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.

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:

The Importance of Failure

HoooOOoookay. Today I want to talk to you about failure.


I’m intimately acquainted with the act and the concept of failure. Seeing as I set myself a rather high bar in most things (except housework… obviously ‘rollseyes’) in life, I am quite familiar with the sting of falling short on expectations.

Truth is, I have felt like a failure most of my life.

Perhaps this feeling has a bit to do with the fact I had identified the concept of white middle class privilege (which is a concept that makes me deeply sad and annoyed as an adult) more or less as a pre-pubescent. When I was about 7 years old I boldly announced to my Granny: “We are actually upper middle class because we have a big house and can afford to travel.”

The weight of this realization meant that in my mind, I had all the ingredients to fast-track myself to a life of fame and fortune. I would even practice my Grammy acceptance speeches in the mirror, talking into a brush in my large pink room adorned with a cute little canopy bed and matching comforter.


So the whole time I was formulating a plan for total global domination through talent, kindness and superior intelligence, the main motivation was to give something back. I wanted to adopt all the lonely babies, feed all the hungry people, hug all the sad and lost souls.  As an adult I want people to be judged on their characters, skills, and merit, not their gender, or appearance.  And I’d like everyone to work together to clean up the mighty big mess we in the “developed” world have made on the planet.

Where was I going with this?

OH yeah.


Needless to say, as a grown up I have not accomplished many of lofty goals I had set myself as a child.

My multi-platinum selling album of show-tune covers has yet to be released. The Dianna Goertz (that was my maiden name) home for sad puppies, lonely kittens and people who need hugs has yet to be built.

I’ve also had some pretty amazing wins though, and that’s due, in no small part, to my impressive catalogue of hard knocks and failures, and the resilience to keep going.

Now I have children. Four of them.

I adore them, and they are all very different. They blow my mind with their talents and how much better they are at things than I ever was.

I am also impressed with their ability to shake off failure and keep going. Well, a lot of the time. Sometimes they are defeatist little whiners, but that’s to be expected.

So I’ll tell you a quick story about Daniel as I am already over half-way through the word count l like to observe in these blogs.

Camp is next week. Three whole days in a cabin with his cohorts up at Shakespeare regional park. He is pretty excited. We got a letter saying he needs to stay back and get some extra tuition in swimming. Was he mad? Nope. Was he sad? Nope. Is he looking forward to the opportunity to improve his technique? Absolutely. He did not see this as a personal attack, he did not see this as a failure on his part. The kid LOVES to swim. We think he is pretty good at it. Not as good as he is at science or creative writing or video games or rock climbing, but he’s very confident in the water. He also recognizes that he is not even close to being the most popular kid at school. He’s been through bouts of bullying, he’s had no one to play with on the odd occasion. And you know what he says when he has a truly terrible day socially? “That’s okay mum, I don’t want to peak to early. You guys were nerds and look how you turned out.”

Could. Not. Be. Prouder.

So, today, as I try and squeeze out a blog to share after weeks of writers block and a back-catalogue of copy that has been sitting unwritten, I am reminded that a little bit of fail is part of the formula to a full and happy life.

This does not mean I am entitled to sit back and do nothing.

How do you deal with failure? Do you focus on it? Do you use it to gain insight? Do you beat yourself up? Do you make excuses? Do you lay blame? Do you deny it? Do you embrace it and try again?

I don’t have much in this life that I am truly proud of, but the fact I am helping to raise well adjusted little people with empathy, manners and self-esteem is fuel to keep going through these 80-90 hour work weeks recently.

So, if you’ve had a fail lately, be it big or little, keep going. Don’t lay blame or beat yourself up. Learn. Go get some extra training or tuition like Daniel has done with swimming. If there’s something you want to brush up on, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. If it is a project or report that is giving you grief, it is not unheard of to rip it up and start again.

Good luck with whatever you are currently up to, and thanks from the bottom of my heart for bearing with me through my creative drought lately. This too shall pass. XXOO

Eight Traits that Make People Great (Rhyming isn’t Necessarily One of Them)



Does anyone remember learning about the seven deadly sins and the seven heavenly virtues? Here they are in case you forgot or are not familiar with them (I just cut and pasted this from Wikipedia because not many people click on the links according to my stats, so I thought I’d make it easy for you, skip over or click through if you’d like to read more):



Virtue Latin Gloss (Vice)
Chastity Castitas Purity, knowledge, honesty, wisdom Lust
Temperance Temperantia Self control, justice, honour, abstention Gluttony
Charity Caritas Will, benevolence, generosity, sacrifice Greed
Diligence Industria Persistence, effort, ethics, rectitude Sloth
Patience Patientia Peace, mercy, ahimsa, sufferance Wrath
Kindness Humanitas Satisfaction, loyalty, compassion, integrity Envy
Humility Humilitas Bravery, modesty, reverence, altruism Pride



So today I’d like to take a moment to discuss some human traits, in the spirit of the virtues and vices we are all encouraged to aspire to or avoid. They are in the same vein as the traditional sins and virtues, with a contemporary twist that makes more sense to me personally based on my own experiences. You don’t have to agree though.


Virtue Synonyms Defect Synonyms
Resilience Strength, flexibility, adaptability, hope, spirit, optimism, persistence Defeatism Victimization, blame, inflexibility, resignation, pessimism, despondency, fatalism, sloth
Creativity Inspiration, ingenuity, resourcefulness, imagination, vision, originality, eccentricity Ignorance Impotence, incapacity, weakness, stagnation, destruction
Kindness Charity, empathy, compassion, generosity, thoughtfulness, benevolence, altruism, concern Malevolence Greed, self-interest, cruelty, disinterest, malice, cruelty, viciousness, spitefulness, meanness
Honesty Sincerity, candor, earnest, truthfulness, authenticity, straightforwardness, Openness, Deceitfulness Fraudulence, untruthfulness, lying, insincerity, manipulation, two-faced, mendacity, spuriousness
Integrity Reliability, steadfastness, commitment, resoluteness, loyalty, dependability, faithfulness, consistency, trustworthiness Corruption Depravity, exploitation, fraudulence, fickleness, unreliability, shiftiness, frivolousness, flippancy
Morality Decency, honor, virtuousness, scrupulousness, distinction, respectfulness Amorality Unscrupulousness, maliciousness, self-interest, vindictiveness, depravity
Humility Modesty, unpretentiousness, self-efficacy, decorum, well-mannered, gentility, restraint, grace, graciousness Arrogance Conceit, pride, self-importance, smugness, immodesty, vanity, pomposity, disdain, condescension, aloofness, snobbery, haughtiness, douchebaggery,
Humour Wit, comicality, cheerfulness, mirth, glee, joviality, merriment, bonhomie, joy, laughter, lightheartedness, wonder, delightfulness, blissfulness Criticism/ Misery Woe, dejection, desolation, wretchedness, judgment, melancholy, despair, gloom, pessimism, mean-spiritedness, cruelty

If you are still with me, let us unpack this for a bit.


We all have a bit of any or all of these traits in us. At any given time we can demonstrate a combination of many of the good and bad descriptors on this list.


The reason thinking about it and writing it down helped me, was I got a chance to see the words on my screen and ask myself honestly what I was demonstrating when making decisions or deciding how to feel about something.


So when something happens contrary to what I’d hoped, I can happily refer to my list of virtues and defects and decide if I want to be resilient or defeatist, or choose good humour rather than criticism.  I can take it as a learning curve or I can be bitter, and at 36 years of age, I am just barely smart enough after my many experiences to more often than not know which is which.


I’ll leave it there for today, as for me, even just reading the lists sporadically has given me pause and the impetus to curb my behaviour and act a little less rashly when things don’t go my way.  I’m printing both the old school and my amended versions of the list and posting them on the fridge as a quiet reminder to strive for a more virtuous existence.  Heaven knows I fall short, but I have less excuse for it when it is printed and staring me in the face as I reach for a midnight snack.




Thanks for reading.










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.


Random Friday Insights on Friendship

I’d like to talk about friendship.

The best place to start, I think, would be to openly and publicly acknowledge how fortunate I feel daily, considering what a huge pain in the ass I can be, to have the friends I do.  We are surrounded by a multitude of absolutely amazing, supportive, honest, kind, interesting, entertaining, diverse, intelligent and loyal people.

It is a really big deal to be able to say that as an adult, because I was a desperately lonely and undeniably awkward child.  Outside of family, I have only one true friend I have known since childhood.  We were 5 years old when we met.  Neither of us has ever been accused of being normal or conventional.  We both march to the beat of our own drum, and neither of us would be considered mainstream or predictable.  It is an honour to know her.


I hit my first social stride of having more than just one or two good friends at any given time in University.  I managed to find some like-minded individuals who have popped on and off the radar for nearly two decades now.  Another wave of socially secure relationships blossomed as I entered the workforce and met a gaggle of geeks that I absolutely adore to this day.  Another wave when I started dating my husband and met some of his friends.

The most obvious and seemingly secure influx of social bonds has happened since becoming a parent.  You join a club when you become a breeder.  You have something in common with people whose paths you may never have crossed otherwise.  As your children grow, you come across other parents, and have an amazing icebreaker and common bond that plants a seed of friendship in a way that I never would have thought possible before having children.  Some of the people we’ve met through school and kids activities have become an absolutely integral part of our lives. I am of the opinion that many of these people would have had cause to run away screaming from my rather larger than life personality, were it not for the impetus to get to know me because our kids were friends.

The flip side of the formula that has lead me to the social comfort of the friendships I relish (as there is always a flip side) is that I’ve also earned a few fairly harsh critics and even some genuine haters.  You know you’re doing something right when you have actually earned some haters I think.  In most cases this is worn as a badge of honour, as in most cases, it says a lot more about them than it does me.  Douche-bag and Dee do not mix.  Never have.  Never will.  People who have a nice shiny veneer and very little depth or substance, or those who go through life deeply cognitively dissonant are allergic to me as I am to them.  And that’s perfectly cool.

There are other occasions, when I really like, admire, and/or respect somebody, but we’re simply not compatible for one reason or another.  And that’s okay too.  Frequently when this happens, a relationship at arms length of each other is a very acceptable compromise.  This is also okay.  Other times, there is no compromise and the only reasonable option is avoidance.  I’m really very good at that too.  Perhaps a little too good.  Walking away is something I have grown quite a reputation for.  I’ll unpack that one another day in another post.

I digress.

One of the wonderful things about having little to no filter as both myself and my husband do, is the early and ongoing separation of people who are compatible, and those who are not.  I jump in with both feet and my whole heart when I find someone new and fantastic.  Most people admit to being quite terrified of that level of enthusiasm at first.

One dear friend, who I have seen or spoken to nearly every day for the past few months openly admits to being more than a little stunned (but not put off) when first made aware of my existence.

“I thought you were an absolute lunatic.  Smart, but a lunatic.” She recounted to me one afternoon as we chatted about the old days.


Despite being a “complete lunatic” most of our friends openly and frequently convey a fondness for us.  Grumpy and I often get praised for our honesty, generosity, humour, acceptance and huge capacity to take people exactly as they are.  It seems strange being venerated for these qualities, as it is always by people who quite effectively mirror them back at us.

So what am I trying to say today?

I guess I can sum it up like this:

Life is short.  Time is precious.  We’re all very busy.  Healthy human relationships that last for moments or lifetimes are an absolute necessity for getting through this life.

Take the time to find people who fill you up and make you want to be a better, kinder, more effective person and openly appreciate them when you get the chance.  Opening yourself up makes you vulnerable of course, but the rewards are immeasurable.


You will sometimes be surprised where you find them.

Be generous and genuine with your appreciation of people.  We all feel under-appreciated at times, and saying thank you to someone can be the difference between a disastrous and delightful day.

A series of bombshells and bad news has culminated this week.  Some of it has to do with me directly, some of it is more peripheral.  But I received a message – both through Facebook DM and text that completely buoyed me.  The woman that sent it is a pathological over-achiever, a gorgeous human being, an amazing and dedicated mother, a huge influence in mine and many other people’s lives, and is working her way to being a national and international expert on a very real and controversial social issue.  The message read:

“Hi Dee, just want you to know that you are an angel to so many people.  You are one of life’s shining lights xxxxxxxxxx”

Yeah, I cried a little when I read it.  Especially because we’ve had to make some really hard decisions and face some really tough realities after getting kicked quite squarely in the guts after trying tirelessly to do the right thing.

Now, the truth is, I get persecuted for openly and frequently sharing gratitude and compliments on social media and in life.  Some people will accuse you, as they have me, of being disingenuous, gushy.  Be assured, every time I offer a kind word or compliment it is absolutely in earnest.


Opening yourself up to people is hard.  Trusting people totally leaves you vulnerable.  Knowing when to hang onto friendships and when to say enough is enough is a difficult an inexact art.  But the relationships we forge add substance to life, give us context, and, provided they are real and true friendships, help us to look at the bits of ourselves that are difficult to accept.  Healthy and supportive friendships make the good times better, and the dark times bearable.

So if you are reading this, and you are my friend IRL or more frequently online than in the real world, THANK YOU!


Have a great weekend.


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.