Dee and Damon Lockdown Game Plan

How we plan to meander safely home.

We are in the South Island.  So far safe and sound.  No symptoms and we both have tested our temperatures countless times with our trusty thermometer gun thing.  Last check I am 36.4 and Damon is 36.1.  He’s always cooler than me… True story.   

So yes.  Healthy as horses and totally isolated since we grabbed our last hot meal for a minimum of three days at taco Tuesday yesterday evening.  Juggling our plans in a way that guarantees we do not get within ten metres of any other humans until the lockdown level changes is now our priority.  We are confident we’re doing the right thing for ourselves; our family, and Aotearoa and I am going to be brave and walk you through the plan and our rationale, knowing that someone somewhere will certainly disagree with us or find our decision to stay put to be the wrong one.  Someone somewhere will always think a decision is the wrong one.  This is life.

First, let me say I am totally on board and if honest, still undeniably, and probably selfishly and unreasonably annoyed at another lockdown.  We want to be skiing today, and then heading home at a leisurely pace toward our kids as we’d planned to do for months and months.  We have no idea what is next.  We aren’t booked to ferry back to the North Island until Monday next week, and have no idea if that will happen now.  My daughter is not speaking to me as we opted to stay put and found an apartment with a kitchen to settle in for the three-day lock down here in the South, rather than rush home and further clog up the already stretched travel networks across the country.  I’ll walk through our decision-making process as the blog evolves.

Agree whole heartedly with short and sharp as we have witnessed what happened offshore when faffing is allowed.  I get so boiling mad thinking about the spread in Australia as I have beloved friends stranded or trapped there, and it feels like they’d be enjoying far more freedom if there had been similar measures imposed.  I am not an epidemiologist or any sort of health expert, but it does seem probable that the huge unmasked crowds protesting the lockdowns in Sydney were likely superspreading events that will keep my BFFs more than arms reach away for who knows for how much longer.

Okay, so here’s the lay of the land for myself and my silver fox fiancé.  We set off on Thursday the 12th on a working holiday toward the South Island to check out eco-tourism and biodiversity.  We have been drawn to the South Island as a couple since the very start of our romance, as we “outed” ourselves as a “shipped” couple at an EVent (that’s an Electric Vehicle event, typically hosted and attended by EVangelists or Electric Vehicle evangelists) in Dunedin in October 2019.  We also took a week-long road trip in Te Waipounamu in December that year.  We’ve been back quite a few times now and never run out of new things to do and see here.  

I digress.

We are currently in a motel room without a kitchen or microwave in Wanaka.  The staff here have been AMAZING and helpful and as soon as the news came in they kicked into full level four planning and managing gear.  Most guests have cleared out and are heading home or to longer term lockdown arrangements.  Given that we have 48 hours to relocate and get “home” we have an apartment with a full kitchen booked and will move in and settle there for as long as the lockdown lasts on the South Island.  Best case scenario is we can make the ferry crossing we have booked for Monday.  

Really this blog isn’t even that interesting.  We have arranged a “home” to hunker down in our bubble and will be traveling first thing tomorrow morning and not having to see a single person as we will charge the car across the road and we have cheese, crackers, carrots, coffee and cold drinks.  We hope that we won’t even need to go to the supermarket while in Level 4.  Our diet won’t exactly be balanced for the next 72 hours, but it’s a small price to pay to do our bit to ensure we can all return to the freedoms we have enjoyed.

We want to thank the many close friends and family who have offered us shelter here in the South, we’d have loved to see you but felt keeping to ourselves and keeping our bubble to just us two and moving into a place to plan our next steps was the most reasonable response in keeping to the spirit of caution and care.  Really, we didn’t want to make a nuisance of ourselves if this is extended beyond the three days or even into weeks, so settling into our next place without needing to see another human seems the best possible solution for ourselves and everyone.  

In conclusion.  Feels like we are gamifying this lockdown and here’s the rules of engagement:

  1. Stay absolutely isolated and at least five metres distance from all other humans while Level 4 is in effect
  2. Make our way home safely and as soon as the levels allow
  3. Be as little a nuisance as possible by staying put and keeping calm and assessing the situation as it progresses
  4. Do safe and fun stuff while paying absolute heed to all the other rules
  5. Document and share our experiences
  6. Stay cheerful and joyful and hopeful throughout

So that’s that.  The story of us on a sunny day in the South Island.  Hope you are safe and well and where you need/want to be.

Lots of Love from us to you at a safe social distance.

Thanks for reading!

Dee and Damon (Deemon)

Reflecting on Power

Back in the time before time (the late 1990s) which my cheeky children oft refer to as “the olden days” I was an enthusiastic undergrad comms student.  Study was a mixed bag for a neurologically diverse freakish and awkward geek such as I was and still am.  It seems lifetimes ago as I have changed career trajectory several times and have recently relinquished my position of referent power at the right hand of the maker, my inventive and entrepreneurial ex-husband Steve West.  

Thinking back on how much has happened in the past couple of decades, and how priorities, people, and power dynamics have changed has had me feeling reflective about a first-year comms paper that introduced me to the fascinating concept of power types.

Early articles by French and Raven (1959) proposed that there were five bases of power:

  1. Legitimate – Hierarchical organisations that allocate and communicate/amplify positions and pecking orders create the foundation for this type of power. If you “report” to someone because they are your “boss” then that dynamic/base is allowed to exist. This only works if both and/or most parties agree that one person is legitimately and recognisably in a position of power over their subordinates. So. Yeah. Not my favourite. And generally I don’t know if I like the word legitimate for this base as there are good bosses and mediocre bosses and quite frankly there are terrible and reprehensible people in these positions of power across the globe.
  2. Coercive – Gossips. This is the power that is harnessed by your office gossip. Again, not my fave. Coercive power is wielded by those who prefer the stick to the carrot and create a sense of being able to punish others in some way. This could include blackmail, bullying, taking away social or professional rewards including a sense of inclusion or any other variation of remuneration or reward.
  3. Referent – I hate this one less than the first two bases. This is a somewhat fickle form of power as it hinges on the goodwill that exists in others accounts of you. This is the power that comes from “personal brand” strength and consistency. It is a lovely, warm, socially fortifying power base. However (isn’t there always a however) you can be front page hero one day and cringey has-been the next, so this power is fleeting for many or most.
  4. Charisma – Simply is what it says it is. If you are the kinda human that makes other people feel better in your presence, or can own a stage or work a room, then the chances are you have power that comes from charisma. Politicians tend to flex this one. This is the power of likeability and we all have days where we are bursting with charisma and days when are insufferable grumps, so don’t put all your eggs into this one basket, as mastering a few of the other bases through trial, error and authenticity might indeed be a much better strategy.
  5. Expert – This one I actually quite like. One of my favourite eccentrics and thought leaders the amateur mycologist rockstar Paul Stamets totally embodies this. Paul is a GOAT in Mycology and naturalism, despite not having the ivy league education of two of his brothers and having a severe stutter for most of his life. That guy adores his work, worships and respects old growth forest and lives his truth and his passion through his work and his epic story telling. There are experts all around us, learn from them. Respect them. And the coolest among them are generally pretty keen to keep learning and share what they know.

And then some years later they added a sixth:

6. Information – This is the classic “I know something you don’t know” dynamic. This power comes from knowing something, or arguably someone that gives an advantage. The thing with this power base is, as soon as the information becomes common knowledge or is shared and grasped it means the person originally holding the information has lost this advantage. HOWEVER (there I go!) sharing and exchanging knowledge can also increase informational power, particularly for “big picture” or “strategy” minded or incredibly detailed people as well. This power base belongs to people who hold the key to helping other people achieve. Keeping that to yourself or bartering with it seems a bit basic and I don’t think people should play that card.

Today we acknowledge four more bases:

7. Reward – This one is kinda the flip side of coercive power. If coercive power is team stick, reward power is team carrot. Reward power is wielded by people in a position to offer something you want. That’s a lot to think about, so I will leave it there and you can digest it however you’d like.

8. Moral – I LOVE this one. There are a few sweary, rough around the edges, brilliant misfits I have had the honour of knowing over the years and their moral compass and penchant for stirring the pot and poking the bear to keep those around them on their toes and honest is a huge source of respect and admiration. Morality is such a fluid and personal construct and concept. I guess we are all drawn to and impressed by different forms of morality. Some people are impressed with Brian Tamaki… I find his morality and activity really upsetting and offensive. Some people are offended or annoyed by the curiosity and confrontational nature of activists such as Gil Scott Heron or Russell Brand while I am genuinely impressed by both of them and so many other confronting and curios souls who have worn their damage on their sleeves and shared their passion though it made them so vulnerable. Moral power is serious power, but it is of course dependant on the perception of those who are judging that morality.

9. Connection – Networkers! Some people are just legendary at this (like my partner Damon and my Bestie Emily). They are insufferably likeable and authentic and they clearly and undeniably care about people they know. Community, connection and care and concern for our networks are cornerstones of the human condition. Social poaching and social climbing and general networking shenanigans will happen so just let it roll and be your very best self and kind to your peers and friends this power will shine.

10. Founder – This one is kind of interesting. It is the power that comes from being brave enough to be on the ground floor of things. It isn’t just for founders of organisations, it is also for people who start movements or kick off events or activities on a local or global level. This power remains long after people’s daily interactions with the company or phenomenon they kicked off or championed is severed. It is a real thing, and you’ll hear it as you pass through life: “Oh, Fred he’s the guy that started that zero waste movement out in Massey back in the 90’s… We dig Fred he’s a good sort”. So yeah, founder power is okay I reckon. It is recognition of bravery long after the fact. That’s pretty cool.

So power eh.  It is a thing.  Having personally made a massive personal, social, professional and spiritual shift, I have had to acknowledge changes in my own power and influence.  Once upon a time I wanted to be at the forefront of change and revolution at any cost.  Now, I pretty much want to be left alone.  Aside from authentic and meaningful meetings of minds and souls who I Love and respect.  These days I am disinterested in leading the charge and keen on finding opportunities to assuage my extreme guilt for years of polluting and creating chaos.  Strangely, I have never felt so whole or content or quite frankly powerful.  People have had years to get to know me and I have always carried too much trauma to mind my p’s and q’s.  So these days, those brave enough to be around are powerful creatures indeed.  The strength of connection and the power of having purpose is impossible to overstate. 

Reflecting on these power bases, something incredible and undeniable has become quite clear.  Through all of these dynamics and complexities an ingredient that distinctly impacts power is authenticity.  Being sure footed and clear with your expectations and agendas is incredibly powerful indeed, and that seems to ring true if you are plotting pure or perverse pathways.  If you are a self-righteous table thumping bully, best make that clear from the outset as people will treat you accordingly and watch themselves as you clearly back yourself as wielding coercive, referent and probably legitimate power.  People will fear you but not trust you, and that’s probably what you want so you do you boo.  Conversely, some of the most intensely powerful beings I have ever met are those who humble themselves and live a life of servitude and grace.  They lead from behind and their batteries are charged up through seeing other people learn, succeed and feel joy.  You can’t fake this stuff.  You can’t pretend to be this moral, connected, expert founder type if you are a wheeling and dealing table thumping bully.  Nope.  That simply would not work at all.

So there you are.  My Monday meanderings.

Have a great week and be kind to yourself out there in this crazy and fast changing world.  

Thanks for reading.

Easy on Sunday Morning

Dee-Light-Full Divorce

Entry Two

Easy on Sunday Morning

Sunday Morning.  Blue skies, crisp winter day.  The kids are all being handed over to our former partners before FOUR FANTASTIC DAYS of FREEDOM when we will be settling in on the Farm exploring and documenting progress on our Deemon Creative project.

View from our bedroom… pretty rough eh.

Later today Damon and I are on our way back to Mr. Morris (Arguably New Zealand’s best, warmest, most welcoming fine-dining experience) to crash a dear friend’s girl’s weekend. We were invited of course, so I guess we aren’t really crashing it. Louise and I did our Master’s in international Public Relations together and travelled the world on a whirlwind field trip. She’s one of the brave goddesses who have stood by without judgement and in solidarity and Love, albeit from a distance, and watched me fall down and get back up again. She’s a talented and authentic communicator, a beautiful and optimistic soul, and her fierceness must never be underestimated despite her gentle and elegant veneer. She’s one tough mamma. Our paths will definitely continue to intersect and I suspect the world needs to ready itself for this pocket rocket friend of mine to choose her path and slay. I am so excited to see her for our long lunch this afternoon.

So excited 😆 about lunch!!!

Steve stopped in with Stephanie who has been staying with her dad as she’s livid with her mother.  Parents of teenage girls will understand the volatile ride these years can be.  So a wee break and time to miss the kids and be missed is exactly the magic needed to maintain balance and fertile ground to grow healthy humans.  Balance.  Calm… and a break once in a while.  This is the joyful and generous side of separation.  Our kids have options and freedom and encouragement to speak their needs and live between our worlds, mostly on their terms.

Steve was off at the Amanda Palmer stage show last night which he thoroughly enjoyed and it was a joy to hear his review of the show as he sipped coffee at what was once our kitchen table.

So. That’s it. Handover day today and the kids are going to be tucked in by team Dad while I have four nights with my fiancé on the farm. Our new project is rolling along at a steady pace and this is the first official week of my beloved being able to focus entirely on himself and our plans. He’s taken the plunge and is moving to a consulting role and project managing our farm dream, after nearly 7 years as a beloved CEO in the community sector here in Auckland.

Damon left his role as CEO at ecomatters and we still arrived to the Saturday community planting. A lovely team and we will still be seeing a lot of them I’m certain!

So… tomorrow is kinda the first day of our new life.  A Monday without meetings or mayhem, and we will wake up on our hill and ready ourselves for an epic journey we are both incredibly excited to share with you all.

Dee-Light-Full four days ahoy!

Hope you are well, thanks for reading.