A Very Beautiful Backyard

For the last decade it has been unthinkable that I could or would be more than a few short weeks without boarding a plane for work or play.  This Jetset life ended abruptly in March 2020, when I, along with around 5 million other Kiwis, became securely (and in my case gratefully) grounded here until further notice.
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In the financial year ending March 2019, Tourism accounted for 5.8% of our nation’s GDP and sent $16.2 billion NZD circulating through our economy.
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That tap has all but dried up for the time being.
While nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, this is absolutely the time to be planning and preparing for a cleaner, kinder, more resilient and robust tomorrow for Aotearoa.
While we take this rare and unforeseen opportunity to reflect on what has been and what could be ahead of us, can I also implore you to get amongst it and go and see friends family and partake in enjoying any number of locations and attractions.
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This is the perfect time for us to be exploring our own back yard.
While it took me several weeks to adjust to the idea of being out of lockdown (not because of germs or transmission, I just really enjoyed isolation with my bubble) I am now furiously planning activities and adventures. We have a ski trip, thermal road trip, meaningful meanderings, and several romantic journeys lined up to enjoy over the next few months.
A girls weekend in the far north and a blissful couples adventure on the West Coast of the South Island has whet my appetite for travel and adventure in our stunning and varied back yard. We’ve had the whole place to ourselves just about anywhere we have happened to be. It has been wonderful, if not a bit surreal, to escape the crowds but it has also crystallised in my mind the importance of domestic dollars being spent to keep our local tourist spots viable until the borders reopen.
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Tomorrow we will head up to the Matakana Treehouse to visit our tenants (who have, unsurprisingly become friends) and then perhaps go on a lovely walk out in Tawharanui or the Dome Valley. Monday my daughter and her bestie have accosted me to be the bus driver and we are op-shopping on K-road and maybe take in a museum or gallery as well. Tuesday after my BNI meeting I am packing the 15, 13 and 6 year olds into our EV for a carbon neutral adventure to Tirau. Yep, you heard it right. Tirau. Hot pools then antique shopping and we are all pretty excited. Then lunch with friends in Hamilton before heading back home to prepare for the trip to Rotorua with the teenagers in tow.
Accommodation has not been so available or affordable in decades and there’s fun to be had on any budget. Day trips or a journey to visit some of the whanau you haven’t caught up with in a while can keep the pennies in your pocket, or you can splash out on luxury spa weekends that would have been booked out or out of reach when we were competing with deep pockets of wealthy overseas visitors.
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I’ll wrap up for today. Just needed to say that this is a great time to get out and about in our pacific paradise. Might see you out there sometime soon! Wave if you spot LOLGAS.

Safe at Home

Our youngest son turned 6 yesterday.  His father and I have spent most of his life unravelling strings that tied us together as a couple and fortifying a newfound friendship.  Poor wee James was the most difficult of all four pregnancies, yet he was hands down the happiest, easiest, most cheerful baby imaginable.  He was clearly smiling on sonogram images and as soon as he was born, he settled down for a sleep in the arms of a dear friend who was a nurse on the ward’s arms.  He shone his signature serene smile at her as we chatted cheerfully together in the wee small hours of the morning of April 22nd 2014.

My new, and very patient and gentle partner and I were overseas while the world was falling apart in the face of the current pandemic.  We were the third flight to land from overseas when screening measures were introduced here, and we took our responsibility to isolate very seriously.  After discussions with the nanny, my ex and the kids, Damon and I went North to our peaceful property perched high on a hill amidst 50 acres of trees and gentle breezes.

 

We spent our 2 weeks quarantine together sans children, and only had to venture to the end of our road in the car to get Internet/4G signal.

 

Since returning to the family home and flinging myself whole heartedly into my role as mother and matriarch of this happy little kibbutz-esque acre of solitude, we have discussed at length if/how and when we would return Jamie to the family fold, while clearly and completely observing the rules and regulations of level four.  So, after several weeks of separation, my son was returned to my arms, and will not be leaving my bubble now until, I am assuming, level two lockdown.  His return has made me feel whole, grounded, content and complete.

 

Jamie was born into chaos.  I went back to “work” less than 36 hours after he arrived, and rushed around founding, funding, and forcing my own brand of activism on the world whenever and wherever the opportunity arose.

 

Now, after being attached more or less at the hip to him from his 6:30am arrival in our room, through to his 7pm bedtime ritual, I am not, and never will be, the same person as I was when I left for the last trip of it’s kind of my lifetime on February 27th 2020.

 

After reading, singing, and snuggling with my sweet little morsel of magic, he often tries it on and negotiates for another glass of water and sometimes gives me crocodile tears and explains “something is really bugging me, and I am trying to understand what it is” and I kiss his soft little six year old cheeks and we talk about his feelings.

 

“You make me feel safe, I feel safe when we are together.”  He explains to his hot mess mother in earnest, and I hear him and hold him until he concedes his acceptance of the fact he really must sleep in his own bed even though it requires some bravery and effort to settle in and let sleep take hold.

 

This conversation with my son elucidated feelings I was having trouble putting into words, and am now risking the judgement of anyone who takes the time to read this by admitting, I really have never been happier in my adult life than I have been since this surreal and undeniably scary series of events has kicked off.

 

Speaking with a few select friends and colleagues, burnout among us is common.  Some of us really, truly needed a break, and never would have slowed our pace without being forced to do so.

 

Back in November I hosted an overly ambitious, over-catered, overly complicated, overly stressful, and incredibly over budget series of events that quite honestly broke me.  I’m still working through it all in therapy and recovering from the extreme mental and physical fallout from not feeling heard or honoured, rather just paraded around like a prize pig and forced to foot the bill for something I really could have and should have had far more creative control over.  But five months after the fact, I regret nothing as it was a swan song for the ages and a unique opportunity for me to see good and greed, compassion and cowardice, and most importantly and appropriately, to show the world how unbelievably successful our plucky little nation has been at collaboration and innovation in electrification of transport.

 

New Zealand has been an absolute crown jewel in the international revolution toward energy independence and carbon divestment in our light fleet.  These are facts, there is plenty of evidence to substantiate my claims, and it was an honour to play a small part in that narrative here and around the world.

 

But all of that striving and stress is not a place where I feel safe.  This isn’t an admission of defeat or an overly dramatic exit, it is just my first opportunity to say openly that priorities change, and I am truly out of puff after throwing myself so extensively, authentically, and precariously in a critical path I was never equipped to manage.

 

Power and/or money are something some people will do anything for.  Security and a sense of importance is paramount in some people’s journey.  These people keep popping up and I simply cannot manage dealing with them.  I can’t shake the need/instinct to see the best in people and extend a constant stream of the “benefit-of-the-doubt” serum until every conceivable last chance I can extend them has run out.  I am not ruthless, crafty, cunning, or ambitious enough to play in that paddle pool any longer.  Business the way it was done in the old system could be cruel and calculating and I am now far more interested in a new normal. I feel that my place in this new trajectory is going to look different than the somewhat eccentric, “larger than life” brand I have projected over the years. It took all the resilience I could muster to keep up with the chutzpah filled hurricane I felt I had to be.

 

Now, all I want, is to feel safe.  To create and fortify that safety for my three amazing kids and a very small handful of trusted and true friends and family moving forward.

 

I want to keep the pace of peace that I’ve enjoyed for the past 8 weeks.  I want to cook, create, plant and plan.  I want to be available to my beautiful bubble and be very fussy, fastidious and firm in my choice of tribe and endeavors from here on in.  I want to share what I have clearly and completely without depleting myself to a state of PTSD.  And I want to see the other empathetic activists I have known, loved, and respected doing something similar.

 

In conclusion, this has been a strange and surreal time for so many of us.  Here in New Zealand we are blessed beyond belief to have a kind, strong, science-based assembly of leadership.  We are poised on what I hope will be a return to a thriving middle class, a closing of the chasm between haves and have nots, and access to opportunities to enjoy much more safe and satisfying pace and path for every individual, not just a lucky few.

 

My role in this new normal, is to be enough.  To know when to say when, and to continue to prioritize the most powerful forces in my life.  My special people, this amazing and magically mending planet, and the chance to slow down the pace to a level that allows me to really enjoy the simple and significant things like birdsong or an afternoon nap.  Not a day passes that I do not feel blessed to have these choices in a very real way.

 

Wherever you are and however you are feeling, I wish you enough too, and strength and safety as we navigate an uncertain future that is palpably pregnant with hope and possibilities.

 

Kia Kaha.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

What Do You Want?

This is the first blog I’ve published in over four months.  I’ve started dozens, and slunk back into a hole, but I think it’s time to climb out of it and get back in the ring now.

Brace yourself, it’s pretty raw.

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Few things in my orbit are as frequent and confronting as this tiny, seemingly benign four-word sentence:

 

“What do you want?”

 

How many people have a clear and enduring answer to that question?  I’ve felt and observed that wanting sometimes eclipses having that very thing. There’s also some pretty basic and universal needs/wants that we all crave or covet, perhaps at the expense of basking in the appreciation of blessings we’ve just grown so accustomed to we take them for granted.  And, in my experience, there is no emptiness that quite rivals getting things you want without sacrifice and struggle.

 

From the outside looking in, I’ve created a personal brand that is incredibly and authentically vulnerable, but also stroppy and forthright, and even considered bossy, and I have been told recently almost relentlessly driven.  We all have vast and varied sides to ourselves, and our strengths can also be the source of struggle.  We all want things to be easier at times, and we’re all striving and sacrificing to carry on through challenges and ups and downs, but maybe that’s part of the magic.

 

This is the conundrum I want to unpack a little with you today.

 

I’m just coming out of yet another lengthy and exhausting relapse of fatigue, anxiety and sadness.  Burning out is just as much a part of existence as breathing, and that’s actually a choice I actively make and I am not complaining about it, just honouring it.

 

Slowing down and cocooning myself with my family and flaking out of most social and general engagements has been a wonderful opportunity to reflect on goals and the incredible journey so far.

 

Today there’s been some big national announcements putting one of my proudest and most challenging projects back into the spotlight.  Owning ChargeNet and being a visible and public figure in the EV movement at home in New Zealand and internationally has been a blessing beyond anything I could have imagined growing up.  It has also, on more than one occasion, nearly broken me completely.

 

But I’m still here.  And for the first time in months I have the strength and self-esteem to put my thoughts down with the goal of sharing them with anyone who happens to have time to read this.

 

It bears repeating, that when this company was born, our public intention was to install 75 public fast chargers to adequately remove the barrier of range anxiety and open up all of Aotearoa to EV drivers.  We are fast approaching 200 stations and have more exciting and important projects to look forward to.  I want people to know how humbled and grateful I truly to be any part of it, and I want customers and partners to understand that most days are hard work, and the momentum is only possible with support and collaboration.  I say this on so many days and in so many ways I worry that it is starting to sound like lip service or a skip on a record, but I WANT you to know that I know there’s hundreds of people directly involved in this epic narrative, and growth has removed the possibility of me being able to name and thank all those who are integral to the growth and success of this incredibly important movement.

 

So that’s the professional confession out of the way, let’s move onto the real cringe inducing guts of this blog.

 

A week ago today I had a dinner meeting where the only question was the four letter trigger.

 

Here’s the bullet points of the conversation:

 

  • I want people to real talk, and I am happy to be the person who gives them the platform to do so
  • I want to go down scratching and biting or, even better yet, be an impactful part of whatever it is going to take to get people and the planet out of the tailspin we are in and back onto solid and sustainable ground
  • I want to be present and available for my children and for them to know how much I Love them and how proud I am of them
  • I want to feel safe, and heard, and not taken for granted or advantage of
  • I want to be responsible for my own decisions and actions, and free to take ownership of mistakes and move on
  • I want to laugh
  • I want to be a part of a trusted and true tribe
  • I want to stop being hard on the people I Love and respect the most while giving my biggest smile and too much energy to strangers
  • I want to spend time with people who fill me up
  • I want to say: “let’s have that long overdue coffee” and actually do it far more often
  • I want to be more able to identify and be protected from toxic people
  • I want to create the distance necessary between myself and chapters and relationships that have failed, and not blame or be blamed for that failure
  • I want to do more good than harm
  • I want to let anyone who will listen know that most days are hard work, and life’s absolutely not fair sometimes, but it’s like that for everyone
  • I want to be Loved for me with all my faults and foibles, and held to a high standard of behaviour and character, and to be corrected with kindness
  • I want time in my romantic bubble with my main squeeze
  • I want to see people get excited about the future again, and be a part of communities and events that are based in Love, respect, tolerance and enthusiasm
  • I want people to be free to be imperfect, and applauded for the work they do to improve their own lives and the lives of others and the environment
  • I want to be alone sometimes
  • I want a great manager who helps me to do wonderful things but doesn’t push me until I break
  • I want to see people shine
  • I want to see people show bravery and be entitled to some failure and learning
  • (This one is very VERY specific, so brace yourself) I want our customers and partners to realise how far New Zealand has come in the electrification of transport in a very short time, with a fraction of the resources of other countries

 

… I won’t keep going… even though there’s way more on the list and I am now tempted to start rattling off the things that are irking me, and that’s not what this blog is about, I will write another if I need to percolate those thoughts through this medium.

 

So this year, expect to see a bit more of me now that I am finally strong enough to engage with the world again.

 

I hope you take the time to ask yourself the four-word question, and I hope you are blessed with a path that gives you enough struggle to appreciate the things that you want, work toward, and find.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Electrifying Dundee – A Blog About The Scottish City I Absolutely Love – By Wee Dee.

What can I possibly say about my adopted Scottish home town Dundee? It’s Electrifying…

Where to begin?

The authenticity, passion, kindness, support, and overwhelming generosity of Dundee keep me coming back to this plucky little City in the East of Scotland. This is a city that does not make a secret of its struggles. Dundee faces problems head on, with humility and resolve.

It must be said, that there is no place on earth like any other place on earth. Each city, town, hamlet and home have a unique and ever-evolving culture and landscape. Dundee has flown close to the sun, nurtured change, innovation and resilience for centuries. They have also had rugs pulled out from under them. Jute factories  literally pulling the rug and sacking industry out from under the thousands of households employed in the flax mills that made sturdy materials that were used around the globe.

Dundee’s women fascinate and inspire me. They are often feisty, resourceful, and strong, as a legacy of the more than 50% of the workforce in the Jute factory being women (as they were paid an average of 45% of male wages). Women went out to work and their husbands earned the nickname “kettle warmers” as they stayed home to tend the hearth and children.

Many year’s later, in 2019 the legacy of tenacity, strength, community, industriousness, and curiosity have made Dundee a world class case study in the electrification of transport industry.

So many people I respect and admire have contributed to the fascinating narrative of this city. Kristy, El, Fraser, Justin, David, Heather, and the irrepressible powerhouse Lynne. There are so many more heroes to me based here, but let me share with you just a little bit of the magic and meaning these powerful champions for change who are charging into the future have instigated.

Dundee is, by many counts, an economically depressed city. Employment rates here  were the second lowest in the UK in 2018. Gentrification and economic stimulation efforts are vast, varied, and creative here, because the only way is up.  One of my dearest friends Christine has joined many tech firms from across the UK and even around the world in setting up shop in Dundee.  Her creative firm Salamandra has been operating in Dundee since the middle of this year, and her enthusiasm for this venture is clear.  More and more tech and innovation will be drawn to this, the sunniest city in Scotland I have no doubt.

Dundee is home to a population with deep roots, and shallow pockets. Generations remain here, rather than seeking greener pastures or higher chances of employment farther afield. Communities are close, local pride is palpable, and the wolf at the door is a shared reality for many of this city’s residents. This seems to have created a warmth, wisdom and love of laughter in the locals. Everyone here has fallen over themselves to help me, whether I am seeking information, directions, or details for this blog. I feel welcome, appreciated, and maybe even understood here. This is a city that gets on with things, and drag themselves through mud and muck to lift each other and their community up.

It is a strange and ongoing struggle for electrification champions to justify our cause to people who claim that our industry is a playground for the rich and privileged trying to assuage middle class guilt. Dundee flies in the face of this rhetoric. One of their many charging hubs is located in the most economically depressed areas of the city, and the stations and cars are treated with respect and pride by owners, users, and locals alike. Electrified transport has made movement affordable, enjoyable and accessible for rich and poor and everyone in between wishing to join the long overdue transition to clean transport and energy independence.

Dundee has been nominated for, and won numerous awards for their brave and innovative projects.  The V&A museum, that hosted a recently released panel discussion on the epically popular Fully Charged show has won several design, architecture, sustainability and tourism awards.  As. It. Should.

The real magic as far as I am concerned is in the epic electrification efforts this up and coming city has embarked on.  I was a guest speaker at the offical opening of the Queen Street charging hub.  A resplendent couple of days that included a conference, bagpipes, beer, laughter, hope, happiness, innovation, an epic tour, and too many new friends to list.

This city earned international recognition in October 2019 by winning the “International E-Visionary Award” and in my (and many other’s) opinion were indisputably worthy of this prestigious accolade.

I want one too now though.  So, C’mon New Zealand, join the journey to catch up with my darling Dundee.  It is probably worth talking Turkey at this point though, and comparing apples with apples in the conversation about investment and uptake.

New Zealand recently hosted a Dundee local as the Scottish representative on a national and international Roadshow across New Zealand’s North Island.  Elinor Chalmers was a very welcome guest, and pointed out that Dundee had enjoyed in the vicinity of £8 million in stimulus and support for their audacious electrification goals.  This vast push that includes solar capture and storage, education, outreach, and a world class charging infrastructure was championed by the community, the council, private enterprise, and one of the kindest most humble people I have ever met; Dr. David Beeton who is the passionate CEO of Urban Foresight.

Measuring this against the economic climate for stimulus efforts in New Zealand, it might be time to put our money where our transport is in the public and private sectors, in order to claim a stake as research, development, innovation and collaboration leaders across the world stage.

The Kiwi EV community is going head to head over a $6 million dollar contestable fund that is awarded by EECA.  I remember tears of joy when a dear friend in that organisation took me out for a cuppa and shared the news of this welcome encouragement for the industry I have dedicated most of my heart and soul to over the last five years.  My family have invested our personal resource to install, develop and manage a world class charging infrastructure to the country we Love above all others, and this fund has allowed us to more than double our initial forecasts for this epic rollout.  We’d planned on 75 fast chargers by 2020 to provide a basic backbone for EV drivers to travel in their EV across this beautiful island nation.  We have more than 170 of these 50kW fast chargers on our network at the end of 2019, and this is in no small part owing to the support of partners, the community and this popular government grant.

I do sometimes lament that we are competing with our dearest friends and closest collaborators for a piece of this pie, and I wonder if there is a better way of encouraging local and global research, development, and innovation dollars to flow through Aotearoa.  If anyone reading this has ideas on this, feel free to share them with me, I don’t have the answers, just the question at this point.

The industry is growing here in NZ, as it is in Dundee and globally, and I just want to put this in further perspective by pointing out the fact that around $25 million was spent on an unsuccessful flag referendum in 2015/16.  I voted for Red Peak, and still get a solid giggle out of the kiwi with laser beams shooting from the eye sockets flag submission.  While I am always pleasantly surprised by the international friends and colleagues who know about our laser kiwi flag meme, I’d really prefer that money being marked to generate real economic and environmental value by securing New Zealand’s green tech sector as this industry grows.  And, it is growing.

Dundee has set the bar pretty high.  We can learn, apply and be the change we want to see on a global scale, by applying the learnings and experiences from this and countless other EV case studies from around the world.

In conclusion.  If you are ever lucky enough to find yourself in Scotland, treat yourself to a trip to my beloved darling Dundee.  This is a city with soul, vision and chutzpah.

I know that I will always find my way back to my friends and colleagues on the banks of the Firth of Tay.

 

The Wonderful Wiebe Winding his Way Home to the Netherlands

 

I remember the first time I met this tired colossus of Dutch humour and global experience.  I went to pick him up first thing one Wednesday morning.  He was late.  Quite late actually, and I brought him in my beautiful brand-new Red Kona to record a podcast. That was one of the last times I would drive the Kona, as Steve has claimed it as his and refuses to share it. It is a pretty cool car.

 

Where was I?  Oh yes, the story of Wiebe and the Wests.

 

So, the bedraggled bear-like character got an earful on the short car ride from Ponsonby to K-road.  I chatted on about New Zealand, my family’s role in the whole EV movement here on these shaky isles, my kids, friends, and mental health issues.  He didn’t blink or wince or worry.  He did not run screaming from the car.  He did make jokes and say something along the lines of: “Wow mate, you sure can talk!”  Little did I know on that first day, that this was the beginning of a strong and beautiful friendship that has filled a space in my rather manic life.  There is nobody like anybody else on earth, but I can absolutely guarantee, that you’ll never meet anyone quite like Wiebe.  His booming voice and incredibly Dutch humour and accent mask a sensitive and introverted soul.  I must have sensed it early on, as I have felt fiercely protective of this nomad since we met.

My EA and personal watch dog and gate keeper Hayley organized a “Landing Party” for our celebrity traveler, and he slept through most of it. After three days asleep in the cupboard under the stairs in our neighbours house (he was allergic to our house, so needed to crash someplace cat free, and our tenants and dear friends were gracious enough to let him sleep in their cat-free kitchen) he surfaced. Still tired, but ready to take a THL camper van on a tour around the Coromandel.  This would give the gregarious grizzly bear more alone time, and he relished every moment.  The scenery, the seclusion, the fact he could fast charge using the network my ex-husband and I have been rolling out across New Zealand since 2015.  After his jaunt, my big boy (I openly adopted him shortly after we met) came home for a couple of days before heading South toward Bluff.

 

I remember that his fatigue was absolutely palpable.  He felt and looked tired.  Not your regular level tired, but bone-tired.  The way you could only possibly feel after traveling over 100,000km and 34 countries.  The kind of tired that comes from being in a different bed nearly every night for over three years.  The kind of tired that comes from being a guest in a new home nearly every day.  The kind of tired I can’t describe or imagine, and it is/was a tired that was keenly noticed by many of my friends as he wended his way back up to his Kiwi home base (our house) from Bluff.

 

Three months after our first meeting and I think I can confidently say that New Zealand has earned a special place in the electric (not flying unless absolutely necessary) Dutchman’s booming heart.

 

He’s excited to be heading home soon, and although he won’t win any houseguest of the year awards, I am going to miss him more than I care to think about.  He makes me laugh and lets me have my moods.  Even more importantly, he remembers to tell me he Loves me several times a day.  Admittedly, I have told him plainly that he has to shower me with endless compliments and affection.  I am incredibly insecure, and use humour to thinly veil an encyclopedia of hang ups and self-loathing.  Now, I am sure I don’t need to point out the fact that we are not even remotely romantically involved.  We are firm friends who enjoy a laugh at our own, and each-others’ expense.  We are an odd couple of weirdos, with more in common than many may think.  Neither of us are incredibly technical.  People often assume we are, or perhaps want us to be.  Neither of us have ever gotten used to people having opinions about us, especially when these opinions are sometimes formed without ever actually meeting us.  We have a long list of inside jokes, the most common is which of the two of us is the most humble, as neither of us tend to come across as meek.  He is loud.  I am loud. He is undeniably world famous for his efforts and the vast traditional and social media that has shared his harrowing journey and narrative.  I am, apparently, a hurricane.  So we openly joke about our large personalities, and argue over who is indeed the most humble of the two of us.  Oh, and in case you were wondering, it is definitely me.

 

So, as the hours close in and the moment approaches that this big bear climbs aboard a plane back to his regular life, with a stop in Bali to detox from all technology and just be, I am fraught with sadness. I am not an easy person to put up with, and I fear and crave connection with equal zeal.  Somehow, this big goofy guy makes me feel quite alright just as I am, and that’s not a feeling I am often privy to.  While he is vetting countless invitations to speak across the globe about his adventure, I am selfishly wondering who is going to fill the void left at my kitchen table when this relentlessly sarcastic mountain of a man is no longer sitting at it.

 

So, if you are a member of the EV community here in New Zealand, or anywhere on earth, when you cross paths with Wiebe, remind him that he is NOT the humblest.  His small hurricane Dee is clearly far better at being humble than he can or will ever be.

 

And maybe give him a hug.  And tell him I Love him.  Thanks.

Windy Wellington with Number One Son Daniel

Daniel and I have had a lazy couple of days, and landed yesterday evening in Wonderful Wellington. 

My two eldest kids astound me with their earnest, kindness, honesty, integrity and seemingly limitless desire to just hang out with their mother.  This is no doubt a symptom of the incredibly busy life and travel schedule that keeps us apart so much.  They both regularly point out how much they prefer the comfort and chaos of my company to any social scenario or situation.  The feeling is quite mutual, as they make me laugh and hold me endlessly accountable and give me pause to explain and defend my opinions and views. Our conversations are fearless and confronting at times, but mostly incredibly intelligent and entertaining.

 

My son is a massive mensch.  He will sit cross legged on the floor if the cats are in his chair and beanbag, as he doesn’t want to disturb them.  He feels terrible if anyone buys him anything he didn’t specifically request or require, as his visceral hatred of rampant consumerism and the state it has left our planet in make receiving an unwanted gift too much for his incredibly awakened sensibilities to handle.

 

Today we are getting his hair cut.  This morning we hit the market and met his dad and his dad’s date.  She is great. The sun has peaked out through Wellington clouds, and it is a wonderful feeling to be in our nation’s capital on a crisp blue sky winter day.

 

Daniel and I were walking between the market and the Museum (Te Papa) and he brought up a discussion about how he always asks people what two superpowers we would like to have and why.

 

“Most people ask you what one superpower you’d like, but really, I think it is better to have two.”  He stated as we strode across the windy waterfront to the museum entrance.

 

It is his assertion that he’d like to stop time and be able to see ten seconds into the future, but at all times.  Like that was just normally how he rolled, and it wouldn’t affect his daily routines or senses.

 

“You know how you can see and smell and use all your senses at once, well, my combination of extra powers would meld in and just be, and I could like save people and improve things effortlessly without anyone knowing.  I think it is pretty selfish, but I have thought about it a lot.”  He explained.

 

“Well,” I responded when it was clearly my turn to talk. “Kindness of course, as that’s the most powerful thing I know of.  And I am not always kind, so yeah, that superpower is important to manage any others I think.”  He giggled in his way and allowed me silence to finish my thought.

 

“And teleportation, but I would like to have with me my passport, credit card, and be able to be wearing whatever I am wearing when I jump. OH, and if I am hanging onto someone they can jump with me.  We could hit the Cherry Blossoms in Japan regularly and be home for dinner.  It’d be so great!”  I bubbled.

 

He looked at me pensively and slowed his stride a bit, his 70’s footballer slick black locks blowing in the windy Wellington breeze.

 

“You already have Kindness as a superpower.”  He proclaimed with a smile.

 

He got a fairly massive hug and we carried on chatting for a while with an ease and earnest that flows between mother and child when the child is reaching independence.

 

So now, we will go off and get that haircut.

 

 

Leaving New York

Here’s a Spotify playlist I’ve been enjoying all morning as I make myself ready for the return to the UK.

I am a mess of sniffles and silent tears at the Newark airport.  Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning floods into my ears: “if only you will staaaaay!” And I’m a puddle. I have hugged easily 100 New Yorkers (a surprising number of whom told me my hair smells of happy, is this a thing now?) in the last five days, and I have been made to feel like maybe, we are all made up of  genuine magic.  I have been chatted up, calmed down, built up, and shared Love and laughter that left my sides hurting and my heart bursting.

 

One of the advantages of the brand of crazy I am packing, is that I am often devoid of risk aversion.  I will, and do, try just about anything.  So, on this trip, I have crammed in so many moments of magic, and created and strengthened connections from Jersey, to Brooklyn and all over the isle of Manhattan.  I am loath to leave, as I feel Loved and seen, and a part of this cosmically chaotic ecosystem.

 

My first trip to this city was when I was 23.  I had just gotten engaged to my soulmate and ex husband but eternal best friend Phteven. I remember waking up and walking out into the street the first morning after we had arrived.  The noise, the smell, the huge high rises, I was lost and found and absolutely astounded by how familiar it all felt.  Nearly 20 years and countless visits later, I have a healthy tribe in the tri-state area.  Strangely, I met almost everyone somewhere else, they live in New York, but we became friends in all sorts of places.  Marcus (and later I met his magical and beautiful partner Jo) in a waiting room in Las Vegas, easily a decade ago now.  David at the WWDC11 conference in San Fran.  The Feminine Edge Amazonian goddesses in the Dominican.  Mark at an EVS show in Germany.  Most of them are native New Yorkers, some are supplanted from other parts.

 

New Yorkers are tough nuts to crack.  They are busy, and perhaps a bit hardened by the sheer intensity of life in the city.  While my accent could be mistaken for a local’s non distinct New York twang, I am clearly a cheerful country girl compared to everyone I know who calls this place home. If you read my London Blog, you will know that I have more or less given the art of connecting with people a treatment of gamification. Eye contact, smiles, compliments, kindness all score points and I keep mental track of the day’s haul.  The strangest thing seems to have been happening since I started this in Soho (London) some days ago.  What seems to be happening, is people are instigating conversations with me now, giving me compliments, looking me in the eyes and saying thank you or complimenting my shoes or the purse that Eva printed for me.  It seems, I have unlocked some sort of magical force that perpetuates kindness and is following me around the globe. It’s perfection.

 

Among the tribe here is a mentor and friend who has given me a shoulder, advice, credit, kindness, and the occasional kick in the ass. New Yorkers are tough on the outside, I am often intimidated by their manner and their “suffer-no-fools” facial expressions as we chat.  I have noticed this trip, that this exterior of strength and severity is easily swept away and replaced with a kindness and connection that I cannot possibly describe. There is a softness and a gratitude that washes over the blank and busy New York stare when eyes lock and time is taken to truly talk, and see them and feel seen in return.

 

I will cut this blog short, as I am absolutely exhausted after such little sleep, as I tried to shoehorn a month’s worth of meetings and magic into five short days.  I did not get to see everyone I Love and miss here on this trip, but I was made to feel like a magical muse, an object of beauty, an electric and eccentric shock, and a valued and appreciated friend.

Thank you so much for the magic Manhattan.  I miss you already.

 

XXOO

 

 

 

 

Doom Without Gloom

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Woke up around 3am this morning after a mediocre sleep. Yesterday was a full day, with family and the inner tribe swallowing up the entire day, leaving me with a sense of panic about all the things that need to be done before I fly out on my swan song world tour for 2019.  I am imposing a travel ban and will not venture farther than Australia until the end of the year.  My travel carbon footprint is a source of great shame, but travel is the font of all the best bits in my existence.  Tough to balance that whole moral dilemma.  So I will stay home and focus on strengthening ties with family and friends, while growing the tiny green tech business that has absolutely taken over our lives.

 

There’s some dark days looming, and I’ve come to kind of accept it and now I just want to be prepared and surrounded by amazing people pushing in the same direction.  The bright side to a potential climactic apocalypse is the sense of purpose it has given a lot of people.  That’s not even an attempt at dark humour, I mean it. It is an amazing feeling to be pulling together with all manner of weird and wonderful soldiers for sustainability.

 

Things are on an absolute upswing on the home front.  Bill (neighbor, handyman, genius, and dear friend) got back from Ireland via Hong Kong (where he avoided the epicenter of the protests and revolution that are taking place there currently) and we all had a simple dinner and talked at the table about the fact the planet is well and truly broken but we will hope for the best and plan for the worst.

 

Had the same discussion on the podcast this morning with Bill’s wife, who just happens to also be one of the dearest friends I have ever had, Eva.  There are some reports that the climate crisis has already passed the tipping point, and the best we can do at this point is baton down the hatches.  There’s a freedom and solidarity that stems from times of crisis. My little electric vehicle commune, replete with orchard, mad scientist laboratory, and gardens feels like the right place to be right now.

 

Discussions this morning with Daniel were centered almost solely round the seriousness of the climate crisis, punctuated with the painful and pointless reality of the parent teacher interviews we would be attending later in the day.  Seems weird to be going about “business as usual” when we truly believe that shit is going to get very real soon.  I had the exact same conversation with my neurologist/therapist.  I was trying to explain to her that it was a surreal feeling to have kind of accepted that the whole planet, and most of the people and things that I Love (and I Love like EVERYTHING) is in clear and present danger.  It may just be, that there’s not much anyone can do about it at this point. What would happen if food security and survival instinct were to eclipse the “keeping up with the Jones’s” adventures of the people who live in our very affluent neighbourhood?  What would I do if she showed up on the doorstep to raid what was left of our orchard to save her family?  I joked that I’d be resigned to the fact we’d just have to fight to the death over a few oranges, nothing personal of course.  But dark humour aside, will it get that bad?  Are we ready?

 

Throughout history, there’s a theme of people being more or less blind-sided by major and catastrophic events.  Ask a Syrian family what life was like 12 months before the war erupted. Ask a middle-aged Venezuelan how their lives have changed since the catastrophic economic crisis.  Read archeological accounts of Pompeii and the activities people were engaging in when Mt. Vesuvius erupted.  Disasters strike if we are prepared or if we are not, and problems escalate even if we ignore them and comfort ourselves by ignoring warning signs or denying that there is a problem at all.

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I have no crystal ball, but I know that the planet has survived and thrived after at least five massive extinctions.  I also know that human history has seen vast swathes of the population killed through famine, disease, and war, and after almost every significant drop in the population, there has been a period of growth and prosperity.  Rwanda has one of the most gender equitable, socially responsible, and environmentally sustainable economies on earth after the Holocaust in the mid 90’s wiped out a mind-boggling percentage of the male population.  The renaissance would not have been possible without the Black Plague wiping out most of the human population and freeing up time and resources for the survivors.  Yes, I am grossly over-simplifying, but this is my blog, so take a deep breath and carry on or feel free to bounce.

 

I can’t presume to know what actually lays ahead of us. What I do know is that crisis brings out the best and the worst in individuals, societies, communities and families.  I know that I need to learn how to make and fix things, and every single person has a duty to chip in, change, and ready themselves and their communities through food and energy resilience strategies.  That’ll go so far, and maybe there will be an eleventh-hour silver bullet, but even if there isn’t, knowing how to do things and be resourceful is never going to be a disadvantage.  Some people will shine as we charge into unknown and terrifying territory.  Some people will deny there is a problem while the world falls down around their ears.  Some people will quietly and resiliently get on with things.  Why does this paragraph somehow get me to thinking about the grapes or wrath?  Damn that is a great movie.  Henry Fonda hits you right in the heart.  He’s Jane Fonda’s Dad.  Oh my, do I adore Jane Fonda.  Goddess.  That was an epic digression, but I am leaving it in there and not editing it out, because Jane Fonda truly is a Goddess and deserves a nod.  Even an off-topic nod.

 

All I wanted to say this morning was this:

 

I don’t see the point of carrying around the heavy brick in my stomach, even though I am absolutely terrified most of the time. This situation is kind of a gift really. Probably not dissimilar to the acceptance stage of the grieving process, or the IDGAF reaction to a terminal diagnosis. Not to sound overly dramatic about it, but we really, very likely, are sitting on a tinderbox of political, social, environmental and general instability.  We’re witnessing the beginning of a serious global event that was instigated by greed, short sightedness, and human hubris.  What an honour it is to be among people who want to forge a future that can and will sustain life.  And I am not going to waste time or energy fretting about the people who deny or contribute to the problem.

 

I really do like the people who care.  I spend all day every day swooning over smart, sensible, KIND people who are kicking it up a notch and looking for all manner of solutions to the limitless supply of serious problems.

 

So yeah, I may have been shunted awake at a ridiculous hour this morning by an overwhelming sense of doom, but rather than curl up into a little ball, I am feeling rather like there’s not really much to lose, and the regular operational realities of life and society are getting eclipsed by the severity of the situation.

 

If the planet is going to burn (or more accurately it seems, melt) we may as well grab hold to the good bits and go down scratching and biting with people we Love and respect.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Single Doesn’t Seem to Suck

Before I start this conversation, I need to make it absolutely crystal clear that I’m open to finding a(nother) penguin and settling back into traditional domestic bliss one day.  When the kids and companies have grown up, I plan a quiet life of travel and family, returning to some remote part of New Zealand sporadically between international do-gooding adventures.  Being an activist isn’t something I think you can retire from, ever, so I really will need someone who gets just as angry at injustice as me, and really wants to join in on attempts to make wrongs right for people and the planet.

Screen Shot 2019-05-15 at 6.41.51 AMNot today though!  This week, while Phteven is overseas, I got to see all the incredibly cool things about rocking my role as a single working mom.  There’s plenty that sucks about it too, but why complain about the less than fantastic bits, when I can tell you about the magic.

Most of the magic seems to emanate quite clearly from our kitchen.  This is where we exchange stories of our time in the trenches of school and work.  It is where the kids show me their slick dance moves and Daniel wows us with his daily rundown of memes while Stephanie throws around her gymnastics hoop. James refuses to eat his dinner but always finishes his cucumber and carrots. These are my moments, and I can’t tell you why, but I was never quite as present with the kids when the marriage was on a downward spiral.  The older kids have both taken the time to say that the last few months have been some of the best they can ever remember with their hot mess mamma.  We even have inside jokes and memes about the kids now being from a “broken” home.  As a family we deal with the tough stuff with a lot of dark humour and a heap of real talk.  You don’t have to agree, but it seems to work for us better than letting things fester and fizz until they explode.

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We are not broken.  We are actually blooming and enjoy making great memories with and without their dear old dad tagging along.  Everyone is on their journey, and this is ours, and for the most part, it feels like it is going pretty well.

 

So, in a typical day, later in the evening, when the kids are settled in for sleep I get to work a bit and NOT watch Game of Thrones (seriously, I just don’t get it) while I chat to my tribe of goddesses and gorgeously kind guys and gals all over the earth.  I also benefit from a solid support crew that I have met over the past couple of years in the single and actively dating situation. Friendship, sound advice and inside jokes abound while I’m reminded of fantastic moments in museums, parks and quirky cafes, or just rambling for hours in cities all over the planet.  Single suits me.  It is not the long-term strategy, but for now it occupies the very few free moments between work and family quite nicely.

 

I have observed though, so many of the women I worship who are single steer well clear of dating.  Some because they have been hurt horrendously, others because they just can’t fit it in, or they tried and have had too many false starts or epic fail first dates. If you are one of these women, I’d encourage you to rethink your position.  If you’re incredibly clear on your boundaries and terms, there’s magic and connection, even if it you don’t find your match in some formulaic rom com script. I hope you are able to steer clear of creeps and jerks, and your gut and friends will help you with that, but it is a fascinating exercise in observing the human condition.  Seems we stand to learn a lot from people outside our standard circles. Get friends to vet potential suitors, and always trust your instincts, but maybe consider participating with the seemingly millions of single professionals on the often scary, but undeniably interesting human courting rituals scene.

 

The other incredible magic is the closeness, comradery, and connection with my single friends, both men and women.  We have an understanding, and even create our own language and vernacular to cover the colourful tapestry of time tending to our broken hearts on bumble or blind dates.  That’s not fair.  Just because someone is single does not mean they are nursing a broken heart.  Some people are incredibly independent and we all have to find our balance and our truth.  You are on your path, I am on mine, but I am absolutely ecstatic to be enjoying the rambling road with other single friends, who I maybe didn’t see so much when comfortably coupled.  If we treat people transparently and with respect and have a terrific tribe to get truthy with us, this is a really great journey.  One of the tightest of all these connections is with my sister.  Our marriages ended in close succession and we have both known each other’s ex-partners since the very beginning, and neither of us are taking sides or vilifying our exes, just coping with daily life and dating conundrums has brought us closer than we have ever been.  It’s kind of an unexpected bonus.  Ten point for both of us!

 

There will be a time when work meetings and mayhem do not chew up most of my moments, and when that happens I hope I get to bump into my own customised perfectly imperfect partner.  Not everyone wants or needs that, but I thought it was high time I had and shared an opinion about returning to the strange state of singledom. Is singledom a word??? Autocorrect seems to think so. So YAY for singledom!

 

Have a great day out there, and be kind to each other. Everyone you deal with is on their own journey.  Good luck on yours and be kind to others while they are soaring or struggling with theirs.