Reflection and Protection

I’ve just been reading a few of the harrowing and heart breaking real-life mental health crises the activist and advocate Mike King has been sharing on social and traditional media. It highlights that we are a nation faced with a genuine epidemic, and I have so much respect for all those who share their stories.

At the same time however, I know for myself, that I need to protect my own wellbeing, and that may mean I need to manage how many of these stories I engage with. Heaven knows I have been very open with my own mental health happenings, hoping it might help someone somewhere. But I’m still in recovery from a disastrously inaccurate diagnosis, the wrong medication, and a domino effect including a plethora of self-destructive behaviours.

I write this today happy, healthy, calm and unmedicated. My own recovery leaves me hopeful that we can get through the tough times and experience a brighter more hopeful present. I would love to see some earnest changes in our society and mental health system to support others to feel unashamed and have access to the help they richly deserve.

The best place for some of us to offer support, advice and advocacy is simply by taking our own mental health needs seriously so we are well enough to be a part of this conversation as it evolves in our homes, workplaces and wider society.

I am not saying you should ignore the weight of the accounts that are being published. If you are of sound, mind and body, and touched by these incredibly real and important conversations, I hope they will spur you into actions that could have wonderful knock-on effects for healing yourself or someone in your circle. I’m also not saying turn a blind eye. I’m suggesting it might be a good time to implore some of my more sensitive readers to consider putting your own mask on so you are in a better position to help those around you.

Channeling the sadness and anger you may justly feel when faced with the reality of the mental health crisis here in Aotearoa will be different for everyone. If you are hurting in any way and you stumble across this little blog, I want to remind you that YOU are a worthy, beautiful, miraculous being. And that whatever state you are in as you read this, you are incredibly important, and there is the possibility of comfort and joy on the other side of the types of pain that are being discussed online. But also, you are not responsible for every person, crisis, or event that makes you feel something. AND… You must take care of you before you can help anyone else.

That’s all I wanted to say. Reach out if you read this and need a virtual hug. As you know, I am really bad at getting back to people in a timely manner but it would be an honour to talk to you as I have the bandwidth to tell you honestly that you are wonderful.

How Now

There was a post that flashed by my feed on Instagram a few weeks ago. A beautiful young woman with empty eyes on the left, and the same face with soulful kind eyes on the right. Apparently nearly 20 years had passed between pictures but the soulful eyed woman did not appear much older if any older at all. Her caption was something about wanting to hug the sad and angry young version of herself, which was viscerally relatable.

What I wouldn’t give for five minutes with my younger self. The most broken version of me really only surfaced a few short years ago when I set out on some wild trajectory to yell loud enough about carbon divestment that the whole world would hear me and I’d hoped to drown out the constant internal dialogue screaming at me that I was broken and unworthy. To hold her and tell her to brace and be brave, and learn to say the word no, much earlier and more often. She wanted so much to be loved and worthy, and really couldn’t comprehend how much she already was.

Over a year has now passed since I walked away rather abruptly from the trappings of fast paced high flying false friends and frenzied adventures. I’ve turned my back on luxuries that only made me feel empty. I’m still pampered and powerfully connected to people (only those who I choose and actively choose and support me as I do them) but my days are calm and my evenings are most often quiet with a few social and soul satisfying sessions. I still get sad, bicker with my family, and sometimes my partner and I argue and feel insecure or unsure, but the constant nagging desire to end my life has completely quieted. I’m at peace with my choices and my mistakes and ensconced in richer, healthier routines.

People still judge me harshly and snipe mean remarks or recount my mistakes gleefully, I can only assume to make themselves feel superior.

How now is life different to the insatiable people pleasing and “look at me!” days that weren’t that long ago? How now do I decide what to pursue and what to ignore? How now do I manage stress? How now do I exist?

Well, every day I’m hugging the frail version of me by choosing calm and not caring to nurture the needs of people who probably wouldn’t cross the street to throw a blanket or bucket of water on me if I burst into flames. I’m still deeply and importantly in Love with most everyone I meet, and see potential and opportunity in situations a lot of the time. Boundaries and clarity are how I roll now, there’s nothing more interesting happening than this.

Independence Day

Today is the 4th of July. It’s internationally recognized as American Independence day, and conjures thoughts of fireworks, hot-dogs, sparklers and block parties for people around the world.


Old Fashioned Summer Picnic

Old Fashioned Picnic with Slice of Watermelon

People around the planet are familiar with this day, thanks to movies and television. We’ve all seen the images in American films, portraying these celebratory scenes. The cliché is generally a setting with kids running slow-motion through the street with red and white gingham tablecloths dotted out of focus in the background. Props like lemonade, ketchup, mustard, and smiling veneers of perfect housewives and happy families feature heavily in my own mind’s eye when I think of the 4th of July.


I’d take a stab at saying the vast majority of my Kiwi friends and family covet this kind of fairytale to some degree. It seems so idyllic, so full of energy and community. So very, what is the word I am looking for… Patriotic.


Kiwis are a bit more low key. I find more joy and sense of community in Matariki than I do in Waitangi day (our 4th of July equivalent). Waitangi day, sadly, often seems to turn into some racial and moral soap-box. We don’t have big block parties and BBQ’s.  We have a long weekend in the middle of our antipodean summer, and we get together to roll our eyes at the sorry state of affairs. We get together, and carry on to love the stuffing out of our special people at beaches, baches, parks and playgrounds across this beautiful island nation. We laugh, we eat, we toast, we talk.




On the way to the airport to fly home to Auckland, the iconic Kiwi Poet Sam Hunt was on the radio. He was being interviewed by Paul Henry (who I can’t help but like despite, or perhaps because, he always seems to have his foot in his mouth) for his birthday and to publicise his new book.


Sam Hunt is a seasoned eccentric. He was born to be so. He left school at 16 with a brain full of knowledge. The intelligence he cultivated wasn’t generally gleaned from his traditional academic path. His mother was a huge fan of astronomy and poetry, and his father was a barrister with a love of words and debate. He was nurtured in fertile soils of knowledge, and went off on many adventures, and those adventures have turned into poems and stories that I hope most New Zealanders get to feel percolate through them, as his life experiences and words are so deliciously human, and quintessentially Kiwi.


Sam Hunt gave me a gift for his 70th Birthday this morning.


He gave me some poignant phrases and his candor and humor lit a spark inside of me that has been smoldering for some weeks and threatening to go out completely.


Sam Hunt, along with the irrepressible Paul Henry, gave me a renewed sense of self, and reminded me that words, to me, are like sunlight or rain. New Zealand is my home. I chose it, it chose me back, and this place contains the majority of my purpose and passion.


We are all connected here, intimately. We are a community, diverse yet similar on so many levels. We are the underdog that rises triumphant, time and again. We are temperate and volatile, and sit waiting the next shake-up, as we are perched precariously on the ring of fire. We are humble, we are brave, we are loud, we are quiet, we are busy, we are calm, we are beaches and bush and bathed in brilliant golden sunshine.

Seems to me, Sam Hunt, and thousands of eccentrics before and after him have been labeled a spectacle. He’s spoken up and spoken out about many things, in his art and on a variety of fronts. He personifies a lot of the freedom of thought and speech that we enjoy in New Zealand, and that America has tirelessly fought for and debated.  So thank you for that Sam.

I am also, openly and unashamedly grateful to be in a safe, sleepy island nation where I am free to think and be a part of this society. I can find people who agree, or who disagree, and I never, not for one split second worry about someone pulling out a gun to hurt me or anyone I Love. Not on a motorway, or shop, school or movie theatre.

A nurse can throw a dildo at a politician in protest, get international media attention which seemed to leave both the woman who threw it, and the man at whom she threw it, somewhat better off. He handled the situation with humour and gained international media attention.  This, many have said, left him looking like a pretty decent bloke.

She got her point across to millions and millions of people here and around the world. She also gained a very solid fan base for a while there, and then was given the chance to slip back into relative anonymity. No jail sentence, no talk show circuit, no Chewbacca mom getting paid for autographs carry on for her. Because this is NOT America. Nothing against Chewbacca mom of course, we just do things a bit differently around here it seems.


I wish the United States of America peace and enlightenment on this, the day they celebrate their independence.


I hope that they put down their guns, and only people who can use them responsibly can pick them back up.


I hope they do not vote in Trump.


I hope they learn to care for eachother and their own and the rest of the world’s resources a bit better.


Wait… I wish that for New Zealand too!!!


Anyway. I could go on, but I won’t.


Just wishing everyone a very happy 4th of July in America and around the world.


Maybe we can all declare independence from some of the things that no longer serve us today, and move forward with confidence and kindness for a safer, cleaner, and more enjoyable planet.


Thanks for reading.



Wellington First Fast Charger Photo Album

Whoever said:  A picture is worth a thousand words… has saved me the trouble of writing a lot of copy this Easter Weekend!

I’ll share a selection of photos from the day with you all now.  It was a great day, and we are eternally grateful to Wellington Electricity, Z Energy, and the amazing community in Wellington, including (but not limited to) Sigurd, Matt, Grant, Mark, Paul, Donald, Thomas, Nathan, Anita, Gerri, Judy, Eric, Andy, Liz, Rachel, Simon, Andre, and everyone else who supports sustainable and resilient transport and energy solutions!


The Week the World Did Not End.

There is a cycle that takes place in a brain like mine. In an upswing, things can be thrown at me from a variety of directions. During such an upswing, I’ll nonchalantly grab seemingly impossible things, in an impressive catch a la wayward cricket or baseball that lands in the terraces/bleachers. Downswing? I catch nothing. I catch sad that floats around malls and supermarkets. I catch hopeless. I catch tired. I catch self-doubt and loathing. I catch a lot of chocolate and cake in my mouth and then my butte catches some inches.

There are people who understand. There are people who do not. Neither is right, neither is wrong.

One thing I have gotten to be very good at lately, is asking for help.

So I’ve got a professional mentor who I find inspiring, interesting, feisty and fabulous. And I am working on arranging a life-coach and some counseling. I’ve also got an army of friends who know me well and Love me and are not afraid to give me a swift kick in the pants from time to time. I’ve also, it turns out, got an army of people who are fighting similar battles to mine. I have had a landslide of the same advice from people who know me well, and people who only know me online or of me through circles we share. The message is the same:

You’ll be okay.

And, I think, okay is on the way.

So one thing that happened last week is losing my phone.

Three days without it.

I wasn’t as put out by this as I thought I might be. I am terrible at returning calls and keeping in touch at the best of times, so this was more of a welcome break than a huge inconvenience. There are a few VERY important messages I have yet to return (Leigh, I will call you tonight!) but, all in all, nothing absolutely epic happened as a result of being difficult to contact for 72 hours.

The world did not end as some millenials would fear being without a smartphone would herald.

Several things fall through the cracks, every day, and in so many ways. Even the most meticulous list writers, calendar organisers, time managers and officious among the human race will forget things or neglect things from time to time.

We did spend Friday night off grid at the Treehouse near Matakana, where there is zero Internet and phone. There is a magic that comes over you at that house, after your brain has had a day or two to process the initial panic of being without social media or text capacity.

There is more and more research that touts the benefits of being offline from time to time. They call it a technology detox. Many of us take some time off of sugar, or gluten, or booze or caffeine. Why can’t time away from tech be a thing that we include in our overarching life strategy?


I know as some of you read this you are going through dark times. Hang in there and please do not be hard on yourself as a few things slide past you. Be kind to yourself. Go for more walks, turn off your phones and close your laptops a bit more. Look up at the clouds and the stars a bit more and down at your devices a bit less.

And yes.

I realize the extreme irony of this advice coming from a tech junkie like me.

Thank you for reading.

Living Life Out Loud and Feeling a Bit Exposed…

I’ve made a very conscious choice to wear faults and failings, as I do my triumphs and adventures, on my sleeve.

Sharing thoughts, experiences and feelings with the world; online and often, is commonplace for me.


At worst, it opens me up to judgment and scrutiny from strangers and haters. At best it opens up my heart and life (and message folder) to people who become great friends and allies in the altogether hectic, painful, beautiful, difficult and wonderful life.

Wow, I started in with the pithy pretty early in this blog.

Hang in there please, this should be good and useful stuff if you manage to shovel through the schmaltz and stick with me until I wrap this up.

So, why am I so open? Am I simply an insecure and needy exhibitionist type? Do I crave acceptance and absolution from strangers and friends and plead my case regularly and publicly in an attempt to win you all over? Am I so arrogant that I think an audience will benefit immeasurably from my experiences?

There’s almost certainly an element to all of these things.

Here’s the thing that I keep coming back to though:

Every person who lives and breaths is amazing, complex, beautiful and we all have some ugliness mixed in in varying degrees at various times.

I sincerely feel that the distance between each and every one of us decreases with candor and sharing. I also believe that the absolute shortest distance between people is shared laughter.


I share stories and very actively toil to add an element of humour when I share thoughts and experiences. Sometimes it is in the form of self-deprecation, sometimes the stories I share are absurd enough that they require no finessing to be funny.

Here’s the thing though; You and everyone else has absolute power to twist anything I share. You can throw confessions or thoughts back in my face. You can alter and contort any of my experiences or stories with simple additions, exclusions, amplifications or exaggerations as you see fit.


Once I share anything, it is no longer exclusively mine. By virtue of taking the time to read the words I write, you own a bit of real estate in my life, my heart and my head. I give it to you and anyone else who chooses to read my blog or anything I share freely.

Some people put a great deal of effort into building walls and feeding an identity that makes them feel safe or secure. Some people put their best face forward all the time and want to convince themselves and the world that they have their s*** together.

I have no hope of ever convincing anyone that I have my s*** together. I am a hot mess with a big heart and high-ideals. Being as deliciously different as I am means I am privy to hurts and helps far superior to anything I’d ever have imagined I’d feel or know.  I feel like I have the freedom to be myself openly and honestly, and I feel like that makes me a better friend, role model to my children, and generally a happier freer person because I don’t have to worry about people finding out about the real me, as the real me is the me I get to be most of the time.

It also means I see greatness, brokenness, faults and fabulousness in everyone else I see and meet. There’s not as much distance between you and me and everyone else on this planet as some people perceive. We’re all fighting battles, and we’re all learning in varying degrees and with varying speed and success.

I am an observer and a participant in this life, as we all are.

Even after years, or decades, of living life out loud, I am still absolutely devastated when people interpret my kindness for weakness, my vulnerability for feebleness, my quirkiness for foolishness, or my earnest for naivety.


I share my learning with people, in the hopes that they will share theirs with me, and we’ll both be better off. My opinions and beliefs are changing all the time based on the stories and opinions people generously share with me.

The absolute best and worst part of my existence is people.

Being naked and vulnerable as I choose to be means there are people who don’t require much encouragement to decide that they are far superior to me in some or many ways.  Sometimes, for whatever reason, people hurt other people in cowardly, backhanded or childish way.  Sometimes our closest friends and staunchest allies break our hearts with words and actions, despite having the absolute best intentions.  Because I choose to let people into my thoughts, and life so actively, people can hurt me without too much effort.  I get that.  And for the most part, I can take the good with the bad.


Because I openly and honestly share my struggles with ADD, depression, parenting, professional life, friendships, marriage, self-esteem, relationships, power struggles, pain, loss, Love, learning, travel, health, hope, happiness and sadness;  some people dismiss me, or attack me, with my own words. Other people engage with me on a level of trust and Love and friendship that makes this whole life more manageable for both of us I think.  It is a risk we all take when we share a bit or ourselves I suppose.

If you take the time to read or share any of this with me, you get to decide how you relate to me, and my journey. You get to decide if you find my choices and behaviours uplifting or abhorrent. You get to decide if you feel superior, equal, or comforted. You get to decide if you see some of yourself in my observations and experiences. You have total control over how you decide to pick up what I am throwing down as I share these (and any other) words with you.

So, thank you from the very bottom of my heart for sharing the journey with me occasionally, frequently, or closely. Please take it easy on me, and anyone else that has the courage to share a bit of themselves with you.  And you can be as open or as guarded as you want with your life and experiences, and I will go ahead and keep living my life out loud and feeling elated and vulnerable at differing times and to differing degrees.

Guess that’s it for today.

Thank you, especially because this was a long one, for tuning in and sharing the journey with me.

The Friendship Formula. Is There a Formula?

Today, I was chatting with one of my best friends for nearly 20 years.

P and I go back so far we can’t pinpoint when or how we actually met. We’ve been allies and friends through ups and downs. Which is strange to some people as, on the surface, we could not be more different.

She is elegant, thin, organised, has impeccable taste, looks like Audrey Hepburn and is as discerning with her relationships as I am open and willing to connect with EVERYONE. Yet, evidence clearly states, that we work.  We both actively choose to maintain an honest, and significant friendship.  She knows my faults and foibles, and I hers, and we can roll our eyes at each others shortcomings.  If, however, anyone were to say anything untrue or unkind to me about her, I’d take it like a personal attack and go heartily into battle for her.

So this morning’s topics covered included, but were not limited to:

  • Christening my youngest son (her and our friend R’s Godson)
  • Birthday plans (belated and future)
  • Current state of play for both our careers
  • Social calendars
  • Friendship
  • Family
  • Food
  • Travel
  • Marriage
  • Equity Theory: we had to cover that in our undergrad comms degree, here is a picture:


  • Renovations
  • Pathological overachieving
  • Emancipation from drama and silly people
  • The fact I have FAR too many children (but we Love and like them anyway)

I feel much better, stronger, and more able to deal with my own, and other people’s challenges after this chat. The vast rejuvenation of spirit came about even after just a short opportunity to connect with her over the digital superhighway.

Friendship confounds me. Luckily, it doesn’t elude me.  I’m an active (all-be-it only sporadically available) participant in more functioning and healthy relationships than I could ever have imagined.

Strange and wonderful really. Especially when you consider how lonely, broken, bossy, awkward and ostracized I was (or at least felt) when I was little.

So, as is the case with all the things, I want to know MORE! I want to know WHY!

Science concedes that friendship is an absolutely integral part of our lives. We are social creatures, and our alliances get us through the unimaginable things that get thrown at us from time to time. Friendships also offer us context, clarity, and comfort. The people we spend the most time with can shape our opinions, world-views, political, social and even religious ideals, and even our own self image more than any other factors we are exposed to.

An absolute army of academics has dedicated careers to unraveling the phenomenon of friendship.

So, am I able to Dee-ify this vast body of work in a crude but coherent manner for anyone inclined to read this blog?

I’ll try.

Here goes:

“Good” people make great friends, and therefore attract healthy relationships that help them, and others, to thrive. Good people are not perfect, and they do not expect you to be perfect. Truly good humans are beautifully broken, resilient, kind, open to change, and actively look for the best in themselves and others. People who choose to Love, respect and forgive themselves make and attract the best relationships. They don’t always have the most friends, sometimes they do, but they get to take part in good, healthy, honest and nurturing experiences with other humans. These people fix themselves first, because that is the first step to a fuller, and more rewarding existence.

*Disclaimer: Even people who have their S*** together fall down and mess up. They still suffer, they still hurt, they still make mistakes, and they still have to make it through very difficult life experiences that are completely out of their control. The difference is, they own their faults and learn from them instead of playing the victim or laying blame.

The kind of friend (and the kind of person) you are will naturally affect the kind of friends you choose and the kind of people who choose you.  Givers get, and the way you treat people will directly affect the kind of company you keep.

Sure there’s lots of other factors and influences that dictate who we choose to let into our hearts and homes. But generally, it is as simple as this:

Put out good stuff, and it comes back. Put out crap, you’ll eventually get a smack.

There is an inexhaustible collection of poignant pithy saying to corroborate my considerable claims on cohorts.

walkwiththedreamers CharlieChaplinLoveYourself WeAreMagnets

I’ve attached a list of really good scientific and psych articles on this subject if anyone wants to go a little further.

So, in conclusion; be the kind of friend you’d like to have. Be okay with walking away from toxic relationships.  Fix you first.  Love yourself (all of you, even the bad bits) and seek out honest, kind, inspiring people.  And for goodness sake, surround yourself with people who make you laugh.

And here is a handful of Sciency articles on Friendship:

Making Excuses – Damned if you do, damned if you don’t – but why not do it anyway?

We’ve recently had a formidable run of big decisions, big opportunities, and big mistakes.

Grumpy and I had a conversation that has been echoing around since we had it a few weeks ago went a little something like this:

Dee: “Okay, so basically, we’re damned if we do, and we’re damned if we don’t. No good deed goes unpunished and all that jazz.”

Grumpy: “WTF are you on about now?”


Dee: “Well, I just connected countless examples of people who hate on us, or me, or you. That one guy from *insert donkey noise here* that we invited to that event and was rude and dismissive. He thinks we’re just cashed up hippies. This is despite the support we’ve extended to him and his cause. So in theory, we’re on the same team and fighting for the same things, but he sees us as evil.”

Grumpy: “Yes, and that’s an example of cutting off your nose to spite your face. Maybe he’s indoctrinated to think anyone who has financial freedom is evil, regardless of how they got it or what they are doing with it. And that’s a great illustration of why his cause stays on the back foot and alienates potential successful allies in the business and general community. So what’s your point?”

Dee: “What about *another donkey noise* who goes from thinking we’re great to the scum of the earth for goodness knows what reason. And don’t even get me started on *donkey noise*. I mean, sticking your neck so far out to try and help in good faith, and get kicked so squarely and painfully in the guts for it… How can they sleep at night?!”

Grumpy: “Mmmhmmm? First of all, *donkey noise* is someone that you don’t spend any time with because of their dramatics. Natural attrition. That’s life. Secondly, nobody in their right mind could have ever known just how dishonest and underhanded some people can be. So now we figure out a way to move forward, and you should probably stop saying I told you so. It doesn’t help.”

Dee: “True. Sorry. But I did tell you so. My point is, I think I can understand why people get jaded and insular and fed up with reaching out or trying to do the right thing or help anyone ever.

So why do we bother?”

Grumpy: “Bother with what exactly?”

Dee: “Trying to help. Picking up hitch-hikers, being painfully positive and smiling at or engaging with people who look sad wherever I go, helping complete strangers, keeping informed on current events here or half a planet away, buying organic food, attempting to be conscious consumers.  Any of it. It requires so much effort just giving a toss. Why did we bother building an off-grid house in the middle of the bush? The same investment would have gotten us a super sweet oceanfront property at some wanker-filled beach area anywhere in NZ. Why do we use EVs and attempt to educate people on them? We could have had a much nicer family car for far less than the Leaf cost us when we got it.  Why do we go out of our way to help with causes, events, or whatever when we’ve been screwed over in big and little ways over and over again?  Everyone has an agenda. One of my agendas is to try and do the right thing because it feels great, so I admit, most of the nice things I have ever done are completely selfishly motivated.  I like how it makes me feel.  And I egocentrically thought I was also making a difference. Having trouble feeling that way lately.  Maybe we should just sit back, feel entitled to our own success, and stop trying to do the right thing? We can focus on our own stuff for a while.  Let other people fight their battles and dig their holes. It often gets so messy when we try and help anyway.  I’d feel differently if I had any concrete evidence to prove that we’ve made a positive dent in the problems of the world with our efforts. But we’ve been yelling about the importance of caring and being engaged till we’re hoarse, and I haven’t seen a great deal of change because of any of it.  Besides, who’s to say any progress that may have happened has anything at all to do with us anyway.”


Grumpy: “Yes, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Take a good look at the people who have screwed us over, either intentionally or otherwise. How are they doing in the grand scheme of things? Maybe okay for a little while, but dishonesty and/or stupidity catches up with people eventually. Just as our good and bad decisions catch up with us. And you are forgetting about all the awesome things that have happened as a result of cool things we’ve done. Not just for other people, but for you.  All that crap you said about just focusing on our needs, because nobody appreciates the things we do and nothing changes anyway. Well, what would happen if everyone decided that, and nobody helped anyone else or worked toward making the world a better, safer, cleaner place? There are people who use those rather weak arguments to be miserly and self serving and never lift a finger to make the world a better place.  If everyone were like that, we’d all be stuffed. Yes, people will smack talk. Yes, people will take advantage. Yes, picking causes and fighting for them means you’ll spend a lot of time feeling like you are working your ass off and getting nowhere. Throughout history, anyone who made a difference felt like they were getting nowhere at some point.”

Dee: “Way to make me feel like an A-grade jerk.”

Grumpy: “Don’t feel bad. Just stop being a spoiled little princess and count your blessings rather than focusing on your problems. We don’t have a lot of problems. But if you keep on focusing on the crap, you could create some.”


Dee: “True. And I am a bit of a control freak. And just because things aren’t happening how and when I want them, doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. I’m still tired though.”

Grumpy: “Understandable. You just recently squeezed out a baby.”

And that, was more or less, the conversation that led me to a distinct desire to stop making so many excuses.


So what now?

I’m going to make a concerted effort to stop complaining, particularly about the same things over and over. Also going to try finishing things I start and not getting so distracted or downtrodden, because lets face it, nothing good comes from constant complaining. Making epic mistakes and learning from them tends to work out really well for the most part though.  Only if the “LEARNING FROM THEM” part is actually engaged of course. So more of that is on the cards now that I’ve taken time to reflect upon it all.


Silver linings and opportunities are everywhere.  If you just stop making excuses and allow yourself to see them. We all have the choice to be champions or victims, depending on how we deal with what life throws at us.

There is a time to feel fed up and have a good long whine about how much some things suck. And then there is a time to regroup and take stock and realize, that maybe they aren’t actually that bad. So stop looking for or making excuses and get out there and do the things you could or should to support or advance your own or other people’s comfort, joy or circumstance. Most of us know instinctively if we are doing the right thing, and in the long run, it is worth it to follow that path. Even though mistakes are made and obstacles are hurled in your general direction. Play the long game and be a good person. It pays off in dividends.


On the bright side: Grumpy is inches away from what I am confident will be a very successful business venture, that furthers our passion for alternative energy. He may not have followed through with the hundreds of hours of research and development if he didn’t have some very convincing internal and external motivations such as:

1)  Being totally passionate about the technology

2)  His passion for inventing and making cool stuff

3)  His (and my) belief in the importance of the alternative and clean energy movement in general

4)  We’re actually in a position where we need to increase our financial resources after being a bit too trusting and/or generous recently (I know, everyone thinks they “need” more money, but it is currently a motivating factor for us, and slightly embarrassing to admit, but very topical none-the-less)

I will stop faffing and focus on real and tangible ways of taking my optimistically conceived business plan to the next level. Fear, laziness, feeling hard done by, and basic or general difficulties have gotten in the way and held me back for quite a long time now. But success or failure on any level lies in my hands, as it does in yours and everyone else’s.  And I have every opportunity to follow my dreams with very few disadvantages.  So less complaining, more sustaining! 

So, off I go to face a variety of new challenges. I shall work very hard to make fewer excuses and wrap up my most recent pity party. 

I think a good long sleep would work wonders in helping curb future pity parties or flying off the handle as well.  

I’ll leave it there for today and go and try and sneak in a nap before the older three kids arrive home from school and daycare and need to be fed.


Attempting to Unravel the Truth About Beauty – Part Two

Beauty – Part Two

The human race’s obsession with attractiveness is probably, in essence, quite innocent.  Displaying and acknowledging attractiveness can be argued to be a perfectly reasonable evolutionary mechanism employed by most (if not all) people to help determine health and vitality.  We’re naturally drawn to attractive people as it is generally synonymous with health, vitality, fertility, and good genes.

I can’t be bothered talking about any of that.

I do, however, want to wrap up this conversation about beauty.  Seeing as it is my blog, I’ll give this final installment the Dee treatment, and just share with you my own personal opinions on what is beautiful, basically ignoring the screeds of research I’ve been wading through on the subject.

I’ve opted to share five things that I think are beautiful to illustrate my point on this subject.  I am leaving out countless others including:

1)  Integrity

2)  Grace

3)  Smile lines and well-earned physical signs of living a full and interesting life

4)  Honesty

5)  Humility

6)  Generosity

7)  A warm smile

8) Health and vitality (regardless of what the scales may say!)

9)  Confidence…

The list could go on and on.

However, for today’s blog I am sticking to five things that I think make women truly beautiful:

1)  Strength and resilience

I realised again last week that there are a number of absolutely amazing women I am lucky enough to know, that have overcome some gargantuan obstacles in their lives.

I am lucky enough to have met women who have faced (and overcome) addictions, mental illness, hard times that I can’t even imagine being faced with.  Women who have survived life-threatening illness, cared for others tirelessly (be it a sick or severely disabled child, family member, or in some cases they have made the care of others a career), mind numbing loss, war, natural disasters, poverty, abuse.  These ladies have experienced rock-bottom and climbed out with an understanding and resilience that is impossible to describe.  Although you can’t immediately put your finger on it, just being around them, you get a sense of the strength and understanding that can only come from the experiences that they have faced and overcome.

I have dozens of examples I’m intensely eager to share with you, but these are not my stories to tell.  So I’ve scoured the web for images of the strength that I am talking about, as a picture truly is worth a thousand words.


Rescued from slavery in the sex industry. Strength and beauty embodied.


Iconic shot of an Afghan refugee – her eyes say so much, the pain, the wisdom, the things she must have seen. Beautiful and haunting.


Drew Barrymore, one of the more well known recovering addicts in the spotlight.




Hurricane Katrina survivors supporting each other. Touching and beautiful.

2)  Vulnerability


While there is a time and a place for being tough but fair, or for “putting on your big girl knickers and getting on with things”, there is also something absolutely beautiful and human that can only be seen when we are exposed and vulnerable.


The other part of the beauty of vulnerability is that, even the most amazing and effective women have vast and gaping imperfections.  Being privy to that, and seeing just how broken we all are is fascinating, comforting, connecting and refreshing.


Perhaps there is something a bit more basic and visceral about vulnerability and its association with beauty.  We are, apparently, the fairer and weaker sex.  There is something magic in being  swept up into strong arms in a moment of weakness.  Something so romantic about needing protection and rescuing.

But only sometimes.  There’s a big difference between being an occasional damsel in distress, in need of a hero, and a consistent mentality of being a victim and not just getting on with things.  While I truly think it is beautiful and more than a little sexy to be vulnerable on occasion after you’ve been strong for too long, there is also something quite sad and ugly about expecting other people to solve the world’s issues for you.


3)  Connectedness

There is something exquisite and enticing about the effortlessness that some women include and embrace those around them.  These are the women who get down to eye level when they talk to children, they look you in the eye when they are talking to you, they are frequently found quietly (and often thanklessly) doing what needs to be done in their homes, families, communities and even the world itself.

I really enjoy people watching, and looking out for examples of the beautiful things I am talking about in strangers.

Old couples holding hands or sitting together and so comfortable with their partner that you can hardly tell where one of them ends and the other begins.




New mothers looking into their baby’s face, radiating a contagious sense of peace.



Seeing a couple on a successful first (or early) date and witnessing the energy between them.



Teachers, trainers, coaches, community leaders working with a group and being able to see the cohesion and enthusiasm that their words and energy plant in the hearts and minds of their captive audience.



This is connectedness, and it is absolutely magnificent.


Again, I have an almost limitless supply of stories I could share with you about friends and family who demonstrate this amazing connectedness.  But, they are not my stories to tell.  I hope you get what I mean, and I added some more stock photos and pithy sayings I am sharing in an attempt to illustrate this point.

4)  Kindness

Kindness is beautiful.

That’s it.  Full stop.


5)  Humour

There are few things as appealing and attractive as laughter.  Just overhearing people laughing releases positive endorphins in most people.  Smiles and merriment break down barriers, ease tension, bring people together and, not to put too fine a point on it, make life bearable.


Being able to laugh at our self, and each other, without malice or envy, is about the shortest distance between two people I can imagine.

So I’ll wrap this post and subject up with some pictures of gorgeous funny women who have influenced me directly and from a distance.









Raising Cross Cultural Kids

Our children are all exceptionally lucky.  They have been exposed in massive doses to their cultural heritages, here in New Zealand, in my native land Canada, and across the planet.


Daniel in the Rockies

They have trudged through the Grampians, visited the lochs, and picnicked along the river Dee in Scotland, all the while being told tales of their Lamb clan heritage.  They’ve visited their frail old aunt on the banks of the Nieuwe Maas in Rotterdam and been told stories of their grandfather’s childhood on a houseboat there.  Two of the three have been taken by train to Bavaria and Austria and served spaetzel by gorgeous women with high cheekbones, wearing lederhosen.  They’ve driven the Irish countryside and watched their mother kiss the blarney stone (not that I needed the gift of the gab, heaven knows I already had it).  They’ve seen native American Indian art and culture from the West Coast to the East of Canada and the USA, and told in vague terms that there are drops of that sacred indigenous blood in their veins, but the stories are not clear and we’re still trying to piece together which ancestral tribe(s) we may share DNA with.


Here’s our third child dressed as a bumble bee in a bar in Bavaria.

At times, this all falls on seemingly deaf ears and disinterested little eyes that hark back to their electronic devices and whine excessively about “not being like the other kids” and “having to travel all the time” and “spending so much time in airports and hotels.”


This is Steph when she was about three in Holland.


Daniel in Rotterdam… Thrilled as he frequently is. Such an emo sometimes. He’s been that way since birth. Love him just the way he is!


There are other times when they are genuinely interested in their heritage, stories of where they came from, and knowing about their family history.

Despite our best efforts to keep them connected with their vast and varied family roots, the two most recent pieces of their cultural substance stand out heads and shoulders above all their diverse ancestry.  Our children very much identify as Canadian and Kiwi.


Here are three little hobbit children playing in the snow in Gatineau (Quebec Canada)

Perhaps this is owing to the example we set, openly and frequently appreciating the fact we belong to this quiet, peaceful, and remote little nation nestled somewhere in the South Pacific.  They have been privy to an absolutely idyllic childhood here.  They ride their bikes in the lush green park across from their grandparents’ house.  They pick seasonal fruit from the trees in the yard.  They celebrate the seasons and snuggle in with blankets and hot porridge in the brief winter months of June, July and August, and climb trees and scrape knees throughout the rest of the year.


Here are the children eating an ice cream on our deck overlooking the harbour.

Pleasingly proud of being “half Canadian, and half Kiwi – but you can call me a Caniwi” they have spent at least some part of every season in Canada, while predominantly residing since their births in Auckland New Zealand.

What got me thinking about all of this was an off-hand comment by a good friend who piped up with: “Oh, NOW you are a Canadian” when I congratulated the hockey teams (men and women it turns out) for winning gold at the recent Olympics.  A light-hearts jab at the fact I will tell anyone who will listen just how amazing NZ is and how blessed we are to live there, yet when my native land does something noteworthy I am quick to proclaim my Canadianism.  Well, sure.  Why not right!  My home and Native Land of Canada punches well above its weight at the winter Olympics, while my home of choice does the same at the summer games.  Ironically though, I don’t actually watch any of it.  Sport is not something that interests my family, but a bit of national pride and celebrating internationally noteworthy achievements like these, well, I’ll happily join in on that.


The similarities between the two cultures that the children hail from are staggering.

Canada and New Zealand have larger, louder neighbours that they constantly get compared to and pitted against.  Not to state to obvious, but Canada shares the largest uncontrolled border on earth with the USA, while Australia is New Zealand’s largest and closest neighbour, with a mere 2153.61km separating the largest cities of Australia and New Zealand (Sydney and Auckland).

Canada has many of our talented sons and daughters swallowed up by our economically and politically larger neighbour to the South, and many, if not most of our talent in business, entertainment, R&D and beyond jump the ditch or end up further afield as well.  They often come back though.  There’s something about this country that grabs hold of most people who are exposed to it and never, ever lets go.  I am confident that our kids are going to have the option of chasing their dreams just about anywhere on earth those dreams may lead them.  At this point, at least one of them is just biding their time until they are old enough to settle in Canada for an extended period, and that’s just fine as far as we are concerned.


Adam with the sand of Black Bay between his toes

Our children have spent parts of their childhood, the same as I did, at my Grandfather’s cottage in Luskville Quebec.  They have felt the same sand between their toes in Black bay as I was when I was a child, and they sample the same vast array of summer fruits and vegetables from his extensive gardens as I did when I was a child.  And while they are there, they immerse themselves in their Canadian family and culture.  It is a part of them, and they are a part of it.

And then they return home to New Zealand.  To a culture of tall poppies, rugby fans, bare feet, great things to eat, and plenty of peace and quiet in which our family can retreat.

Our eldest son is fully intending on settling in Canada for an extended period when he is old enough to venture out on his own.  Our daughter currently has plans of buying a caravan and filling it with food, medical and school supplies and helping people who need these things anywhere and everywhere that need may be.  The third child just bides his time and adventures through life on his balance bike waiting for our next adventure, and the fourth and final son will slot into our story once he arrives.

Many of their friends have a similar story, and live with one foot in New Zealand and another in some distant land like the UK, South Africa, Holland, Italy, China etc.  Their families are cross cultural and even the ones who do not venture back overseas regularly observe customs and traditions from their non-kiwi heritage, all the while embracing the culture and lifestyle here as well.

The most important thing I hope the kids glean from our extensive investment and efforts lugging them across the planet as we do is that they are miracles.  Miracles of the fates of generations before them, and the Love between their parentage for the hundreds of years we have been able to trace back to.  And that they are citizens of the planet, and parts of them come from many corners of the world, and therefore, it is absolutely imperative that they show Love and respect to the all the other citizens of this planet as well.  Because every person they meet is also as miraculous as them.  When we spin it to them like this, I like to believe that they genuinely comprehend the importance of respect and tolerance.


I also truly believe that the two countries that they connect most readily with are places where diversity and tolerance feature heavily as a foundation in our political and social systems, as well as our communities for the most part.  And our family works hard, both within our own walls, and in the way in which we conduct ourselves in society and the community at large, to encourage this tolerance and diversity. New Zealand is a country where ANYONE can marry, where we have (or had at one time) some of the best personal privacy and protection legislation on earth.  Both Canada and New Zealand welcome many political and social refugees, and enjoy a diverse range of cultures and religions who I believe genuinely try to co-exist and learn from one another.  Two genuinely fantastic countries and cultures if I do say so myself.



Peaceful demonstrations for marriage equality bill (which is now law!) Makes me awfully proud!!!!


So that’s a little window into what we figure it is like trying to juggle a Caniwi family with a rich and varied mix of heritages.  And not a day goes by that I don’t feel grateful for the opportunity to share these two amazing countries and cultures with them as we carve out a future together.  I hope that the foundation of knowing where they came from, helps all of our children move confidently, filled with Love, tolerance and kindness to wherever their paths may take them.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for reading.