Beyond Beautiful

This weekend we hosted the first exclusive Tesla Owner’s club meet up.  There were 11 Tesla parked in our tree-lined driveway, and a couple of dozen of the occupants piled from their cars into our warm and welcoming home.  Our ears, hearts, heads and tummies were filled with chat and treats.

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Among the guests, of course, were the wonderful wives.  We shared stories of our husbands’ obsessive chit-chat and forum shenanigans regarding electric cars, politics, futurism, and climate change. We swapped tales of silent speed and forcing our children to starve rather than eat on the new upholstery… and then giving up that rule in short order to steal some sweet silence on the first road trip, or even a commute that lasted more than 20 minutes.

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The truth is, Phteven and I haven’t entertained much in the past several months. Nor have we ventured out very often. There are times, even quintessentially social creatures resort to their cocoon.1 (1)  I’ve been a human burrito since last October, and I hope this weekend signifies a tear in this chrysalis.  I’ve got wings and they need to dry out so I can get back to flitting and flapping as is my nature.

 

Anyway.

 

Today was a treat on too many levels to speak of.  Our guests were divine, and their kids were cheeky and giggled at perfectly timed intervals.  Everyone was gone by 7:00pm, even though we practically tried everything short of kidnapping to keep last guests from leaving.  After piling them high with leftovers, there were still plenty of buns, fillings, fizzy drinks, and baking to fill the kids and I up.  Phteven had a hot date with one of his bromantic life partners, so it was just the kids and I for dinner after the last Tesla drove away.

 

While the gathering was going, the noise was steady and the smiles were plentiful. Belly laughs and big smiles filled a space that has been empty on balance for so many months.  We covered a lot of ground and made some new friends, but the conversation pieces that stuck out, and the impetus for this blog post were these:

 

1) Life is seriously fucking messy.  2)Parenting is the hardest thing any of us have ever faced.  3) People have stuff, and the ugly stuff, is actually quite beautiful.

 

Let me elaborate.

 

Catherine and I were looking out the window, over the epic view across to Herald Island.  We started with comfortable small talk, and watched the planes fly over the house as they do most days.  After some cringey mom jokes and a sigh or two, she looked me in the face and asked how I was doing.  Not as a progression or to be politic.  She asked like she gave a fuck, and in a tone that made me know she wasn’t a stranger too shit getting a bit real sometimes too.

 

I smiled, a big, goofy Dee grin that started in my heart and radiated onto my fat little face.  Everyone with an Internet connection in my extended social and even professional circle is aware of my struggles lately.  I’ve been too sad to move for weeks, and shattered and defeated for well over six months.  She’s no stranger to shoveling shit either.  She was enquiring from a place of care and concern, and we had one of those rare and perfect moments of magic, where two hearts meet at the same place after trudging through their own trenches.

 

Our chatting continued and between expletive filled accounts of our various parenting fails, and remembering fondly the time before time, when we just KNEW we would be amazing at adulting and especially parenting.  We came up with the unanimous conclusion, that no one is a better or more qualified parent, than people who have not had children. We were all in total agreement that we DEFINITELY knew more about parenting before we actually had kids. What I wouldn’t give for THAT level of confidence, even occasionally, now.  Sigh.

 

Our small group grew by a few as our animated chat continued.  We shared stories of tears, tantrums and sometimes screaming through struggles and strife.  Accounts were even verified by husbands who were within earshot.

 

I wear my heart on my sleeve, and share and over-share because I do not think my faults or struggles are unique.  I think most of us feel lost, scared, unworthy, anxious or completely out of our depth sometimes.  The fact I am more than comfortable being the hot mess that I am for the whole world to see, means I don’t have to lug around the fear of people figuring out that I am batshit.  Being my very own, unique, ridiculous, indulgent, sometimes-self-aware-but-too-fucking-lazy-and-stubborn-to-change brand of crazy is something I can claim. Work in progress, but don’t judge, we all are just that, works in progress, and some days and phases are better than others.

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I got to hang out with new people, who seem to have everything well and truly figured out. They did.  They do.  But they have their own struggles and stories too.

 

Another unanimously notable observation, was that a lot of people, waste a lot of time giving a lot of fucks about what other people think. The absurdity of trying to prove to other people that we have our shit together is just too exhausting at this stage of life.  We are not the crowd you’ll find sporting designer shades, perfect nails, or posting only our highlights reel on the socials.  We are a vast and varied bunch, but we are also, all pretty clear on where the fucks we have available are given.  We care about our families, our journeys, our planet, and the future.  We all face these passions in our own ways and feel considerably stronger given an opportunity of doing it together.

 

In case you were wondering, the fact that we ARE the crowd who drive around in very expensive electric performance vehicles, has not escaped me.  A Tesla is not a toy.  It is a hefty investment, and only the tiniest sliver of our society will be able to afford one.  Our guests today celebrate their choice, and all feel compelled to make a difference, particularly concerning climate change. They choose to spend their precious spare time taking family and friends for rides and drives, or chatting with interested members of the public at chargers, or volunteering at schools and events.  You will find them on any number of digital and real communities, flying their own flags for a better tomorrow.  Everyone in my home today had a unique story.  Everyone in my home today had seen feast and famine in their lives, everyone in my home chooses to dedicate significant resources and time to making things better for their kids, and every person and thing on the planet as well.

 

Part of feeling shitty lately, is the white middle class guilt that I labor around with. There are other layers of shit too. Crippling imposter’s syndrome, raising four fabulous and equally fucked up humans (we are all fucked up, but being a parent means you get front row seats to the fucked upedness of your children). Even feeling shitty makes a person feel shitty sometimes, because there’s really not that much to actually feel shitty about.  I won’t go on.  I could bang on almost infinitely on this tangent, but I will spare you.

 

What I am saying, in the typically sweary, convoluted, and long-winded way is simple.

 

Everyone has their stuff.  Metaphorical, tangible, and just general… stuff.  What we do with our stuff defines us far more than what that stuff actually is.

 

The 30-Day-Rule: Drop. It. Like. It’s. Hot.

 

Life is a balancing act.  My observations of late are verifying the fact it is actually impossible to be content if we don’t let some heavy shit go.

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People I know and admire can bang on and on about shit that they’ve been carrying around for an eternity.  Worse, they can blame the heavy shit (including heavy people and relationships) for holding them back and making them unhappy or unsuccessful.  The thing with perception, and what we think, and how we feel, is that it becomes our reality.  If you really want to be lighter, freer, happier and more resilient, you have to drop the heavy and unhelpful shit and keep going.  It may well weigh you down and even destroy you if you do not.

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I am a woman of vast and various faults.  I hold grudges and ghost people when I am in extreme emotional pain.  Knowing it is a step in the right direction, working on fixing it is something I need to seriously start putting effort toward.

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Our neighbours, who just happen to have doctorates, are both world record holders, and an internationally acclaimed power couple (so I hold their opinions and observations in pretty high esteem based on their pathological overachieving), have some of the best advice I have ever heard on making relationships and life work.  In their world, you get an allocated time to vent, bitch, moan, and bludgeon an issue or concern to death.  Once this allocated time is up, the issue is closed and you have to move the fuck on with your life and your relationship.

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They call this the 30-day-rule.  I am going to take it for a whirl I think, as I am notorious for holding grudges, and not letting things go.  It’s not good for me and it is not fair on other people.  I am also good at ghosting just because I get busy, not because there is any ill-will.  But that’s a blog for another day, today we are talking about cleaning out your heart and head.

 

Now, walking well away from things that do not serve us, like relationships that are unhealthy (or even worse toxic) is fine, if not essential.  All the schmaltz, hype, and pith you so often see on motivational posters, about surrounding yourself with people who are amazing, supportive, positive and successful (success is measured in so many ways, and does not have to be tied to material things) is really solid shit. You lay down with dogs you are going to get fleas. You lift others up, and you’ll both soar above the bullshit and battles that are inevitable.  Celebrating the successes and strengths of the people who become your tribe will get you through basically anything life will throw at you, and life is going to throw you some nasty shit.

 

Walking away can be clean and courteous and ought to be just that.  I’ve had some fantastic friendships end because of insurmountable incompatibilities, but you get to a point when you just have to call it.  The 30-day-rule can apply to relationships as well as situations.  From the moment the straw that breaks the camel’s back falls in your relationship (peripheral, non family and inner circle relationships, because you gotta work things out with your special people, even when it is tough as fuck to carry on. Your inner circle is your strength and foundation and very little can ever justify walking away from your truest tribe) give yourself a 30 day window to cool down and carry on, or, if you’re still quite sure the relationship is not serving you, or them, or both, drop that fucker like they are hot.  Wish them well, and close and lock the door and carry on with your life.  No need for reigniting or fanning flames which are destructive, and no need to worry about it.  The people who bring you strength, hold you accountable with kindness, and lift you higher are worthy of respect, time and concern.  People who drag you down need to find their own tribe and keep the fuck out of your way while you follow your bliss.

 

Once you’ve moved on, from a situation, circumstance, run-in or relationship, put it to bed and forget about it.  Letting things go is incredibly important for all of us.  Hanging onto things that don’t serve us (grudges, people, poorly laid plans) is a hazard to our health and only hurts your proverbial and actual heart.

 

So, if you’ve been stewing or stressing or burdened with a hot and heavy load lately, consider cutting that shit loose.  If it creeps back into your heart or mind maybe try a mantra of: “I am worthy of walking away from things that do not serve me.” Or “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”  I’ve been leaning on these two phrases heavily this week, and it’s freeing and fabulous.

 

Hope wherever you are and whatever this week has chucked at you, you are able to let the things go that do not serve you, and carry on a bit lighter and brighter for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s New Buenos Aires?

It is fair to say that Buenos Aires is one of my favourite locations on the face of this planet.  I’ve made sure I have a hefty control group of beautiful cities to base my comparison on.

After an overwhelming year, heartbreaking kid stuff, crazy growth at work, some hefty betrayals, and even being on the brink of divorce to my soul mate Phteven, I decided to take a trip with no kids and no work to celebrate turning 40, and hopefully reboot my undeniably broken brain.

Two dear friends have joined me here from New Zealand, and a third will be arriving tomorrow morning from Hong Kong.

We’ve been immersed in South American culture for nearly a week, with a small and unfortunate deviation to a sub-standard Japanese restaurant on the outskirts of Palermo.  Argentina is famous for its gorgeous food, but maybe stick to the traditional, Italian and French cuisines I’d advise.

Both of the women here with me are incredibly private people.  They do not crave attention or human interaction the way that I do, and they value an incredibly small and trusted circle of friends and don’t give too many fucks about people who fall outside of that fold. I admire them for it.  I also admire the fact they are pointing out to me the value of deeds, not words, and the beauty of sitting in silence together. Both E and P are honest to the point of brutality.  P and I have been an unlikely set of friends since we were both teenagers.  She suffers no fools, takes no prisoners, and is consistently uncompromising.  E is much gentler, and elegant AF.  She walks like a swan wafts through a canal.  P is like Florence (all about food and beauty and style) and E is like Paris (elegant and timelessly beautiful and adored).  It turns out these are also their favourite cities. So my sophisticated travel companions are quite the opposite of my fiery Latino leanings, but somehow, we have had an absolutely wonderful time together.

Different is good.  Honesty is a sign of respect and friendship.  Travel is the most magical thing human beings whose hearts are connected can share.  Being here with them has had healing powers on my heart and head beyond my highest hopes.

This is my happy place.  I yearned to come here as a child who listened to Evita several thousand times (Elaine Paige, not Madonna) and I spent one of the most magical times in my long and frequently fraught marriage here.

My first trip to my soul city was several years ago with my entire family, and my best friend Shaun from High School in Thames and his fiancé and daughter.  We landed together here and Shaun dragged me out to the streets of Buenos Aires in the pouring rain.  I was feeling travel weary and disinterested, but the electricity caught me in short order and I danced in the rain, fuelled only by Parilla and puns (Shaun is very punny) and it is a night I won’t forget.

The extended group left, and my husband and I had a rare and wonderful fortnight together without children.  We drank strong coffee every morning, and had a siesta every day.  We walked the avenues, stopping every block to snog and snuggle because South America seems to have the market cornered on accepting public displays of affection.  We coveted the antiques in San Telmo and did the Evita trail.  My heart has been aching to return here ever since then.

Sadly, my mental state and the state of play with our children meant someone had to stay in Auckland.  Steve drew the short straw, and he’s wracked with jealousy, but still glad he’s stayed home with the children.

There’s a part of me that is pleased to be here without him, as I’ve made so many friends. A Serbian/Canadian family from Ottawa spent the day with me on Thursday and I was blown away by how intelligent and warm they all were.  And funny.  So funny.  Our guide Sol has taken us around the city by day and by night, and I’ve met a simply superb scientist named Sergio who we will be having dinner with again tonight.  Add to that half the tango bar that we’ve become friends with, as well as waiters and waitresses all over the city, and I can safely say we’ve made ourselves very much at home in this beautiful place.

Two more full days does not seem sufficient.

I’m already planning our return though.

So, as the shades finally start to let in some sun on my latest and longest depressive episode (this one was a doozie!) I’ll brace myself to arrive back in New Zealand and try to step back from work and jump into my family a bit more, as I have been attempting to do for three years now.

In the meantime, I am going to smile like an idiot as marvelously attractive and expressive men make eyes at me (a welcome elixir to the poison of realizing I am now seriously middle aged) and the sunlight and rain fall through the thousands of trees that line the streets and avenues of this heavenly place.

Thank you Krissy and E and P for being a part of the most magical recovery I have ever known.  You women are wonderful and I Love the way you Love me.