… Not to mention the pandemic …
In 43 years on this planet, I have never been happier, healthier, or more content than I am today as I embark on a new career, with a new partner, and a small but perfectly formed handful of trusted friends and allies. Many people have been forced to re-imagine their place on this planet, my changes have been deliberate and very many have been my choice. I was ready for a shake-up anyway, so even having my “wings clipped” has enabled a wonderful new adventure as I explore our beautiful backyard here in Aotearoa.
I’m sharing a bit of my story with anyone willing to read it, after one too many people have recently reached out to me in confidence feeling lost, adrift or uncertain about their future.
The last two years has seen things change more than most of us could have ever imagined, yet, here we still are, alive and with a new opportunity. There’s certainly still many challenges ahead of us personally, professionally and as a planet but it’s the perfect time to reflect and decide what you are prepared to do and be to secure your own future happiness and sense of purpose.
For a solid and seriously exhausting 7+ years, there generally wasn’t a thing on this earth more important to me personally or professionally than encouraging the uptake of electrified transport to secure carbon divestment for our planet and energy independence for New Zealand.
I was obsessed and ensconced in every aspect of the “rEVolution” and was engaged in some online or real-world Electric Vehicle activity or conversation 7 days a week without fail. My kids were packed up to roll all over New Zealand and across the planet, watching their weary yet always whirlwind and wild-eyed mother EVangelising the cleaner, kinder, more enjoyable future of transport, and it was ELECTRIC.
An EV driver since 2004, the incomparably improved driver experience in an Electric Car, even at those early stages, fueled my obsession and passion for the movement. The flames of this fire were further fanned by my certainty about the complete chaos that was about to ensue on this planet as a result of climate change. Every moment felt like I was doing something important, wonderful, fun and fundamentally freeing all of humanity, particularly my beloved Aotearoa, from the bonds of fossil fuels.
Trust me. Nobody ever benefited from a messiah complex of that magnitude. All that passion and energy was poured into too many other people’s cups and I found myself used up, disappointed, and exhausted by the pace and I crashed and burned spectacularly. The movement began to attract all kinds of cowboys and credible champions alike, but it was gaining global momentum while our local network continued to grow in New Zealand. That kind of growth invites dangerously ambitious and opportunistic people and creates posturing and power plays that my raging ADHD and penchant to speak my mind just could not understand, keep up with, compete with, or control. Bullies are everywhere, and they tend to form alliances, just the same as passionate and optimistic activists also gain strength and solidarity together. They don’t win, but they do certainly change the state of play and make authentic change-makers and disruptors have to rethink their strategies.
Perhaps bullies are an important part of any movement or culture, as they certainly keep their victims and targets on their toes. That’s a topic and discussion for another day though. My strategy for the past 2 years has been to completely and confidently weed out any person or situation that has the potential to be toxic to my newfound state of zen.
There are still plenty of people with different opinions and plans than me. Diversity, curiosity, respect, trust and admiration are the foundations of the fruitful and fantastic relationships I nurture and enjoy these days. There is simply no room for anything less. Life is busy and can be very difficult, only space for gracious and supportive people in my personal life. It’s a great policy, if you haven’t already put it in place I strongly recommend you try it.
The bygone raging revolutionary days were rewarding, harrowing, terrifying, exhilarating, and it genuinely nearly killed me. Che sera sera. It was a wild and wonderful ride, and boy has the world finally started two-stepping in time with the stuff people used to call me crazy for saying/thinking when this all started. Turns out, you CAN own/use/enjoy electric transport and generation options and benefit the economy and life on earth while you do it.
Cool. It’s brilliant to know that the movement now has real momentum and will continue to grow and thrive while I disappear onto an experimental farm. I Love people and this planet, but goodness gracious, I am so tired. The obnoxious EVangelist who would take strangers on a drive or ride in her EV at any and every opportunity has suffocated on her own self-importance and now she really just wants to be left alone most of the time.
By doing so, my carbon and ecological footprint has been made miniscule in comparison. My mental and physical health has improved immensely, and I want to share knowledge and passion and enable more people to unplug and find their bliss, preferably in a less dramatic and destructive turn of events. Seriously. That’s the new purpose and plan. Slow down and encourage others to do the same. It’s incredible how good it is on a micro and macro scale.
So here I am starting something totally new and fresh. After hosting a successful but exhausting international conference and road trip in 2019, my marriage to the co-founder of ChargeNet NZ Steve West finally, publicly and officially ended. That was the swan song and I sat supportively by his side at several events, while we were struggling and grieving. To say our marriage ended amicably is an overly simplistic but relatively accurate summary of the dissolvement of what was, in my view, one of the most magnificent, abundantly fruitful, and romantic unions ever. We were and remain eccentric as individuals and we were unstoppable as a team. We are both much happier as it became abundantly clear toward the end that our crazies were too terrifically unmatched to ensure a stable union.
The grief and growth that followed was life changing. I mic dropped every aspect of my involvement as “the high priestess of electrification” so I could recover from the complete nervous breakdown that had resulted after years of pushing myself to the absolute limits in every possible sense.
It is now 2021. Our kids have settled into our shared new life. Steve and I have stable and much more suitable new partners, and I will be marrying Damon Birchfield at an autumnal farm wedding in Aotearoa early next year.
So that’s how I ended up happily ensconced and embarking on a whole new trajectory.
It is my firm and ardent belief that there is still hope for all of us, including the biodiversity on this planet. It is also my unequivocable observation that we need to change as a society and as individuals or we probably won’t like what we are left with as a result. However I will not spend the last part of this blog scaremongering on a doom’s day scenario. Rather than that, I’d like to echo some of the brilliant and meaningful advice that bounces off the walls of the ecologically minded echo-chambers I seem to frequent lately.
We can still slow our trajectory towards irreversible climate change but time is running out and fast – something needs to give. I have some ideas about what we can do and be as we enter the next decade.
We can encourage re-wilding and regeneration and do so in a sustainable way that encourages steady and manageable economic and infrastructure growth. We can be healthier. We can have a world with more transparency, justice, accountability and a stronger sense of community. We can have cleaner water, air and communities. We can have carbon neutral or even carbon negative energy and transport options. That means you’ll need to change your mindset, embrace the bike or maybe even hike to the bus or train stop and actively ask for electric infrastructure from your governments. You and your voice can and will change the world, if you are ready to do the best with all you know, and when you know better do better.
Seriously. We can do this. You can. I can. We can. And we will. Together.