure and keep going. Well, a lot of the time. Sometimes they are defeatist little whiners, but that’s to be expected.

So I’ll tell you a quick story about Daniel as I am already over half-way through the word count l like to observe in these blogs.

Camp is next week. Three whole days in a cabin with his cohorts up at Shakespeare regional park. He is pretty excited. We got a letter saying he needs to stay back and get some extra tuition in swimming. Was he mad? Nope. Was he sad? Nope. Is he looking forward to the opportunity to improve his technique? Absolutely. He did not see this as a personal attack, he did not see this as a failure on his part. The kid LOVES to swim. We think he is pretty good at it. Not as good as he is at science or creative writing or video games or rock climbing, but he’s very confident in the water. He also recognizes that he is not even close to being the most popular kid at school. He’s been through bouts of bullying, he’s had no one to play with on the odd occasion. And you know what he says when he has a truly terrible day socially? “That’s okay mum, I don’t want to peak to early. You guys were nerds and look how you turned out.”

Could. Not. Be. Prouder.

So, today, as I try and squeeze out a blog to share after weeks of writers block and a back-catalogue of copy that has been sitting unwritten, I am reminded that a little bit of fail is part of the formula to a full and happy life.

This does not mean I am entitled to sit back and do nothing.

How do you deal with failure? Do you focus on it? Do you use it to gain insight? Do you beat yourself up? Do you make excuses? Do you lay blame? Do you deny it? Do you embrace it and try again?

I don’t have much in this life that I am truly proud of, but the fact I am helping to raise well adjusted little people with empathy, manners and self-esteem is fuel to keep going through these 80-90 hour work weeks recently.

So, if you’ve had a fail lately, be it big or little, keep going. Don’t lay blame or beat yourself up. Learn. Go get some extra training or tuition like Daniel has done with swimming. If there’s something you want to brush up on, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. If it is a project or report that is giving you grief, it is not unheard of to rip it up and start again.

Good luck with whatever you are currently up to, and thanks from the bottom of my heart for bearing with me through my creative drought lately. This too shall pass. XXOO

Six Seriously Superior Ideas for Dealing with Jerks and Douchebags – by Dee

Mean, arrogant, unpleasant people can be common as muck some days.

ToyStory_Douchebags

Thankfully it doesn’t happen often.

I believe most days and most people are pretty fabulous. Wonderful incidents, like strangers’ smiles, or knowing looks from other parents in the supermarket as kids ask curly questions. A call from a friend at the exact moment you were going to ring them, verifying the fact you are indeed cosmically and psychically connected. These fleeting flashes of fabulousness are all around us.

What about those jerks that just can’t be anything but mean, underhanded, bland, bullish, rude, self-serving or snotty?

They’re out there too. They lurk on our social media feeds and wait for us to have a bad run of luck so they can bask in our defeats, rather than choosing the healthier option of enjoying the good things that happen to the people around them. They talk about us behind our backs and waste their own energy conspiring against people, friends or foes, because that is just how they roll.

FEAR NOT!

You can rise above this boorish behavior in so many ways if you just stay positive, patient and pleasant.

  • Squash their misery with kindness

Whether the douchebag behavior is coming from a stranger, a colleague, fair weather friend, or even someone you really care about, you always have the power to choose how you respond to any encounter.

Personally, I have always found an awesome (or at the very least irritating to the perpetrator) way of managing someone who actively dislikes me or is being mean is to respond by being cheerful, smiley, joyful and jubilant.

Genuinely miserable people HATE that stuff, while people who are just having an off day can re-set in a better and more cheerful manner if they are faced with some genuine warmth and cheer.

Here’s the thing:

If you respond to unpleasantness by mirroring it and being a jerk back, you’ve established a cycle. It will often escalate, and that can end up being painful and damaging.

A lot of people will snap out of their grumpy funk if you respond with warmth to their jerky gibes, so I would definitely suggest you try this strategy first.

  • Be brave

Do not let someone’s misery bring you down or make you feel small.

This is pretty hard to do sometimes, especially if the person imparting unpleasantness is in a position of power, someone you respect, or a friend or acquaintance that you normally enjoy dealing with.

If you are brave enough, carefully ask them if you’ve done something to offend, or if they realise that they are being gloomy, callous, arrogant, harsh etc.

If you are very brave indeed, look the person square in the eye and say “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darnit, people like me!” This somewhat obscure SNL quote from the 80’s may only confuse the culprit of crank, but it will make you feel better.

  • Curve ball that … guy or gal… with an earnest query on how they are doing

Some people are just assholes. You can’t do much about them. Luckily people like that are VERY rare, and I think I have only met a dozen or so genuinely incurable pricks in my 36 years on this earth thus far.

I believe most people have good in them and are kind and rational. If you are being bombarded by badness, check in with the offender and offer a friendly inquiry on how they are feeling.

Seriously.

This works a treat with my mother in law. She’s one of my favourite people on the planet, but wowsers can she be mean. After over a decade of dealing with her delightful disposition, I have found that when she is really miserable, there is a reason. Asking her and letting her tell me in her time and her way works for us. Usually. Might work for you too.

  • Walk away

picture-quotes-happiness

Simple.

Smile, and walk away. For a while or forever, depending on the severity and frequency of the episodes of douchebaggery or negativity.

I have a list the length of my arm of people who truly believe they are just too cool. You know, those: “Don’t you know who I am?” dickhead types. Well yes, I avoid them entirely if I can, and, due to the kind of work I choose to do and the kind of clients I choose, douchebags are indeed thin on the ground. Working with socially and environmentally sustainable causes means I get to hang out with thoughtful, kind, clever people. Some of them are a bit grumpy, but the grumpy types often soldier through and get things done, so lacking a bit of cheer is no problem when dealing with them.

If, however, you are dealing with a bully or a truly manipulative monster, sometimes you just have to throw your hands high in the air and say:

“This shit has gone too far, I’m out.”

KermitImOut

Or, probably more socially acceptable wording would be something along the lines of:

“I’m worth more than this, so I’ll be taking my leave thanks.”

  • Humour

Try responding to negativity through interpretive dance, or perhaps sing your response to them.

Remember the “Carlton” dance from Fresh Prince? Yeah, I bust that out a lot when things get tense with people. There’s a real freedom being the kind of girl who most people already think is a bit nutty, and it means I am quite comfortable throwing randomness at awkward situations.

I find Wayne’s world, Kids in the Hall, Saturday Night Live, Charlie Chaplin, Green Wing and a wide and eclectic catalogue of comedy classics to be a superior source of ideas for material.

There’s heaps of gems for you to store up and pull out when you need them. The Internets is all about this. Pinterest is a great source of thoughtful and pithy material as well.

  • Never sink to their level

Like attracts like, so don’t seek out or sink to the level of seriously miserable people.

Do not take the bait. Do not believe the niggly and manipulative negativity that the haters are feeding you.

Dig deep and think about the people that Love and respect you.

If you lay down with dogs you get fleas. If you hang out with meanies you’ll be mean.

Often, the harder it is to be kind to someone, the more important that it is that you are.

Everyone has a story, and we are all fighting hard battles, so don’t be the person who strips positivity from other people’s days.

So when do you sink to paltry insults, mean spirited and snarky comments, or being an arrogant ass?

Never.

Never, never, never. And if you find yourself on the slippery slope of being a jerkface, I just hope you have friends that will call you out and get you back onto higher ground.

Have a great day.

The Choice is Ours

Choices.

We are faced with thousands of them every day of our lives.

We have to make choices that seem overwhelming, and change the trajectory of our lives; changing jobs, getting married, having children, moving cities or countries, buying a car or a house, choosing a university…

There are also seemingly insignificant decisions to be made every moment: Coffee or tea? Salad or burger? Left or right? Do I join in the negative gossip about a friend or co-worker, defend them or just walk away? Do I smile or do I frown at that homeless lady as I walk past? Do I let this guy in during the rush-hour grind or do I squeeze him out? Do I yell at my kid for faffing about while we are running late before school and work run or do I hug them and accept that I too, am a faffer, and sometimes we are just going to be a bit late? Do I buy that shiny product I don’t actually need or want, or do I save my pennies for something I enjoy more like travel or going out with people I Love?

I don’t think anything is insignificant. And knowing that I am in total control of the decisions I make, including how I choose to deal with external forces that I have no control over makes me feel like a flipping superhero. The trick is realising that even though things happen that we can’t directly control, we can control how we deal with them.

Do you remember that leading sequence in Trainspotting? Brilliant and wrenching movie, and something as grave as heroin addiction does actually come down to choices.

EVERYTHING comes down to choices.

Someone I respect and admire very much indeed posted a terrible photo article about the severity of pollution in China.

And I realised yet again, that I have a choice. And I chose to COMPLETELY change the previously unfinished second half of this blog.

It reminded me about our choices. We can turn away. Or we can consciously decide that we’re ready to do something.

Sometimes I choose to turn away. That’s a choice we all have to make for our own self-preservation sometimes. News of babies or children being hurt or killed at the hands of people who are meant to protect them gets muted because my heart can’t handle it. The channel gets changed, the articles go unread. I support and admire the people I know, and causes who work tirelessly to address issues of domestic violence and poverty in this country. One day I’d like to start a charity to empower women, as that seems like it would be an effective way of healing households and addressing domestic violence, poverty and other social issues. Strong women with self-esteems make excellent choices for themselves and their family and partner and communities at large. True story. But I choose to be smarter, stronger and more prepared before embarking on that journey. I am not ready, and I do not know enough to be useful or do a good job yet. I’ll know when I’m ready. Maybe.

The planet choking is not something I can’t put on hold until I have the time and resources to do something about it. Because, the planet is where I live, breath, eat and drink every single day, and all the other social responsibility campaigning is null and void if we have choked ourselves to death and have nothing left to sustain us.

So the choice to make millions, or rather trillions of small changes lies in each and every human’s hands and hearts.

And if we all stood together, we would slow or reverse the damage we have done. We really, REALLY would.

Plant something. Waste a little less. Pick up your towels and reuse them more than once (I am the WORST for this and go through a mind-numbing amount of laundry every week). Car pool. Grow some food. Get some chickens. Consider your purchases and opt for ecologically sound FMCG (kind of an oxy-moron, but every little bit helps). Support environmental sustainability initiatives that you believe in. Vote to put the planet first. Get excited about green-tech and innovations that mean cheaper, cleaner and more accessible energy for everyone, because we have the technology and the smarts to design and benefit from solar, wind, hydro and electric energies that are not only kinder to the environment, but also very sexy indeed.

We can choose to be defeated and think that the planet is already broken and it isn’t our problem, or we can choose to fight for the plants and animals that we should be protecting. We can also choose to turn away.

The choice is ours.

What are you going to choose?

AsyaCleanWorld

Daniel Son is 10 Today… Some snapshots of the journey so far

Today our eldest son turns 10.

He is kind, he is clever, he is sensitive, he is sarcastic, he is sweet, he is sometimes anxious and very deep indeed.

We have had an amazing journey over the past ten years getting to know this fine young man, and are looking forward to seeing what the future holds for him.

Here’s a whole bunch of old photos…

Daniel the day he was born
Daniel the day he was born
Daniel with Daddy at work
Daniel with Daddy at work
Hobbit Feet
Hobbit Feet
Me the day I got induced
Me the day I got induced
Daniel and Melanie
Daniel and Melanie
California cousins on Halloween
California cousins on Halloween
Road trip from Vancouver to Los Angeles
Road trip from Vancouver to Los Angeles
Meeting some of the ladies at Rane in Mukilteo
Meeting some of the ladies at Rane in Mukilteo
Kai and Jess (Rick and Debbie's beautiful dogs)
Kai and Jess (Rick and Debbie’s beautiful dogs)
Meeting his Godmother in Victoria
Meeting his Godmother in Victoria
Steph adores him
Steph adores him
Daniel and Steph
Daniel and Steph
Helicopter ride
Helicopter ride
Talking on the phone to Granny
Talking on the phone to Granny
Protective Big Bro
Protective Big Bro
At Hyde Park in London
At Hyde Park in London
With Auntie Fleur at Pop's funeral
With Auntie Fleur at Pop’s funeral
At night in Rarotonga
At night in Rarotonga
Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona
Making steph laugh on the cruise
Making steph laugh on the cruise
At the Melbourne aquarium
At the Melbourne aquarium
With Daniel at Glenfield Mall
With Daniel at Glenfield Mall
With Aidan in Thames
With Aidan in Thames
Winter Onesies
Winter Onesies
Three cute cuddly kiddies
Three cute cuddly kiddies
Dinner with Patrick in California
Dinner with Patrick in California
Flying Business class like a boss
Flying Business class like a boss
With his siblings at Auckland Zoo
With his siblings at Auckland Zoo
An elephant in Asia
An elephant in Asia
PJ party on the cruise to Beijing
PJ party on the cruise to Beijing
Feeding Adam
Feeding Adam
Getting ready for the purple princess party
Getting ready for the purple princess party
Emo boy going to school
Emo boy going to school
In the hospital on a drip for an infection
In the hospital on a drip for an infection
Getting to know Adam
Getting to know Adam
At Matakana where the house will be built
At Matakana where the house will be built
With Auntie Emma
With Auntie Emma
With Auntie Sarah
With Auntie Sarah
With Uncle Darcy
With Uncle Darcy
With Aunty Kathy
With Aunty Kathy
With Auntie Amanda
With Auntie Amanda
With Buddy
With Buddy
With Franklin
With Franklin
Saying goodbye to Jule
Saying goodbye to Jule
With Uncle Chris
With Uncle Chris
With Zach at the beach
With Zach at the beachDa

Tonight I showered you

deehobbit:

My dear friend Kyrin writes such beautiful and raw truth. Very brave and beautiful woman to let us share her journey.

Originally posted on Me, Martha and Alzheimer's:

Tonight you needed to shower. Your nurse hadn’t come this morning and you needed to shower.

I got you undressed and left you to shower on your own.

Usually you can and it is fine, a few minutes later you were back in your room getting dressed.

I told you to stop, I could of been gentler. I took your hand and got you in the shower.

I got the shower puff and put soap on it. You stood under the water as I washed your front and back.

You leant forward and wet your hair, I added shampoo and massaged your head.

You rinsed the shampoo out, and I added conditioner.

When I said turn, you turned.

You were capable of having a shower, but just needed a bit of extra help.

I turned the water off and gave you your towel. It made me smile because I remember…

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I Know What Causes Autism

deehobbit:

This woman is amazing, and took so very many words out of my mouth.

Originally posted on Carrie Cariello:

Last week I was surfing the Internet and came across a headline proclaiming autism and circumcision are linked. I couldn’t help myself. I laughed out loud.

In no certain order, I have read the following explanations for autism over the years:

Autism is caused by mercury.

Autism is caused by lead.

Autism begins with poor maternal bonding.

Certain pesticides may trigger autism.

Plastics.

Gluten aggravates autism spectrum disorder.

People with autism should eat more strawberries.

Too much automotive exhaust is a leading cause of autism.

Chemicals found on non-stick cookware may trigger autism.

The one about maternal bonding is sort of painful for me. The truth is, I did have a hard time bonding with infant Jack. The little guy shrieked and whined and cried for a solid year. He started sleeping through the night at six weeks, and stopped at three months.

I was exhausted, and Joe and I were…

View original 1,063 more words

This is where I share opinions and observations about things that happen to the Happy Hobbit family.

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