Just Write…

Time just dissolves, and I have found it whizzes by faster as I get older.  After much planning and anticipation we are currently two days away from a big adventure to Thailand and Laos.  It is our first proper international sojourn since Covid struck way back in March 2020.  We have another more regional trip to Tasmania for my 45th Birthday as well, but today we are gonna talk about the farm and our fast approaching Southeast Asian tour.

Both trips are a mix of b’ness and honeymooning as we are now officially ensconced in the tourism industry as owner/operators of a working 50 acre regenerative farm and eco-tourism venture called Matakana Retreat.  That means we LITERALLY HAVE TO visit other such tourist and regenerative ventures to learn and perhaps share knowledge in return.  I can confidently say it is the most rewarding and generally enjoyable job I have ever had. 

Here’s a picture of our beautiful banana circles taken yesterday,

Despite being seriously satisfying it has not been smooth sailing or simple by any stretch.  We’ve been hit with countless curve balls, an unrelenting cleaning and maintenance schedule and ongoing tough decisions and precarious but important prioritising of time and resources.  We are at the mercy of so many factors, but somehow we’ve managed to imagine, deliver and nurture an immersive experience that delights us, our team and most importantly our guests, visitors and customers.

Delighting people in an all too often not delightful time for humanity and the planet is our cherished modus operandi.  We fervently guard and honour this calling, along with our privacy and mental hygiene.  Damon and I have seen a barrage of less than delightful personal and professional battles, and emerged filled with equal parts gratitude/optimism and fear/trepidation.   At this stage in our evolution, we do not suffer fools and we know our own worth and the importance of our efforts and vision, and we simply don’t have time or bandwidth for anything that may threaten our trajectory.

There is a strange but notable down-side to all this purpose, comfort, safety and contentedness that needs to be acknowledged.  My capacity for creativity has dried up considerably.  I don’t crave validation and feel connected and appreciated by my tried, true and chosen friends.  I see and speak to some people regularly and others far more rarely, but feel socially safe and secure, which has the strange side-effect of almost lacking ambition and missing that spark of creativity that comes from having ongoing emotional torture as my muse.  I don’t feel like I have much to share or work through that would be of any interest to most people these days.  Being miserable and surrounded by mean terrible people wasn’t fun, and I never care to go back to that dark pit, but those days I was a prolific story teller and wordsmith.  

I tried to give myself an achievable list of 23 blogs to write in short order, but I stumbled at the first hurdle and found my writers block so crippling I couldn’t complete the second instalment about being aware of my own shame and desire to assuage my guilt as a climate criminal.

So.  Rather than make excuses, I am going to just share, even if it isn’t what I once might have considered up to scratch.

Let me start with string with you some of the exciting places and spaces on our itinerary.

  1. Dentist in Bangkok – I am middle aged, and my teeth hurt. Seeing the dentist in New Zealand has cost me thousands and I know that there’s work to be done on my chompers that will likely add up to as much, if not more, than a trip to Thailand. So, in true pragmatic Dianna fashion, we received a sum of money from a tenancy tribunal settlement, and that resource is being spent on my teeth and some time being delighted by the madness and wonders of Thailand’s largest city .
  2. Shompoo Cruise – One day, when I am all grown up and have lots of cash in my bank account, I hope to take a luxurious low carbon river cruise in an air conditioned suite with my beloved second husband Damon. At this particular point in my journey this is currently a pipe-dream, Most of our time, resource and income is dedicated to our new business, we cannot currently drop the substantial chunk of change to cruise the mighty Mekong in luxury. Far from depressed or defeated, we have booked a two day open air slow boat tour instead. I hope to share our experiences with you as the adventure unfolds! We travel from just inside the Laos border from a small town called Huay Xai up to Luang Prabang
  3. Bullet Train from Luang Prabang to the country’s capital Vientiane – fast efficient low carbon transport? Yes please! I enjoyed the Japanese bullet trains very much, and am excited to try this out.
  4. Street food and Foreign Culture – Several dozen of my trips to exotic and exciting locations were made while I was gestating one of the four humans I have grown in my body. That meant street food was sadly off the menu. I can wholeheartedly guarantee my body is very much no longer geared to be an incubator, so street food is back on the menu (has been for nearly a decade, but I haven’t been through Asia much in that time). While a self confessed poor practitioner, my husband has maintained Buddhist leanings, so we will likely be offering alms and visiting temples in earnest for two weeks solid and I am very excited to have someone who has a deep connection with the cheerfully nihilist and generally gentle religion.
  5. Honeymooning – This is our first year as a married couple, and we fully intend to thoroughly milk our status as honeymooners, possibly far into the future, but definitely for any of our journeys up to and including our first anniversary.

So that’s my blog for today. I still love writing, despite the distinct fear I currently have that reading about my life lately is simply not that interesting. Calm, yes… Interesting, possibly not. And that’s okay I guess. Been fun to jot a few thoughts down though, so I will keep writing as long as you keep reading.

Thanks for popping in and have a great weekend.



Creative Writing Challenge – 23 Thoughts from Dee

I have given myself a writing challenge and this is the first day/assignment on the agenda.

Here’s the run down:

Wrote a blog with 23 random thoughts about things.  Now I am going to expand on each of these.  No idea how this is gonna go, so let’s just head down this creative writing adventure of a rabbit hole together and see where we end up shall we?

Here goes.

First thought/observation from my Chinese/Vietnamese New Years blog was:

  1. You may never know the impact an act of support or kindness has had on someone, but it is entirely probable that choosing kindness has absolutely changed or even saved someone’s life – and you may or may not ever know this, but every genuine act of selflessness and support kicks off infinite ripples of hope in a world that is weary from an overload of fear and aggression.  

How deep am I going to go with this one?  Sigh… pretty deep so hang onto your hat and your heart strings we are going on a ride.

I adore people.  Particularly feel close to and resonate with people who are struggling or need a bit of a hand.  My fave NZ teacher Mrs. Ranier from Stratford High school put on my 7th form reference letter that I was “the candidate and champion of the underdog” as she had watched me defend and support many a walking wounded soul in the short two terms as my form teacher.  She was so lovely.  Do you ever wonder what happened to the people in your life who were kind and really saw you?  Wish I could tell her thanks.


Don’t have to put too much effort into thinking about my rather jam packed and adventure filled life to land on a memory of offering our home, a meal, or a hand up to someone.  I rather selfishly gobbled up opportunities to help people in need through the years.  Younger me was unaware that I was processing the trauma of an awful childhood by offering kind words, resources, and all manor of support and service to all and sundry.  That meant lots of people sleeping on our couch or in our guest houses, picking up countless hitch-hikers (two of them lived with us on and off for months when I was first married to my ex-husband). It also meant embarking on a variety of missions of mercy to help individuals or organisations literally all over the globe.  I was a broken, sad, lonely little girl trying to fill up the empty that was left from an unsafe start to my life by reaching out to heal or help people were hurting.  Wanting to give them the safety I was denied.

The English language is awash with phrases and concepts describing such behaviours.  The act of choosing a life of service and support as a way of managing the hurt in ones heart.  It’s funny how some people get bitter and others become beautiful and seek to help others be better.  

What are some phrases that embody this?  The wounded healer. The empath.  The soft-hearted hero.  The snowflake.  Wounded warrior.  Activist.  Advocate.  Angry feminist perhaps?  

At any rate.  Only a few weeks into this year, I have been absolutely blessed with countless conversations of gratitude for kind acts, and also reminded of a calaedascope of cohorts who have been consistent in their courage and kindness toward me through countless chaotic cycles in my story and theirs.  

Many of the people to cross my path and make me feel this warmth and gratitude felt steamrolled or confused by me at first.  One fabulous friend recalled our very first phone call nearly two decades ago.  I needed a masseuse for my grumpy husband.  Apparently I was A LOT.  Since then we have both left our first marriages and have found delightful second life partners.  It was at her engagement party that she reminded me that I’d helped her through her divorce and she’d been incredibly supportive from the sidelines toward me while I was spiralling toward two consecutive nervous breakdowns.  

We are planning a coven of kindness witchy weekend with some of our fave women at the beginning of May.  All of this lovely warmth and support has come through consistent kindness, with a few long periods of silence between us.  

There’s also been a friend pop in for blue tea with me who swears my bull-in-a -china -shop attidude toward rescuing him helped him stand up in an unhappy and abusive situation.  He suggested my Love and honesty may have actually saved his life.  Not sure about that, think he saved his own life by standing up for himself and starting the long and difficult journey toward self acceptance.  He has good days and bad days and I absolutely relish our time together sipping blue tea on a summery Sunday afternoon.

I just realised I could continue this train of thought almost infinitely.  Sharing stories of kindness and support exchanged freely between myself, and strangers and friends alike.  

Instead I will just leave it here, with a warm glow of gratitude resonating around.

Chosen, actively, not to mention all the fear/hate/ignorance swirling around us and totally wrecking the vibe on our social media feeds. We know that trolls and haters are out there. I am actively choosing not to give them or their activities any oxygen. That’s enough said about that…

Going to end this on a high note.

Here’s some snapshots of some of my sweethearts and some of the lovely wonderful things they have said just since the start of this, what is clearly shaping up to be a truly magical year.

Thanks for reading!

2023 Starting Gently

Sunset 🌅 on the last day of 2022

My big kids have been in touch to say they had a lovely new year. We left them house and cat sitting back in Auckland. They’re both older than I was when I left home and started my new life in Aotearoa, and they’ve grown up to be kind humans who generally make pretty good choices. It’s fabulous.

Daniel dressed up for his ball
Stephanie at Christmas lunch with the step fam

Daniel had a few friends over and Steph got off her shift a little before midnight and wandered down to watch the fireworks display off the sky tower with her work friends.

I will go ahead and assume the cats also had a lovely time, as most days are good days for our two spoiled rescue kitties.

Benedict our three legged boss cat 🐈‍⬛

My husband and I saw the new year in exactly as we intent to see most days in. Gently. Drama free. Filled with gratitude.

Had a lovely New Year’s Eve e-bike ride around Rakiura

It’s the first Monday of 2023 and I’ve been awake since 5:30am as is often the case. A hot bath is run, and there’s kaka and tui making a huge and welcome racket at the open window here in Rakiura, which is the southernmost settlement in Aotearoa. We love it here. There’s no room for pretention or flexing. People live a slower more purposeful life in tune with nature and the seasons.

We came here between lockdowns for the first time some years ago and it’s quite unlike anywhere on earth. We keep coming back as we are guaranteed some forest bathing, beautiful dawn choruses from the many birds, and quite a lot more exercise than we are used to back in Tamaki Makaurau.

Our last trip here we stumbled across a local artist’s gallery on our walk through the bush on our way back from Ulva island. She’s now a world famous up and coming artist. I have some of her original pieces that I keep meaning to get framed and they’ve made it as far as the car but never quite to the actual framers, so that’s a job for this year and I will share them with you in a blog. Shortly after we met her she shone bright as a morning star on an episode of the iconic Hyundai Country Calendar. That episode has brought people to the island and to her gallery, success she takes in stride and wears like a boss. She’s something truly special. Most importantly to me though, she’s just an incredible witchy goddess soaked to the bone with grace, beauty and magic that is entirely unique to someone as connected to a place like this as she most certainly is. A flying visit yesterday reminded me just how wonderful she truly is, but also how blessed I am to have her and a handful of incredible goddesses in my life in 2023 after years of getting kicked when I was down and being surrounded by the wrong people.

Rebecca is a world class artist and an incredible human who I’m very fond of. Can’t wait to see her continue to shine in 2023

Today, for the most part, I am just really happy.  I deeply and genuinely wish the same for you beloved reader.

I am absolutely not ready to leave this magic island after three days with my beautiful, gentle, adoring husband. But a few more days adventuring here in the deep south before heading home to our friends, the kids, the cats and the farm is a wonderful way to welcome what I intend to be a gentle, meaningful, and magical year.

A group of people also enjoying the sunset at lookout point

Ka kite.

Thanks for reading.

Magic Gratitude Sparkles on the Surface of a Sea of STRESS!!!

This has been a less than stellar week.  

The house we rent in the city has been a harrowing and unpleasant experience from the very start and we now need to uproot the kids again and find a new place.  The landords want to move back in after assuring us that was not the case and refusing to let us out of the lease after chaos ensued while we were away getting married in Raro. Long story. I won’t get into it.


We found options for two lovely potential homes to rent. One is owned by family friends, another in a super central location with two distinct living areas so the kids could roam free-ish, but we could accept neither offer because of the incredibly difficult landlords wouldn’t let us out if the lease at the time. It’s been humbling and stressful and I needed to see what so many people are putting up with for myself. The injustice of it all and the power deficit between landlord and tenant has me spitting tacks!

Some landlords are fabulous, some are not. Renting is stressful and we have found it almost dehumanizing as we’ve been made to feel powerless concerning unpleasant and abusive neighbours. It’s all so strange as we generally adore our neighbours and have become close with several households on the street, yet the mouldy slum under the house we rent is clearly not fit for human habitation, has no soundproofing and the couple renting it has a yappy stressed out dog and when that isn’t barking (it NEVER stops barking) they are arguing and we can hear every single word of it from almost any room in the house. Not ideal.

Second serious stress this week was a cancelation.

Our trip to Austalia has been cancelled as I got a faint positive Covid test after being exposed at a visit to my beloved in laws on Friday night.  I have had three subsequent negative tests but my goodie two shoes approach to life lately means I am still following the isolation protocols and am out of covid jail early next week.  But the SEWF conference we’d been looking forward to for months is not on the cards for us as I was absolutely unable to reschedule flights.

That’s the bad stuff… There’s far FAR more magic and bright side and the grace and gratitude of so many people must be mentioned.

Our new Glamp product is going OFF and the reviews have warmed the cockles of our hearts.  The bananas are looking great.  We have an enthusiastic and communicative new local cleaner.  Our Gardener Gabe is coming up with his digger next week.  The cats are great. The kids are great.  The wedding is coming together and we are scaling it down so we can fully cater the event and feed and water our beloved guests rather than having a cash bar.  Husband and I are thick in the throws of the honeymoon phase.  

Laying like cats in the sun waiting to catch a flight home from Christchurch last month. Calm couple moments. I’m a big fan.

The last guests at the tent were in hot on the heels of the professional videography team (who RAVED about the product). While weekends are pretty packed at both our sites, we are keen to encourage mid week guests and happy to strike a deal to get people up the hill on Sunday-Thursday nights. So we had an enquiry from a lovely couple who could only afford one night (we have a two night minimum policy). She works in mental health, he is an up and coming artist, and it was her birthday. Did we give them a free night? OF COURSE we did. We won’t make a habit of it, but they melted our hearts with their story and she is clearly a bit burned out and needed a win. Anyway. They came in Sunday, fell madly in Love with the tent ant the village and roasted marshmallows under the stars together and had a bath in serene isolation on the hill they had all to themselves. They posted an epic review and sent us a long and lovely private message of gratitude, grace that was dappled with joy that brought tears to my eyes.

There were countless other wins this week too. The women I met at a minister’s luncheon in Wellington last week (before exposure event that may or may not have landed me with another case of the covid) are fierce, fabulous goddesses and I will touch base with them all soon and together we will implement our plans to take over the world. You’re welcome to join us, we are starting a club. No mean people allowed.

If you’re in this picture (it’s cropped to fit instagram so some people missing unfortunately) and you’ve read this please drop me a LinkedIn message I’m definitely not done talking to you fierce fabulous goddesses!

So that’s it.  Life’s tough and full of stuff but there are also sparkly magic bits and I am so glad to see and celebrate those.

Have a great rest of the week!


Charging into a new future together

In the golden hour on a beach in Rarotonga on July 7th 2022, through tear filled eyes Damon and Dianna faced each other and said “I do”.

I am 44 years old and have lived a life filled with chaos, adventure,  heartbreak and joy.  Damon arrived on the scene with his eyes wide open and his heart potentially ready to take on the hurricane that he’d been watching from a safe distance for some time before bravely approaching.

Three years after our romance began, he has changed his career and life, and dedicated his time, his knowledge and his whole heart to protecting my interests and building a legacy of innovation, regeneration, inclusiveness, collaboration and hope.  He has taken my appointed position on the ChargeNet board and is doing an incredible job honouring and protecting the spirit and values of community, carbon divestment and ethical business practices that saw us begin what started as a small social enterprise and has evolved into the world’s largest privately owned and operated charging infrastructure.  Pretty solid effort all round if you ask me.  

Together we are building our regenerative agriculture and eco-tourism start-up. Damon handles most of the BAU, contractors, and strategy while I help with the guest turnovers, social media, events and general PR. 

It’s mostly a pretty blissful existence and Papatuanuku blesses us with signs we are indeed on the right track such as the discovery of taonga species of plants and birds such as the koura and tuna (eels) we have spotted recently. 

Nowadays, I try to steer clear from too many stressful or difficult situations.  I’ve traded in my globetrotting to focus on my family, our farm, and mental hygiene. 

The pandemic allowed me time and space to reflect on my priorities, establish boundaries, clear out any dead weight of “friends” and “family” who obviously did not care for me and caused grief, confusion and sapped energy and resource to an extent that drove me to a harrowing nervous breakdown.

Life is not perfect or simple, despite the changes I have made and the boundaries I protect there are still of course challenges. I do need to stay very focused on protecting my mental health and it’s a daily journey. I realised while we were away at our Rarotongan elopement that the stress of handling large groups taxes me rather than feeds me. In the past I craved such external validation, today I need to be more gentle with myself and try to manage the level of duress I am exposed to. This realization however means that even on my very bad days I still experience gratitude and celebration.

You’ve all heard me say all of these things in many different ways through my blogs, and I will wrap this up and keep it short.

The message I am desperate to impart to you if you’ve taken the pains to read this is simple:

If you are going through hell, keep going.  If you feel lost, be brave and instigate changes so you can find your core and be true to yourself.  If you are lonely, seek comfort and demand respect and encouragement because you are a magical, powerful, complicated being and your time and loyalty is a privilege and you get to choose who can feel the warmth of your glow. 

Do not tolerate or accept toxic or negative behaviour from your partner, family or friends, no matter what history or connection you might have.  Be brave.  Be bold.  Be clear in asking for and receiving the Love and light returned to you that you share with the world because we are all getting older and none of us will get out of this adventure alive.  

So do not settle until you find a soulmate who has your back, that you can trust and who trusts you, who thinks you are filled with magic, and champions you both in person and in your absence. If you can find all that then you might even want to go the whole hog and make them a marriage stat – of course that’s a personal choice.  

I did however.  And it’s so exciting to know we have an adventure of a lifetime waiting for us to tackle together.

Thanks for reading.

Thanks for marrying me Damon.

Grief, Grace and Goddess Mother Steph

It is a year since I wrote the original draft of this blog, and at that time it was too fresh to share. Steph and I went through it again today, and I am sharing this with her blessing and to honour her and Louis today and every day. You’ll want to ensure you have some tissues handy, this is not an easy read, but an important one…

It is 5:44am. I’m watching a genuinely shitty 90’s easy listening playlist on YouTube and crying a little bit between audible laughter at magnificent messages from friends in various time zones who have been awake for hours. We are all carrying varying levels of triggered fear and grief for one of my inner circle goddesses. A dear friend for years now, she is managing the unimaginable after losing her cheeky, wonderful, perfectly imperfect and absolutely adored and appreciated eldest son was a passenger in a car crash that ended his life a few short weeks ago. There’s no manual for this and the pain comes in waves that render her helpless for periods and then she picks herself back up and carries on with her busy and beautiful life. She does it for her younger son, she does it because there’s really just no other option. She is incredible and one day she’s going to be the rock and a source of shelter and comfort for someone as her grief counselor has been to her. It’s that cycle of connection and meaning that brings some strange clarity to the anguish of such loss. She keeps going. I don’t know how. But she’s surrounded by Love and held in the hearts of people we both know and countless other lives of people I will never meet who she’s touched personally and professionally by being the stoic, sensible, fun, fabulous, wonderful woman she is. We have been through a lot together over the years. She’s as much a poker-faced complexity as I am a hot mess and open book. It’s an honour to have earned her trust and respect and it is an honour to be close to her in a time of need as she has been for me in my darkest hours. Although, constantly afraid I will say or do something stupid, or trigger her grief, just being available seems to be enough.

It’s difficult to even see any teenage boy without being triggered. This presents a challenge as I have my own teenage boy and have been peripherally invested in countless numbers of his quirky friends lives. I see them engaging in various levels of dumbassery and watch them navigating life while Steph is being ripped to shreds by the hole left with Louis’ passing. When someone we Love is in pain, we want so bad to do something to help, but there’s sweet fuck all anyone can do and between the tears my darling friend blows me away with her behemoth strength and vulnerability.

Life is a lot. It’s a beautiful, magical, excruciating mystery and not a single one of us are going to make it out of it alive.

For Louis’ funeral (which spilled out into the parking lot with hundreds upon hundreds of mourners) there were so many fabulous Louis stories from both his mother and father. There’s years more Louis stories for me to hear, just as every time I saw Steph there was more shenanigans to report. So, during this surreal sadness, I sat, clinging to my ex-husband (also a friend of Steph’s) and shaking with laughter while ugly-crying as Carl and Steph delivered funny stories about their creative and hilarious “volcano” kid who would be chill on the sports field then burst into action like a volcano. Louis saw potential and brought out creativity and adventure in countless peers and people. A kind, generous, quirky 17 year old brimming with passion, potential and possibility. He touched so many lives and sparked bravery and creativity in so many people across countless social groups. They continue to honour Louis with their passion for photography and adventure.

Grief is an inevitable part of everyone’s journey. The mere thought of losing a child piques an unrivaled and visceral pain in any feeling human being. Friends who have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Steph have shared a sinking and sincere sorrow for her online and IRL. When we were trying to settle on words for Louis’ coffin, another of the long-haul goddesses in Wellington suggested the very eulogy that Steph chose to be shared at the funeral. We. Are. All. Connected. We are all miracles. We are all completely unaware of the joy, pain and journey that lays ahead of us. We are all going to have unimaginable grief enter our frame of vision, directly or indirectly. The tenderness and support that pours out is reserved only for the darkest of moments in our lives.

I’ll never be able to shape or edit this blog to do justice to the things I want to say to and about Steph or anyone who has lost a child. So I will end with a note of gratitude to all our mutual friends who have been supportive of her, and checked in with me too. There are those who have known grief that I still can’t imagine, and they’ve all said the same thing: Just be there. Just check in. Just be ready and available.

What an incredible privilege it is to have such wise and wonderful energy, and what a terrible and strange thing it is to realise that the depth and sincerity of such wisdom is absolutely impossible to reach or feel without such excruciating tragedy.

I’ll end by sharing the absolutely beautiful speech from Louis’ memorial. And I will wish you comfort and strength as you reflect on the loss and Love that will almost certainly be triggered by this clumsy and inadequate blog, written by a clumsy and inadequate friend who is feeling so grateful to be available to be clumsy and inadequate but present through this unimaginable time in my sweet goddesses’ life.

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him/her that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let him/her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her/his eyes, that those photons created within her/him constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly.

Eating Our Feelings

A Practical Guide to Navigating Former and Future Feelings and Realities

Getting divorced was one of the greatest things to happen to me in my entire adult life. My ex is happily rid of me and ensconced in a new life. My heart yearns for his happiness, as it always did, perhaps more even, than I worry about my own joy. The difference now being, I am not in any way responsible but very supportive from a distance. Probably should be slightly more of a distance, but that’s always been a challenge for me. I am somewhat prone to smothering or completely ignoring people. Hot or Cold. On or Off. I struggle with finding a middle ground, but it is a struggle I am making huge strides at winning.

This is the three of us on the Star Trek cruise March 2020. Steve had an inside state room and we had a slaying suite… he’s a generous hobbit my ex husband 🥰

Since the split, I am healthy, happy, completely unmedicated and I certainly don’t crawl into a bottle or engage in destructive behaviours with the vim and vigour I once did.  The days of seeking validation and running in circles at sonic speeds trying to fix everything and anything that fell into my vision are long put to rest.  These days life is about true and fulfilling connections, healthy boundaries, incredible gratitude, and modeling health and grace not chaos and confusion to my kids and step kids.

Ouch that was a lot, it get’s lighter from here though so stick with me.

From day dot of hooking up with my future husband Damon he was briefed in no uncertain terms on the fact that my first husband was, despite being a royal pain in the ass at times, probably the only person on this planet I truly trusted and would almost certainly remain my BFF.  This is generally not a problem, although occasionally confounds him as I tolerate basically zero shit from absolutely everyone else these days, and Phteven is free to be his most authentic (and occasionally infuriating) self, whatever that may look like at any given time. 

Writing that down, I really am filled with gratitude for both my former and future husbands.  They could not be more different and I am so proud of them both and honoured to be watching their journeys into our autumn years.  They are both incredible dads, brilliant in their own way, and they are both inherently kind in a world where there are far too many unkind people doing unkind things.

Damon is the only person I ever dated that my kids met in that capacity (their mom’s boyfriend).  He has been made to feel incredibly welcome and is infinitely appreciated for his domestic and interpersonal skills.  Even Phteven is loath to find much fault in the spunky former monk.  I had a moment of cold feet thinking about the permanence of matrimony and was quickly told to pull my head out and “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”  Even Stephen is well aware that I am punching above my weight in so many ways.  Damon is a dedicated and doting darling who I’ve been sharing my life with for nearly three years now.  Husband number two (in July we hope) is an emotionally intelligent, fiercely loyal, delightfully dedicated and doting partner indeed.  Husband number one is often available to advise husband number two how to navigate the storms I can conjure up, as despite being in a pretty great space, I am still occasionally a hair trigger away from being a traumatized and terrified child conditioned to self-destruct.  

The three of us talk nearly every day.  Here’s the actual toolkit we use to keep communication open and flowing.  We have a DM chat group called “eating our feelings” that has been our main go-to point since the three of us headed off on the Star Trek Cruise through the Caribbean back in February 2020.  

Why is this so important?  Because it is a transparent and purpose built chanel for the three of us to discuss everything from childcare to challenges, from finances to feelings, from work to jerks at work, we discuss it all.  Damon and Steve are the very picture of calm objectivity and planning and I bounce in and out of the chat asking questions that have already been answered and injecting my typical(ly annoying) Dee cheer and cheekiness to grown up conversations. 

Communication is key.  The lack of clear communication and grace was a huge factor in our marriage ending.  Nobody is squarely to blame, we just lost each other a long time ago and no matter how we tried we could not find our way back.  Steve and Dee were a freakishly strange but formidably effective force for change and hope.  We were also a bit of a mess for most of our time together.  Moving forward toward a future where we are all connected but heading in our own empowered directions, this little thread has been one of the single most important places online or IRL I exist.  

This week, as a birthday gift, my beloved and brilliant ex-husband has undertaken the mammoth task of getting us officially divorced, as it is one of only two things I asked for from anyone anywhere for my 44thbirthday.  He’s been rushing around finding yellow paper to print on, organizing a JP to witness, and generally being a small but perfectly formed document printing machine. 

Marrying Steve was absolutely one of the best things and greatest adventures anyone on earth could ever possibly imagine being a part of.  He is a royal pain in the ass, a grumpy misanthrope and is, was and will forever be one of my most favourite people on this planet.  I am very excited to be flitting off to Rarotonga in July where he will happily hand my crazy cute self over to Damon to have and hold forever, as equals who are ferociously focused on working on ourselves, our farm, family, fulfilling friendships and our relationship.  Contentment eludes us if we don’t do the work, but it is so fucking worth the effort.

I gotta say, I feel like I am simultaneously living the happiest fathomable ending and beginning, and it’s all coming in fairly hot on the heels of a horrific state of anxiety and depression that nearly ended me. 

Wherever you are in your journey, I hope you can glean a bit of hope to keep going and fight for your freedom and demand a life that you feel safe and seen in.  Life is not meant to be perfect, but it can be so much better if you cancel shit that is toxic or you’re done with, and you focus on a future that is full of possibility and hope.  Boundaries, communication, and knowing you are truly fucking worthy of comfort, clarity and clear communication.  You get it. You get those good things because you deserve them.  

We all do.

So much Love and thank you so much for reading.

April Showers

We are at the farm and it is wet.  Not overly miserable, as the wind is gentle and the rain only falls in large bursts occasionally.  The plants are so happy as the moisture mostly meanders from the sky in a melancholy mist and has plenty of time to be soaked up by thirsty roots rather than just washing away in surface floods.  

I adore autumn.  It is my favourite season everywhere on this earth.  From New York city’s central park to the Swiss Alps, Gatineau’s or Appalachian ranges.  Autumn does not signal the end of anything to me, it is a time of pregnant possibility, crisp apples picked right off the branch, leaves that litter forest floors and most magnificently fruiting bodies of mycelia more commonly known as mushrooms.  Autumn is my happy place and it is tough to catch me in a bad mood this time of year.  You’ll find me irritatingly chipper most days as the sun sinks lower in the sky and feijoa fall from heavy branches.  

The only day in the Southern Fall you will find me miserable is the 28th of April. It is the day I was born 44 years ago in Edmonton Alberta to a farming and oil drilling family who did not like me then and are inextricably estranged from me now. A decision I did not take lightly and have genuinely never regretted. I’ve carved out a new existence focusing completely and tirelessly on social and environmental justice and taken the trauma of my terrible childhood and turned it into care and concern for mother earth and being a champion for the underdog, as it was champions who saved me and placed me on the path that I am now firmly moving forward on.

Today is the 20th and tomorrow I take my youngest miracle (James) on a birthday trip to Taranaki then Wellington then home to Auckland on the 22nd of April which is his 8th Birthday and Earth Day.  He is obsessed with airplanes, and therefore I booked us on an ATR and Q300 as this was his greatest wish to fly on them as he watches YouTube videos over and over again.  I am keenly aware of the effect of aviation carbon and blessed to be working peripherally with many electric aviation pioneers and securely ensconced with carbon divestment and sequestration projects throughout Aotearoa and the world.  I pick my battles bravely and am bold in my resolve to be a part of a solution to restore balance in our delicate ecology and hope that my children will continue the work we have started.

As you will clearly already realise, my first marriage ended some years ago, as did my public appearances as the High Priestess of Electrification of Transport.  Since then new friendships have blossomed and old have been fortified as I embark on my second marriage and new career as the co-founder of Matakana Off-Grid Retreat and Experimental Farm.  

These 50 acres of Matakana Clay have saved my world weary soul.  My fiancé and biggest fan Damon has nursed me back from the brink and together we have loved and learned our way through thousands of daily decisions to improve the whenua, plant trees, nurture bees, and create off-grid experiences for guests of all kinds.  

Our Wedding has been cancelled and rescheduled at least four times already, so we will elope to Rarotonga in July and host a festival style wedding reception on the farm on November 5th.

April 30th was set to be the day of the wedding, but more covid outbreaks and countless close calls have meant we down-scaled the wedding and have arranged a catered gathering for around 50 of our closest friends and collaborators on the project.  Here we will let the world see our newest tourist offering, a stunning safari tent designed only for couples to come and recharge and digitally detox amidst the birds and the bush overlooking the incredible predator and pest free island/motu of Little Barrier/Hauturu.  Having her peaks in clear view places our paradise directly on the NorthWest wild link and we have already seen an increase in native birdlife and met some taonga species including Tuna(eels) and Koura(crayfish) in our streams.  

Healing my very broken heart alongside this land has been an honour and adventure that I relish every single day.

We are only getting started, and this is the second year of our focused efforts to restore and regenerate the land and its natural ecology.  Soon Kiwi birds will be returning to the mountains around the corner from this place, and that means our predetor and pest control efforts need to be focused and fiercely administered, so that, Rangi and Papa willing, we might one day have the furry little flightless birds visit us in this place.

If you are a Rodney local interested in sustainability and eco-tourism, we would be absolutely honoured to hear from you soon, and perhaps welcome you on April 30th for our first official event.  I popped in to see the team at the Te Manuhiri headquarters and am hopeful that some of them will be visiting us soon as working with local Iwi is one of my most fervent goals.  I have so much to learn about the language and the Kaitiaki and Rongoa that has been passed down for generations, and am determined to listen to any advice or collaboration considerations I’ll be honoured to receive. 

Have a lovely day wherever you are on this earth, and thank you so much for reading.

Nga Mihi

Dianna (Dee) Birchfield-West

Rebecca and Ray of Rakiura

Only have an hour to get this blog from my brian, to the laptop, edited, posted and shared.  Damon is working this morning, facilitating some meetings.  Soon he will arrive with a rented trailer to haul the furniture from the garage at our rented house in Pt. Chev to deliver to the glamping tent.  We also scored outdoor bamboo set we picked up for a cool couple hundy at habitat for humanity Re:store down in Mangere.  That will go on the huge deck at the treehouse, which is our main source of income while we’ve both dedicated ourselves full time to this new farming/ecotourism venture.

Part of the plan was and is to connect with people who care about nature and find ways to actively engage in Tiaki.  

How do we do this?

We travel.  We chat.  We listen.  We learn.

Today I am going to tell you about two wonderful wahine we met last week while we were in Rakiura.  

Ray and Rebecca are long time Rakiura residents and both feisty and fabulous human beings.  Ray has had her beautiful home on the motu (island) since 1986.  She moved permanently in the 90’s to the island with her Scottish husband Roddy, who was clearly the Love of her life.  Rebecca moved from the mainland when she was 7 years old.  She’s got a young son and a couple of stepkids growing up in the grandeur and isolation only gifted to children lucky enough to exist in such a pristine, safe, and wild environment.  

I’ve been thinking about them both since we left a few days ago and have been struggling to package in my brain how to share just how magical they both are and how profoundly impressed I am by both of them.

Let me start with Ray.

Ray is a healthy, feisty, funny and fabulous septuagenarian who manages a bed and breakfast overlooking golden bay on Rakiura.  Her large home has hosted hundreds, perhaps thousands of travelers from all over the world.  Since the pandemic hit, her guest demographic has changed from almost only foreign folks to adventurous kiwis exploring their own back yard.  A completely different situation according to Ray.  The last two years it has been like hosting family.  Foreigners will gingerly ask if they can use the laundry, while kiwis figure it out for themselves and make themselves at home.  Both kinds of visitors are okay by Ray, but she is ready to welcome foreign visitors again.

What struck us most about Ray was her intelligence and humility concerning that intellect.  She was incredibly well read and well-travelled.  Our second night with her we sat on her sheltered second story verandah and raised a glass to her late husband and chatted openly about a vast variety of subjects, from Isreal and Palestine, to the war in Ukraine, conservation, vaccinations, tourism, agriculture… just to name a few of the topics we skimmed that evening.

The next morning at breakfast our chats continued.  She asked if we engaged with our guests to the degree we had chatted, and of course we do not.  She manages her BnB as a host and we are a seamlessly contactless set up where our guests arrive and leave and generally never cross paths with us in person.  I suspect that’s the only way for us to operate as I am a woman of deeply felt and held convictions with no shortage of opinions.  As I said to Ray (and was rewarded with a huge belly laugh from her) “Nobody is ever going to die wondering what I think!”  And that probably wouldn’t be the most relaxing way for most people to enjoy their digital detox or vacation on our beloved farm.  So Ray will host in her way and we will stick to ours.  I will say getting to know her and learning from her nearly four decades of working in tourism (after a career as a latin and classical studies teacher) was in itself worth the trip we took to the deep South.

We also met an amazing woman named Rebecca at her hilltop home and studio in Oban.  We’d just finished a dream day in Ulva island where we ran into our mutual friend and fellow sustainability advocate Tracy.  Damon and I both knew her from different channels in our sustainability careers.  I’ve been wanting to catch up with her for years and years, and she just lived around the corner from me on Auckland’s North Shore, yet we met waiting for a water taxi to Ulva Island in the deepest southern tip of the South Island.  How cool is that? Awesome actually.

So after this epic day of content capturing and canoodling with my fiancé on deserted beaches with not a soul in sight we walked through the golden bay coastal track and wended our way back to the tiny township.

The sun was blazing down that day, and we were tired and thirsty after finishing off the last of the water from our ecotanker vessels.  Damon was done at this point.  I was still buzzing from the birdsong and ease of the day chatting with a wahine toa I had long since respected and got to see in person that day.  We stumbled across Rebecca’s gallery and so we walked in.

We put on our masks and proceeded to snoop around her tidy and beautiful workspace.  Rebecca makes prints of seaweed she collects from around the island.  We bought three small prints that day, and learned about two of her mentors, and I have forgotten both of their names but will ask her on dm later because I am keen to connect with them both.  She called one the “queen of seaweed” and the other “and absolute marine biology legend” and both women have helped her to start her business and flex her creative muscles to further conservation conversations.  

We totally vibed Rebecca and I.  She’s epic cool.  She talked about the joy of childhood on the island where nobody locks their doors and everyone is supportive and the community is connected and safe.  Isolation and the pace of life, where people live withing the tempo of the rythms of nature, is idyllic when told by her.  Her partner is a fisherman and their family enjoy an annual hunt to gather mutton bird (titi) which she said is best boiled twice then roasted.  We will be back to try this delicacy with her or our other friends across the Foveaux strait in Bluff.  

You can meet this amazing woman and her family yourselves soon as they will be on Hyundai Country Calendar in April.  I believe she said they will be airing this episode on April 10th.  At any rate, she impressed me with her talent, her grace and her intelligence.  We agreed together that mycology and seaweed were poised to save us all, and if not humanity at least these two powerful natural forces would clean up the mess humanity has made if we destroy ourselves through war or climate change.  

Yeah, I do not do small talk.  

So, that’s it.

That’s my blog about two beautiful forces of fabulousness I was honoured to connect with.

Many more adventures ahead, and it is such a magical thing to connect with inspiration as we continue our career change and carve out a new path as famers and hosts.

Thank you, as always, for reading.

Mā te wā


Just a screenshot from a couple of days ago

Dear Reader,

I do not know, nor do I particularly care what your stance on the 23 day “anti-mandate protest” outside Parliament is or was or will be.  

What I cannot help but genuinely care about is you.  Whoever you are,  whatever side of this you were/are on, my concern is for you.  How you are feeling?  How are you coping with the barrage of bad news and divisiveness here and abroad.  I care that you are able to find a space and place to be safe and serene and practice good mental hygiene and find joy amidst such turmoil.  

Of course I still care and am saddened by the situation that swelled.  It started in Alberta, the province where I was born.  My heart hurts and I’ve blocked, muted and removed hundreds of connections for spreading misinformation.  Not because I do or don’t agree with some or much of what anyone says online.  And I certainly do not suddenly hate any of them.  I choose distance because I need to protect my own mental health and need boundaries and borders that keep me safe and firmly and securely rooted and surrounded by reason, science, kindness and tolerance.  

Whoever and whatever those protests were about, there was inarguably far right and even Nazi rhetoric, violence, intimidation and even shit (by that I mean real actual human feces) flinging.  Any of these individually, let alone combined would be reason enough to distance and protect myself from such chaos and so many triggers. 

Don’t think for a moment I don’t appreciate and even relish a good, safe and peaceful protest.  

A 20 year protest from The Greenham women was documented to be what convinced Gorbachev to engage with the West and sign a nuclear disarmament agreement.  Civil rights activism changed the trajectory of countless communities and lives, and is so frustratingly still necessary as divisiveness and hate seems to be gaining steam everywhere these days.  I have definitely lost count of the number of climate change Friday Marches the kids and I attended.  The right to stand up and say “this is important to me!” is something I cherish and will uphold for myself and even for people who disagree with me.  Anti-abortion protestors have as much right to peacefully protest as I (a vehemently pro-choice advocate) do.  

There was no point during these anti-mandate marches that I was even mildly moved to want to support the sentiments being strewn about the place, and more to the point, I really do not now, nor did I ever actually understand what these people were protesting for or against.  Truly.  

The fact that they happened at all is a clear and concerning sign that there is something deeply broken in our society here and at large.  So many people feeling fearful and disenfranchised meant they were drawn to the sense of community and desire to be heard that was organised and administrated by a rabble of conspiracy theorists and scientifically illiterate community leaders.  These leaders actually convinced some in the straggling crowds that tin foil hats were a necessary and reasonable weapon in the their arsenal against “the man”.  There’s clearly something wrong in our world when a situation like that is allowed to erupt.

My fears for humanity and my trepidation toward our government, are far more deeply embedded in my concerns for the state of play of mental health in Aotearoa.  Many of the people left at the tail end of these protests are genuinely unwell and unstable and need/deserve/require tenderness and therapy.  

Now that it is coming to an end, I am left feeling concerned and saddened by the whole messy and emotionally charged situation.

I do not support the protests as I am compliant to the mandates to keep my vulnerable friends and relatives safe as the Pandemic evolves to and Endemic disease.  

I do not want to hate on the protestors, and feel that there is still room for a useful dialogue with some of the more reaonable people from any point on the scale between anti-mandate protestors and those deeply disgusted by the protests.  Maybe?

Or maybe we need to look deeper into the fringes of our society and find ways to reach and teach kindness, tolerance and empower people and communities to avoid rising up and/or voting against their own best interests.  But then, who am I or who is anyone else to say what is in their own or anyone else’s best interest?  

But maybe if we talk about what happened without anger or shame we can reach the people who are hurting.  Maybe the root of the problem is and always was standard of living and the rights we all have to seek and find physical safety and comfort, and to be able to pursue something to do, something to Love and something to hope for.  These are the things that gives us each a sense of purpose and connection in any society.

Maybe it had less to do with freedom and much more to do with fear and frustration?

Maybe we can do better.