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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Joy is great. Sometimes it eludes us as we overthink it or we put far too much pressure on ourselves and others around our expectations and the pursuit of joy. Simple joys and lifelong passions are born and built when we don’t overthink things or try to be who we are not I feel.
We all react differently to different things. Some people love a good roller coaster some people would consider it torture. Damon loves the beach and could spend all day there, while I love a swim but the annoyance of sand everywhere after a frolic in the waves means I avoid the beach and tend to opt for forest bathing instead. My daughter loves crafting and crocheting while paying attention to painstakingly detailed patterns. The idea of following instructions for fun is laughable to me. Laughable, actually even thinking about it kinda stresses me out. Equally annoyed/stressed by sodoku, lists, or re-organising a linen cupboard. All of which are things that I know for a FACT bring people I know and Love joy. Weirdos. Just saying.
The point I am trying to make is that we are all unique beings. My idea of heaven on earth and the happiest place I can think of is actually a Star Trek cruise. Surrounded by fun, quirky, kind, and often traumatized (through bullying and harrowing life experiences) neuro diverse people like me. It is the only week on earth I feel genuinely free to be myself without judgement and find almost everyone else on the ship fascinating and fabulous. A Star Trek convention would probably be perceived as punishment to many of my neuro typical friends.
Finding what sparks our joy doesn’t have to be an exhaustive search. Really embracing things that excites you, despite whether or not other people think it is cool or worthwhile is a step toward holistically living your best life. If you like plants and gardening, every time you engage in these activities or actively seek communities who share your passion is building you a narrative and creating a community for you to find and feel joy and belonging.
Conversely, if you are forever finding reasons not to pursue and embrace the things that you actually like, because you are too busy doing the things you think you should, your soul starts to shrivel up like a prune. You don’t need to be a prune you are way better off being shiny and sparkly and satisfied instead of trudging through daily grinds doing things because you think you should, rather than enjoying the magic you could if you got really brave and honest.
Today’s blog I am gonna give us both some homework. Pop on a timer and brain storm a list of things that actually spark joy in you and write down as many as you can think of in two minutes.
Ready… steady… GO!
Here’s my list:
My asshole cat with three legs who never catches any birds and I worship even though he is… well, an asshole. His beautiful sweet tabby brother brings me joy too.
Geeking out over soil health, EV, and clean tech advances and finding amazing plants and animals thriving on the farm where we are blessed to be Kaitiaki
Having a good sweary rant with my goddesses about the state of the world. We talk about ideas and plan world domination rather than get weighed down just gossiping about boring people and talking about boring things
Nature … just a huge fan of soil and birdsong and this week I am OBSESSED with the baby bananas we have planted.
NOT dealing with emotional/social/general vampires
Alone time with the spunky monk
Hiding from society for days on end and turning off all my devices and embracing a digital detox
Memes that Jane/Debs/Ben and others post. So good.
Kay that was a little over two minutes… But actively writing down a few things that fill me with joy was helpful as a kinda gratitude journal exercise, but also has me thinking about hundreds of other little things that bring me huge joy. Laughing in the kitchen with the kids. Deep chats with Stephanie and feeling so proud of the fierce and funny goddess she is. Hugs. Oof I do LOVE hugs, only from my inner circle though clearly.
So the next step on this homework assignment for both of us is this.
Just make sure you engage in something that brings you joy. I’ve already patted my asshole cat, am currently writing, and have actively shut down an interaction with a dipshit dunning krugered up dork who thinks he’s far cooler than he actually is. Feels good to walk away from dipshits. I know not everyone can, and we all have to deal with some vampires in life. I’ve also scrolled a little bit and lolled at some memes. Tonight I will enjoy dinner at harbourside restaurant with my beloved future husband and spunky monk and keep my phone in my purse the whole time… unless I look fire… then all y’all are getting a cute pic on the Instagram cause sometimes that sparks joy too.
We’ve just joined the throngs of people who are catching up socially in outdoor situations. Guess we have been allowed to meet up in outdoor settings for a few weeks now, but aside from work and our already existing bubbles we kinda opted out of that scene until this week. Lately, being chill and mostly content with the tiny life I’m building with the spunky monk and our increasingly independent tribe of progeny, keeping mostly to ourselves suits my journey and keeps the PTSD and ADHD more-or-less in check. I still suffer from terrible anxiety and cycles of self-doubt and even self-loathing that can spiral out of control so I keep my circle small and only allow safe and lovely people near me. It is a strategy I strongly recommend! You’ll need to deal with assholes and toxic types from time to time as they still exist, but in your time and in your space, being incredibly selective and demanding respect, honesty, joy, and encouragement is a winning strategy.
Here’s what I think. Mindset and morality are essentially contagious. If you hang out with angry, mean, judgemental, greedy, scared people that behaviour will be normalized. You will be susceptible to catching it. If you hang out with joyful, interesting, quirky, kind, and hopeful people, well their light will brighten the shininess of those things inside you. Seriously. We become who we surround ourselves with. I choose to be surrounded with superstars and will suffer no fools or two-faced self-serving shenanigans. I tolerated that shit in the past, but my huge heart and shiny, happy, generous soul are far too wonderful a resource to be squandered on shitheads. Same goes for you. You will have your own magic and there’s always good bits and bad bits fighting it out in each of us, but trust me, you deserve shiny not shitty people. Being that energy is how you attract it too. It’s like an infinite loop of shiny. Don’t get trapped in an infinite loop of shitty.
Saying all that, we still have to deal with strangers and meet new people. Sometimes that’s cool, sometimes it is a challenge. How we react when we are challenged says a lot about us and changes the energy of that situation and countless ripples of situations that are affected by us in that moment.
Let me try to explain, using an example from last night.
We have been trying to catch up with our beloved friends for months and months. Lockdowns and chaos often intercepted our plans countless times, but last night, although we were running late, we finally managed to lock in a BBQ with this beloved family who have over the years become very close to us.
We were going to make dessert for the dinner, but work on the farm kept us much busier this week than we’d anticipated, so we rushed to New World and bought frozen desserts and then planned on grabbing a nice drop of wine at the bottle shop just around the corner and on the way to our friends home.
We unplugged the car and Damon parked up and I rushed into the store. I was reminded at the door to scan in (something I am usually epically good at remembering) and I rushed around and grabbed a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and a really decent bottle of Central Otago Pinot.
Got the the checkout, and the very young clerk asked me for ID. At first I laughed. But he was quite serious.
Flustered, I pulled my mask down really quickly and said: “Oh that’s incredibly nice of you, but I am 43 see” and put it back in place. He didn’t budge. I said the ID was in the car, as I only rushed in with my phone. He politely said I had to get it.
I mumbled “Oh FFS!” and rushed out to grab my purse.
Damon and the kids laughed their asses off for a minute or two, and for some reason that still escapes me, nobody passed me my purse with my ID. Instead, Damon huffed in half chuckling half annoyed with his wallet in hand.
In the end, the clerk refused to serve him as well, and we rushed off empty handed and relayed the story to our hosts who thought the whole thing was quite a compliment and probably owing in no small part to the little house on the prairie pigtails I was wearing that evening.
So here’s the rub of the story I am trying to convey in today’s blog.
Being ID’d at the age of 43 is a huge compliment, but I kinda felt it was quite genuinely absurd too. How many underage people pull up in a Tesla to buy a $60 bottle of wine on a Wednesday evening I thought. Truth is, I am used to getting my way and being treated really well in most situations. I am a spoiled, powerful, wealthy, occasionally whingeing white woman. And both Damon and I were less than awesome in this situation. I could have/should have calmly collected my ID as he asked but the whole situation was just so surreal, and we were in a rush so it played out with almost Cohen Brother movie absurdity instead of just being simply resolved.
This kid was following procedure and actually doing a pretty great job in what I am assuming could be a stressful customer service role. But it all happened so fast and both Damon and I acted without grace but I look at it as a learning exercise.
I could choose to leave a terrible review or never return to that store. Or I can think about how the kid trying to serve us might see the situation. I could have been upset and stomped around and let the whole situation ruin my evening, or I could do what I did and tell the story (with my kids and fiancé as witnesses) and then carry on with a truly magical evening filled with great conversation and huge belly laughs with some of my beloved sparkly people.
I chose the sparkle.
Today as I reflect on the situation, I think I may even put a good google review up stating how professional and polite the clerk was.
So that’s my blog. Crazy wonderful evening, punctuated by a strange but interesting learning event and an opportunity for me to reflect on the kind of person I am and want to be.
Now I will be heading out to run errands and have to deal with many more strangers, and I just hope that I manage to be sparkly not shitty in each and every one of these opportunities today.
And gosh I am grateful for our gorgeous friends. The laughter and hospitality last night has left me almost stunned by how blessed I feel to have such special people in our circle.
Hope I soon get to see more of my favourite sparkly people too.
Current situation here = surviving way more than thriving. Normally I relish a good lockdown. This time I am among the throngs of “languishers”. It is less than fantastic.
So a while back I walked away from the hurricane pace and futile and incessant race toward external validation to try to calm the neglected and traumatised child in me. Well, since my massive mega mic drop I have found peace and comfort. Unmedicated, and unincumbered by the unrelenting and absolute dread and self-loathing that used to guide my crazy ass into battle or into a bottle, I can sit and just be. Often feeling so incredibly blessed far more than stressed. It no longer hurts to breathe. Most of the time I can rationally face many or most challenges. Lockdowns were for the most part like a wonderful warm hug that allowed me more time with my fiancé, kids and cats. The bubble was safe not constricting as I had nowhere else I’d rather be…
This round not so blissful.
I am agitated, touchy, uncertain and feeling helpless in my safe cushy bubble while people I Love and respect or hustling through some pretty spicy struggles. I feel trapped. I feel nervous. It’s probably all very useful to be feeling these feelings as many or most people were wading through them in previous lockdowns and redundancy rounds while they were trying to remain upright on very shaky ground. This is a bit of an exercise in empathy.
(you knew that was coming, seriously, you must have)
However, and this may just be the algorithm change in my social media feeds, however this round I have been absolutely impressed and ignited by the people I know who are bravely setting course on their quest toward boundaries, self-care, and good mental health.
Being on the journey doesn’t mean everything is going to be great all the time just because you make better choices and do the work. There’s still some absolutely harrowing and undeniably shitty stints, shaky feelings and crying in your burrito blanket bits. Life’s meant to hurt. We are supposed to feel really big feelings sometimes those really big feelings are out of our control like grief, anxiety, or the recently identified reaction of so many of us to this jarring lockdown… languishing.
So here’s something I have noticed in the last year or two. There are some fierce fucking humans taking a super raw and real look at themselves and their mental health, and facing their demons and trauma head on. I cannot overstate how terrifyingly vulnerable taking these first steps can be for any and all of us.
The absolute and unadulterated clusterfuckery that has been crescendo-ing and crashing around us has affected everyone differently.
This blog is a blatant bellow, a serious shout out, a veritable and vociferous vocalisation, and an unabashed acknowledgment of the kick-assedness of you being on your journey and getting messy and honest and being exceptionally brave and yelling:
What, the actual fuck. I DESERVE MORE THAN THIS!!!
And then getting out there and making changes and taking chances and doing the shit they were scared to do. Some of the changes were forced on my fabulous friends, some of them they took the leap of their own volition. Some things worked out. Some things fell flat. Every single person that springs to mind and was the motivation for today’s sweary chronical from my cranium is still struggling through, the main difference is that they are now doing it on their terms not someone else’s. They are setting boundaries, letting go, holding on, loving, leaping, learning, and yes… sometimes just languishing. But wow seeing them bravely stand up and be counted has filled up my cup so it is so fucking full it overflows.
I may need to tone my enthusiasm down in some cases.
Many… many… MANY of my tribe are going through separations or divorces. This is a testing time for relationships, and some just broke under the weight of lockdowns and so much uncertainty. Strangely, the first half a dozen or so my response was:
“Oh, I am so sorry. Are you okay?”
But after navigating my own Dee-lightful (and often difficult and undeniably harrowing and loooooong and drawn out) divorce my response has actually changed to:
Weird right? Or maybe not. Divorce sucks. It brings up a level of grief matched only by losing someone or something that is truly cherished and beloved. Even if things were shit, a marriage or union is a living breathing force that was nurtured by the participants over a long period and through unimaginable obstacles and challenges. Putting that entity to rest is going to smart.
I got sidetracked.
Listen, I hope you stumble across this blog, and I hope you know that it is you am talking to.
Life is fucking weird.
You are doing really great.
Okay…. That’s my sweary blog.
Much Love to you wherever you are at on your journey or in your relationships, romances, personal or professional life right now. There’s gonna be shit bits. But you have got this.
I met Damon nearly a decade ago although our paths crossed only briefly and irregularly for most of those years. Usually we’ve met at sustainability events of one sort or another at which we seem to have a bit of a history of publicly debating with one another.
One of our first such “debates” occurred at a conference at AUT. We were listening to a woman from one of NZ’s largest fisheries presenting on her organisation’s efforts to become sustainable and Damon asked about the overall sustainability of the entire fishing industry.
It was a fair question, but my concern went to the speaker, as much as his was with the ocean and sea life. That’s where the issues of social and environmental justice intersect – women have had to fight so hard to be heard and seen so I tend to take their side no matter what!
I have a fierce loyalty to women doing the best they can with what they have and you will see me standing up for friends or even foes many times again before my final breath. I often have to stand up for people and I rarely shy away from doing so and I’d like to think others would do the same for me when it’s their turn to be brave.
I will have friends backs and fronts and I will also tell people plainly if I do not like them and why – even though that’s not the kiwi way though I understand my candour can be considered obnoxious. I prefer that to being passive aggressive. Ask me one day how many fucks I give about the people I offend or scare through authenticity or bravery and I’m sure you can guess the answer. So many more things to concern ourselves with in these crazy times. Bruising the odd ego doesn’t make that list.
Speaking of other more important issues, say for example bullying and poverty, I remember driving with some associates to a vegan fundraising dinner to kick off a food poverty awareness initiative some years ago now.
All those in attendance were there to commit to a campaign to live on a three dollar a day budget for an entire month. That challenge forever changed the way I looked at food security and the social and psychological impacts of being hungry. I remember being so grumpy and hungry toward the end of the challenge having to live on oats, kiwifruit, and very little else.
That short time was my turn to walk a month in the shoes of the roughly one in five of the people in Aotearoa that live under the poverty line. This was my turn to be hungry and feel the ripples of sadness and insecurity that thrived in the dusty soil of that hunger and hopelessness. It was my turn to feel that way and fuck it opened my white privileged eyes wide and in short order. Opinions on health and obesity were turned on their head and I still think about that time a lot. Poverty is a prison without bars and society makes it nearly fucking impossible to break free. I don’t personally have a strategy or the answers to change this, but I do know how easy my life has been financially and how rare that is and how most people in my position completely take it for granted.
It was a little look into a reality that makes me angry and sad and left me bereft of the ability to judge the diets of those on the bread line or marginalised without food security. For the first time in the just over thirty years on the planet I finally understood the incredible pull of fat and sugar to fill an ongoing and relentless void. It wasn’t just the food. It was the feeling. That feeling of empty and helpless that comes from being denied access to nutrition and variety and the joy that good food brings to me and most of my peers.
Anyway. That whole time that it was my turn to be hungry and dig deep into my undeniable and sporadically documented white privileged guilt was kicked off in the same room as a man who would several years later become my fiancé. How weird is that right?
On the way to the event one of the people who joined me that evening had a lengthy dialogue about Damon being “beautiful” and I do believe that was the night he was in my reckoning christened “the Kiwi Ken Doll of sustainability” in my mind and vernacular. I saved his number in my phone under that name as a bit of a joke. He had no idea. Our paths crossed soon after that event as he invited me to do a Pecha Kucha presentation on electrification of transport in Aotearoa. Anyway. It was a lovely event and evening although I actually didn’t talk to Damon at all that night. He was there with a large group of friends and colleagues looking aloof and stylish and adored. I was also still very married to my Phoulmate Phteven. It was not my turn to talk to Damon that night. But my turn would come.
As an aside, I feel it is worth mentioning because I LOVE this bit… Those two associates I attended the event with are both long gone from my life as they in turn proved to be truly horrid and/or spectacularly incompetent as friends, colleagues, and sadly just awful human beings. Sure they have their stories, we are all shoveling shit but they proved to be at best cowards and at worst petty, malicious, greedy and nasty. To them I was not a friend but a gravy train or a quick stop at a station as they manipulated and complained their way through life. They had their turn and plenty of time and countless chances to prove themselves to be decent or at least beautifully broken and fascinating. They failed on all counts in spectacular fashion.
I can handle just about any character flaws and do not shy away from complication or intensity in people. It’s an honour to have met and known so many souls for moments or for decades. I love people, the quirkier and more authentic the better, and so many have and will continue to offer colourful threads as my life’s tapestry continues to be woven. A smile grows steadily on my face and a sigh of relief escapes as I write this account of letting go of toxic people. I do not hate them. That would require effort. I just cherish the distance I now enjoy without them and many others who have been. I’ve gladly let go of a good many assholes, and sadly let go of some lovely people who simply were not meant to remain in my narrative or me in theirs over the years. Some I miss dearly, most I do not miss at all, or even think about unless I am recounting or recalling a story that brings one of those many closed chapters to mind.
Perhaps some of the people who have passed through our life and fallen are doing great things. I hope so. Truly, I generally and genuinely hope the absolute best for most everyone I meet. Awareness, growth, learning, laughter, Love. I wish these things even for… perhaps especially for those I have moved on from. Not those two though, they’re like wrinkly, officious, sad, insecure, mean versions of fairy tale ugly step-sisters and last I heard neither of them are particularly at ease or happy in Love or in life. I still hope things turn around for them, but it needs to be at a vast distance from me.
It is now my turn to have only healthy, honest and mutually respectful and encouraging relationships. Don’t get me wrong, we are all perfectly imperfect and in relationships, even healthy ones, we drop the ball and even argue at times. Conflict is okay and usually passes pretty quickly between the stoic sisterhood that remains in my world. But no more ugly step sister constant building them up and being let down and put down and treated like shit. That’s old me. It’s my turn to have boundaries, standards and respect. And I do. And it is fucking brilliant, even if it takes some effort and solid and earnest communication which can of course be staggered as I don’t really see people much these days…
We have our turns being villain, victor, victim and a vast variety of parts in our time and in our turn. I’ve moved rather far from the intended theme of this conversation. It has taken a typically tangential turn into something completely different than what I wanted to say when I started this outpouring of reminiscing and ranting as I so often do when my fingertips find their rhythm and the story takes on a life of its own.
What I wanted to say, was that after a decade of dancing around one another, Damon and I have now just spent two very intense and generally lovely and uplifting years together – it seems to be our turn to be happy.
Damon has also just changed his professional trajectory. He has said since the very first night we… erm… “hung out” that he felt a distinct and compelling urge to take a break and make some changes. Not because he was unhappy or unfulfilled or unwanted in his role. Nothing could be further from the truth. He has spent nearly seven years working solidly toward a spectacularly successful vision. His role as CEO at EcoMatters was an integral part of countless people’s lives in our sector and especially in the West of Auckland.
Damon led a talented, terrific and magically motley crew of passionate community and environmental champions to a place I can barely describe without tearing up a little. The culture of safety, inclusion, diversity, kindness, and hope that embraces you when you step over the threshold of the community centre is something so special I was honestly intimidated by it at first. After fits and starts and feeling like I might not be good enough for the “Kiwi Ken Doll of Sustainability” who was clearly a beloved and charismatic leader, I finally reached a place where I earned the trust and respect of most of his leadership team (I hope) and I relish any excuse to cross paths with them now. In just two more sleeps we will be at a farewell event for my beloved. None of the team wanted to see him go, but they love and respect him enough to know he’s due a little rest. He will keep his toe in the water and continue to contract to them while he takes a sabbatical and considers any number of the exciting options being made available to him as the market gets a whiff of the news he and his charisma and skillset are potentially available for hire. He can and will do whatever he wants, but first he needs a little rest.
He has juggled so very many balls for so very long. Not the least of which has been caring for my crazy ass through the second breakdown (that’s Dee’s Behemoth Breakdown V.2.0 for those paying attention to the sequence of events and titles they’ve been given).
He waited patiently for his turn and the right time to ask me out. He was brave. He was patient. He was calm. He was honest. He came to a couples therapy session with me two weeks into our relationship. He has been kind and generous and helpful to my family, and charming as fuck to my friends. And you know what… It is his turn to do whatever he needs to do right now.
It is my turn to be his calm and comfort. He is tired. He has run a personal and professional marathon as so many of us do and have. When it was my turn to take a break, the whole universe rose to the occasion and my once chaotic life was suddenly and serenely sized down. He kept calm and carried on for me and so many through countless personal and professional challenges. I have had nearly two years of regeneration and recovery and I had no idea how fucking far and firm I would eventually find my financial, physical, mental, emotional, and social shit coming together. My life is unrecognizable and the next chapter is so authentically and electrifyingly exciting I cannot wait to share our plans with you all. From high flying to low lying I am preparing for the most wonderful chapter of my incredible story so far.
So. Like you, I’ve had my turn as the supportive and the supported in many a relationship and many a dynamic.
After a strange but successful recovery from a long and painful descent into madness… it is now my turn to let my partner pick his pace. While I am well rested and ready to hit the starting blocks for our next project, he really does need some time before we kick off the next race.
And that’s what I was trying to say. It’s my turn to turn it up a bit while Damon takes a much needed and unbelievably well-deserved breath.
After being the Director, Editor, Executive Producer and Starring Role in my own painfully public nervous breakdown (and the sequel Dee’s Behemoth Breakdown V.2.0), I decided to (or was forced to) take a colossal amount of quiet time.
Nearly two years into meticulously observed and strictly imposed safety and warmth of the chrysalis that has been created for me to heal in, I have hit a wall. Upon reflection, on balance it has been, brilliant…
And doesn’t there always seem to be “however”. Many, perhaps most of life’s learnings seem to be wrapped in ribbons of “however” and the simplest and clearest accounts and content are actually sometimes the background and “however” is the subject.
So, life’s been safe and serene and simple for quite some time. Allowing assholes, agendas and vampires to steer my boat has all but ended. Assuaging guilt and shame by embracing some ridiculous messiah complex has taken a back seat to self-care and reflection. Busy has been bounced from the venue of my life and rather than a booze fueled rave or being securely strapped tight to a roller coaster I never really understood or felt in control of, I am recently feeling sorta stranded. It feels lately like an incredibly boring health and wellness retreat. Or a waiting room. With calming guided meditations and Enya music playing in the background.
I mean, booze fueled ranting and raving and manic screaming into the abyss while on some terrifying rollercoaster doesn’t interest me in the slightest… It didn’t even while that was the scene I manufactured. To be fair, I am plagued by the fallout from being on that wild ride for so long, but somehow I feel out of sorts and adrift.
There was a genuine comfort in being an oversharing hot mess. I felt comfortable in the role. Like I was meant to be the warning to others so they could watch from the safety of their vantage points and shake their heads think “whoa, at least I’m not quite as fucking out there as that Dee…” and save themselves some level of self-loathing as I’d busy myself rolling down the cliff of self-destruction. I felt seen. Terrified, vulnerable and lonely but also… helpful? Authentic? Sincere? Noticed.
After landing with a mighty thud (twice) at the bottom of that cliff and being safe in a proverbial padded suite in some metaphorical five star resort where my absolute cunt of a mother can’t derail me and people who have not proved their salt as steadfast and supportive friends aren’t even allowed access to the lobby has been pretty fucking sweet actually.
So why am I so angry? Why am I so sad? Not depressed… not stressed. Just… pissed off.
Here’s what I reckon triggered this.
Seemingly inconsequential teenage tantrum as I asked for a coffee (it wasn’t the coffee, it was grace I was pleading for)
Sharing a very sweet and uplifting memory from 9 years ago on a page I admin for that got virtually no traction, while the whole admin team has to manage trolls and flame wars on that same page daily… I mean honestly, WTF!
Limbo (waiting for things to be finalized and the future to start unfolding)
Hope being tested. The world is again (still) in a terrifying state of being simultaneously on fire and under water. Climate change deniers, anti-vaxers and lockdown protestors have taken to the streets
White privilege guilt. It’s heavy and while mostly I choose to manage it by trying to be a decent and active advocate for justice and change… a couple of spoiled middle-aged billionaires burned up countless tons of kerosine to jack themselves off racing into space…
Holy shit. There’s heaps there. And my heart is heavy with so much more. I’ll spare you and move this blog closer to its wrap though.
But I feel better. Just writing it down. Writing it down and thinking maybe someone somewhere is going to read it and glean some comfort or wisdom that’s only made possible by me being the hot mess that I have been subverting for some time. I feel better thinking someone might be pissed off or triggered by my rage and maybe think about who they are and what they can and should be doing to make the world better not worse.
I am in a safe, Loving, healthy and communicative relationship with both my former and future husbands. I make (mostly) good decisions and am the kick ass consistent and impressive kind of parent I was too strangled, neglected, and gaslighted to be with my asshole mother telling me I was crazy and useless and sabotaging every imaginable aspect of my life she could get her fat lazy fingers on. I am healthy. I am safe. I am brave. I am surrounded by Love and support in a way my traumatized inner child could never possibly have imagined.
However… I have been keeping it all to myself.
My fiancé and b’ness partner for the next chapter in my narrative is a distinctly private, aloof and stoic creature. He equal parts struggles and admires my desire to shout and share and connect with people and situations. He rarely makes rash decisions and almost never looks the fool. His ability to be bubbling over internally and appear to be the king of calm to the untrained eye is staggering and I respect and admire it. I’ve learned a shitload about making decisions in a state of calm and acknowledging when the ego takes over. He’s caught the brunt of my wrath and juggled full time work, sorting our lives and future, keeping my divorce and our farm on track and every day… I MEAN EVERY fucking day… he holds my face in his hands and tells me I am beautiful and he Loves and appreciates me. Often through tear filled crystal blue eyes shining from his ridiculously handsome face.
Seriously. Who wouldn’t be pissed-off am-I-right!
Clearly I jest. He saved my fucking life. He gets along with my ex, the kids adore him, and he champions every part of my chaotic being. All this as he balances his own deep-seated desire for anonymity with my almost manic desire to share, feel, hear, be, say and do things loudly and with reckless abandon.
He followed my journey for years from a distance, and cringed and cried along with everyone else at my frequent blogs and my journey into madness. He was only romantically interested in me some time after his relationship dissolved, it was a picture of me in a cosplay corset that tipped him into romantic curiosity. Now he’s poised on the precipice of our nuptials and for the most part he’s pleasantly surprised that my chaos and crazy is actually quite manageable as I’m self-aware and only a fraction as fucked up as I may have portrayed myself.
(Here comes the denouement)
However. I need to reach out and I need to write. I need to be seen. I’ve been protecting myself and everyone else for fear of offending or opening up old wounds.