2023 – A Year to Be

The Pandemic completely changing my career, lifestyle, trajectory and perspective has had so many unforeseen advantages.

Gemstone beach near Riverton. Beautiful 🤩 rest stop on our way to Te Anau

Exploring our beautiful island nation as a guest and seeing places through a sustainable tourism lens rather than as a spoiled b’ness bitch has been such a joyful experience to say the very least.  We have been all over Aotearoa from Great Barrier Island to Franz Joseph seeking ideas and guidance on our new sustainable tourism and regenerative agriculture retreat project.  

2020-2022 saw us have whole facilities more or less to ourselves and we enjoyed drifting down nearly empty roads and enjoying long chats with business owners who only had a tiny fraction of the guests passing through their doors while borders were closed.  

Yesterday evening in Te Anau verified that those days are long behind us.  It was with mixed feelings we watched establishments heaving with human activity and wait times of 2 hours for meals as staffing issues and shortages continue.

We got to overhear lots of North American accents complaining.  “Next time let’s go to Thailand Geoff.  This place looks just like Oregon and it’s expensive.  Not sure why we bothered”. Well Geoff, you and your wife can fuck off.  I do hope if you choose to go to Thailand you are more gracious guests there.

There was a time when I absolutely adored people and craved interaction with strangers and friends alike.  I would have overheard Geoff and his wife and convinced myself it was my job to turn them around and shine a light on how beautiful my chosen homeland is. These days, I keep my nose out of strangers conversations. Pretended not to hear them.

Something huge happened inside my soul and brain after my second nervous breakdown. That event transformed me forever, from quintessential extrovert to practicing introvert.  I still Love people.  These days though, rather than craving interaction humans generally scare me and annoy me where they used to fascinate and energize.

Being sucker punched, betrayed and disappointed by so many people was in hindsight a blessing. The fallout of watching people I was kind to, championed, and trusted over the years being creeps and cowards made me a bit of a hermit.  That fear/annoyance at humanity has been the acorn that has grown the idea that is slowly but surely turning into a mighty oak of sorts.  

As you read this, I hope whatever phase you are at in your journey, you know that it’s never too late to start over. Changing direction can be scary, but you might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. We have been.

Falling deeply and completely in Love with my now husband, and also starting to Love and appreciate myself happened after unplugging and mic dropping. Finally feel like I’m whole again after being fueled for decades by serious self-loathing and a need to prove myself. So many women just like me are hyper vigilant over-achievers after being gaslit, neglected, sabotaged and shat all over by people who ought to support and protect them. My story is not unique.  While figuring all this out and finding my voice and boundaries was definitely unfun and probably nearly killed me, the view from the other side is incredible. Now that I am safe and happy, perhaps I feel like it was all even worthwhile.  

Lush green bush at Matakana retreat

Anyway.  I found hope and happiness in serene isolation on a 50 acre neglected, weed and predator infested, block of topographically challenging clay just outside of Matakana village.  I was safe from the outside world as there was no internet or phone coverage. We had to drive town to the end of the road to send the kids messages. The car was Damon’s office where he sat on the phone for hours that first few weeks. We lived simply and naturally, pulling weeds, preparing food from scratch, and planning what we might do with this all but forgotten piece of dirt I fought so hard to hold on to through my recent divorce.

Nothing that had happened to me until that point in my life created quite the same level of peace and comfort as being left the fuck alone for a few weeks on that hill.

It’s nearly three years later now, and we’ve poured Love, time, and resources into trying to create a place that is inviting and safe for Aotearoa’s native biodiversity first, and people who just want to be left well enough alone for a bit second.

There are countless other things going on and limitless options for what we will do with the place now and in the future.  Today though, I’mm hiding in a hotel room in Te Anau reading the absolutely stellar feedback from guests at our solidly booked retreat. Feeling fucking fantastic about my life choices and the opportunity we have just had to see in the new year on the isolate Rakiura.  We heard the hoopla down the hill at the pub, but were tucked in bed snug and sober after a lovely day of bike rides and beach laying with precious few other humans anywhere in view.

The world outside our door is falling to bits in many ways. Moving into 2023 I accept that I can’t save the planet. Instead I choose to be.  Be gentle and curious and kind.  Be busy enough to keep our beloved farm improving at a pace we can pay for and handle.  Be grateful for my few fabulous trusted friends.  Be in Love with my spunky monk. Be joyful as he actively and vocally adores me daily. Be brave and stand up to bullies and their bullshit. Be gentle to myself and champion my beloved witchy women and wonderful many other magical friends as they face their own challenges.

2023 is a year to be.

And I hope you get to be the very best you throughout and don’t be too much like ungrateful Geoff and his wife even when things don’t go as planned or don’t meet your expectations.

Thanks for reading.

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