Sunday, December 20, 2015

Tis the Season to be Jolly - The Annual Christmas Poem - 2015

Tis the Season to be Jolly

I like to think I'm organised, by shopping through the year
Snaffling up the bargains and squirrelling here and there
Which means of course come Advent, when all the rest are fraught
I'm the one who's oh so smug, my presents all but bought

But therein lies a problem - my recalls just not great
And so the Christmas present stash got rather over weight
(And to add insult to injury the challenge that I had
was triple gifts for Mum in there, and not a thing for Dad)

I also found a gift or two I'd bought as 'special things'
A ball gown for Niamh's formal dance, a pair of Angel Wings,
A pile of books, a stash of pens, a clutch of fake tattoos
The list went on, the pile it grew, but nothing I could choose

So fatefully, so fatefully, I headed for the city
A list this time clutched in my hand, (and budget mores the pity)
At last! At last, the work was done, the gifts all fit to wrap
All that was left was cards to write (and perhaps a Nana nap)

The tree is trimmed, the lights are hung, and ornaments abound
I've filled the fridge, and pantry, and had some friends around
I draw the line at Christmas tunes - that is a step too far,
but do concede if by some chance I hear them in the car

I've even soaked the Christmas mince, it's languishing in brandy
My Masterchefs will make the tarts (they really are quite handy)
We've wrapped the gifts and trimmed the tree, made visits far and wide
I swear we couldn't be more festive even if we tried

We've 'done the lights', a late night shop, and Tree-Awamutu
Just Christmas Day itself and  midnight mass still yet to do,  
It is the season to be jolly, and for a time I'll be 
but  Boxing Day can't come to soon - so I can pack up that darn tree. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Power of Words

I was recently asked to create an exhibition for the Te Awamutu Museum. This is my essay, which will be displayed in the cabinet with my chosen items.


 As a young girl I dreamt of being a journalist -  I wanted to write for a newspaper, or be a reporter for a radio station (the idea of TV was rather beyond my comprehension).  Or maybe work in a library - that was appealing too. How else could I feed my insatiable appetite for words, and for reading, as well as prove the critics wrong!? (who said I talked too much and my written word just wasn't very good). I had my first article published in the NZ Women's Weekly when I was just 7 years old - and so began a lifelong love of words. 

I was one of those kids who read cereal boxes. Who when going to the feed store for chicken meal, would read the ingredients on the drum.  Who had a radio going all the time (and who still holds the secret shame of listening to talk back and National Radio). Who probably would have had a blog, had blogs even existed in 1973!  But who didn't do well at school, hated exams, and was petrified of sharing anything remotely personal anyway. (It also didn't help that I was left handed, and so anything I wrote smudged the minute the ink hit the page.)

Words - words were everywhere.  My house had books of all kinds, an unlimited supply of paper and pens, and even a typewriter that was mine to use whenever I wanted to. I grew up in a house of conversationalists too - and it came as a great surprise to me to discover that most people DIDN'T discuss the state of the nation, women's lib, or the merits of the current Prime Minister over dinner, like we were wont to do! 

At 14 I was told by my teacher that  I wasn't very good at writing essays. At 16 I discovered that working in a library didn't mean I'd get to read books all day, and that I'd have to go to University to learn how to be a proper librarian. And at 18 I was told I wasn't 'tough' enough to be a journalist.  So that was that.  

So, I became a banker (as you do) and satisfied the itch by writing the occasional article for a community newspaper, and some strongly worded letters to the Editor of the Waikato Times.   At 20, I went overseas, and as email hadn't yet been invented, wrote long detailed letters home every week for four years - suitably censored for parents and grandparents eyes, but also full of long lyrical descriptions of the places I went, the people I met, and the food I ate. Phone calls were horribly expensive, so words were chosen carefully for those too (although they did include an engagement announcement, excited plans for return trips home, and the odd request for money...)

Time went on and I turned to technical writing - it was part of my job to write manuals, and training workshops.  Hardly the stuff of a great writer, but again, it satisfied the need for words.  The Internet came, and my typing became word docs, and eventually blogs, video logs, and web content.  Letter writing almost out the window, but not the dream of being a journalist - it lingered and still does. I write two blogs which have had more than 50,000 people read them. 

I established a local paper in Pirongia seven years ago - it's small and published only a few times a year, but it's mine and I'm proud of it.  This summer, it's twelve pages long, and my editorial is written about a former Te Awamutu resident for whom I had great admiration.

Words can be cruel and like many I've been on the end of a few of those.  But they can also be powerful - written or spoken, it is possible to change peoples life - indeed the course of history - with them.  

Whether it's a conversation 'over the tea cups', the power of a  strongly worded letter, a history changing submission to Government (as is the work of the Chamber of Commerce), a courageous conversation over the phone, or an attention grabbing headline that makes you sit up and think - or better, get up and act - the power of words is formidable.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015


I mentioned to a friend last week that I was feeling a whole lot let PollyAnna'ish that I usually am - she responded: 'you're allowed to you know'.  Yikes - am I!?!?! 

Never given myself actual permission for that before!

There are days and there are days - and then there are weeks, months even,  when you (erh-herm I mean ME when I say that obviously) that are so nutty that one (you, me, I) is not about putting ones  head up for air  but possibly just hoping that a few globs of oxygen are going to make it down as far as said head is buried.

That's how the past couple of months have been for me anyway - and it's probably my own fault. An inability to say NO when asked to do stuff, a tendency to operate by way of short bursts of productivity interspersed with long periods of pfaffing (a phrase stolen from someone else but SO good!), and a general sense that THE YEAR IS RUNNING OUT AND THERE'S STILL SO MUCH TO DO (what's with that anyway? - It's not like the world is gonna end on December24...) - these things are have resulted in me having massive to do lists, running from one place to the next, day in day out, cramming as much into my weekends as possible, going to bed too late, eating a lot of wraps and salad (not all bad but kinda sick of quick food), and imbibing fairly impressive quantities of coffee.  

I'm not really complaining as such - it's mostly all stuff I do want to do, including getting ready for a new job, finishing some overdue renovations on my house, starting some new projects at the office, the usual family and friend things - and doing kid stuff around my work schedule, but there's the odd day when I come up the drive after a 12 or 14 hour day and think - STOP THE WORLD I WANT TO GET OFF!!!!

The bummer is of course, that most of us, me included, don't get the privilege of opting out.  Pesky stakeholders like my Bank, my family, my community, my employers, put pay to that.  I am torn between admiring those that say 'and for that reason I'm out' and actually pack up and go, and thinking that they are copping out of being a grown up.  

Its the plague of the white middle class woman (and man) of a certain age - have a full and busy life, get a bit bored, get a LOT bored, try some new stuff, still feel bored, and decide that the only solutions is a 180 of life as we know it.  (yeah OK so I am a bit jealous of people who have the nerve to do that even if they don't have the means or the sense not to....).   

Its end of year - everyone is busy and stretched right?  My life is not non stop excitement - and I kind of miss the 'damn it let's do it' lifestyle I have experienced in the past - but it's still pretty full on. Good stuff - people stuff. Good for the soul if only I let it be stuff.   And no, quitting is not an option.  And the stress bunny that sits just inside my ribcage is just going to have to sit tight for a couple more weeks. 

In the meantime, I'm keeping this list handy - just in case I have the time and inclination to act on it's advice....(thanks, I might even take a selfie)

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Once in a blue moon

Apparently a blue moon happened on the 31 July.  

And if the conspiracy theorists are to be believed, 2015, and in particular the August - October period of this year, are going to be...shall we say...tumultuous...for the world.

Well I'm no conspirator, I don't really hold much stock in astrology, and on the Pollyanna scale I usually rate as a 10.5 but  when I look at the last 6 weeks,  all I've got is WHAT THE ACTUAL F**K!!??  Momma told me there'd be days like these but seriously.....

It all began at the start of September, when I glibly remarked to several people that I had the most boring life ever.  Nothing dramatic ever happened you see, at least in a negative way - my life was an oasis of calm where the most drama one might see would be the cat bringing a bird into the lounge for a morning snack...or someone might steal my parking space...or the supermarket would be out of my favourite brand of coffee.

But oh, oh dear, perhaps I tempted fate in making such a proclamation, because literally since that day, the longest list of crazy, random, unrelated, unexplainable and RELENTLESS dramas have taken over life.

Where to begin - could it be the three separate times my car was off the road for days at a time, for different things, including a car crash that wasn't my fault?  Could it be the trip to the after hours Doctor for a seemingly simple sore throat that resulted in diagnosis of two unrelated and completely random illnesses in my children (and a different one again for me)? Could it be that in the space of 90 minutes IN ONE DAY the car broke down (first time), I ran over, and killed, a neighbours cat, and my grandmother died? Or the day I heard that a man I had been very attached to when I was much much younger, had died unexpectedly at 48. The day both my fridge and my washing machine broke down. Or a few days later when a tap broke and I lost an entire tank of hot water before I was able to get it fixed.  The news that there is major repair work required on my house, that is in part due to crappy workmanship, in part to an incorrect council sign off, and in part to faulty product, which is going to cost me in the tens of thousands to repair? The weird movement of random things around my property that no one seems to know about? The friend caught up in domestic violence. The work issues. Oh the work issues. The financial worries that I thought were over are back, they are ba-ack. The other car accident I had in a borrowed car that defied gravity and left me shaken but not stirred. My long wakeful nights worrying about a list of people I have no right to worry about. 

Oh I could go on, that is but a taster of it all.  Yes WTAF.....but if you don't laugh you cry, so laugh I will - even though much of it is somewhat hysterical....

But for all those awful crazy things, to hear that  the mother of my sons friend was killed at work, put it right into perspective.  For me, it's a bad run.  For that family it is an absolute tragedy. Perception might be reality and my list is long and arduous, but in comparison I have nothing to complain about.  My rubbish is a long list of just that - rubbish.  It's just a coincidence that it's all happened at once, right?

I heard an expression in a TV show tonight, that I think comes from AA - 
The premise is that the road downward is essentially a 'choice' just in the way that the road upward, or back, is too.  But hang on a cotton pickin minute, I didn't choose any of those things up there - they just happened. Random stupid happened.  And all I have done, in the end, is let life come and me (somehow it seems safer that way).  Maybe when some things happen it is as a result of digging - sure isn't that what i wrote about in my previous post, but sometimes, crap stuff just happens to good people - and it all comes along at once. 

So these things happen once in a Blue moon. Crazy season. Whatever it is, I'll take it.  As long as it's over soon please.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Why I'm now longer living in the Now

It's become the phenomenon of our time I reckon - to live for the moment, squeeze the living daylights out of every second, and be forever moving forward.

I'd always been a bit envious of people who do this - mainly because my inherent worryworting behaviour is not helpful when it comes to stewing about the past, nor stressing about the future.  And I think there's probably some truth in the cliches that tell us about history and mystery.

I'm all for experiencing life fully - sometimes it's beyond bliss to be captured by a single moment and to want to stay with it and enjoy it (or not).  

The electronics that hang about me are constant distractions from the now, that's for sure.  And it's extremely easy for what was to be a quick five minutes looking something up on the interwebs, to turn into an hour or so of mindless surfing.  After all - to live in the now is the perfect foil to boredom and a (dammit let's do it), need for excitement, 

But frankly, I think this whole idea to Carpe the fuck out of that Diem has gotten a bit out of control. As humans, we are the sum of our experiences, and so not only is it impossible to leave the past in the past, I reckon it's probably not that healthy. Those memories and experiences shape who we are, every day.  Every damn day.  And the only way to learn is to actually acknowledge that stuff we thought we had so carefully packed up (baggage? hello...I have SO much of that stuff!), or accidentally on purpose 'forgotten' about.

I also believe that careful planning - the weighing of pros and cons, the understanding and commitment to consequence, are also key parts of life.  And the thing with that,  is that living in the now is way too close to avoiding outcomes.  What should be a considered, (current trending term alert), mindful way of living, can so easily become a 'damn the crows' type attitude toward what 'might' happen (could happen/should happen).  

And I spend all that time teaching my kids to think about their actions, make plans for their future, remember that what they do now will affect their lives FOREVER and then they hear the 'now' message.  There's nuance, of course there is, but show me a 12 or 18 or 28 or 48 even, year old cortex that really truly gets that. 

The now is delicious. The now is about living in the moment, reminding oneself that at any moment we could be dead.  And that's true - sure didn't one of my friends go off to work last Saturday and never come home.  

But does living in the now mean we should not respect our past, or our future, nor acknowledge all that has happened that has made us who we are? I think not.  Bury them as deep as they need to go, but memories are there forever, and mine have made me the person I am today.  It's a long arduous journey to move through them  - or at least make them portable enough to move with me (and that's kind of the point), but my fear is that to proclaim and model  to live 'in the moment' will not respect those formative experiences, nor allow me space to plan my future.  

For me, the now is the sum of its parts.  The good the bad and the ugly, all of which need acknowledgement and respect.  Does that mean 'hanging on' to the past and fearing for the future? Not at all - but it does mean being mindful of life in all tenses,  respecting that everything I did, and do, has a consequence that will reach far far beyond the here and now. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A life well lived

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a lady who has been part of my life since I was nine years old.  She ended up being there 'by default' I guess, being the mother of my Dads 'new wife' (now married a happy 38 years).

As children, my brother and I would always go and visit her (and her husband) when we stayed with our Dad and stepmother, and visits often centred around a shared meal, and watching sport on TV.  I couldn't stand the sport, but it was on in the background, and I was happy enough with a book, or doing one of the puzzles that were always on standby for us.  She took great interest in what I did, and as I grew into adulthood and later had my own children, both 'grandies' have been integral in our visits to that part of the world,

As stories were related at the funeral it became even more apparent that she was a much loved member of her community, with many friends and extended family coming to pay tribute.  In an especially moving tribute, my sister spoke of the dedicated Nana, ever listening and sharing advice and thoughts.  My daughter shared the memories of her visits and the special activities always part of those visits.

The story of her life was a relatively simple one - small, some might say - in that life revolved around family, the house, and church.  Some travel in early years, owning businesses that put her and GrandieT in the heart of their communities, but no grand gestures or 'huge legacies' that needed highlighting at the service.

And therein was the true value of this lady.  . She was whip smart, dedicated to staying up to date with current affairs (and loved to talk about them), She simply did life, cared for the people that crossed her path, and made a difference to those closest to her.

Great stories, fond memories, strong connections. At the end of it all surely is what all of us aspire to have. It was a life well lived.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Life love and leadership - lessons in balance and priority

I have recently embarked on a twelve month course of study at Waikato Management School, and am incredibly lucky to have been offered a scholarship for the whole programme. Following an inspiring introduction evening two weeks ago, I am now in the middle of the first four day 'residential', joining with 19 other leaders evenly split between the 'for profit' and 'for purpose' worlds.

I had some expectation that there would be lots of talk about leadership styles, group dynamics and practical ways to make me a better leader. The first exercise (undertaken a couple of months ago) included a LOT of self evaluation, and a 360 feedback which, although largely positive, had delivered back some (in my view) scorching criticism of my style (read: personality) and I am still smarting from it.  Demanding, impatient, unable to share, over burdened, untrustworthy, single minded and ambitious? Moi??? (ok so no one actually said that verbatim, but as my own worst critic, that's what I interpreted...) - and in fact there was even a session today on not being hard on oneself (point noted)

Anyhoo, the last two days have been delivered by an amazing man, Dr Peter Cammock who has somewhat rocked my world about what being a good leader is actually about.  In fact, there's been almost no discussion about leading OTHERS at all, and the first two days have had a strong focus on the inner self, leading oneself, and concepts like Flowpositive psychology, and understanding the real impact and implications of pessimism and optimism in relation to the question 'are you happy'.  There was lots of  talk about work life balance, and where the overlaps are, should be, and shouldn't be.  We've even done a fair bit of work on mindfulness and practised meditation.

I've been madly scribbling down notes, but also spending a lot of time just listening and letting the information wash (deluge!) over me, and as well as being valuable time out from normal life, I've also had to address a few things that have been niggling me, in relation to my work life. All good stuff!

I've worked out what motivates me (I love to connect people, and I like to be feeling like I'm making a difference), I have identified people who I admire and who have influenced me and why (a raft, but the common threads are their ability to inspire, and also at a personal level those who have given me freedom to be myself, without judging, and those who exude positivity).

I've been particularly struck by the concept of  hedonic adaptation - the idea that even when amazing things happen, eventually we return to the same levels of happiness that were there before the amazing thing - essentially that the highs and lows of life even out over the big picture, but also that this can be the curse of the easily bored - the high of the new can only make one happy for a certain length of time if one is not happy in the first place (current research suggests it can last up to about a year).  A good lesson if I'm thinking about getting bored in a job, or any other pursuit for that matter.

But what has really resonated with me is the idea of life 'opening up' when we are on the right path. All those things like mindfulness, and positive psychology and so on, really are about being settled in myself as a person, knowing who I am and what I want, before I can even consider anything else - essentially being my own leader before I lead anyone else.  I love the idea of a calling, finding a purpose, understanding my place in the world (also all part of to days discussion), and I was really intrigued by the idea that if we don't follow the path that is destined for us (the modern, business friendly term is emergence apparently) that this can explain why so often we never quite feel 'on track', or worse, life seems to be constantly trying to make things difficult for us.  There was discussion about whether every had a calling, and if so, do the distractions and obstructions mean we are not listening to that calling, or simply are not yet aware of it (which makes sense in view of when things just don't seem to be going well day in day out, but also goes some way to explaining those times when life is sweet. Although one wonders - when it goes from great to bad, is that because we got off course (either deliberately or not), or is it simply 'bad luck'? A post for another time perhaps.

All in all, I'm really enjoying the brain gym, the opportunity to meet new yet like minded people, and the pure pleasure of discussion, learning and questioning.  Its hard but its fun.
And finally, my favourite quote of the time so far , which is related to working on my strengths to make then stronger for 80% of the time, and not trying to over focus on, or eliminate my weaknesses (cos that's impossible):
You'll never be great by being barely adequate at what you're currently crap at. 
CELF leadership presenter Dr Peter Cammock.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A series of unfortunate events (where every cloud has a silver lining)

The day did not start well.  Or rather, the night before had not ended well, with one child vomiting, three basket loads of washing exploding on the couch, and the results of two kids 'marikon'ing their bedrooms still sitting in the office.

But I digress.  8.30 am and, first unfortunate event, said child still sick in bed.  My diary full for the day, all meetings, all out of the office, cheekily coupled with some report writing and at least a dozen emails that had somehow gone from 'not important not urgent' to 'beyond important and ridiculously urgent' in the space of a weekend.

The morning sped by as I answered emails and checked on sick child every twenty minutes, snuck in a couple (more) loads of washing, ran the dishwasher and conducted phone calls via the ear piece that cunningly disguised the noises that said I was working from home. (first silver lining, the work from home-ability of my job)

Midday. 1 pm.  Something had to give.  Woke sick child (SC)and coaxed her into the car.  What to do first?  Perhaps some drop offs - that might work because then SC could wait in the car whilst I double parked it.  Result!  And now the supermarket.  Out of cat food (last nights other unfortunate event...) She decides to come in with me.

The car had been a bit...shall we say...sluggish on the way to town.  Made a mental note that it was 6 weeks overdue for a service and this was important to ensure it stayed within warranty.

Quick trip round the supermarket and back to the car.  Second unfortunate event - the key is stuck in the ignition!  Did I have a flat battery? (Quite possible as there is no warning beeper on the lights, as I have discovered to my peril on at least 5 other occasions including the unfortunate incident that involved a Waiheke ferry and Auckland5  oclock traffic but I digress).  No, battery is fine.  I ring the local Chery dealer - explain where I am and what's going on.  They've never heard of such a thing, and more, they are no longer the Chery dealer - its an outfit in Hamilton.  But, because I am a good customer they'll send someone out for a quick look.

Second silver lining - a lovely man turns up within 5 minutes, at no cost to me, to look at my car.
Unfortunately he can't fix it so I ring the new dealer in Hamilton.  Fabulously nice service from a young man on the phone, until he clarifies the make and model of the car and tells me, actually no, they aren't the dealers of these at all.

I ring the national office, and eventually, through a series of more fortunate events end up talking to a guy on his mobile who just happens to be in the next office to the National Service Manager (both unfortunate and silvery as I learn that yes, my car is still under warranty, but no, there is no local dealer and the car will have to be towed to Taupo for fixing - at their cost...unfortunate silver?).
IN the middle of this a friend walks past the car, and offers to take SC home with her (silver!)
The guy on the phone gives me a number to call, and within 20 minutes - long enough for me to shoot up the road for a flat white in a takeaway cup - the local Roadside Assist man turns up, who (silver!) knows me and is based in a workshop just around the corner.

He hot wires the car (that's better than silver isn't it...) and we get to the workshop, even though i miss the entrance twice and have to drive right round Te Awamutu with google maps incorrectly directing me.

Don't worry he says, just tell me who to call at Chery head office and I'll sort it for you. (silver!)
I trot off, happily laden down with groceries, briefcase, laptop, kids car seat, and all the other flotsam i had retrieved from the car which appears to be headed for Taupo.  Oops I'm wearing high heeled boots (unfortunate).  There's a sunny seat I can rest on (silver).  But I'm in Te Awamutu, and it's a long walk home (unfortunate).

My dinosaur kindly offers me his other car to use (platinum, it's a Porsche) but remembers it is currently in getting work done on it at a workshop 15 km away and not warranted.  Could this day get any worse!!!!

A quick call to an obliging mechanic, and another to someone I remembered will be driving by my house from Te Awamutu to get home very soon, and I'm sorted.

Arrive to a ready 944, two kids fed and ready for pickup, and a helpfully quick dinner ready for throwing in the pan.

Yes a series of most unfortunate events, but also a LOT of silver linings, and I am, again, bowled over by the kindness of strangers.

And the best news.  The marvelous AA/mechanic, has managed to not only fix the car, saving it a trip to Taupo, but he's put a beeper on my lights.  Gold.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Why your husband needs to have a midlife crisis (Guest blog)

A midlife crisis is a great thing and it’s about time we celebrated it!

For too long the midlife crisis has been confined to cliche reasons for 50 year old guys having an affair with a 24 year old, buying a sports car, or deserting a relationship with no hint or warning.  Sure, these symptoms can have something to do with it, but maybe if we celebrated the crisis a bit earlier on, it might not result in destructive behaviour.

Look around at our planet and you’ll see that life is about growth, adaptation, nourishing the new, transitioning, and celebrating the things that have thrived through the seasons and turmoil.  There’s simply nothing that doesn’t change.     Sadly, so many people get to their 40s and 50s and inadvertently put growth on hold.  Sure, we all understand the pressures and commitments of mortgages, kids, jobs and visiting Aunt Daisy on Sunday afternoon when you could actually be snoozing on the couch. But we are designed to grow, to learn new things, to develop, to push ourselves, to adapt, to live with a sense of purpose and ultimately help make this World a better place?

Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting we quit our job, smoke weed and live off the local food bank either.
But here’s the thing: A midlife crisis creeps up and confronts us when we suppress the natural stimulus within to keep growing and continue the journey towards being the person we really want to be.  

Take the test to see if you’re in a midlife crisis. 

Of course, there’s times in life where we’re not afforded the luxury to just stop, focus on the big picture and contemplate World Peace, but if we put on hold who we really are for too long in the name of sacrifice and compromise we start to live a lie.  We are not being true to our own self.
We suppress who we really are and pretend to be someone we’re not.  Added to this, is the underlying and subconscious pressure from our nearest and dearest to keep the good times for them rolling.  Of course they’re actually enjoying life – they love the stability, fun times with friends, growing older and simply being ‘normal’ like everyone else.  How indulgent for us to contemplate destroying their happy bliss and start to think about who we’d really like to become? 

Herein lies the seeds of confusion and the tension between the two worlds fighting to ensnare us into their gravitational pull.   But what if ‘normal’ isn’t who we are?  What if we’re suppressing who we are for the sake of our family and our own fears around growth and change?  What if it’s too scary to do what we really want?  What if we actually don’t believe in ourselves or our ability to take a risk?  What if there are dreams and desires deep down that are unfulfilled and we see no way of ever achieving those?  

Let the frustration and discontentment begin!  

Added to this our 40s and 50s are a time when a number of truths confront us:

1.     Time is running out – if I don’t pluck up the courage, face the fear and chart a course to become the person I’m meant to be soon, I’ll never do it.  Endless time is no longer available.  But I’m paralysed by fear, and too many other things haven’t worked.  I’m trapped.

2.     The goal posts are moving – our dreams and desires of our 20s and 30s don’t have the same pulling power as before.  Our desires change.  Being a slave to a job we don’t enjoy for the sake of providing and buying the nice house isn’t exciting anymore …. I want to have purpose in what I’m doing.  I don’t want to spend the rest of my life unfulfilled.

3.       Unfulfilled dreams - we didn’t become CEO of that Global corporation.  Far from it, we’re stuck in middle management fighting insecure and political managers dealing with their own issues.  My Husband or Wife has disappointed me – they don’t meet my needs and haven’t grown into the person I dreamt of them becoming.  Life is hard, we’ve had some unfortunate situations and life just seems like a dark tunnel with no light at the end.

Here’s the thing – it’s not all about the rash big decision to solve the issues …. ditch the Husband or Wife, buy the Porsche, buy more shoes, have an affair, become a hippy or bury yourself in more work to get rid of the feelings inside.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Firstly it’s about understanding what’s going on so you can start a journey.  Then, look at the many options you’ve got and understand deep down inside who you really are, your values, and what type of life, roles and responsibilities are aligned with who you are and make a plan.  What do you need to do to transition out of and away from and what do you need to move towards?  Who do you really want to be in five years’ time is the question, not what do you want to have?

Click here if you’d like some proven coaching techniques to help understand how to get more alignment in your life.

You’ve all heard about the Chinese characters that make up the word ‘crisis’ – danger and opportunity.  I think this definition is so apt for those of us in our 40s and 50s.   A midlife crisis is actually life nudging you to re-evaluate, take stock and ask yourself who you’d really like to become.  What needs to change?  Is fear holding me back?  Have I been able to discuss this with my spouse or partner, and how can our lives together be much more enriched by making a slow transition? (Rather than letting the pressure build up inside and then a rash decision that could cost you your marriage, finances, job and happy future together).

Okay, so it’s not always as easy as that, but there’s a fight taking place inside you or your partner’s head and heart.  This crisis is actually life pulling you forward.  It’s an opportunity to step up and be the person the World is waiting for you to become.

For help on transitioning to the next phase, or if you want to take our free midlife crisis test  ( simply click on these links or visit us at

Monday, June 22, 2015

Members, affiliates and their guests welcome

That's the sign that greeted me at the last 'Club' I visited.  The incessant radio advertisements had told me the same.  

So off I went, same day of the week as usual, same group of friends - to have a bit of a dance and enjoy same bowl of chips and ungainly handle of beer - at the  same club (for maybe the 100th time).

Welcome? I think not.  It turns out that my membership card had expired.  It was issued by a different club (that would be an affiliate).  I didn't know this - and clearly the super duper highly technical computer system that has registered me countless times before didn't care.  There was much sighing and sucking of teeth by the lady behind the bullet proof glass with the slide across speakery thing (seems that clubs full of old people are very dodgy places these days).  

It wasn't possible to let me in you see, because they couldn't confirm I was a member of anywhere.  No, an expired card wasn't good enough. No, I couldn't just renew my old membership for that place on the day, there was a process to follow.  No, I couldn't go in and find a friend to sign me it (the electric doors stayed firmly shut and the security guard ensured I didn't get too close - heaven forbid I might make a run for it!)  No, I couldn't wait inside in the warm whilst they checked things out - for that would mean letting me past guard, cats bum lipped receptionist AND the auto door.  Well yes, she could, she supposed, ring my own club and confirm I was a member.  

Much ado followed - it would seem that my own club do not follow quite the same strict rules, and, good grief, did not have someone manning the phone at 9 pm on a Friday night to ensure that crazy rebels like me didn't sneak through without a card.  It took three phone calls, and an ever increasing tightening of those lips before finally, thankfully, someone answered the darn phone at the other place.  Only they couldn't really help, because you see there was some problem with their card system, so sorry it wasn't possible to tell if my membership was current or not.

In frustration, I went outside, banged on the glass window (much to the consternation of the octogenarians sitting beside it) and gestured to my Friends to come and sign me in.  And lo, I was in. So quick, so painless in the end.  Although cats bum lips did remind me that it was VITAL that I had the membership issue sorted out so that such instances didn't happen again, and REALLY what kind of place were they running out in the sticks and HONESTLY you'd think it wouldn't be that hard.

She was absolutely right.  It really shouldn't be that hard.  It's no wonder that service clubs have a dwindling membership if it's that difficult to get in the door.  I understand that there are certain rules and standards that go with membership organisations.  But seriously - the kind of people who frequent these places - or who might, if only they didn't have to overcome a cold war to do so - are hardly going to be causing mayhem.

Sure, give members 'special privileges' like cheap drinks, or meat raffles, or their own special beer glass. But if you want normal, sober, people like me to come and spend money at your club, if a warm welcome is out of the question, at least make it easy for me to get in the door.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The little black dog (part two)

Six or so  months ago I wrote about the little black dog who kept turning up at my door.  I think most people figured out that this was not a literal dog, but an analogy originally  coined by Winston Churchill to describe his 'fight' with depression.

Firstly I'd argue that it's not a fight.  I'd say Depression is a wave ...a covers you - can threaten to choke you, but it's certainly not something (for me) that involved a great deal of fighting!  Not least because in the midst of a downer, I don't think one has the energy to do very much at all , let alone indulge in a scrap with something that has no form.

But I digress.  Because there was still a fight - its just that the fight for me was not with depression. The fight was internal, having to accept that I might need some 'chemical intervention' and having to swallow my pride enough to go and ask for that.  The Doctor, on hearing my sorry tale (and believe me it was a sorry one, even those I'd tempered it for prides sake more than anything) sat up in her chair and announced  'I can't believe you're still upright' - and then offered me a veritable cocktail of delights - some to help me sleep, others to stay awake, uppers, downers, and in betweeners.  I declined all but one relatively benign option, and then fought with my own handbag as I walked around first with a prescription for two weeks, and then with a wee bottle of innocent looking pills for another two.

But, finally - as much because I'd spent so much stinkin' money on the Doctor and the prescription, as any other reason - I took one of those pills. And another the next day and another the next day. and by day four I was seriously a different person.  Yes it screwed with my sleep patterns, but so what - I was only sleeping about three hours a night anyway, so it just meant I was tired, and wired, at a different time of the day.  And yes, things seems a little...bright...or something - like my senses had been heightened in some weird way. Which maybe they had, in that the cloud had shifted -  it was just a little confusing when I was also feeling, finally, blessedly removed from that cloud I had become almost comfortable under.

After about three weeks things settled down, and I started to feel normal again.  I admit I was a bit slack and missed the odd day of medication but it didn't seem to make a lot of difference provided I got right back in the swing as soon as I realised.  At the one month mark I had to get a repeat, and the Doctor told me that whilst I had noticed an immediate change (and so had she - she was dead right about how deficient my 'insert name here' hormone was), it would take at least three months, possibly six, to see true outcomes and for the meds to be absorbed and sustainably effective

As three months approached I knew I didn't want to go for a another prescription repeat. I felt good, in control, normal (well kind of, I think, maybe).  She warned me against coming off it but agreed it was my choice and that as long as I did it slowly - over the course of two or three weeks, breaking the pills into smaller and smaller bits, and stretching out each dose - and I was monitored by someone who could watch for any changes - she would support the decision.

And so I did.  Three weeks later the meds were out of my system.  It would be fair to say there were a few times in the next couple of months I questioned my decision - maybe I'd done it too early, not least because the issues that had got me to where I was in the first place weren't all resolved.  But by and large I was feeling pretty good.  Stayed busy with normal life, talked (even more than normal) through what was in my head.  Retired some energy sucking relationships and working on developing the ones that were mutually energising.

Now I fear I've turned into a 'go to the Doctor' preachy kind of person.  I have watched a couple of close friends cope with highs and lows (I'm reluctant to diagnose it) and really struggle to get out of the lows.  Maybe they need chemical help, maybe they don't.  Medication alone will not fix problems, and should not be viewed as such, but it can give you enough oomph, or breathing space, or clarity of perspective to be able to move forward and deal with whatever got you to that place in the first instance.  The first step has to be being willing to talk to someone who really knows their stuff and just might be able to help.  That's probably the bit I found hardest. And it was probably the bit I should have done earlier.

What I learnt is that (cliche alert) prevention might be better than cure, and medication might be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff - but you just can't be too proud to beg.  A hundred dollars on a Doctor and some pills saved my sanity I reckon.  What a bargain.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The one video about faith, sexuality, and all things God and Gay that everyone should watch

My readers know this is an issue I have strong feelings about this - and nothing sums up my thoughts better than this video.

Substitute the word Catholic with Anglican/Pentecostal/Christian...whatever...the message is the same - powerful, challenging and humbling.

More details is at - a terrific website for anyone with faith type questions.

That is all.  As always your comments are welcome.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

I love lifehacks (and lists....)

Anyone who knows me every a little bit (or a lot) knows that I have a...erm...slight obsession...with lists, systems, organisation type stuff and minimalism.

I also like Pinterest for collecting these things (cool stuff no clutter!) , sites like Project 333, and lifehack type videos from Buzzfeed (most are useless)  or

Howards Storage World is my kind of heaven, and the playcentre mother in me finds it hard to throw out 'containers that might come in handy'.  So, due to popular demand, here's my first 15 ways to stay organised at my place. (For your viewing pleasure I didn't include my 'always at the ready' cleaning box and my step by step system to keeping the house tidy. that would be way too much excitement for one day!

the wrapping stuff that fits between frozen pastry is the
best thing ever for keeping cheese fresh in the fridge. love it. 

make sure you don't forget the wine.
put your keys on top of anything you've left in someones fridge

hooks at the back door -
 always a brolly, helmet and jacket at the ready

because every home should have one - $30 at Nood

my 'safe place' -
everything that needs to go in a safe place goes in here.
It gets sorted every couple of months.
amazing how many broken bits of nothing end up here tho...

My life is stupidly busy.
 Everything I need to remember goes in my i-phone diary
(this is not real...
I can remember to kiss the kids goodnight without help...)

I buy presents year round and keep this storage box topped up.
Paper and cards too.
the kids then can 'shop from the box' for a friend
(saves a trip to the Warehouse) and I never get caught on the hop

the inner from a Ferrero Roche box is the perfect earring holder

hooks at the back of my double wardrobe
(the rail has been moved into the cavity on the left),
and jewellery racks made by the kids for necklaces)

Plastic boxes that the kiwifruit came in.
Perfect for kids stationery in a desk drawer.

inners from rice cracker packets.
all kinds of boys stuff in here

a small sponge bag kept always packed.
yes that's earplugs (you never know when you might need them
and hotel aircon systems are noisy!)

basic tool box stored in the hot water cupboard
(a pain to go outside on a dark night for a spare nail or something)
drink bottles kept full and frozen ready to go
the inners of the camelbaks live in the freezer too
(which eliminates bugs and nasties)
i keep one of those supermarket brand chilly bags in the car
packed with reusable bags, sun hat, knife and fork, plates and a towel.
never get  caught short if there's the possibility of a picnic!

shoe hanger re purposed in tween wardrobe
for scarves and hats and things.
small carry bags hung on a coathanger for ease of access

What's your favourite - or can you share another?
As always, your comments are welcome!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A point of contention

I've not much been one for 'going to church' of late.  In fact, more than of late..I stepped out of church in a fairly deliberate way about two years ago, having working in ministry and frankly getting a bit over it all. Not to say I was over God, oh no...but it's a bit of a love hate relationship, whereby fellowship (lets see how much Christianese I can squeeze into one post....) was defined by the regular get togethers I had with like minded friends, and prayer seems to be mainly comprised of me ranting and a somewhat stony silence on God's behalf.

That said, I've done my best to maintain at least a distant relationship with Himself, by way of funerals, Christmas services, and children's bedtime prayers.  So it has been quite a change to discover myself quite by chance (or is it.....) back in the company of some of the people I shared church/youth group/bible study/crushes/slightly recalcitrant teen behaviour with.  I even, hold on to your seat, decided to attend church on a Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago - and actually I have to say I rather enjoyed it.  Great music, a challenging and thought provoking sermon by a preacher I almost agreed with, friendly people and a comfy chair.  What more could I ask for!?

I would have said nothing.  And its said that God doesn't give you any more than you can cope with after all.

But everything changes and nothing stays the same.  I have written before about how God likes to talk to me in Hollywood letters.  I'm guessing it's because it takes something that big, at least in my minds eye, to get my attention.  I've had all kinds of words, and almost always I miss the cue, and cannot fathom why a particular word keeps popping up everywhere.  And this year has been no exception.  I was presented with 'content' this time.  But what did it mean?  Was I content? Was I being asked to provide content?  Was I destined for something contentious?

Who knows....but what I do know is that everything that has changed, or come into my life in the past couple of months - in every aspect - has an underlying message:  I need to carefully examine the CONTENT, and I need to be satisfied that the new thing, the changed thing, still allows me to be CONTENT.  Which is not to say that 'stuff' will make me content, nor that I need more 'content' to be content!  But it certainly has made me stop and think about the things that really matter - and what it is that makes me rest easy each night.

How is your content?
Are you content?