Memories After A Month

Wedding Photos Have ARRIVED! This Blog will have a smattering of Sarah’s moments and I will take a selection of Dick’s (that is my bestie Richard BTW, get your mind out the gutter and rest on the sidewalk my beloved reader!) pics and share them farther down in the post or later today.

Our talented photographers Richard (Often shortened to the name Dick in ye olden days) and Sarah actually paid their own way to our wedding AND did the photography AND helped and calmed and cheered and were basically. generally and completely amazing.

Not a huuuuge number of pics of Richard and Sarah as they were on the other side of the lens. Here’s one with both of them tho! And my cutie 🥰 husband too

To say we are grateful to them for their talent, efforts, presence, joy, and friendship seems decidedly feeble, as they managed the kids and my bride-zilla ass with grace and proficiency.  I was pretty stressed out at the time, and perhaps even wondering if getting married a second time was the right choice.  

You know what, it totally was.  My husband is a doting, smitten, adoring, vulnerable, loveable goofball who knew exactly what he was signing up for and has never doubted our union or our purpose led pathway for a moment.  We both shifted our whole lives and prioritized our relationship as the defining force, particularly since the onset of the pandemic.  

I am not accustomed to feeling like I am enough.  Neither of us are used to the extreme ease that sets the tone for most of our days together.  But here we are.  Married just a smidge over a month now.  But, oh my, we fought a lot that first week.  We’ve found a calm reconciliation and I am pleased to report we are quite genuinely and generally blissed out newlyweds just living our lives and toiling away at tasks counting moments until we are reunited at the end of the working day.

We took stock of what has happened in the month since we married, and the list is actually awesome.  If we had not been the ones doing the doing of the things that have been done, I’d scarcely believe it were possible.  But together we have navigated a behemoth to-do list.  He’s started a full-time role so I am placed (reluctantly) as the primary farm focused force in our marriage for the next few months.

I will write more about all of that later, but now, I just wanted to look back on a truly magical and wonderful wedding day and share some of Dick’s pics and Sarah’s Magical Moments.

Thank You My Stormy Weather Friends!

Must start by telling you that, although it seems like there’s been a lot to complain about, the passion and conviction that started us off on the farm and eco-tourism project has grown, not shrunk, through the stormy winter squalls and serious infrastructure issues of the winter of 2022.

Thank you everyone who is following the journey, thank you most of all to those who have taken the time to call, write, comment and share their experiences. BIGGEST shoutout to the friends and contractors who have hustled to keep us moving forward and fixed things for us in this appalling weather!

Top pic and this taken about 24 hours apart… it’s a mess!

Is it wet? Yes.  Is clean up going to be shockingly expensive and hard fought?  Absolutely!  Are we the only people shoveling mud and muck and soaking to the bone? Not a chance.  

Across the country roads are closed, hillsides have slipped and chaos and crud is being spread all over our beautiful landscapes.  We are all being bombarded with wetter, dryer, hotter, colder, and generally crazier weather.  Nothing feels more important, fulfilling, or urgent than getting ready for the shitstorm that climate change has already placed on all our doorsteps.

I am not a doomsday prepper or anything.  The motivation for moving slowly but steadily toward a zero waste, hyper local, and self-sufficient life is anchored in self-interest and personal evolution, but it also gives me a connection with new communities, as well as nurturing my healthy and productive friendships as we struggle through self-reflection, evolving, radical accountability, and STILL being pelted with new and exciting challenges, struggles and adventures.

Also, I am decidedly shit at walking the talk of many or most of the honourable and important endeavours I mentioned earlier. I have a Zero Waste kit in the car and I often/always fucking forget to bring it in with me so still end up getting too many take-away containers and adding to my reusable bag collection, which is MASSIVE. Tote life episode of We Bear Bears springs to mind…

The point though, is that I am trying.  I have an earnest and burning ambition to be self-sufficient and as close to carbon neutral or deficient in our footprint before this tumultuous decade is out.  This change for me is incremental and I am reminded DAILY that many/most of my friends, mentors and associates are better than I am at getting lots of shit done.  I am surrounded by vegans and off-grid or clean energy evangelists.  Everyone I know is better at something than me, and I do not begrudge or mind this at all, it is amazing to be lifted and Loved by champions of change and impactful advocates and activists.  

You know who you are.  I see you.  And I am so eternally grateful for you and your efforts and the support you give me and the Deemon vision.  

The fact is though, the more we learn and the harder we work, the more the universe is prone to step in to keep us humble and remind us that doing something is integral, but there’s always going to be more to do.

Doing nothing at all is simply not an option for myself or my peers in these uncertain years.  

We’ve sowed thousands of food, flower and native fauna seeds and the vast majority of that bounty has been eaten up by the beautiful birds and industrious possum population.  The pigs and goats have had a good go at fucking our shit up around the property too.  

Sigh.

So, that’s all for today. The wind is whipping around outside, the pool at the rental property is full of furniture and fronds from the nasty palm the landlords have refused to cut down, despite consistent requests from us and our beloved neighbours. It is cold, miserable and wet and will stay that way for a while.

We will do what we can to mitigate the mayhem and then we are running off to the South Island for five days of skiing, research and basking in the glow of being newlyweds.  We have rented a Model 3 from Go Rentals and have our zero-waste kit packed and prepped!

We will need to plant and plan a lot of regenerative improvements to off-set the travel we have already enjoyed, but I am dedicated to facing that realistically, honestly and transparently.

Won’t be catching up with anyone from the community this mini-break as Damon and I need to just be a couple and hunker down in our own company for five days, but we Love, admire and appreciate you all sfm, and there will be more opportunities to connect and collaborate before the year is out I am sure.

Thanks for reading!  

XXOO

Dianna 

Secretive Success

Friday evening our neighbours invited us over for nibbles and a few drinks. Love them. We don’t agree on everything but they’re just fabulous and I always enjoy time spent with them. It was sort of meant to be our farewell shindig, as we have had a less than stellar situation with the rental property we’ve inhabited in Pt. Chevalier since November last year. There was a massive kerfuffle and we were epically let down by the person we trusted to house-sit and feed our beloved cats, and that meant we secured a new rental in St. Mary’s Bay, only to find out that we would not be let out of this lease without huge penalties.

What an unwelcome clusterfuck it all turned out to be.

But it’s all been a learning curve and helped this former hurricane to evolve even farther into a much quieter powerhouse indeed.

Upshot of these shenanigans is, we will be moving out in November, and that gives us plenty of time to seek out a much better situation and pack and plan rather than rushing to get out in under a fortnight. I’ll chalk that up as a win. Kids are happy to stay settled until the spring, and we actually adore the street and neighourhood. So, we’re pleased to be next to a handful of lovely human’s we’ve been honoured to get to know for a bit longer as well. We really do like our neighbours, the quirky bunch that they are.

Being at the mercy of the rental market has been shit though. We are in a very fortuitous situation and can reasonably manage high rent and flexible terms. So few people are in the same situation, and the bullshit we’ve had to deal with as tenants has shone a light on the fear I am feeling for most people here in Aotearoa and around the world as we move into extreme financial, social, geopolitical and climate crisis uncertainty.

Is it my place to be freaking out for humanity? Who knows.

Fact is, I’ve always had a bit of a messiah complex. Always thought that it’s my job, duty or calling to help and defend people and causes who pique my empathy or concern. My tactics have changed, but the sentiment and sincerity remain.

Old me would rush into battle and defend and offend with reckless abandon. I’d go for a scorched earth approach to negotiating if I was adequately convinced enough that I was fighting on the side of the “good guys” or defending person or cause I deemed worthy.

Not these days though.

Now, I really just want to be left the fuck alone for the most part. I can still shake my fists and plan for campaigns to back any of my many beloved causes. From equality to the climate. From SQUEEZING THE FUCKING TOOTHPASTE AT THE BOTTOM NOT THE MIDDLE FFS! to correct installation of the toilet paper roll. I fight my battles in private for the most part. I am incredibly picky about who is allowed near me, how I spend my time and what, where, when and how I engage with the world.

Years ago, I measured success by social media clicks, likes and engagement or clocking up meetings, networking and just generally putting myself anywhere and everywhere for attention and to champion my agendas. I grieve for the girl who broke herself into little pieces fighting uphill battles and being sabotaged and scarred by people who ought to have been supportive, or at the very least not assholes in response to the support and trust she so freely gave them. She craved so much validation, but the secret to a safer kind of success was in her the whole time:

You can’t control the world around you. You can only hope to control how you handle what happens.

I still have a plethora of feathers in my social, personal, professional and proverbial cap and you can mark my words I have plans to keep fighting for the things I Love and believe in.

Now, however, I just don’t give a fuck who knows what I am up to or what they think about me or my efforts. The right people arrive and stay. The wrong people tend to fuck off or fade away.

The secret to both my happiness and success these days is really just that I now don’t mind keeping the vast majority of what we are up to a bit of a secret. The people who need to know and are involved in any of our projects are kept abreast of situations, and I can share and amplify truths and experiences as much or as little as I choose.

Never felt so safe or been so happy in my life. Hope someone who has been burdened with pathological people-pleasing or suffering from crisis fatigue reads this and decides to enjoy some secretive success and a bit of rest.

That’s all I have to say today.

XXOO

The Hero’s Journey… Week Two of Creative-hub Shortcourse

I’ve enrolled in a creative writing short course.  For years I have effusively written and shared experiences and my struggle with mental health and just generally juggling the nuances of life, Love, family, friends and career.  After promising my closest friends (most notably my former and future husbands Steve and Damon) I decided to take some affirmative action, and try to polish this shiny little creative diamond that’s been forged under the pressure of years of being an over-sharing hot mess hurricane.  

I like to write.  

That isn’t to say I think I am particularly good at it, and my raging ADHD means I rarely finish or effectively form or edit pieces or projects.  Really, I’d rather just spew words and then press the share button on my WordPress page.  It’s clearly very self-indulgent and inarguably therapeutic.  Not necessarily inspiring or impressive, but it’s something meaningful to me and the handful of readers who take the time to read my clumsy, roaming ramblings.

Strangely, over the years, the word that seems to come up most often when someone reads my meanderings is “brave” and I find that lovely but strange.  The core interesting theme worth mentioning about this class, is that we are focused on writing “the hero’s journey”.  That’s rather lovely isn’t it.  I’ve said countless times that we all have to be our own fucking hero.  We are so inescapably the hero (or villain) in our own story, and now I am charged with the privilege of creating a fictional journey that I may or may not share with the world. 

Eek.

Sharing as I’ve done to date doesn’t feel brave.  Living is brave.  Being alive and not becoming bitter feels brave.  I know so many who succeed at this harrowing expedition of existence, and I have met so many cowardly, mean-spirited, villains who do not contribute to the rich tapestry of existence, but rather take advantage and feel entitled and always have excuses and rarely do anything meaningful or bold. So, the gift of being let down, thrown under busses, lied to, lied about, and brutally betrayed by people I thought I could trust has given me what other’s call courage.

I don’t think it is courage, think at this stage it’s just numbness and nobody can kick me while I am down, because, quite frankly, I just no longer give a fuck.  Maybe marrying a man who was once an ordained monk has giving me a sense of cheerful nihilism.  I am aware, sharing my vulnerability and experiences may be ammunition for evil or insecure dipshits who have an axe to grind concerning me specifically, or perhaps just generally.  That’s about them, and their decision to be tragic and contemptable characters in my story or their own doesn’t actually have much to do with me.  More the pity for them as my character arc has landed me these past couple of years in a kind of happily-ever-after cocoon. The safety of where I dwell daily was built in response to my many failed attempts to help or be a lightning rod of hope or change, or to behave in ways that I thought were kind or heroic.  

Now in midlife, my journey to this point ended in exhaustion, but I’ve been blessed and feel so honoured to have completed countless doomed quests and misadventures. I’ve ditched my messiah complex and feel just fucking fine most of the time.  And when things get scary or my trauma/PTSD sneaks up and bites me I can hunker down in my burrito/cocoon safe in the knowledge the feeling will pass and I’ll be able to get back on track.  There’s nothing epic or superhuman about my character arc these days.  It’s been an honour to share it with people though.

I don’t have so much to say or write about since my nervouse breakdown and the reboot that occurred as a result.  Truth is, not much happens because I actively live a life of calm reflection and I vigilantly avoid chaos and drama.  Some people might disagree, but it’s all relative.  

I’ve chosen this existence after a long and agonizing journey on a path of naivete, ridiculous generosity, and a tedious tendency toward self-destruction.  Living a life that was at times exciting and enlightening, but I wouldn’t say brave, has been a privilege and I don’t want to go back to being cringe-inducing OTT and over-doing everything and ever-egging every batter.  Sharing with people what a dipshit I can be is part of my attempt at always trying to be a bit better, while clearly knowing I’ll never actually have my shit together.  Just doing my best with the limited time I have on this earth.  This simplicity is just one of countless examples of what is called the hero’s journey.  We all get to (and actually have to) be the hero or the tragedy in our own story.  If we overcome and grow, it is a triumph and a story worth sharing.  If we learn nothing and play the victim and do not embrace opportunities to change or evolve, we are living a tragedy.  Both outcomes are useful.  One is inspiring and the other serves as a warning.  

You still with me?

So.  Second week and the very first exercise has very nearly broken me.  Loving it.  It’s dangerous and terrifying and I don’t even have to get out of my pyjammas to feel confronted and conflicted and alive.  I am comfortable feeling uncomfortable and this certainly delivers that sensation.

This “hero” is still (and quite frequently) in pyjamas… but I’m facing the abyss and ready to write.

I’ve had no problem putting myself in the line of fire on stages, social or traditional media, or just living my life out loud and in people’s face.  I flew and fell and failed and thrived so many times and in so many ways and it landed me in a serene state of regeneration and recovery.  I was missing something though, and I’m fucking terrified of the task at hand.

All I have to do is write and re-write an opening scene to a story I never thought I would write.  Following instructions from our tutor (who I sincerely suspect finds me insufferable and obnoxious… which is not only fair but accurate) as authentically as I can.  Rather than doing that, I decided to crawl over here to my blog and bitch and moan and procrastinate a little rather than just doing the work.  Doing stuff is scary.  Avoiding stuff is scarier.  I’m drifting between both and adequately mastering neither.

The hero’s journey begins with a single step, and for some reason that first fucking step feels like it’s going to fling me into an abyss and I may never land anywhere meaningful.

Sharing my actual life was easy. and empowering and owning my dipshittery was freeing. Writing a story is going to require a bunch of courage, creativity and conviction that I’m not yet certain I possess.

Guess I’ll post this and go work on my assignment and time will tell eh.

Thanks for reading.  

XXOO

Cold Feet, Warm Heart, Hot Head…

Love is a powerful, complicated, magical, mystical, terrifying force.  To Love and be Loved requires equal doses of strength and vulnerability unlike any other exchange or adventure we embark on in this life.  The Love we did not receive as children and the Love that broke our hearts as we progressed wending our way down the paths of puberty, coming of age and so on as we change and grow, will be for each of us in our turn the yoke that shapes how we give and receive Love… it all affects how we view, crave, and behave in the face of romance, passion our pain defines how and when and for whom we yearn.

It is a magical clusterfuck indeed.

Love will kick your ass, break you into bits when it changes, shifts, evoloves, walks out on you or ends.  That same force, from a different source can stitch you back together so you can face the world again.

Some people guard their hearts and their emotions and vehemently avoid connection and the sting of rejection.  Others toss themselves willy-nilly into and out of flings or relationships searching for something that may be staring them squarely in the eye, too close or at a distance, but they are so distracted it never quite comes into focus.

A shitty, lonely, traumatic childhood left me beautifully broken and my strategy for filling up the empty was to Love the absolute shit out of every-fucking-thing-all-the-fucking-time… then bolt.  I see magic and beauty in everyone because I was told in countless words and actions that I was broken and a burden and destined for failure. Well, that was all clearly untrue and I never want anyone to feel the way I did so I lift people up and cheer for others to the point it is almost pathological.

People who were brave enough to believe in me at my lowest moments paved a path for an incredibly successful adventure. Being told I was a failure regardless of what I did or do or am, made me both fearless and constantly afraid. Being shit on by people I ought to have been able to rely on made me want to be a force for good and help myself and others to get better not bitter in the process. This doesn’t always work out, but I’ll keep on trying.

My first husband often says I give people whiplash.  That’s actually quite fair and reasonable as an analogy.  With me, it is all on and I am all in and obsessed with people for a hot fucking minute, and just as quickly and completely disappear, sometimes never to be seen or heard from again. For years.  Or weeks.  Or forever.  Or whatever.  I am not an easy person to Love, or understand and I am a bit full on for most people.  A default of being told, shown and repeatedly treated like I was unloved and unloveable, meant a lot of craving attention and validation which is EXHAUSTING and can be very dangerous to myself and others.

When I married Grumpy Phteven I really did believe/want/hope it would not end.  But it did.  And I stayed well past it’s use by date.  But now that all of that pain, grief and drama is behind us, I cherish our friendship, our history, and the bond we share after creating four fantastically difficult and delightful humans.  I Love him.  That is forever, and not a day goes by that both of us don’t breath a sigh of relief that our marriage is over and our friendship remains.

At some point, arguably before I was quite ready and definitely after I was absolutely certain I’d one day like to actually be in a relationship, an aloof goof/spunky monk (who I definitely manifested one evening while talking to my dear friend Wiebe) arrived and was brave enough to accept the challenge of embarking on a relationship with me.

Nearly three years later we are weeks away from a wedding in Rarotonga.  In typical Dee-saster management style I freaked out, and suggested I don’t want to buy into “heteronormative and misogynistic paradigms designed to keep weird witchy women like me gagged and invisible” and I called off the wedding.  Thankfully, former husband assured future husband that it would be best by far to ignore my need to napalm things, and wait it out.  

Damon has been all in since the beginning of our romance.  He has offered support, Love, patience, and kindness like I have never known.  The fact he is a tall, good looking, successful white man – is not something in his control.  The damage done by men to myself and women I admire was not at his hand, and he is, was and will always be an ally and force for equality, and a voice that amplifies the success and strength of the women in his world.  I fell in Love with these things, and I trust him completely, but I remain triggered and traumantised and working through so many issues.  This recovery and facing my anger and disappointment is a journey I will be on for the rest of my time on this earth.  

When the dust settled and after a bottle of Lothlorien feijoa wine and several songs were shared with no power or Internet connection up at the farm, I rescinded my stupid suggestion and we reconnected as the vulnerable, fearful, fierce lovers and friends we have become and are destined to be.

Damon has reminded me countless times that I did not mis-represent the challenges he’d face falling in Love with a free-spirited wild thing.  He is just as quick to speak words of gratitude for the calm and kindness that rule most of our days and decisions.  We are a team and together we are building a safe and welcoming place for people and nature to thrive and revive.  And we are facing our fears, demons and insecurities together as the dream comes closer into focus and our relationship blossoms.  

So, in a few weeks, on a beach by a lagoon on a tropical paradise, surrounded by some of our most cherished friends and family, we will embark on a great adventure together. Not to fix anything, not to prove anything, not to change anything, but to draw a line in the proverbial sand and create a life together. We will continue our trajectory with a common goal to lift each other up and be the best versions of ourselves together and as individuals, facing in the same direction and moving ahead together.

Cold feet are okay.  But his warm heart keeps my hot head accountable.  In the timelessly cheesy words of 70’s songsters Crosby, Stills and Nash:  We are one person, we are two alone, we are three together and for each other.  And we are going to do great things and make magic. 

Thank you for joining us on the journey.

I wish you so much Love.

Thanks for reading.

Getting Ready to Roar

I carry in me a pulsing orb of grief and rage that has been fed for decades. This hot, aching, ball of energy sits in my gut and is fed a feast every time some dipshit talks down to, mansplains, talks over, gaslights, deflects their own responsibilities, bullies, or takes credit for any women’s work or her ideas. Suffice to say there is ample fuel to feed this unwanted but continually fortified flame, and it is nourished further when I hear stories of my female or female/feminine identifying friends getting fucked over or made to feel small. This feeling is the furnace that makes sure I champion and cheer on the feminine forces in my life, and amplify and celebrate their success while quietly cradling their fears and insecurities privately while we talk together safely about such things.

I am struggling with a lot internally and universally lately.  The fear and confusion caused by the pandemic seems to have, in far too many ways,  given a voice to the scary far right angry and controlling aspect of humanity who have somehow successfully taken away women’s right to safe medical procedures to terminate unplanned and even medically unviable pregnancies.  I can’t even fathom how already marginalized women in the increasingly Gilead-esque landscape of some parts of the USA are faring in these strange and uneasy and genuinely scary times.  Canada is (thankfully) issuing a political/medical refugee visa for women who need a safe medical procedure to terminate a pregnancy.  But what will happen to some girl raped in a slum somewhere who does not have any hope of accessing such help?  These changes, that carry on removing all care and responsibility from the male and place the burden, blame and responsibility on women seem to me to be a direct attack on women, and the poor and vulnerable most severely.  

Let’s bring this down a couple notches and lighten it up at the end for anyone who has stuck with me thus far. We will go down and get back up by the end of this brain dump. That’s the plan. Join me to see how it pans out won’t you!

I spend almost half my life now on a farm away from people and totally off-grid.  

Outdoor bath 🛁 on crisp autumn night…. Good for the soul.

I threw myself into so many causes, and was kicked so squarely in the teeth, and thrown under so many busses by far too many people who ought to have been kind to me, that now I am scared and tired and grieving for the optimistic Dee I once was.  No pity party required though, I suspect I am genuinely happier, healthier and more blissed out and full of gratitude and hope than any of the cowardly pathetic bullies who hurt me. Not sure if that is called Karma, or just cause and effect. But I am happier than the busy old me ever could have imagined up here healing and licking my wounds. Everyone deserves a chance to heal and reinvent. I am not the first nor will I be the last to do so.

The world’s full of beautiful, wonderful, kind people of course, but it is also full of opportunistic bullies and mean, insecure, power-hungry narcissists and sociopaths.  These are just facts.  I was never much good at spotting assholes before they could do damage, but I am incredibly good at cutting them out once they have. I used to trust everyone. Don’t do that. It’s a terrible strategy. So now I fight my battles planting things, vetting anyone keen to get anywhere near me or my tribe of trusted friends, and nourishing myself and nature far away from spotlights, stages and microphones.  This will change and I will roar again when I am ready.  For now, I am safe and watching the world and planning my strategy to re-emerge.  

On the farm, we have a slow and unreliable satellite internet connection, not dissimilar to a mid-range dial-up connection in the late 90’s.  We don’t have any streaming services here so we watch DVDs and since we’ve chowed down on every single episode of Colombo multiple times, we have switched over to watching Quantum Leap.  

It would not be inaccurate to say that at least some part of my morality was shaped by Star Trek (STNG specifically), Quantum Leap and Jem and the Holograms. All of these Television programs had strong female characters. Star Trek and Quantum Leap also embraced cultural and intergalactic species tolerance, curiosity and respect. Jem was painfully white with a few token diverse characters. Gotta find those DVDs so I can refresh my memories.

I digress… Where was I?

Oh yes.

Quantum Leap had an episode in the final season where Dr. Beckett leaped into his great grandfather, a Yankee Captain who (according to the episode) assisted the great grandfather of Martin Luther King jr. as a conductor on the underground railway freeing slaves and helping them find safe passage to Canada prior to the Emancipation Proclamation being issued by President Lincoln.  His great grandmother was a fierce, feisty Southern Belle who had seen her farm looted and her first husband killed in Virginia.  She inherently knew what was right, and identified slavery as an abomination.  She could not believe the idea that blacks and women would both have the right to vote one day, as the world she lived in did not give any indication that such equality would or could be possible.

Civil war/underground railway episode
This ☝️ gave me nightmares for years… episode about the KKK

So here is what I am saying.

Humanity has been faced with shoveling shit since we first found how to control fire or write on cave walls.  There have been shifts in power, privilege, and oppression back on forth and up and down and all over the place.  

Now is not the time to bury our heads or let bullshit, fear and some noisy minority farther marginalize anyone who isn’t born into their club or carrying a Y chromosome silence us. Now is the time for us to stand in unyielding solidarity against misogyny, racism, greed, fear and ignorance. Now is the time to build up and help out and remind every goddess in your life that she is a powerful and important force to you and in this world.

Now is the time that we women and allies of women all get ready to roar.

Thanks for reading.  Love from my hurty heart up here on the farm. 

XXOO

Damon Lost and Found

My fiancé, friend, foreman and formidable force for good Damon is an incredibly cuddly character.  He’s more a night owl while I am inaruably an early bird to bed and to rise.  So with him being the snuggler that he is I sometimes wake up feeling like the Velveteen Rabbit from the beloved Hans Christian Anderson Tale.  Over the last few years Damon and squeezed and hugged me most evenings, and his Love has healed a very sad and tired wee Dee.  Not that I wasn’t real before his arrival.  I’d been poked and stoked until all that was left was smoke there was no more fire (thank you Martha Wainwright for the feminist anthem).

Interestingly, I get genuinely annoyed when people say that Damon has “made you so happy Dee!” because I worked long and hard and stared down my demons and shadow self then changed my destructive ways (many of them at any rate) and grew my very own fucking happiness.  Damon is his own human as am I, and we are each responsible for our own happiness.  Still, despite being annoyed at the insinuation it was him who made me the happier, healthier old witch I am becoming, it is worth paying tribute to the fact that we do indeed make a pretty good team.  

We’ve had a few days up at the farm together with plenty of work and play woven into the narrative.  We’ve become very fond of a couple I social poached at my BFF Emily’s birthday party just over a year ago now.  We are on a similar journey, as they have taken on a bunch of property projects and are battling ginger with the same level of exasperation as we are feeling with our plethora of pampas.  We went out for dinner Saturday and lost track of Damon who we sent on an errand, as I had the keys in my bag and he locked his phone in the car and a three hour kerfuffle ensued.  Strangely, it was an incredibly important turning point and reminder of how dedicated I am to the aloof goof/spunky monk.  He was unsurprisingly salty by the time his son’s girlfriend Olive rescued him from his several mile hike heading home to the farm, and we had a long and emotional chat about our relationship that reminded us both how lucky we are to have found each other, and we have since spent the remainder of our time here on the farm stopping every few minutes to say thank you to the other for the life we are carving out.  

We really do feel like the lucky ones.  The vast majority of our days are spent content and satisfied and feeling overwhelmingly blessed to have found each other and managed to stay together through the very rocky start I put us both through.

Now we are living the dream, and building a long and intergenerational legacy and rarely (if ever) need step foot into stuffy offices or attend endless meetings.  We have charged headlong into a slower, steadier pace and completely removed ourselves from corporate ladders and the rat race.

And we are moving ahead shoulder to shoulder with new and old friends who watch with wonder and encourage us to succeed.  Our friends Mel and Simon could have (and many would have) been scared off by out dramatic Saturday adventures, including me quaffing too much rose and singing national anthems very loudly as we taxied back up the hill to the farm after abandoning the foot search for Damon and returning to find the phone I had left up the hill on the kitchen bench.  My phone is equipped with a “find my Damon” feature.

And after a hectic and exhausting few hours, I did indeed find my Damon.  And I realised that I am keen to keep him and him above any other with all my happy hobbit heart.

Have a great day, thank you for reading.

XXOO

Degrees of Despair – Be Designed for Creation

While I am stressed struggling with a now shoestring budget to complete an ambitious outreach project to further our regenerative narrative, friends in Ukraine are burying civilians and posting pictures of corpses with their hands tied behind their backs.  M posted images of Bucha, the valley of bodies on her story the same way I share pictures of flowers, kids, frogs and banana plants.

Four years ago almost exactly, I was eating and drinking with her and a handful of my new friends at the Avere conference hosted by my now dear friend, the eternally kind and delightfully quirky D.  Today M is on the front lines fighting like a warrior goddess to defend and protect her way of life and her people.  D is determined to continue his work to protect nature and encourage electrification and I am buoyed (if not continually worried) by them and the news that they share.

Meanwhile, a mentor of many years and a very powerful and well-travelled man has taken the time to write to me and suggest that history is about to repeat and a war that affects the entire planet looms as a palpable possibility.  I know this, but hearing it from someone so wise and often so accurate in his take on the state of humanity is a source of worry for my mostly calm but still cluttered mind.

This weekend, as I was charging my little rental LEAF at the Warkworth New World ChargeNet charger, there was a woman ahead of me who had to put back some eggs, tomato sauce and butter after stretching her payment across coins and two cards to try and get her fucking groceries.   Obviously I paid for the items she put back and ran out to give them to her.  It was about ten bucks which means nothing to me and was the difference between having eggs and butter to her.  When I handed them to her, sad, soulful, beautiful brown eyes that looked a bit like mine got misty, and all I could do was grasp her shoulder and smile through my mask.  She said “bless you” and I wanted so much to hug her like in the days before covid when we could still do that.  Poverty is an actual fucking problem here in Aotearoa and it is getting worse as the rich get richer and the poor get shit on and exploited.  So many people do not know what it is like to struggle and labeling people as “lazy” or “bludgers” and living large in four bedroom houses bought before the housing crisis makes me want to fucking throw shit through windows, but I never would and I never will, as that is destruction and I am designed for creation.  

So what is my reaction to all of this?  How does a soft hearted eccentric like myself deal with degrees of despair and imminent fear of looming GFC or depression and the most  profound possibility of nuclear disaster or global war in my lifetime?

Apparently I write.  As I am doing now.  To affirm my freedom and control over my own heart and mind, and to flex our connection to each other.  I write in the hope that regardless of the position of the people who own the eyes that will scroll through this blog know that we are all on this planet today together.  We are both still here, and we (probably) both still crave peace and prosperity, not just for ourselves, but for everyone. It is my hope and belief that we both still envisage a future where the planet and people can and do live in harmony with each other and nature.  Even through this incredibly trying and exhausting time, I still believe that greed, hubris and fear don’t define or control us.

And I will keep building a place where people can go to regenerate and connect.  I will keep digging holes and planting seeds and battling what seems to be an impossible mountain of possums and pampas grass to give a small plot of land a fighting chance to thrive as a safe and secure place for birds and bees and plants and trees that are being pushed to the brink of extinction by monoculture, short sightedness, pollution and stupidity.

Every kg of carbon not put into the air.  Every seed planted.  Every good decision to help and not harm keeps us moving forward.  We can all affect the world around us by giving a fuck.  We can do good things and the ripples of those actions carry on infinitely and derail the trajectory of evil and destruction.  Even the fact I can still share this and you can still read it means all is not yet lost so we must keep going, and keep striving for a better, safer, kinder world together.

And if even one other person stumbles across this and is given that little scrap of energy to just keep going, fanning the fire of their own kindness and hope, then there are seeds being planted and they will grow.

I’m scared and tired.  But my feet are firmly planted in the soil and ready to see things grow.  I do not exist to contribute to destruction I am here to nurture and heal and there will be so much demand for that in the time ahead.  So I’d better just keep my head down and be the change I want to see and do the best that I can with what I know, and when I know better, and when there is more resource and scope and opportunity to do better, you better fucking believe I’ll answer that call.

Until then.

Be safe.  

Thanks for reading.

Simply The Best, Birchfield and West

Knocked out this blog on the flight from Auckland to Christchurch

While I am not entirely certain how it came about, it has turned out that I have the world’s best former and future husbands.  Currently sandwiched comfortably between my first and second marriage, I have not yet officially filed the divorce papers with Phteven and the wedding between myself and my beloved aloof goof has been rescheduled several times thanks to covid.  So we’ve settled on an island elopement in July with all of our 7 children (plus a Phteve and his partner Michelle) in tow.

Through this journey, I’ve met dozens of people going through less than blissful emancipations from marriages and relationships that have come to an end.  Seeing this time and again, I was compelled to start a group/community/tribe which has not yet found footing on solid ground or a clear direction, but has a working title of “Heartache and Cheesecake”. Why? Because there is always a plethora of pain and comfort food in the most difficult stages of any significant uncoupling or change.  

So far, this entity serves as a sporadic but safe place for women navigating change to come together and be supported by other warrior women with a variety of skills and experiences to share.  This has all happened with the support and blessing of both husband units, and one or the other of them has suggested friends or acquaintances they have met or know who may benefit from access to the group.  Pretty rare and wonderful having a couple of cool af allies tying up the past present and future in a safe and fulfilling package for myself and some lovely women we know.  I can’t imagine how I’d feel or if I’d be able to cope without the love, support and daily contact with both of these integral forces supporting me and telling me to stfu when I spiral on a less than useful trajectory.

Why was I compelled to write this blog today I wonder?  Well… I am sat next to Damon flying down to the deep South for a week of work, research, forest bathing, and serious snuggling.  We cherish our time together sans children, and find the safest way to protect our space and time together is to actually get the fuck out of town so the kids can’t find us. We adore our many MANY babies but they are safe in the care of our former partners for a fortnight about and when we are in the same city they always do seem to find ways to arrive back to our new family home in Pt. Chevalier.  

Youngest kids jumped out of the pool to enjoy vegan dinner made by future husband for the whole fam and former husband… pretty sweet gig really.

A phone call to my ex, overheard by my fabulous (and very patient) fiancé ensued while we quaffed our coffees in the Koru lounge.  “Remember that the neighbours left us a bunch of feijoa that San won’t be able to eat so help yourself, and grab the mangos and some snacks for the kids lunches from the fridge too.”  I chirped at my former husband and forever best friend.  We also discussed board papers, business and I filled him in on the tent project being slightly over-budget but well in hand.  He took the time to admit he’s proud of the work we have done on the farm.  His lack of grace and gratitude when we were married was the final blow that ended our rather epic romance, so you gotta find it a bit funny that he’s so at ease showing appreciation from a safe distance now.  I suspect I may have his new partner to thank for that to some extent.  I wasn’t always a huge fan of hers, but she really has been very good for him, too good perhaps!  

So where was I?  What was I getting at?

Not sure actually, so I guess that’s it. Maybe I’m just expressing a quiet moment of gratitude that at least in my immediate family circle, I’ve found a place where there is far more cheesecake, than heartache.

That’s my blog.  

Have a great day.

Thanks for reading. 

The Power of Positively Not Liking People

Dame Helen Mirren has been recorded saying some solid stuff over the decades. One of my favourite quotes is:

“At 70 years old if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words “fuck off” much more frequenly.” – Dame Helen Mirren

Yup.  Felt that.

Stumbled across the quote in my late 30’s and it pops to mind a lot as I am rolling contentedly down the slope of the final half of my life on this planet.  There’s so much power in each of us, and it is actually a sign of respect for you and others to occasionally, and with conviction and respect say and feel that you simply do not like certain people.

It is three days until Christmas as I write this blog. I’ve had a magical month of martinis (in moderation) and mild mayhem with my magnificent friends and some colleagues I had a chance to chat with and get to know a bit better.  

I have also been forced to come face to face with a few people I simply cannot stand.  One or two of them attempted to speak to me and their efforts were met with a stony gaze, curled upper lip and a clear and concise:  “Yeah, so just don’t try to speak to me.  I don’t like you.”  or similar words to that effect.  I do not wish them ill, I do not hate them, I do not care enough to hate them, I simply lost respect or interest in them because of various basic behaviours that clearly put them in the camp of cowardly, greedy, boring or bullshit.  None of which I will tolerate in my autumn years.  I know too many amazing, complicated, and deeply interesting people to pretend to be able to tolerate those who have fallen out of favour with me.  

As my very calm and diplomatic fiancé often says:  “Nobody will ever die wondering what you think about them or anything else at least!”

I think that’s a pretty great way to live.  Clearly and intentionally.  We don’t need to be bitchy or rude to people on our shit list, and I genuinely still find myself actively celebrating wins and learnings that people I can’t tolerate enjoy.  I may even reach out with a message when something cool happens to them, as an olive branch or, in some cases, just to freak them out a bit because I know they’re s bit scared of me.  Don’t judge.  We all have a cheeky side, mine may just be a bit more overt than most.  You don’t have to do things the same way but I am taking the pains to write this article today to encourage you to consider how much easier it is for everyone if you give yourself permission to not like everyone. 

The people we actively choose to surround ourselves with define us.  I hypothesize that we are equally shaped and defined by the people we distance ourselves from.  Most people are fascinating and I find magic in nearly everyone I have met.  Some people’s paths are just paved with too much obsequiousness, social climbing, selfishness or general stupidity for me to want to step in time with them even for a moment.  

If you get too wrapped up in people you don’t like, or wish anyone harm or hurt because they’ve let you down or damaged you in some way, you’re the one that will suffer.  So I’d like to openly and actively suggest we all avoid stewing or festering, and opt instead to smile (or grimace) and say “sorry you don’t get to be anywhere near my shiny, shiny magic and we both know why that is” you’ve done them and yourself a huge favour.  You’ve let go of bitterness and you can drink the sweet nectar of knowing that you have clear boundaries and will not tolerate BS.  Good people respond to this and slimy sycophants stop swarming around when you employ this strategy.  Let go and wish no person harm, as when we hold a grudge too tight it is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will suffer.  Let it go and let them know. It feels really good and takes most people by surprise.  

That’s it.  Short and sharp.  

And oh my goodness I am looking forward to seeing more of the people I Love and respect in the year ahead.  Had to call time on socializing for a bit as I am peopled out after our 107 days in lockdown, followed by full on socialising, but can’t wait to get back out and about seeing all you shiny, shiny, wonderful humans.

Thanks for reading!