Building a Larger Table & Higher Fence

I felt this… but things have changed a bit

I remember posting the “Build a larger table, not a higher fence” themed memes/stickers a lot when I was a fresh faced/wide eyed early adopter in the social media space. That was well over a decade ago, and nothing on earth could have convinced me then that I’d ever be divorced from Steve and striking out on a totally new trajectory and career as a farmer and eco-retreat host alongside a new partner. Then I was completely new to the foreign concept of surplus resource as I’d lived so long as a student or toiling to pay rent and bills like everyone else my age. The stellar success of Serato and now ChargeNet has been a double edged sword in as much as I’m in the unique position that I can actually choose to spend my time and energy on nearly anything I want. Of course that means I want to do something meaningful and important for our society and the planet. The downside? There’s far too many projects and possibilities in the “do something good” pallet I am currently able to paint with. Pretty confident there’s nothing I would rather be doing, nor anyone I’d rather be doing it with though, and that’s brought about a peace and sense of purpose I am grateful for every single day. We still have the odd absolute stinker of a day or dealing from time to time, but mostly, it’s been magic.

So yup, it turns out I clearly function best as a couple, like those cute little binary beings from TNG.

I really couldn’t imagine a better companion, collaborator, cohort or consort than Damon James Birchfield. His almost obsessive passion for detail, governance, form and functionality; combined with my boundless enthusiasm and obsessive need to connect people and weave compelling and accessible narratives have seen this project find feet, a soul and have a life force breathed into it. It’s an honour to be involved, and a privilege to be working alongside so much amazing and skilled local talent. Starting an experimental farm is a great way to get to meet your neighbours and local businesses. Highly recommend. Would reboot my entire lifepath, trajectory and career again without giving it a second thought now that I’m through the nightmare of getting here.

Damon Practicing his skills with the camera

While we have been in mostly splendid isolation, and many of our contractors and invited guests have worked on or studied the farm and whenua on their own terms and in their own time, we’ve been honoured to show our gratitude by providing socially distanced lunches, afternoon teas and picnics. I like feeding people. Always have. Food is joy and I am indeed a huge and loyal fan of joy.

As the strictest of the lockdown conditions begins to wane, we already have four outdoor BBQ/social events this week and a full calendar all the way through well into the new year.  I am strangely terrified and overwhelmed, but also incredibly excited to be face to face with people I admire, respect and definitely enjoy spending time with.  Bring it on.

Since the move to level three for Auckland, while many people were separated by the borders from their friends/family/farms/baches/holiday homes, we were lucky enough to commute up to our farm on weeks the kids were with our exes.  Just gotta take a minute to say:  full ups to my ex, he’s a great dad and a wonderful friend, it has been a pleasure consciously uncoupling!  Our scheduled freedom from child rearing and having our home and farm clearly and completely within the greater Auckland border has allowed us to continue working and watch the farm evolving into an incredibly exciting and fulfilling project.  The fact all the work happens outdoors and social distancing requires little to no effort when you’re meandering around 50 acres of bush block, has meant we have had safe socially distanced laughter and conversation with contractors and colleagues, and the added satisfaction of seeing the project improving before our eyes, and building momentum on and off-line.  

Just like many other tourism operators, we lost three month’s of bookings because of the lockdown. It’s only recently we’ve opened up to host guests who are able to check in contactless and be in splendid isolation at the end of a dirt road with only their bubble in tow. The relaxing of the rules will allow families and friend groups to arrive at the treehouse and enjoy some off-grid magic after being cooped up for our longest and strongest ever lockdown in Tamaki Makaurau. We are booked nearly solid and inquiries continue to roll in which will keep us on our toes for the next few months and more than make up for the loss of income. We did not seek government subsidies, as we are so early into the narrative as a start-up and just finding our feet, so it seemed selfish and unnecessary for us to seek compensation for what is at this point a passion project, but will absolutely evolve into a fully-fledged and self-sufficient social enterprise. I like that blogging is at times a form of manifesting… I really do see this being a beautiful and inspiring situation, experienced and embraced by a vast and varied number of people in a multitude of ways. As our beloved builder Dave said this morning, “This is the change the world needs right now”. Chur Dave. I didn’t think you could have been more my favourite if you tried, but you come up with these gems and continue to do a kick-ass and super slick job and work with us when dozens of other offers come in, and I gotta say, you really remain a top human in my estimation and opinion. Ka pai.

Now, very quickly, I just gotta touch on the down-side to our momentum.  Much to my building annoyance, there’s been people with sticky beaks “getting lost” and poking around our property without any invitation.  Many during full level three lockdown.  Just simply not cricket kids.  I’d go so far as to say the intrusion has left me feeling somewhat unsafe and more than a little frustrated.  So, we will be installing a security gate to curb the enthusiasm of nosey neighbours, and hopefully adding to the safety and seclusion enjoyed by our welcome and honoured guests and many collaborators.  

So that’s it.  That’s today’s blog after another extended sabbatical as I start but seldom finish countless blogs and various content.  We will absolutely be inviting guests, friends and so many more conscious collaborators on site in the months and years ahead.  We are putting in place the infrastructure and resources to host, feed, entertain and educate many honoured guests with food and resources from the farm.  Out table is indeed getting bigger all the time, however, so is our fence.

Thanks for reading.  Get in touch if you want to come up for a visit we’d LOVE to offer you an invitation.  

Killing in the Name Of… Pest Control

Kia Ora! How is Spring treating you wherever you are? Been beautiful and very wet on the farm!

I want to know what other people are doing regarding pest control and how other people process the difficult and confronting task of willingly ending a life.  Are there vegans who engage in pest control practices?  What are the best/worst methods of management?  Is there any new and exciting science or inspiring efforts in this area anyone could shar with me? 

Here’s my blog anyway:

Possums are crazy cute.  They have little hands almost as dexterous as racoons (who I also worship for their cuteness and adaptability) and big, beautiful, nocturnal, marsupial eyes framed by a natural dark smokey frames that would be the envy of even the most iconic make-up artist.  They are soft, fluffy, curious and cheeky.   This is Spring, so many if not most female pouches are replete with even cuter joeys who climb out and hang out with extra cuteness on their mama’s backs.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, possums are causing grave damage to the delicate balance of our native bush, as they are an introduced species with virtually no predators. They devour too much of the same foods as our native bird population and are hungry and can be incredibly vicious to our gentle native fauna.  Rewilding and conservation efforts across Aotearoa, on land and in the sea are integral and I am a passionate supporter of the “predator free 2050” efforts and campaigns that are widely implemented and discussed across our beautiful (and vulnerable) isolated island nation.

So. Possums, along with rats, stotes, cats and a myriad of other introduced and feral species are public enemies and actively trapped and killed from Cape Reinga to Bluff. There’s also major issues with invasive river species (flora and fauna) and larger animals like pigs, goats and even horses and deer. Aotearoa is paradise not only to people, but to many introduced species as well.

Despite not being a religious person, I am deeply spiritual and genuinely respect all life and see every plant, animal, and fungi as a miracle in and of itself.  My new life has turned a hobby farm/lifestyle block into the primary professional and personal project for myself and my fiancé (who I am currently really mad at today, but that’s a conversation for another blog).  The grim task of setting and clearing traps falls on long suffering Damon’s broad and beautiful shoulders, as I am squeamish, sensitive and definitely deserve the allocated descriptor of pampered princess.  I cry over “vermin” regularly.  I am not very good at coping with suffering, my own or any other creatures.  We have to control pest populations and manage weeds as a part of a responsible land management strategy.  I accept this and am serious about investing in and communicating a strategy that addresses pest control on the whenua we are the proud kaitiaki for.

We’ve recently engaged a PhD candidate majoring in conservation to help us with managing the pest population, particularly rats, mice and possums.  We also have hunters regularly trek across the land to bag goats and pigs.  The reason I am writing this blog today is to ask advice for softies and city slickers like myself who know pragmatically that managing the pest populations is incredibly important, and actively seek advice on humane, effective and practical methods and mind-frames.  

Just up the road from our property is the inspiring conservation success story that is Tawharanui.  A predator fenced paradise where strict sanctuary conditions (no pets EVER for example) are observed. Various individuals and organisations including DoC and many conservation efforts band together to manage this project.  The result?  Countless stories from countless friends who have had meaningful encounters with native birds, bush and felt the power of Papatunuku.  I am so incredibly amped by their efforts and success, and would love to engage in a deep and meaningful conversation with someone who is closely involved in the project to learn what it costs, what is requires, and what the trials and triumphs of such a meaningful project are.

So, that’s it.  Come at me with comments and let’s have a conversation about pest control.  I fear that poisoning an 1080 conversations may dominate so can we avoid that rabbit hole as mass poisoning is not a viable option for us as we are willing/able and well-resourced enough to manage pest control through trapping, hunting and  methods that do not currently need to include poison drops, despite my belief that in some cases poison is a cruel but necessary broad stroke as an act of desperation in our fight against predators.  

Wow.  How’s that for ending on contentious note regarding a hot button issue.  It would have been remiss of me to avoid the topic of poison completely, but I do implore you to focus on more fine tuned methods for our small 50 acre project.

Thanks for reading!

Comment, DM or call me.  My Email works but I hate that particular medium so the chances are slim to none that I will respond.  Fairly certain we can have a good chat in the comments section or over Direct Message on any of our platforms if you take the time to share your thoughts.  Take care.

Dee

Life After the rEVolution

… 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.

My son (left) and some EV champions/friends Ben and Dave at one of the hundreds of conferences/trade shows I used to host/attend

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.

Appreciation Blog Written for an Aloof Goof

Meditation moment by the campfire 🔥 wearing the scarf 🧣 I crocheted 🧶 for him

I think most successful relationships need to have what our therapist calls “the bank account” topped up frequently with actively thinking about elements of appreciation and respect for the other. None of us are perfect, and the more we know each other and the more entwined we become as friends or partners, the more likely we are to take people for granted. I’m writing this homage of Love and appreciation, between working on our new business and wedding planning. I hope it gives you pause to think about some of the people closest to you with fondness on this rather grey Monday. Maybe even give yourself a little homework and tap out a few words of appreciation for someone close to you today. Could be a family member, a dear friend, your partner or maybe even your pet. There’s a healing and uplifting quality to actively expressing and acknowledging gratitude.

He’s always keen to get into the water.

So let me tell you about my aloof goof.

Damon is a creature of great depth and empathy. Also, incredibly cool, bordering on a bit of a snob concerning things like food, wine, coffee, and music. He knows how to manscape (he’s actually an incredibly beautiful human specimen), and he is brave – not afraid to speak up and be counted in professional and personal circles. He’s a good person to have in your corner if you find yourself in a pinch or needing a champion if you’ve fallen on hard times or feel put upon. He knows highs and lows in his own narrative, which makes him much more adept at feeling true empathy when others struggle. He’s actually also a great person to have around if you’re on a winning streak of any description. I’ve seen it time and again, he’s quite likely to kneel himself down to help lift someone up and ensure you get the shine they earned. It’s a pretty great and honest superpower to be as gracious and genuine when the people he admires and respects do well. It’s a Kiwi thing to be humble, something I’ve not really been able to embrace even after nearly three decades here. He’s 5th-7th generation New Zealand (Pakeha) and both sides of his family are fascinating and have had incredible influence on the cultural, economic, and general landscape of Aotearoa New Zealand. Not always in a good way. Some of them are very colourful characters indeed.

He’s also a glorious goof.  He’s got the quintessential kiwi dry humour punctuated, almost embarrassingly often with puns and dad jokes.  It’s the right brand for him, as he is often viewed as incredibly earnest and can make people mildly uncomfortable with his pensive and serious expression as he floats off into what his friends and colleagues call his “spaceship” where he ponders information deeply and thoroughly.  It can be mildly intimidating to see him in this state, so the goofy side slices through that effectively.

So why all this gratitude on a seemingly unremarkable Monday? Well, he’s started writing again. We both have. We are born storytellers and wordsmiths, and I daydream of us growing old together as a much more vanilla version of a spectacularly creative couple of story tellers: Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen. They were the real deal and both the artist and muse to each other at various stages of their tumultuous union. Our union is not tumultuous. I have had enough tumult, I will take calm and communicative coupledom at this stage.

Leonard and Marianne

Leonard and Marianne spent a lot of time in the Greek isles, where Damon and I will one day settle in for an extended writers retreat and leave the world and technology behind for some matter of weeks.  He already lived there for a few years, it is where he met his rather remarkable, intelligent, fierce and statuesquely beautiful first wife.  She’s a thriving entrepreneur and impressive industry mogul in mindfulness and wellbeing now.  They have a respect and ease in each other’s company that seems to be appreciated by their two now adult children.  

Damon and I daydream and discuss often about returning to Greece, or somewhere equally packed with character and history, the way artists did in a bygone era.  We’d live simply and offline in total anonymity.  We’d recharge our souls and let our creative genius flow while we feast on Mediterranean oils and drink local wines.  We will nap, snack, and walk, meditate, and be blissfully wrapped up in each other for as many weeks as we can manage before needing to return to our children and the farm we are nurturing together.  It will be a beautiful thing to behold.  

So writing.  Writing has become a big part of our culture.  He and I have, as in just about everything, a very different style when we write, as we do when we cook, he cleans (I do not consider myself a cleaner).  With the writing, we both type 80+WPM and the tapping of the keyboards when we are on a roll creates a rhythmic hum in our space.  He ponders, and pauses, considers and changes up his work as he goes.  Words explode from me and land hodge-podge on the page and then I get him to help me clean it all up and give it some order.  So far a system that seems, more or less to be working.  

That’s probably enough words and gratitude for and about the aloof goof for one day.

Now I will hand this over to him to edit and post it before we both have phone calls with magnificent women we know and respect at 3pm… both named Megan.  Funny little coincidence among countless coincidences that seem to pop up in our stories daily.

Have a great week, and get out there and be grateful for your own glorious goofs, whoever they are.

Just My Opinion

No idea how it happened, but very pleased to notice today that the algorithms on my social media feeds (twitter, FB, Insta, AND LinkedIn) have completely given up showing me any, if not all political content.

I still get a lot of feminist memes and a fair whack of spiritual (mostly Buddhist) content which is cool and I enjoy and engage with that stuff. That’s how these algorithms work right? They give us more of what we engage with? So, I don’t see much of anything from any political parties, here or overseas lately. WAIT! I get content about and from AOC regularly, but I don’t even see them as a political figure anymore, more just like a fierce, fabulous spirit animal fighting for justice and the planet.

Aside from that, the tap has literally been turned off. It’s fantastic!

So, how do I know that I don’t get political content anymore? This morning, I had to have a conversation with my cousin Ryan in Canada, who is just one of five cousins in Canada I have had conversations with this week, to know that today is election day there. Not sure how to feel about that. Good? Bad? Lighter? Heavier? Isolated? Out of touch? Content? Ensconced in my new tiny little life which clearly is not in Canada?

Like I said… I really don’t know how I feel.

I am actually an avid participant in the democratic process in Aotearoa. I hold my cards close to my chest as the few times I have said anything online I get stopped in the street by someone or other who takes exception or is overly supportive of my political leanings. Because of this, I now have a blanket policy to keep my political ramblings to real-world interactions only.

It’s nice. Maybe more people could and should try turning off the political activist or opinions tap for little bit and see how they feel and how it reshapes the content they are fed? Haven’t thought too much about it before today.

The one thing that really got the gears turning in my tired little mind today was, I wonder what people are seeing me broadcast? Have I successfully taught the entire Internet to leave me alone because I simply do not get involved in political debates anymore? The personal brand that’s been built around me has strong views and opinions about, well, just about everything. That brand, however, generally keeps those things to herself and saves her expletive laden rants for her nearest and dearest and most trusted friends.

I know that nobody sees these blogs unless I copy and paste them as native content as along form update on FB.  The link to my WordPress page simply seems to not make it to anyone’s eyeballs except for a teeny little number of my tribe who are very selective of their friends list and that content squeaks through because we have each-other mutually favourited on our settings.  Aside from those handful of people, nobody seems to stumble across my blog these days.  People have to want to see what I am up to and what I have to say, nobody new is roped into my content or opinion, that is kinda cool.  Best I can tell, my extended sabbatical has seen me all but disappear and that’s actually a really comforting and uplifting thought.  We can fight our way onto the stage and into some spotlight and when it gets too bright we can retreat into a bubble and somehow the crazy singularity that swirls around us even helps us to be more anonymous.

So what was I saying?

Oh yeah.  I know everyone has opinions.  I don’t really have anything deep or useful or overly meta to share about politics, algorithms, or opinions today.  All I am here to say is that my heart and my brain feel better not being bombarded with political content.  I still have opinions.  Lots of them.  But today feels like a win because those opinions feel like they are safely guarded here in my head, my heart and only shared if and when I feel like it.  It is not my job to change your mind or tell you what to think or shape your opinions.  Wait, not my job, but I feel I do have a purpose pleading constantly and consistently to anyone that will listen: “be kind whenever possible”.  

So here’s my opinion about both of our opinions.  It is not your job to make everyone else agree with you about any single issue or number of issues.  It is our job to seek and find information from accurate and rigorously scrutinized sources and allow our political, spiritual and general opinions to evolve in their course.  Provided we are not hurting anyone or ourselves or the planet with extreme or violent actions or activities… That ought not be a big caveat as it ought to be pretty clear in the “try to be kind” schtick you have been hearing me bleet on about for decades now.

So.  

That’s just my opinion.

Have a great day!

Toning Down to Avoid Being Tone Deaf

While this lockdown has been tough, it has provided the opportunity (wanted or not!) to hunker down, prioritise, and plan.  So there’s plenty we could discuss, but today I am going to fill you all in on the changes to our wedding plans.

Bridesmaid Krissy’s gift 💝 on our engagement party 🎉

We were imagining a gathering of 400+ truly magnificent human beings at a zero-waste festival-like event at the top of the hill on the Matakana farm in March next year.  Budgets, entertainment, tents, catering, and magic were all set to be unleashed as we showed off the epic changes and fantastic plans we are progressing on our experimental farm.  I even tried to arrange an upcycled dress to be designed and made here in NZ to follow on with my passion for supporting local and ethical business and creative industries.  But after this latest lockdown, sadly we’ve decided that none of that is happening.

While many of us could probably really use a good hit out about now, we have come to the conclusion that in the face of so much uncertainty, and with so many people struggling, the timing just feels wrong. Bringing a large group of people together just now feels somewhat ostentatious and flies in the face of the evolution we’ve embraced as a couple where we have invested time, energy, and resources into simplifying our lives.  The high-flying rampant champion of change and one of the most visible leaders of the EV revolution is currently parked up. I feel like I’m resting in a safe little cave readying myself for the battle ahead because the world is hurting and we are going to need to be brave.  I’ll be ready.  And steadied by the anchor of the aloof goof I can’t wait to marry.

So while going ahead with a larger event would be the perfect opportunity for us to thank the many people who have supported us over the years, we just feel that the timing is too hard with all the other forces we are currently contending with. We have every intention of hosting a large, safe and celebratory event at the right time – maybe to herald the official opening of the experimental farm and accommodation.

Creating some content (when we were level one) capturing the progress on our experimental farm. This is the exact spot where the wedding will be held. Top of the beautiful hill. Still lots of landscaping to do before the day!

We’re now planning a much smaller more intimate wedding as it feels more appropriate.  I will either have a dress made by my beautiful bridesmaid Steph, or I will rent something, or I will buy something vintage.  The dress thing has done my head in a little bit.  My bridesmaids have been brilliant and supportive and will get me down the aisle (which is actually a meadow) on the day.

What I am certain of, is that I thrive being a part of a Loving, committed, dedicated and supportive partnership. I teetered for a long time between extremes of co-dependence and self-destructiveness. The battle between craving intimacy and seeking all sorts of empty and occasionally even destructive validation raged on within me.

We all have to figure out what works for us and eventually invest energy and effort into the path we choose to tread.  None of the paths is simple or perfect, but I do suggest you pick one to walk and don’t try to dilute or mix your choices too much.  Some people are complete, content and happy single.  Some people sparkle offering support and being buoyed by a spouse.  Polyamory is the path for others.  And then there’s everything in between. All have their advantages and challenges.  All will leave you feeling vulnerable at times.  Any choice and action will mean someone somewhere will judge or disagree with you.  But none of that matters as far as I can tell.  What does matter is you living your most authentic life with kindness, purpose, and conviction. 

One of the most heartfelt bits of advice I’d like to finish with is this: “We are all broken and damaged and can be difficult or even quite crazy at times.  Don’t seek perfection, better to just find a crazy that fits.”  

Damon has patiently allowed me the time and tenderness to meet him where we dwell now, which is the perfect place to embark on the rest of our lives together.  

That’s enough words for this Monday.

Thanks for reading.

XXOO

Plans

Today we were meant to be at an SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) conference alongside some of our most trusted and cherished friends and colleagues. Instead, we are in level 4 lockdown in Tamaki Makaurau.

Snuggled safe in our big comfy bed, my fiancé and I are today determined to apply some discipline to our daily schedule. We are both writers and observers with time on our hands to write and observe. This is time that we have been squandering. Rather than writing or reading we have been sleeping and snuggling and spending time in the kitchen creating comfort for the kids who have been returned to us after our attempt at a romantic holiday ended abruptly when the Delta variant of Covid arriving in Aotearoa.

Vaccinations 💉 booked and received without any drama 🎭

So today we begin something we have spoken about nearly daily for most of our time together. Today we are settled in and determined to stop talking about plans to be creative and act upon them instead. Today we start small, with steady resolve, and we commit to taking time to reflect and record our thoughts and feelings while chaos and confusion seem to swirl around while we enjoy safety and serenity in our beautiful and delicate bubble.

I’ve become quite quiet recently, retreating into the safety of the chrysalis of comfort and recovery that’s been built for me.  Sharing my personal struggles in visceral and confronting detail seems far away now.  Life took an abrupt and absolute turn away from the swampy chaos of thinking I was destined to be some hot mess messiah or self-destructive diva.  High flying attention seeking tendencies have been turned upside down, and now I really just want to be left alone, aside from meaningful interactions with the trusted few people I do not fear.  What was once blind bravery and a warrior spirit has been beaten out of me and replaced with cautious optimism and an omnipresent sense of duty.  This is the planning and resting part of the rest of my extraordinary little life.  And part of that planning is just spending a few moments next to the former monk I am going to marry, writing free-form and sharing it with him, and maybe you, whoever you are… I don’t actually know.

I know that our plans to pursue a simpler life focusing on soil and spending more time listening and less time frenetically interrupting everyone feels like it fits.  40 odd years of frenzied grasping for a feeling of belonging and meaning led me down some incredible roads and alleys.  Somehow, I ended up sitting next to the sensitive silver haired sweetheart listening to dulcet chords from his meditation music playlist, with spring birdsong wafting in through an open window.

We have planned to write every day.  That’s not to say every entry will be brilliant or insightful, it is just a commitment to do something and see where it takes us and what we glean from the efforts.  A form of meditation.

So that’s my 20 minutes up.  Pretty proud of us for starting and putting this little plan we have been discussing at length for ages now into some kind of action.  He is still tapping away and it seems like his work is far more formed and accessible than my meanderings, and that’s okay.

At least I started. Plans are good. Action is even better.

Thanks for reading.

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.