I am in LAX on the way home from what is almost certainly my last overseas trip for quite a long time. In the space of two weeks the world has gone from the cutting edge of clusterfuckedness to quite clearly and comfortably a full-fledged pandemonium that was, already infamously, touted as a “hoax” by one who shall remain un-named in this blog because seriously. Fuck that guy. I can’t even.
It’s difficult not to acknowledge how lucky, blessed, and full of trials and adventures this life has panned out for me. Today, as I sneak in under the wire, symptom free (knock on wood) and quietly confident the response by the WHO and our absolute GODDESS of a leader Jacinda Ardern will curb this pandemic enough to ensure a safe and robust course through this global crisis. Of all the times I have scraped through situations and felt nearly ashamed of my blind luck in remaining unscathed, I have to say, being born Canadian and living as a Kiwi for most of my life is today, the absolute luckiest situation I can imagine as I set course back to New Zealand to self-quarantine for 14 days.
We had made the decision after watching Manhattan empty out to a near ghost town to quarantine ourselves for a minimum of ten days upon returning home, despite some friends and family stating we were “just over-reacting” and should “keep calm and carry on”
So, here’s the thing about that. People DO need to be calm and they DO need to carry on and exercise the absolute utmost of caution and respect for those around them, and that means everyone has to take this seriously or the virus will spread too far and too fast for healthcare systems to manage.
Here’s my take on this situation. This. Shit. Just. Got. Real.
But history and life and narrative of this planet and, oh, I dunno… like SCIENCE gave us plenty of signs that something massive like this was not only possible but quite seriously probable. It’s happened, the survival rate is WAY better than something quite terrifying like ebola, and we can slow the spread by being extra cautious and there’s no need to bitch and moan about it.
I will be bypassing seeing my kids completely when I land home in the island paradise I feel deeply and importantly in LOVE with in 1992, and I will be hauling my lucky little ass to our treehouse in Matakana and locking the fucking door and not seeing anyone face to face for 14 days. Doing so because I love my friends, family and nation and after seeing the absolute chaos here in the USA and feeling quite decidedly sick at the prospect of the millions of working poor who will be seriously brought to their knees because they are used to working two or three jobs just to cover the cost of living without any hope of a vacation like the one I am returning from I am so glad we have a leader who is protecting us and making bold and quick decisions on the front lines of a war against an opponent we cannot see.
This is the moment to put our best foot forward. The weeks and months ahead will see so many of our family and friends in NZ and around the globe in vulnerable situations. This is an opportunity for kindness, cleanliness, calm and hope to shine. There are so many people who are actively putting themselves on the front line in this global emergency, we all need to take it seriously and do anything we can and more to take this threat seriously and business as usual simply is not an option while we work to stop the spread.
I’ll be home and not seeing you soon New Zealand.
Take care of yourselves and stay home if you are vulnerable. Your life and the lives of those around you are far more important than ANYTHING right now.
Things are going to change and we will have plenty of time to talk about the brave new world that is upon us.
Let Love and patience be your guide, and you are NOT alone if you are scared, and we WILL get to a better place together.
Where can I possibly begin this conversation. This. Electrifying Conversation.
I think, seeing as this is my blog and I am me, I will start by saying: WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK JUST HAPPENED!
Seriously. Something magical, exhausting, immense, impactful, beautiful and terrifying just happened and required hundreds, perhaps thousands of people to put their hearts and minds on the line to contribute to, and also experience this epic phenomenon.
For anyone reading this who doesn’t know, I have spent four years trying to figure out a way to bring people together to real talk about the situation we are in. I don’t need to sugar coat this, the planet is in trouble, people and creatures are suffering. More of the earth is on fire, under water, or covered in rubbish than any of us, even the most “woke” in our midst can or could actually comprehend. The mess is incomprehensible, but it is real.
If you are a climate change denier, or horrendous vessel for greed and ignorance, don’t bother trolling me on this, I don’t even hear it anymore. Some people are dealing with our current global crisis with anger, ignorance and cognitive dissonance. You do you boo. While the rest of us get stuck in trying to find a sustainable and impactful resiliency plan.
Those in my tribe have opted to face our uncertain future with hope, kindness, and mahi (that is the Maori word for WORK for those of you not based here in Aotearoa).
November 1st 2019 Auckland’s ASB showgrounds hosted nearly 200 people (according to my friend Geoff’s headcount and observations) incredibly engaged and impactful human beings from across New Zealand and around the world.
We convened at 8:00am to real talk about how fucked things have become and how we, as individuals, communities, businesses and a movements could innovate, communicate, collaborate and fight our way through the storm we all see on the horizon.
The collective IQ and experience in this room brought me to tears. The power, purpose and potential in this room had a day to share, reflect and plan. If there was ever a time to stop, collaborate and listen (ICE ICE baby… we’re definitely not too cool and can’t get more than 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer), it is now.
This day, and the week of touring around New Zealand has been four years or more in the planning. Fueled by my own, and many other’s insatiable optimism and Love for Aotearoa and the planet we chose to give our time, resource, and knowledge.
It was a lot.
It was exhausting.
It was confronting.
And it was so much fun.
When I was in the midst of this magic, I was so stressed and wired I did not have the capacity to see just how much hope there is, or how lucky we are to be alive right now.
I’ve attached the harrowing itinerary 27 human beings from across New Zealand and around the globe experienced from November 3-8th. We were there to listen and to be heard. We were there to share messages of hope and impact with others and the world. We did this, and we found friendship, laughter, grace and humanity in our group and across the country as we did.
So, I will need a few more days to come back down to earth before I am able to give an appropriate and accurate debrief on the highlights of ECNZ2019.
You will be treated to pictures, stories, case studies, and so many opportunities to join in on this ground swell of hope as fear and confusion continue to mount globally.
I’ll finish by saying thank you to my guests and team for the epic efforts and enthusiasm.
We are currently collaborating on a Spotify playlist that we can pull out and remember this magic, when the darkness starts creeping in. I think everyone on this journey clearly understands that the world is actually on fire right now. But we found and felt a hope and comfort by joining together.
Friendships and alliances were made that will carry on, perhaps infinitely. The only accurate description I can give you for what has happened is: magic. We are all infinitely powerful and this was a solid and combined show display of moving powerfully toward a kinder, cleaner, rewarding and sustainable future.
It is the weekend. I have so much fucking work to do my heart and head hurt just thinking about it, but I’ve been aching to write for so long that I can’t put it on the back burner anymore.
So. What have you been up to? How’s the Spring treating you if you’re here in the Southern Hemisphere, or how is the magical Autumnal awesomeness on the North American East Coast or through the Alps going if that’s your backdrop right now?
Fuck. I. Miss. Travelling.
The invitations to speak and participate continue to roll in over WhatsApp and DM, and Hawaii, New York, Ukraine and Europe beckon and I sit poised to take the stage, where I feel most at home. Who knows when I will be able to pick up that gauntlet again though. There’s so much work to be done here at home.
I’m enjoying floating around my own backyard here in Aotearoa, but the unrelenting free bird in me feels decidedly lost with clipped wings. I know that’s a champagne complain. Staying close to home while the world is on fire, geopolitically, economically, and in reality, is a small price to pay for my time here on earth. We all have to make changes. But I can’t promise I’ll be able to curb my addiction for friends and feelings that exist in far off places for much longer.
So it’s Saturday. We’ve been to Bethell’s beach. I’ve made the kids crepes. We’re all tired and snuggled in warm while the spring wind whips around twigs and branches across our unmown lawn.
Me earbuds are in and I am listening to the latest installment in the arms race of mixed tapes (or in 2019, Spotify playlists) between myself and my very fresh primary relationship. Yes, I do have to elaborate the primary bit… still figuring that shit out. A painful, yet utterly wonderful and gratifying separation from my Phoulmate Phteven has left more questions than answers about what I want from the rest of my life. I don’t know what the future holds, but right now, I am enjoying the strange and unexpected comfort and magic of seeing my sweetheart every couple of days, and aching when that stretches on for any more time.
I believe this is called the “honeymoon” phase.
Whatever. It has been tough as shit at times, and we are reminded at every turn that there are a thousand moving parts, not the least of which being kids, houses, jobs, passion projects and exes. Sprinkled that with a very miniscule but undeniable group of people I still think I might want to have sex with, and we’re off to a rip-roaring start. Don’t bother judging me. Or do, I don’t actually give a fuck. This shit is what everyone trying to balance their independence and their desire to nest are grappling with. I have been fundamentally single for nearly three years, and I was actually really good at it, with a few close calls, but a fairly decent track record of finding friends and maintaining healthy relationships after flames of fancy were no longer fanned by my whistle stop travels in and out of their lives. So, I hope honesty and humour are enough to get us through and carry us on to whatever path we might forge together. This human makes me feel whole and our parasympathetic frequency seems to calm me down and speed him up, and we could both benefit from a bit more of that kinda gear change.
So that’s one thing…. There’s a few more moving parts rolling around this head and heart today, so if you wanna join me for this long overdue session of open letter venting, pull up a chair, we are not quite a third of the way there, so get comfy and try this fucking excellent playlist I made and am slaying all day every day as I zoom, emission free, around this beautiful country.
So… Where was I?
Ah yes, moving parts. So many moving parts.
There’s the single biggest professional event I’ve ever been involved in looming large on the horizon. Wait, I am not only involved, I am the fucking organizer and the final word on this shit. Only two weeks out, and it has nearly killed me. Nothing like the complete nervous breakdown this time last year, that was absolute unabashed hopelessness. This has just been real. It has been uplifting. It has been a steeper learning curve than any I have known. I have had to stand up for myself way more than I’d ever thought I could or would have to. And I am exhausted, as are many others fighting to make this a beautiful thing. Nobody is an island, and we all need so much support to nurture any change or legacy.
So, it hasn’t nearly killed me, but it’s certainly killed off the pushover inside me, and awoken some sort of getting shit done goddess who doesn’t have time to hear why people haven’t done the things they are supposed to do. It looks to be a total rip-roaring success, for a flagship event anyway. I definitely look forward to it and the desire to lock myself in a bunker in the swiss alps for a few years has absolutely abated. For today at least. And the team working alongside me have absolutely pulled out their A game and gotten this beautiful bouncing baby event into full-fledged labour! This kid is coming, and it is going to change our country and the world.
It feels so much like waiting for any of our four babies to come. I am terrified, curious, and cognizant of the many, many, MANY things that can go wrong and what the implications may be. But I have grown this child for four years. I have travelled the globe learning from others and bringing that knowledge and enthusiasm back to New Zealand. Now it is time to turn that around and share the narrative with the world. They barely know we exist, and that’s bullshit, so I’ve invited some of the most influential and entertaining people I know to come and see this batshit beautiful nation and applaud us for the epic grassroots and community efforts that have seen our EV uptake skyrocket beyond anyone’s forecasts. And, with precious little encouragement from the public sector compared to every other country leaning toward this method of carbon divestment.
So yeah. Look at us world! We are kicking ass. Tune in first two weeks of November for more!
Then there’s the family. And friends. And the house seems to have some sort of weird house disease that houses can get. And I am chasing a satellite internet company called Gravity to TAKE MY FUCKING MONEY and give me some internet access at the off-gird treehouse where I have every intention of moving gradually toward turning into my retirement nest. The cat we sent North because she pissed all over everything because she didn’t like noise (ffs, wrong house kitty) is doing great but we all miss her because when she wasn’t pissing on everything she was beautiful and cuddly and clever and had a gently purr and special way of curling into the nape of your neck.
There’s so much more. So very much more to say. But you know what, I was told over a glass of wine and some belly laughs and shared tears of grief over the heartaches we’ve both endured, to just Love myself. We talked at length about, well, lots lof lengthy things. We decided relationships are a pain in the ass. A beautiful, complicated, necessary, terrifying and fortifying pain in the ass. Ending something, no matter what stage or state it is in, is a loss no different to the death of someone (or something, like a pet) we care deeply for. Relationships live and breathe, and we need to nurture them when they are sick, and they soar when they are healthy and fill us up and complete us. So when they die, we have to grieve. And sometimes, really shitty relationshps are the ones we are the most drawn to. And figuring out when and how to cut and run is something we’ve all struggled with. Jesus. What a week.
Sigh. Life’s a fucking roller coaster.
Steph and I often sing “Wish I Was a Punkrocker” by Sandy Thom. It is on the playlist if you care to have a listen. It is a gem of a song and our gaggle of theatre geek girls will always join in and have a big cathartic sing along as I taxi them to the mall or back to our house.
It is a song about simpler times. Before the Internet. Before the climate crisis. I’m at the tail end of the last generation to remember a time without connectivity and smart phones and highlights reels on social media. I had a lonely shitty childhood, but I also had a backpack, a cat named Toots, and acres and acres of Albertan wilderness and pastures to explore from sun-up to sundown. I climbed trees, built mossy forts in a damp forest we christened Ewok Land, and I watched squirrels, birds, deer, and all manner of wild animals carry on in our shared back yard, and I have failed to give that magic to my kids, as they are so inextricably linked to devices.
I don’t think it is too late to take a trip back in time with them though. Need to think a bit more about what it looks like, but I think a total digital detox and some communing with nature before it is completely depleted beyond recognition is on the cards for my family and my… my partner. He’s quite the ecologist so could train us up on the magic that surrounds us and I might even step totally out of my comfort zone for a time and camp under the stars at some point over the summer that stretches out before us here in New Zealand.
I have more to say, but this has carried on hundreds of words longer than I try to contain my blogs to.
I thank you, as ever, for taking the time to share a slice of my chaos and meandering observations.
Hope wherever you are and whatever you battles and brilliance you are experiencing makes you stronger, kinder, and you share that hope and experience in whatever ways you can.
I’ve had four kids, and am raising three. One lives with my parents as his needs outstrip our ability to manage him. The three hilarious and strangely well-adjusted parasites that remain in the care of my ex-husband, and our formidable and fantastic tribe, make me laugh every single day. They are aged 14, 12, and 5. Two of them have my face, and one looks a bit like Will or Mike (those two look sooooo similar) from Stranger Things. He also looks a little bit like his father did at his age.
We are a motley crew. Most of our public outings include dance routines, ad-libbed singing to whatever songs may be wafting through the mall, supermarket or amusement park lucky enough to host the hobbits West. We. Are. Loud. We are kind, complimentary to strangers, observant of hilarity wherever and whenever it presents itself, and we are perfectly happy to catch the eyes and confused or slightly scared looks of strangers. We are a team of tyrants who will not tolerate injustice, insist on honesty, and aren’t afraid to have a laugh at our own expense.
I’ve been home now for about four days or so since my last major overseas jaunt for 2019. The Love I have for my chosen homeland bubbles up and exploded out of me in an expletive laden rant as I traversed through the mighty Waikato on our way to the Bay of Plenty for a rhythmic gymnastics competition that Stephanie-Jane actually kicked some serious ass in. Coming up over the saddle between the Hauraki plains and BOP sent me raging loudly with such colourful collogues as:
“Jesus Mary AND Joseph Daniel and Steph, just look at those HILLS! They don’t even look real. That hurts my brain. How are we so blessed to live here? OMG! OMG! OMG! Do you see the light beams bouncing off the forest over there? LOOK AT YOUR BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY! LOOK AT IT!”
My enthusiasm is always met with utterly unrelated observations about brain hemispheres, grave social injustices, or, sometimes dark jokes about ennui and depression from Daniel. Steph is more prone to shrill yelling, because she pretty much yells at the top of her lungs when she wants a thing, until she gets the thing, then simmers down until a wave of desire for the next thing takes hold and the yelling resumes.
Luckily, this bullshit behaviour is reserved only for me. They don’t even pull out the big guns of assholedness I have been privy to this weekend for their dear old dad. They save it for me, I am assuming, as a punishment for the vast swathes of time I spend abroad, and a clear reminder that they do indeed, Love me dearly, and my own eccentricities have not gone unobserved; rather clearly noted and expertly simulated with sardonic stealth. These kids are comic geniuses with very different schticks. They are also unafraid to speak freely of their fears and feelings, no matter how fucked up either of these things may be at any given time.
Now, don’t even get me started on my kids’ friends. They are all kinds of clever and quirky and fantastic. There’s something about being the mom who simply does not give a fuck what other people think or say that has earned me a firm foothold of trust and tenderness in the hearts of all of the kids chosen tribes. Well, we’ve kinda established that Daniel pretty much doesn’t have any friends except for Ben (the incredibly detail oriented, and perhaps slightly OCD tour guide who joined us on Daniel’s 14thbirthday trip to Japan) because he’s pretty much only ever had room for one friend at a time for as long as any of us can remember. Steph, on the other hand, has several gaggles of gregarious and gloriously giggly guys and gals. Mostly gals to be fair. Her social circle is vast and varied and she hangs with creative kids who now reside around the planet. Her two major social circles in New Zealand are her Gym girls and her Junior High posse of perfectly pained pre-teens. These girls are shoveling all kinds of shit and insecurities, while Steph wafts wanton through her weeks, shrieking at me and me only when she neeeeeeds something to happen. I adore her very loud friends. They are all taller than me, they are all very clear on the fact they will always have a home and a hug with the super weird West clan. They remind me in many ways of my own group of friends, only far more vanilla. None of the kids nor their social circles have any interest in veering very far off the tracks. They are drug and alcohol free, do not drink coffee and only “spill tea” (this is what their ritual of spilling secrets and sharing their deepest fears and problems among a safe and secure circle). I Love each of these kids like they were family, and for most intents and purposes, they actually are family. We have found each other in a crazy world, and I suspect I will support and cherish them all in one way or another for as long as I breathe.
Then, there are my kids friend’s parents. Love, respect and earnest strain and parenting pain bind us together. There’s no need for anyone in the world to know what troubles these kids are facing, nor the lengths their legendary parents go to protecting and guiding the greatness that is contained in their offspring. But we share our struggles openly, honestly, and without judgement. I suspect the reason my kids’ parents confide in me so readily, is that I am so open with being a complete fuck up a lot of the time. We are all doing our best, with unique and challenging children. Some of them are feisty, some shy, some angry, some have a tendency to lie. But they are all actually really great kids, and not raging too far in the face of social conventions or norms, rather, they are all kids with convictions, unafraid to disagree with the world, their parents, or society. They even have the ability to respectfully stand up to one another, which, at this stage of development is very rare indeed, as this is the stage in our lives when friends and social acceptance are the holy grail of existence. They’re a good bunch. I just hope that their disinterest in all the trappings and poor choices presented through peer pressure continues.
I may be downplaying some of the heavy shit we have been through together over the years. My kids are far from perfect. My eldest son is a proper pessimist, daughter is a diva, and my baby boy Jamie has absolutely no ability to use an inside voice in any situation. He’s possibly the cutest and cuddliest human I have ever met though. This kid will rage at you for a solid 30-40 seconds when he’s overtired or hangry, and then come bounding up into your arms apologizing for his mean words and expounding his undying adoration for his less than perfect parent (that includes his other mum and dad, the Nanny Lou and her husband Mike).
So, tomorrow I am off again on an epic road trip with two of my goddesses across the country finalizing the details for an international EV extravaganza in November.
Three more nights away from my babies, and home for two nights, then down to Wellington with my magnificent ex-husband Phteven. This time next year, I have every intention of taking my children out of school for a semester and settling for a month in each of their favourite cities, and just being their mother and writing every day.
I’ve landed back in the lap of luxury as I do every time I pass through LA. Dear friends for nearly a decade, Cat and Dan, who we met while they were more or less honeymooning some years ago, have been my hosts here in the city of angels on virtually every occasion I have blown through town.
Cat does not mince words and is a smart a whip and has a heart the size of a planet and skills of observation to match her almost limitless concern for her nearest and dearest. She’s been a great source of strength and advice over the years, and pulls no punches when discussing the realities of dating in this digital age.
Snuggled up in my big princess bed, while they are busying themselves with dinner plans and organizing our day out in Hollywood tomorrow, I realised, for the first time in three years, that I want to bring someone with me on a future visit. I realised, that despite having an extensive dating network of solid, healthy, happy and fulfilling relationships around the globe, I am actually far more suited to traditional monogamy. I have played the field, and today, in Sherman Oaks California, I have decided quite seriously, that I might just be played out.
I can’t put my finger on why some of my romantic pairings work an absolute treat, and others are fleeting or never even get momentum out of the gate. And then, others are just unmitigated DISASTERS! Oof, I have some regrets, not many, but they are there and I grit my teeth and clench my jaw just wondering why and how I could be so stupid! For the most part though, I have had a chance to feel Loved, appreciated, occasionally objectified (and reciprocated in kind), and almost always respected. Not feeling respected is quite the worst feeling. Not feeling understood is also a bit shit. I know I have also been quite cruel in my dealings with some people, and careless with others’ hearts on occasion. I send mixed signals, am incredibly flippant, and unreliable at best. But I am earnest. And I have Love and friendship and honesty to burn. And burn through it I do, with reckless abandon and my whole heart and occasionally body as well.
So the plan is to nurture a small number of relationships I have on the go at home while actively on the search for something substantial. I don’t expect this search to be simple or straightforward. I am quite convinced I do not yet know the future Mr. West. While I do not discount the idea of a female life partner, I think the chances are heavily weighted toward a quiet and patient man being my next penguin. Extroverts need not apply.
I have made hundreds of matches over the last three years. And I am worn out. Very few connections have been disastrous, and my rules are simple: Must be kind, smart, and supremely single. It is not that I have any moral objection to people with open marriages or whatever, it is just that there is absolutely no reason to further complicate my own life, when there are clearly a suprluss of singles and separated folks floating through life, and in the perfect age for me right now too (40-50). Why would anyone bother with more complications than already exist in the minefield that is Romance in the late 2010’s?
So I have had this chat with three of my not boyfriends this morning. I’ve spent the last few years living a series of harlequin romances with people I have grown to Love and trust very much. It is always a huge honour when people take time off work and fly over to meet me or book us a lovely hotel somewhere. I feel free and grown up and enjoy the adult company and conversation very much.
But I want what I once had, and I want it to be an even richer and more fulfilling relationship, considering age and experience. I’ve clearly identified what I need and want and the richness I now know offer as a potential partner. I felt like a trophy wife too often in my now defunct marriage. I crave a relationship where I am part of a team, and seen internally and externally as an equal. Cheerleading and championing friends and Loved ones is second nature to me, but I want to hunker down and have my family (mixed or extended if that’s what happens) charging forth into an impactful and rewarding future or adventures and activism together. I’m not holding out for a hero, I am my own fucking hero thank you very fucking much. I am holding out for an equal. Someone who absolutely understands that I am a hot mess and Loves and respects me enough to hold me accountable, and genuinely celebrates my strengths, and I do the same in return.
There is a strange kind of loneliness that comes when you are rarely alone I think. I get to laugh and adventure and share magical moments more in a year than I had suspected I could or would ever be privy to in a decade. When I was a miserable and lonely child in Tomahawk Alberta, the idea of being a waitress or hostess at some family restaurant in California was as romantic and crazy a notion then as owning a sprawling penthouse in Manhattan is for me today. But I like my life right now. I truly do. It has been eye opening and I know me so much better than I did three years ago. And I know that I am “fucking hard work at times (exact words from several partners…)” and carry a lot of baggage. But I do not begrudge the same in other people at all. I am ready to get my hands dirty trying to build a new life. Although, I am in no rush to get started, as I do feel it will be a long and arduous journey finding my next (and hopefully last) soulmate and partner in life and Love.
I remember the way my husband used to look at me, like perhaps I was magic or maybe I even hung the moon itself with my swift, tiny little hands. There are moments of the same magic with many of the men I have been dating. I need to put it to the universe that I am ready for my next one and only, as I suspect the search could take years, even once I have firmly decided that this is what I seek and want.
So, for today, I will hang out with my dear friends and we will dine out at some impossible to get into trendy LA assault on the senses, and I will be left dizzy and grateful for the glow of our friendship. I want someone to share it all with me again one day. I talk to my ex every single day, and we have had some of the most beautiful memories and forged a life that flies thousands of feet above both of our wildest imaginings. But that life was then, and we are not going to get it back. Nor, do either of us want it. I do want to feel that magic and safety and coupledom again. I guess I will keep you posted, and hopefully be able to see and snuggle a few of my favourite partners before I am shipped out for good again. But who knows what tomorrow brings I suppose. And I have absolutely no strategy or timeline for the search and journey I think I am finally ready to be on.
Well I do LOVE a good conference. I nipped out of the Oxford EV summit a bit before the end, as I am jetlagged and needed some alone time. Alone time does not last long for me. I only lasted a few moments with my headphones on, trying to keep myself to myself, then I joined a table of locals and kicked off a round of 20 questions (anyone who knows me has probably been subjected to this ice-breaker on absolute steroids, at some point in our relationship).
What a great couple of days though! There was a stellar line up speakers and delegates. Feather in my cap was getting an interview with the CEO of Mahindra. A spectacularly humble and gentile man named Mahesh and his incredible, approachable, warm, and intelligent assistant Ronak. Blown. Away. I may have scared them both a bit with my gushy enthusiasm. Then this morning I was honoured with the presence of the event coordinator Ade. An incredibly understated and buttoned up fellow, who actually didn’t seem even remotely scared of me. I think the fact his dear friend and colleague James spent an entire Saturday with my batshit crazy self in NZ, and even got to meet several of my friends that day, meant he was briefed on what to expect. Luckily, my reputation often proceeds me, and that helps save me the trouble of explaining that I have no filter, suffer no fools, take no prisoners, and swear like a sailor. Oh, and I am definitely a hugger. I always ask first, but odds are, I will hug you. It is what I do. I didn’t hug the Mahindra guys though. I have no idea why that would have been weird, but it totally would have, and the thought didn’t even cross my mind at the time, I was just star struck beyond belief. Really humble, and incredibly cool cats across the whole show. I’m quite decidedly smitten with Oxford now.
I am so fucking content right now. Tired. A bit frazzled because I’ve had to bounce out of what was shaping up to be a very rewarding collaboration, as only a few weeks in, all we seemed to do is fight. I like a good fair fight, but not if nothing ever seems to get resolved. So, I guess I will never successfully navigate a relationship with anyone equally as passionate or feisty as myself. Romantically, professionally, socially, or generally. It is just too much to have two incredibly intense people vying for… whatever it is, they are vying for I guess. Luckily, almost nobody is as feisty or intense as I am, so I have high hopes for the majority of my future dealings with humanity.
A consistent barrage of compliments and new friends and feeling incredibly connected to total strangers has been good medicine for a failed friendship. This is my last world tour this year. Someone may need to actually tether me to New Zealand or put a shock collar on me that is activated around a 5km radius perimeter of the airport. My Love of travel, and people, and strangers, and new friends, and new places, and seeing old friends and sneaking in a bit of romance (I am looking AH-mazing right now, and I am off the hook excited to be catching up with someone who is absolutely generous with their capacity appreciate that for a few days up in Scotland. YAY!).
I feel quite decidedly wonderful in my own skin right now. And there’s something absolutely contagious about my joy and contentment. I’ve gamified smiling at and connecting with strangers. I give myself 10 points for eye contact and a shared smile, 50 for giving a sincere compliment to a complete stranger, 100 for a conversations that lasts long enough to introduce them to my blogs or podcasts, and 100 points for a new LinkedIn connection. I’m clocking up well into the thousands of points well before noon lately. I am on FIRE!
If I had a ten-pound note for every time I have heard “you really aren’t like anyone I have ever met” or “my you really are something!” in the last four days, well, I’d be able to finance an entire formula-E team with some change left over I suspect. I’m walking on air, and clearly and completely in my element bopping around the globe, basically locked in some Disney-esque musical scene of sorts as I blow through people’s lives like a hurricane of hope, noise, and happy.
Why to great mood? Why am I grinning like an idiot and making friends literally everywhere I go? How can anyone be so cheerful the face of what was unanimously agreed is a total cluster fuck that is the very real climate crisis?
I don’t know. I suspect I’ve farewelled the final few fucks I gave about convention or pleasing people, and I now feel absolutely and inextricably linked to the ground swell of activists and agitators I am lucky enough to rub shoulders with.
There’s something incredibly empowering about coming to terms with the severity of the situation. I met an insurance assessor big wig on my flight over, I have forgotten his name, as I have met literally hundreds of people since heading on my way from Auckland only a few short days ago. He was a very nice fellow though. Has a couple of young kids and a beautiful wife he dotes on them all. Good, wholesome, funny, family man. He was actually irritatingly likeable. I asked him quite directly what it felt like to be at the helm of an industry that is almost certainly on the brink of collapse thanks to the fucking mess humanity made. We laughed and laughed. He did not deny or downplay the acuteness of the problems we are facing. He was also very schooled in serious social injustices taking place across the ditch from our beautiful island nation of Aotearoa, in the “lucky country” Australia. There is some dark shit going down there these days, as we bask in the warm glow of a tolerant, warm, and wonderful leader and a HUGE surge in sustainability and resilience planning in New Zealand. Why did we both resort humour (dark as it was) instead of mournful shaking of our heads, wringing of our hands, and tut tut noises and sighs? We belly laughed all the way to baggage claim instead. I am wondering if perhaps I have finally gone completely around the bend, or maybe laughter really is the best medicine right now?
The world is a hot mess. Literally, and figuratively. This shit is getting real. I liken it to the way the surrealness of the Holocaust, and how it affected funny, dynamic, divine human beings came to life for me while I read Anne Frank’s diary. The human face on the global situation is the anxiety and panic attacks of most of my peers when we do the numbers and realise where we are headed. People are already being affected. We already have climate change refugees. Food security and economic collapse seem possible, perhaps probable, at this point. I have no idea what we are going to do. I feel absolutely honoured to be able to stand on the shoulders of giants who are going down scratching and biting alongside me.
So, my highly hypocritical and hyper wee self will jump onto a plane in the morning and pop over to NYC. I can’t say what part of this trip I am most excited about! Presenting at the city council to let them know what is going on in NZ, joining the consummate goddess Suki (who hosted a women’s retreat in the Dominican Republic alongside her dear friend Joanna earlier this year) at her event on the 1st, going to the suburbs with my host and friend Mark to meet his feisty mom, actually attending one of the Gaaaaayyyys in Spaaaaaace events, or seeing any number of my friends and heroes that are based in this magical city. I will be on a rooftop, walk barefoot through the grass in central park and hug the stuffing out of several dozen people.
Every moment seems to be a gift right now. I have no time to dwell on the antics of self-sabotaging dipshits that I have to deal with. Everything is magical, and I am noticing and embracing moments more than I think I ever have in my life before.
My right-hand goddess is smashing it like a total baller back home at the helm, and my kids and husband, ex husband? The kids and Phteven, are never far from my thoughts and I am missing them all more than I can remember ever missing them when I am globe-trotting. They’re also all happier than they have been in a long while lately. There’s a light that has descended on us, and I can’t place my finger on what lit it, but I am thoroughly enjoying the warm glow.
I am not happy that we are staring down the barrel of a loaded gun right now. I am not overly hopeful for humanity, yet there’s something I have to call cosmic stirring. We are going to be okay if we take care of each other and we plan and we ready ourselves. I don’t know what okay looks like, but there is a calm that has settled as we steel ourselves in readiness for a very uncertain future.
And in the meantime, before shit gets real, I hope I get a chance to laugh with you IRL soon.
Accountability. It can make us feel very fragile sometimes.
We are all shovelling shit, we are all battling demons, we are all trying to get through and find our place and our purpose. Some people seem to have a kind of calm corrective way about them, and actively exhibit empathy alongside self-awareness. These sorts of people are my heroes and my chosen tribe. Not that there isn’t a place for the vast and varied masses who have a harder time dining with their own demons, or holding others accountable with grace.
It is probably useful to say, even the people we admire, Love, respect and trust the most are still going to hurt or disappoint us, and we them. Every one of us has their own faults and foibles. I like faults and foibles. The tapestries of tragedy and triumph that ties us each to our own trajectories is not only fascinating, it is a source of comfort and connection. It is wonderful to know that we are not alone, and it is calming and connecting to share our demons in a safe and secure scenario over a hot cup of tea or a tipple or three.
I ran into a friend of mine a few weeks back and the brief but beautiful catch up stuck with me. She has a PhD, is inarguably goddess and consummate performing introvert. She gets shade and even solid hate from countless sources and sticks to her (well aligned to my own) convictions. One of her very reasonable responses to hate is to be heavy on the block buttons across social media. She’s has battened down the hatches in her personal life and keeps her most sacred inner circle to only 5 trusted humans. That’s not to say she is dismissive or avoids others. She always greets me with a knowing eye roll and sigh as we are often two very busy women whose ships pass in airports and random tech events. There’s a shared understanding between us (and many of the other goddesses in my world) that we both haul around a hefty suitcase full of imposters syndrome and personal anguish that we shove down daily and keep carrying on with our Vaseline stage grins and public personalities. Respect and affection for this woman run deep, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t on occasion been stone cold envious of her and had to check that shit at the door. She is smarter, more educated, far more graceful, and I have to say undeniably more beautiful than I, but she is her and I am me, and we are both creatures of kindness and integrity. The few times the green eyed monster bites me in the ass regarding her have made me feel like absolute shit, and the genuine joy I feel when I see her shine (as she does with alarming regularity) eclipses my insecure and envious demon in short order.
Wait. That story applies to more than one of the wonderful women I have seen in the weeks that have passed. The constant stream of goddesses who cross my path and sit down for a coffee or a wine with me has been the foundation and strength that’s put my broken back together this year. So, if you’ve taken the time to talk to me online or IRL lately, please know how much it means and how much I appreciate it.
This long winded introduction is leading me to a subject that I’m trying to broach in today’s meanderings.
Accountability. Yeah, it can and does make us fragile. But it is a source of so much strength and respect as well.
Let’s first substantiate a truth that we all have to face and embrace at some point in our lives:
Life is messy and magical. Amazingly beautiful moments come and go, and pain and grief that are one moment unimaginable come to us all. Juggling family, friends, careers and passions invite chaos and confrontation as well as strength and satisfaction.
We often do not have control over what happens to us, and we do not have control over what other’s think, feel or say. The only thing we control is how we respond. Responding with passive aggression or contempt can be a knee-jerk reaction. Taking a breath and reacting with kindness and empathy can take more self-control and thoughtfulness than we can muster at times. We’d all benefit if we truly understood that when you throw mud you’re the one losing ground, or that hurt people are the people who hurt people, or kindness needs to be out go-to because other’s are quite likely fighting a hard battle we know nothing about. Maintaining a moral high ground when faced with bullishness or biting may feel like a hollow defeat when you are in a position of power or feel an urge to “teach someone a lesson” but I assure you, in the long run, not being a jerk pays off.
You have control of you.
The law of attraction and the basic rules of energy and the universe mean we are all held accountable for our reactions, whether we own this or not.
This week, I have been put firmly and fairly in my place by a dozen dear friends for passive aggression, mixed messages, or just being bossy or scrappy. The most confronting, and then rewarding example of this was when I got all salty at a very dear and incredibly esteemed friend for leaving me hanging halfway through a conversation with him on DM. There are three very real reasons I was confronted by this is abysmal behaviour:
I do that to people ALL the FREAKING TIME without thinking. It is a combination of being busy, easily distracted, and undeniably self-absorbed.
He’s never been anything but honest, helpful, and kind to me. Salty at times, yes, but definitely well earned on my part. I can be a royal and needy pain in most people’s ass at times.
Instead of Occam’s razor (the simplest explanation – like maybe he got busy doing something) was totally ignored and I jumped straight to a dozen utterly ridiculous conclusions.
Turned out he was bedside with a friend in hospital. So, basically, in this particular case, I was being a complete asshole. The reason this is relevant is the way he handled it. Every time I have been a royal bitch or blown things out of proportion he’s reined me in with kindness and held me absolutely accountable for my behavior, no matter how embarrassed I am, and trust me when I say I am well versed in the language of shame. He asks why I did the thing I did. He asks what emotion was behind it. He demands a sincere and thoughtful apology and then we talk about how and why I am going to behave differently in the future. I was given the opportunity to step up as a friend and put together as small but incredibly witty and thoughtful care package that included: mixed nuts (because I can be super nutty) and salted dark chocolate (because he was quite rightly salty at me. He received my gift and apology with grace and now I have an opportunity to prove to this person who I admire and respect dearly that I can think before I blow up and let insecurity and fear steer me. I still feel sheepish, but I also want to react to everyone who treats me with respect and kindness, as firmly and fairly as he has done with me. This is the same person who suggested I curb the swearing a bit as my words and narratives “paint a masterpiece” and then, when I drop a C-bomb into the mix I “splash white paint all over the canvas”.
I’ve risen to giddy heights personally and professionally lately. The three kids who live with me are settled and secure and seem to be thriving between the expected earthquakes and outbursts associated with being cantankerous teenagers and a willful pre-schooler. Phteven (formerly Phteven my husband, currently Phteven my best friend and b’ness partner) seems to be happier than I have seen him in months, maybe years, and we are communicating and wishing for the absolute best for ourselves, our family, our business, and each other. I’m dating up a storm (although sadly not landing any keepers above those who have been dear to my heart for many months or years already) and feeling rather pretty witty and wise as a single and strong woman. And, probably, if not definitely, the most obvious cause for most of the magic I am basking in can be traced to one wonderful person.
I took on an EA named Hayley a few months ago. I saw her toiling and volunteering for countless events and organisations, while raising a young family and running a farm. She wasn’t looking for a job, but every time we talked I trusted and respected her more and more. I finally poached her from her busy schedule to support me a few short months ago. She made me sign NDAs and contracts and has proven herself to be capable, honest, kind, and a cheerleader and friend as dear to me as the people closest to me and who I have known for decades. Her acting as my gate keeper and guardian angel included an evening in Hamilton where we stopped for a drink with some old girlfriends, and the whole hipster bar was awash with males and very few women. She literally had her eye on every man in that place, and responded with care and a cold and knowing “I’ve got my eye on you guy!” look at anyone there who spent too long looking in my direction. She also culled a few of the less than perfect relationships I’ve been struggling with by simply stating “Dee darling, you simply don’t have time for that shit.”
So, all this care and concern, and the support to do more than I ever could on my own kind of got me feeling a bit more cocky than accountable. I need to own that, and be grateful for the gift of Hayley the guardian angel, rather than getting stompy and demanding at people I should be kind to. Everything takes some adjustment, and I need to adjust to this and let my humility return as it may have taken its leave lately.
None of us are perfect. But the tough stuff definitely gets easier when we are honest and accountable, to ourselves first, and to others as a result. Find friends who hold you to account with kindness. Know that you are going to do shitty things from time to time and don’t be afraid to dine with the demons that steered you in a dark direction. If you choose to remain ignorant or deny your bad decisions, you’re destined to repeat less than ideal behaviours. If you explore the pain or the impetus behind being an asshole from time to time, you might be able to slay the beast that brought you to that behaviour. The really great bit about that kind of accountability, is that embracing and facing the darkness makes it more rewarding to appreciate and own the genuine rays of light you are responsible for too. You can do this without ego or arrogance, and it feels awfully good when you do. As it should.