Light and Laughter and Dark Days Ahead

Well I do LOVE a good conference.  I nipped out of the Oxford EV summit a bit before the end, as I am jetlagged and needed some alone time.  Alone time does not last long for me. I only lasted a few moments with my headphones on, trying to keep myself to myself, then I joined a table of locals and kicked off a round of 20 questions (anyone who knows me has probably been subjected to this ice-breaker on absolute steroids, at some point in our relationship).  

What a great couple of days though! There was a stellar line up speakers and delegates. Feather in my cap was getting an interview with the CEO of Mahindra. A spectacularly humble and gentile man named Mahesh and his incredible, approachable, warm, and intelligent assistant Ronak. Blown. Away. I may have scared them both a bit with my gushy enthusiasm. Then this morning I was honoured with the presence of the event coordinator Ade. An incredibly understated and buttoned up fellow, who actually didn’t seem even remotely scared of me. I think the fact his dear friend and colleague James spent an entire Saturday with my batshit crazy self in NZ, and even got to meet several of my friends that day, meant he was briefed on what to expect. Luckily, my reputation often proceeds me, and that helps save me the trouble of explaining that I have no filter, suffer no fools, take no prisoners, and swear like a sailor. Oh, and I am definitely a hugger. I always ask first, but odds are, I will hug you. It is what I do. I didn’t hug the Mahindra guys though. I have no idea why that would have been weird, but it totally would have, and the thought didn’t even cross my mind at the time, I was just star struck beyond belief. Really humble, and incredibly cool cats across the whole show. I’m quite decidedly smitten with Oxford now.

I am so fucking content right now.  Tired.  A bit frazzled because I’ve had to bounce out of what was shaping up to be a very rewarding collaboration, as only a few weeks in, all we seemed to do is fight.  I like a good fair fight, but not if nothing ever seems to get resolved.  So, I guess I will never successfully navigate a relationship with anyone equally as passionate or feisty as myself.  Romantically, professionally, socially, or generally.  It is just too much to have two incredibly intense people vying for… whatever it is, they are vying for I guess.  Luckily, almost nobody is as feisty or intense as I am, so I have high hopes for the majority of my future dealings with humanity.  

ANYWAY.

A consistent barrage of compliments and new friends and feeling incredibly connected to total strangers has been good medicine for a failed friendship. This is my last world tour this year. Someone may need to actually tether me to New Zealand or put a shock collar on me that is activated around a 5km radius perimeter of the airport. My Love of travel, and people, and strangers, and new friends, and new places, and seeing old friends and sneaking in a bit of romance (I am looking AH-mazing right now, and I am off the hook excited to be catching up with someone who is absolutely generous with their capacity appreciate that for a few days up in Scotland. YAY!).

I feel quite decidedly wonderful in my own skin right now.  And there’s something absolutely contagious about my joy and contentment.  I’ve gamified smiling at and connecting with strangers.  I give myself 10 points for eye contact and a shared smile, 50 for giving a sincere compliment to a complete stranger, 100 for a conversations that lasts long enough to introduce them to my blogs or podcasts, and 100 points for a new LinkedIn connection.  I’m clocking up well into the thousands of points well before noon lately.  I am on FIRE!

If I had a ten-pound note for every time I have heard “you really aren’t like anyone I have ever met” or “my you really are something!” in the last four days, well, I’d be able to finance an entire formula-E team with some change left over I suspect.  I’m walking on air, and clearly and completely in my element bopping around the globe, basically locked in some Disney-esque musical scene of sorts as I blow through people’s lives like a hurricane of hope, noise, and happy.  

Why to great mood?  Why am I grinning like an idiot and making friends literally everywhere I go?  How can anyone be so cheerful the face of what was unanimously agreed is a total cluster fuck that is the very real climate crisis?

I don’t know.  I suspect I’ve farewelled the final few fucks I gave about convention or pleasing people, and I now feel absolutely and inextricably linked to the ground swell of activists and agitators I am lucky enough to rub shoulders with.

There’s something incredibly empowering about coming to terms with the severity of the situation.  I met an insurance assessor big wig on my flight over, I have forgotten his name, as I have met literally hundreds of people since heading on my way from Auckland only a few short days ago.  He was a very nice fellow though.  Has a couple of young kids and a beautiful wife he dotes on them all.  Good, wholesome, funny, family man.  He was actually irritatingly likeable.  I asked him quite directly what it felt like to be at the helm of an industry that is almost certainly on the brink of collapse thanks to the fucking mess humanity made.  We laughed and laughed.  He did not deny or downplay the acuteness of the problems we are facing.  He was also very schooled in serious social injustices taking place across the ditch from our beautiful island nation of Aotearoa, in the “lucky country” Australia.  There is some dark shit going down there these days, as we bask in the warm glow of a tolerant, warm, and wonderful leader and a HUGE surge in sustainability and resilience planning in New Zealand.  Why did we both resort humour (dark as it was) instead of mournful shaking of our heads, wringing of our hands, and tut tut noises and sighs?  We belly laughed all the way to baggage claim instead.  I am wondering if perhaps I have finally gone completely around the bend, or maybe laughter really is the best medicine right now?

The world is a hot mess.  Literally, and figuratively.  This shit is getting real. I liken it to the way the surrealness of the Holocaust, and how it affected funny, dynamic, divine human beings came to life for me while I read Anne Frank’s diary.  The human face on the global situation is the anxiety and panic attacks of most of my peers when we do the numbers and realise where we are headed.  People are already being affected.  We already have climate change refugees.  Food security and economic collapse seem possible, perhaps probable, at this point.  I have no idea what we are going to do.  I feel absolutely honoured to be able to stand on the shoulders of giants who are going down scratching and biting alongside me.

So, my highly hypocritical and hyper wee self will jump onto a plane in the morning and pop over to NYC.  I can’t say what part of this trip I am most excited about! Presenting at the city council to let them know what is going on in NZ,  joining the consummate goddess Suki (who hosted a women’s retreat in the Dominican Republic alongside her dear friend Joanna earlier this year) at her event on the 1st, going to the suburbs with my host and friend Mark to meet his feisty mom, actually attending one of the Gaaaaayyyys in Spaaaaaace events, or seeing any number of my friends and heroes that are based in this magical city. I will be on a rooftop, walk barefoot through the grass in central park and hug the stuffing out of several dozen people.  

Every moment seems to be a gift right now.  I have no time to dwell on the antics of self-sabotaging dipshits that I have to deal with.  Everything is magical, and I am noticing and embracing moments more than I think I ever have in my life before.  

My right-hand goddess is smashing it like a total baller back home at the helm, and my kids and husband, ex husband?  The kids and Phteven, are never far from my thoughts and I am missing them all more than I can remember ever missing them when I am globe-trotting.  They’re also all happier than they have been in a long while lately.  There’s a light that has descended on us, and I can’t place my finger on what lit it, but I am thoroughly enjoying the warm glow.

I am not happy that we are staring down the barrel of a loaded gun right now.  I am not overly hopeful for humanity, yet there’s something I have to call cosmic stirring. We are going to be okay if we take care of each other and we plan and we ready ourselves.  I don’t know what okay looks like, but there is a calm that has settled as we steel ourselves in readiness for a very uncertain future.

And in the meantime, before shit gets real, I hope I get a chance to laugh with you IRL soon. 

Thank you for reading.

XXOO

Accountability and Fragility

Accountability. It can make us feel very fragile sometimes.

We are all shovelling shit, we are all battling demons, we are all trying to get through and find our place and our purpose.  Some people seem to have a kind of calm corrective way about them, and actively exhibit empathy alongside self-awareness.  These sorts of people are my heroes and my chosen tribe.  Not that there isn’t a place for the vast and varied masses who have a harder time dining with their own demons, or holding others accountable with grace.  

It is probably useful to say, even the people we admire, Love, respect and trust the most are still going to hurt or disappoint us, and we them.  Every one of us has their own faults and foibles.  I like faults and foibles.  The tapestries of tragedy and triumph that ties us each to our own trajectories is not only fascinating, it is a source of comfort and connection.  It is wonderful to know that we are not alone, and it is calming and connecting to share our demons in a safe and secure scenario over a hot cup of tea or a tipple or three.  

I ran into a friend of mine a few weeks back and the brief but beautiful catch up stuck with me.  She has a PhD, is inarguably goddess and consummate performing introvert. She gets shade and even solid hate from countless sources and sticks to her (well aligned to my own) convictions.  One of her very reasonable responses to hate is to be heavy on the block buttons across social media.  She’s has battened down the hatches in her personal life and keeps her most sacred inner circle to only 5 trusted humans.  That’s not to say she is dismissive or avoids others.  She always greets me with a knowing eye roll and sigh as we are often two very busy women whose ships pass in airports and random tech events.  There’s a shared understanding between us (and many of the other goddesses in my world) that we both haul around a hefty suitcase full of imposters syndrome and personal anguish that we shove down daily and keep carrying on with our Vaseline stage grins and public personalities.  Respect and affection for this woman run deep, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t on occasion been stone cold envious of her and had to check that shit at the door.  She is smarter, more educated, far more graceful, and I have to say undeniably more beautiful than I, but she is her and I am me, and we are both creatures of kindness and integrity.  The few times the green eyed monster bites me in the ass regarding her have made me feel like absolute shit, and the genuine joy I feel when I see her shine (as she does with alarming regularity) eclipses my insecure and envious demon in short order.

I chose the goddess Green Tara as she’s all about strength and kindness and overcoming adversity. All the Hindu Tara Goddesses are pretty fantastic, but she’s my favourite. Image is courtesy of http://www.buddhaweekly.com

Wait.  That story applies to more than one of the wonderful women I have seen in the weeks that have passed.  The constant stream of goddesses who cross my path and sit down for a coffee or a wine with me has been the foundation and strength that’s put my broken back together this year.  So, if you’ve taken the time to talk to me online or IRL lately, please know how much it means and how much I appreciate it.

#goals #lifegoals #goldengirls These women were goddesses to each other, bound by friendship and humour and Love.

This long winded introduction is leading me to a subject that I’m trying to broach in today’s meanderings.  

Accountability. Yeah, it can and does make us fragile. But it is a source of so much strength and respect as well.

Let’s first substantiate a truth that we all have to face and embrace at some point in our lives:

Life is messy and magical.  Amazingly beautiful moments come and go, and pain and grief that are one moment unimaginable come to us all.  Juggling family, friends, careers and passions invite chaos and confrontation as well as strength and satisfaction.  

We often do not have control over what happens to us, and we do not have control over what other’s think, feel or say.  The only thing we control is how we respond. Responding with passive aggression or contempt can be a knee-jerk reaction.  Taking a breath and reacting with kindness and empathy can take more self-control and thoughtfulness than we can muster at times.  We’d all benefit if we truly understood that when you throw mud you’re the one losing ground, or that hurt people are the people who hurt people, or kindness needs to be out go-to because other’s are quite likely fighting a hard battle we know nothing about.  Maintaining a moral high ground when faced with bullishness or biting may feel like a hollow defeat when you are in a position of power or feel an urge to “teach someone a lesson” but I assure you, in the long run, not being a jerk pays off.  

You have control of you.  

The law of attraction and the basic rules of energy and the universe mean we are all held accountable for our reactions, whether we own this or not.  

This week, I have been put firmly and fairly in my place by a dozen dear friends for passive aggression, mixed messages, or just being bossy or scrappy.  The most confronting, and then rewarding example of this was when I got all salty at a very dear and incredibly esteemed friend for leaving me hanging halfway through a conversation with him on DM.  There are three very real reasons I was confronted by this is abysmal behaviour:

  1. I do that to people ALL the FREAKING TIME without thinking.  It is a combination of being busy, easily distracted, and undeniably self-absorbed.
  2. He’s never been anything but honest, helpful, and kind to me.  Salty at times, yes, but definitely well earned on my part. I can be a royal and needy pain in most people’s ass at times.
  3. Instead of Occam’s razor (the simplest explanation – like maybe he got busy doing something) was totally ignored and I jumped straight to a dozen utterly ridiculous conclusions.

Turned out he was bedside with a friend in hospital. So, basically, in this particular case, I was being a complete asshole.  The reason this is relevant is the way he handled it.  Every time I have been a royal bitch or blown things out of proportion he’s reined me in with kindness and held me absolutely accountable for my behavior, no matter how embarrassed I am, and trust me when I say I am well versed in the language of shame.  He asks why I did the thing I did.  He asks what emotion was behind it.  He demands a sincere and thoughtful apology and then we talk about how and why I am going to behave differently in the future.  I was given the opportunity to step up as a friend and put together as small but incredibly witty and thoughtful care package that included: mixed nuts (because I can be super nutty) and salted dark chocolate (because he was quite rightly salty at me. He received my gift and apology with grace and now I have an opportunity to prove to this person who I admire and respect dearly that I can think before I blow up and let insecurity and fear steer me. I still feel sheepish, but I also want to react to everyone who treats me with respect and kindness, as firmly and fairly as he has done with me.  This is the same person who suggested I curb the swearing a bit as my words and narratives “paint a masterpiece” and then, when I drop a C-bomb into the mix I “splash white paint all over the canvas”.  

I’ve risen to giddy heights personally and professionally lately.  The three kids who live with me are settled and secure and seem to be thriving between the expected earthquakes and outbursts associated with being cantankerous teenagers and a willful pre-schooler.  Phteven (formerly Phteven my husband, currently Phteven my best friend and b’ness partner) seems to be happier than I have seen him in months, maybe years, and we are communicating and wishing for the absolute best for ourselves, our family, our business, and each other.  I’m dating up a storm (although sadly not landing any keepers above those who have been dear to my heart for many months or years already) and feeling rather pretty witty and wise as a single and strong woman.  And, probably, if not definitely, the most obvious cause for most of the magic I am basking in can be traced to one wonderful person.

I took on an EA named Hayley a few months ago.  I saw her toiling and volunteering for countless events and organisations, while raising a young family and running a farm. She wasn’t looking for a job, but every time we talked I trusted and respected her more and more.  I finally poached her from her busy schedule to support me a few short months ago.  She made me sign NDAs and contracts and has proven herself to be capable, honest, kind, and a cheerleader and friend as dear to me as the people closest to me and who I have known for decades.  Her acting as my gate keeper and guardian angel included an evening in Hamilton where we stopped for a drink with some old girlfriends, and the whole hipster bar was awash with males and very few women.  She literally had her eye on every man in that place, and responded with care and a cold and knowing “I’ve got my eye on you guy!” look at anyone there who spent too long looking in my direction.  She also culled a few of the less than perfect relationships I’ve been struggling with by simply stating “Dee darling, you simply don’t have time for that shit.” 

So, all this care and concern, and the support to do more than I ever could on my own kind of got me feeling a bit more cocky than accountable.  I need to own that, and be grateful for the gift of Hayley the guardian angel, rather than getting stompy and demanding at people I should be kind to.  Everything takes some adjustment, and I need to adjust to this and let my humility return as it may have taken its leave lately.

So yes.

None of us are perfect.  But the tough stuff definitely gets easier when we are honest and accountable, to ourselves first, and to others as a result.  Find friends who hold you to account with kindness. Know that you are going to do shitty things from time to time and don’t be afraid to dine with the demons that steered you in a dark direction.  If you choose to remain ignorant or deny your bad decisions, you’re destined to repeat less than ideal behaviours.  If you explore the pain or the impetus behind being an asshole from time to time, you might be able to slay the beast that brought you to that behaviour.  The really great bit about that kind of accountability, is that embracing and facing the darkness makes it more rewarding to appreciate and own the genuine rays of light you are responsible for too. You can do this without ego or arrogance, and it feels awfully good when you do.  As it should.

Thanks for reading.

For What It’s Worth

A glorious goddess friend of mine has a saying that finds a place in my story line every single day.  It’s simple, the saying goes:

Take what you want, but be prepared to pay.

The thing I really like about this phrase is the level of cosmic control it insinuates we have when we make decisions.  The good ones, and the bad.  The phrase, to me, also suggests that you should probably get some kind of a quote or send out a brief to save yourself getting a fucking huge bill for shit you didn’t actually want.  State your plan and purpose to the universe,  and be prepared to listen and act on the response the universe returns to you.  

Don’t.  

Ignore. 

The Universe.  

It also feels kinda empowering to think that we all have choices every day, and there will be outlays and dividends for every single action and reaction.  The really fucked up bit though, is basically nobody on earth actually understands how their investment portfolio is going to perform, and we don’t get to choose when or how we make deposits or withdrawals.  Well, there are times this isn’t true.  If you overindulge you will pay the next day quite often, and if you miss a chance to toil toward a goal, it’ll cost something as well.  It applies to food, as you can eat whatever you want, but if you want to stay svelt, you will need to hustle.  It applies to fucking people who get walked over, because if you use or mistreat people, that shit WILL bite you eventually.  It applies to hangovers, hang-ups, hopes, hurt, hearts, homes, health, and, well, it applies to every fucking aspect of our existence.  Some invoices are sent to us more clearly and quickly than others though. Even the laws of physics equate to cost and effort expended for results.  Nothing, not a single thing, will ever come without a price and a result. 

I’d like to take it a step further and also say, that investment yields dividends.  Not only economically, but with our health, our social circles, our learning, our spirituality.  All that good shit.  You put in the hard yards, you be the best you can be, admit when you fuck up, and try to make good choices for long enough, and shit will eventually fall into place and the road will rise up to meet you.  Even if it doesn’t feel that way when you’re trudging along watching assholes overtake you in some kind of proverbial plush rickshaw.  Those assholes are gonna have to pay for their smooth ride, and if they don’t have to goods to cover the bill, they’re gonna be in all kinds of karmic and metaphorical trouble.  But if you toil and hustle your way to the same destination, you can breathe easy and enjoy the view while that lazy mother fucker who seemed to overtake you while traveling the same road, is going to have to make good with their pound of flesh. 

That’s enough metaphor and meandering for this blog I think.

The message I am trying to convey is actually pretty simple.  Some refer to this as Karma or Dharma, cause and effect, providence, roundabouts, fortune, fate, but the overarching theme is that the universe is a huge and complicated place and we affect it as it affects us.  

There’s no manual or instructions available as we navigate through.  There are some widely observed rules and laws (of the physical world, relationships, society, art, nature, just about anything) that we’d be better to observe.  Quite often we do not.

Let me give you a personal example.  

I know, after four decades of pushing people away and trying to curb my crippling abandonment issues, that being a steaming hot pile of crazy can, and almost always does, scare other humans.  The laws of attraction, equity theory, and even just the fact that most well-adjusted people will only tolerate being sent mixed signals or stood up a couple of times before they cut their losses and give up. The real legendary kick ass people just call me up on it and stick around, but these people are rare and magical creatures. Do I still run away from people? You bet your ass I do.  The cost?  Breaks my heart into pieces.  Wait, that’s a weird one, because I don’t necessarily want to be a fuckwit… But I’m taking something. The action to be a fuckwit.  Okay, my point remains VALID!  I think… 

Anyway.

Knowing we do dumb shit and continuing to do it costs more if we carry on the course I think.  The universe and our tribe will send us signals that we need to change and if we don’t listen it will keep smacking us with the same lesson only harder. 

The same formula seems to work (to greater or lesser degrees) in good decisions and behaviors.  There are people who are packed full of patience and perspective who seem to be pummeled by life, and they choose the high ground in the face of all sorts of storms and shitty twists and turns.  They face it with grace and never play the victim or throw other people under the bus, and while it seems on the surface they are getting shit on, because, well, they are.  Yet, these people persevere with kindness and grace while less evolved creatures seek shortcuts and shit on those around them.  The people who are trying to be good people win in the long run.  They take what they wish, which is very little from others, and eventually they’re paid for patience.  Some, maybe most, religions are based on this premise I think.

Figuring out the formula, and knowing what a friendship, role, situation, or even a moment is worth and actively trying to NOT FUCK IT UP can mean short term strains for long term gains.  Instant gratification from false friends or unhealthy distractions can cost us dearly, but putting in the effort and being all the things you’d like to see reflected back to you pays off.

Well.  That’s my thinking on worth for today.  

Goddesses are Complex…

I’ve had glorious guests all week. This morning I was sat on my deck, coffee that was lovingly made for me in hand. One of the many Goddesses I have met in EV circles, Lynne, who can talk the hind leg off a donkey, perched next to me next to me. We are both mulit -tasking and making and receiving phone calls. Lynn does not sugar coat things. We’ve had a solid talk fest since meeting for lunch and a spa session yesterday. She spoiled me and it was very strange to be on the receiving end of such a grand gesture. We hit the ground running most of the subject matter was sharing stories from the 90’s, and the roles we both played in the early days of the Internet, and deep and confronting chats about our childhoods. We are similar kinds of broken and can breathe easy in each other’s undeniably frenetic company.

This week I have been covered in cuddles from some my tribe of glorious goddesses, laughed till my face hurts, had sessions of carpool karaoke (Canadian Content), cried for the fragile inner child we are all trying to heal, and realised, once again, that we are all shoveling vast and varied piles of shit with huge Vaseline grins on our faces. We were told as little people to smile and the world would smile with us, and that is exactly what most of us are doing, despite demons that dwell beneath our shiny exteriors.

We talked for a bit about the Brene Brown revolution, encouraging people to embrace their faults and insecurity. I’ve worn my ugly and shared my struggles openly for years. While it makes me incredibly vulnerable, puts my friends at ease. Most of them choose a slightly shinier veneer, and save spilling their spicy for close conversations, yet we all know that the world is full of the walking wounded. Nobody gets out of life unscathed, and there’s a magic to meeting people who can relate to and share the stories of their scars.

I have no idea why women so often feel inadequate. It seems that my closest friends all suffer from crippling imposter’s syndrome, despite epic accomplishments in their personal and professional lives.  

Lynne’s been blown away by the strength and kindness of the kindred spirits she’s met here in Auckland. We are all Wonder Woman, most of us mothers, and all of us take it in turn to act as cheerleaders or a safe place to land for each other when shit gets real.

And now, I am on my way to Field Days with my amazing and energetic EA. We are going to go smash it at Field Days. Hayley, another of the goddess tribe, has been working with me for a few short months, and acts as a buffer between breakdowns and enables me to be a baller. She displays the same self-doubt as all the other brilliant and broken beauties I am blessed to know. Juggling a farm, a toddler, and an endless list of organizing and actively having my back, she regularly feels like she’s not doing enough, despite moving mountains every single week.

WHY do most of the women I worship feel defective? Why do we strive to the breaking point to prove to ourselves and the world we are worthy?  Why can we so readily show Love and support for each other while negative internal dialogues rage on in our heads and hearts?  How do we start cutting ourselves the slack we give each other when we’re lending an ear or a shoulder during crisis?  Why do snarky comments or unkind criticisms seem to stick so readily, while the good stuff and supportive sentiment so often slide off?

I have no idea, but am certain I am grateful beyond measure for the women in my world.

Expect To Be Imperfect

Wanted to write some epically uplifting piece applauding our efforts as parents.

I thought maybe I could distill the side-splitting laughter, heart-wrenching helplessness, soul-shimmering hope, sleepless nights, kitchen fights, shining lights, and making the wrongs right, that we all do as parents into a few hundred words.  

No fucking way.

Each journey is unique and harrowing in every single possible permutation between parent and child. It has been said countless times, that observations of humanity seem to point to the fact we are all just toiling through our existences, trying to find purpose and put to rest our mommy and daddy issues. Those issues run in both directions. Parents feel as much anguish for their roles in their kids’ lives as children feel for existing. It is the great circle of life.

As with most things , We are bound to try incredibly hard to face the tough stuff head on. Realizing that our kids are bound to be terrifically traumatized by the clusterfuck they were handed as a mother, we make huge and valiant efforts to face the demons (separate and combined) head on. We talk. We real talk. Our kids have always been entitled to their feelings, opinions, fears and focus. We have enlisted outside help and scaffolding in the form of counselors, testing, trial and error, and everyone in this home is wholly encouraged to lay their shit bare and be the broken and beautiful mess that they are.

This is not the most common mothering tactic as far as I can tell, and I know I get judged to the extreme as a demon or a queen, and plenty of things in between for the way I do things.  I judge people too, despite actively putting in efforts not to.  There seems to be a fairly big element of being (or trying to appear at least) buttoned up with a certain amount of spit and polish in most families.  

I scroll through the highlights reels of social media and compare myself to everyone else.  

We wear and share our struggles as a family and as individuals.  Tears and tantrums are common inside our walls, as are hugs and hope and heaped piles of rolling laughter.  I am the sweary, scary, and incredibly affectionate and care-y mom.  I stopped trying to be anything else a long time ago.  But I still look at other parents who are super outdoorsy, or sit quietly and read alongside their little carbon copy introvert offspring and I yearn for what I do not have.  I see the seemingly contented and clearly calm domestic goddesses at the school gate, with their gluten free crunchy granola kids and glowing smiles. 

Every single mother (and father) I bump into at any kid event terrifies me until I actually talk to them.  Like, really talk to them.  Every time I do, I find out that they are just as scared of me as I am of them, and we are all struggling and second guessing ourselves.  Well, nearly all of us.  There are also genuinely creepy and congnitively dissonant folks who think their kids are perfect, owing, in no small part, to their parenting planning and pinache. Fuck those smug bastards.

Give me broken, give me bold.  Give me terrified and truths that are seldom told.  Because no matter how shiny a veneer any of us attempt to keep up, we are all complicated and spend a good portion of our parenting journey out of our depth.  We owe it to ourselves and each other to curb the judgement and kick up the kindess a notch or 11.  Inwardly and outwardly, be kinder to ourselves and our peers.  

You are already enough, and can and will be a huge source of hope and safety to your children.  You are not expected to be perfect, just present.  You are infinitely important to your kids, and I’d hazard a guess you rarely feel like you are.

When I am restless and running and see contented home bodies feathering their nests and looking their best across social media, I stare harshly back at my reflection in the airplane window as I skip off to escape as I have done countless times before.  This mother’s day I’m dedicating myself to being more present, and I have canned countless opportunities and cancelled nearly all my extended jaunt and journeys to face my family as we transition into our next chapter.

Running away served me for a while, but now, I get home, and my kids feel complete as the rhythm of our comfortable chaos resumes.  I chose to have children and choose to correct the trajectory I’ve been on because I know that’s the right thing to do.

You are the kind of mother (or father, and in some cases mother and father) you are and that is so incredibly enough for your kids. Even though chances are quite good that you expend a great deal of time and effort trying to be what you think you need to be or listening to too many opinions from people who do not know shit about your situation.  Your kids want you.  Happy, healthy, present, mentally strong, you.  They don’t need micro-scheduling or grand gestures of parenting perfection.  As far as I can tell, what most kids want, is the same as what everyone wants, to feel connected and enough.   

So, I will end this less than uplifting blog with a deliciously dark and confronting poem by one of the most masterful observers or the human condition, Philip Larkin.

So go forth and fuck things up, the is no salve for the pains of parenting and imperfection.  There are no simple answers, and we all fuck up.  So do your best, remember to get some rest, and carry on.

Time Wounds All Heels, And Heals Most Wounds


I feel like I’ve got whiplash from all the travel and trying so desperately to avoid my demons lately. Those cunning bitches seem to catch up with me no matter how many take-offs and landings I try to put between us. Might be time to dine with them rather than trying to ignore them? Deep right? Look at Dee being all poetic and shit. I’ve been on a roller coaster (stop laughing, sometimes shit is kinda smooth and normal) the past few weeks, after finding out a dream international speaking gig was canned because Phteven said no. Grrr.

This shit happens in every kind of relationship all the time. One person is passionate, one oblivious or just busy or bored. This drifting in different directions makes the whole amiable dissolve a challenge, but fuck it, being married is/was more of a challenge so this too shall pass.

He’s not a bad man.  He’s actually still one of the best people I have ever met, but has inherited a spectacular mean streak, and a kind of obliviousness that presents itself like arrogance, but I know he is not.  I’d be less tearful if he’d even say, I am sorry you’re so sad about it. It’d be better if he was able to genuinely see what a complete clusterfuck missing this, and any other big PR and networking opportunities is.  So, I am in massive pout and feel like a failure mode and I want to be a human burrito and watch Netflix.

LUCKILY, I have a few friends.  A gaggle of goddesses who valiantly (although ever so calmly) come to my rescue, even though the fact of the matter is, they’re busy and, in my opinion, too fucking good for me even when I am not being a needy basket case.  You know who you are as I write this.  So, thank you.  

I’ve seen a bit, been around, and have collected some incredibly sage and useful advice over the 41 years on this planet.  

I know that I should trust but verify, yet I rush headlong into believing people, because I want to.  I know that patience, persistence, planning and passion are a winning formula. I only really actively observe one, and very occasionally two of these things and should have learned decades ago to stop being so reactive and impulsive, but the “let’s push the button and see what happens” impulse has been the source of far too much magic to abandon completely.

And, I know, that time will vilify and vindicate people and their intentions and character.  The SHOCKINGLY painful book of Job in the bible was my first recollection of this testament to patience and fortitude, but it really doesn’t have a happy ending and is basically the same story as that 1980’s movie with Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy called Trading Places.  Basically two very powerful beings start posturing and make a bet and fuck many, many, many lives as a result.  It is literally my least favourite book in the bible and a HUGE reason why I am agnostic now, but it taught me, at around the age of 6, that shit is going to happen and keep happening, and all we as mere mortals can do is roll and stick to our core.

So.

What’s your core?  Where does your compass point?  What direction are you heading?

You know what, I think maybe my whole reason for being is merely to serve as a very loud warning to others, and to make people think/feel “well… at least I am not as fucked up as my friend Dee!” and you know what, I am doing such a stellar job of fulfilling that role, that maybe I ought to stop taking disappointment, embarrassment and self-loathing so seriously, and just be the complete cringe cottage I am, and allow people to dwell and bask in my radiant facepalm glow for as long as they can handle and not take it personally when they’ve had enough and need to fuck off completely or just need a break. I’m a lot.

The heartache of today will pass, and the utter cunt that the universe can be sometimes, well it will unfold and clearly show me the important lesson and I can choose to ignore it, or I can grow from it. The exact same formula (in deeply complicated and confusing permutations) pertains to every other mother fucker on the planet. Time is a great teacher and will teach you, and me, if we listen to it and let it.

See you soon Liza.  I realise I have already warned you about the ugly cry, but it’ll be on your doorstep in the next couple of hours.  Love you and your non judgemental and super dark humour since that very first time we met so many years ago.  You’re too fucking good for me.  And I can’t wait to say thank you in person.

Richard and Sarah, thanks for bringing me back to life today and being actual good, clever, tolerant, and terrific people.  Robert, thank you for letting me cry on you and I am so excited about seeing Cynthia and Lynne after such a long time between visits.  

And HAYLEY!!!  You’re amazing.  You work your ass off, and you always face struggle with a smile.  Slow the fuck down and pat yourself on the back you pathological over achiever.  And don’t worry about me.  We will take our bite at altering the course of history in its entirety soon, but right now, please just breathe.  

Thanks for reading.

Swearing, Ranting, Raving TANTRUM of a Post.

Buckle in.  This is going to be well ranty and sweary.

Okay.  What the actual fuck.  I am trying SUPER hard to listen to the universe and heed whatever infinite gaseous and gorgeous galaxies seem to be working toward me learning.  

HOWEVER… The lesson seems to actually be:  Don’t be nice.  Just don’t fucking do it.  You’ll either be too nice, not nice enough, and no matter which way that particular jagged pill goes down, you will end up getting fucked.  BUT WAIT.  Not only is your hope, trust and cheerfulness absolutely going to turn you into a slow moving target.  NOT only THAT, but being this painfully slow, visible, and vulnerable target will get you shot down, trod on, and YOU WILL FEEL LIKE YOU FUCKING DESERVE IT?!?!?! Not everyone fucks me or you over BTW. Most people are good and trying, I truly deeply believe that as I write it.

As far as the “stop being nice” message you seem to be peddling, if that’s what you’re selling Universe.  I ain’t buying.

Let me share with you an observation.  Really, super, extraordinarily outgoing people very often have super shitty self-esteems, suffer from imposters syndrome, and question themselves all the time.  Yeah, we look like we don’t GAF.  But oh my fucking good gracious, we do, we do give all the fucks.  And the assholes, justifying, and forever trying to chop our heads off or make us feel like shit, well it hurts.  Don’t think that because we are friendly and gushy and kind, being taken for a ride or taken for granted doesn’t honestly smart, and leave some heart scars and tummy tigers.  You know when you’re being an asshole.  I (try to) know when I am being an asshole.  So.  Please. Just don’t be an asshole.

Just to clarify, no I am not talking about you. I am talking about a very specific case and a very specific thing and I am masticating (that means chewing but super looks and sounds like masturbating, great word.  Top marks for that word) on a very cold and unsatisfying heaped helping of “I told you so” from the Ex.  So, not you I’m passive-aggressively raging at. But, I am in the mood for a rant, so if you want some wrath DM me, I’d be happy to help. Plenty of that shit pent up today.  But hmm. Yes. People often think I am venting about them, but I really truly like, neigh LOVE most people. I can, with a fairly confident level of certainty take a guess that I actually like you WAY more than I like myself. Which, is, actually a form of douchbaggery because nothing is all about you or me.  We’re all just shoveling shit.

Shovel. Shovel.

I will say, that people have got to actually spare a thought for all different kinds of people, and please do not be afraid to gently steer those of us bashing through life to change trajectory and/or USE YOUR FUCKING INSIDE VOICE (I super don’t really have one of those…), or just make it through the day without earning any new enemies.  Say it gently.  Use humour to difuse.  But be nice and DO NOT assume that you are the only person with spicy or heavy (Oh man, I should NOT use the word spicy, that’s a proper young people word, ew gross) shit.  TRUST me, everyone is fighting a hard battle that you know nothing about.  

And THAT is why I super, mega, ultra VERY much Love strangers.  I can get into those juicy brains and get them to hug it out, talk it out, occassionaly even cry it out, then I get to leave before I am able to thrust my inevitable crippling disappointment on them, embarrass them (or more often myself), or just basically, run screaming in the direction of shit that is bad for me, while the good stuff waits quietly.  Without judging (but actually judging, and Loving us just as we are) and the hurty stuff we run headlong toward. Thanks to the patient posse. I need your sunshine. I just hope I reflect a bit of it back sometimes, so thank you.

Shit… So I know that I do super dumb shit, and it is utter bullshit, yet, here I am, relaying the cycles I apparently do not fucking learn from.

Well guess what Universe.  I am sick and tired of feeling ashamed.  I am sick and tired of giving SOooooOOOooo very many fucks about so very many things.

And maybe.  Just, fucking maybe.  I am going to start standing up for myself without flying off the hhh…handle.  No that’s not a likely scenario is it?  

So.  To the Goddesses who rescue me and rush to my side when the real deal hefty shit hits the fan.  I will never be able to express to you how much it means.  The thing about someone who thrusts themselves into life with all the elegance of a hippo attempting to hoola hoop (actually, that could be quite elegant animated, but it’ s my blog and I LOVE alliteration).  Alliterations, strangers and self-loathing, these are my crack.  Maybe. I’m not entirely sure I have tried crack, and I suspect I would remember if I had… probably. But people seem to think I’m pretty hopped up most of the time, and apparently it’s a tad dangerous and addictive.  So, I won’t do that

Well, the hope and unabashed joy and serious cringe that I pack around with me on a daily are not an excuse for anyone to treat me like shit.  And the same goes for you.  If we are doing our best, even if we are doing… well… anything, even just breathing, we are progressing, and learning and take it easy on yourself and everyone else. 

Because it costs nothing to NOT be an asshole.  So please.  Don’t be one.

Hmm.  Rather a meandering rant.  Ah well, fuck it.  My blog. Doesn’t have to be tidy, heaven only knows that I am a rough as fuck and a super cringe mess so why wouldn’t my art mimic life once in a while.  

And you KNOW WHAT ELSE!  I am not even going to edit.  Actually fuck that.  I am soooo gonna edit because Kylie Burling is a sweetheart and does exactly the nice stuff I talked about and takes the time to point out my spelling and grammatical errors.  And I am SO grateful, and infinitely impressed with her good eye.

So.  You do you. And don’t be an asshole while you do it.

THANK you. Even if nobody reads this I feel MUCH better.

Off to Melbourne to see my birthday Bestie!!!! (She hauled ass all the way from Hong Kong to meet me in Argentina with like three days notice last year. Definitely one of the goddesses. Chances are, if you actually know me IRL, you have had to be very kind to my slightly extra ass at some point too. So thanks.

Update on Japanese Trip

When Sakura fall from the branch, the shockwaves can shatter entire cities.”  Will Ferguson 

Just a bit over a week immersed in Japan with my two terrifically entertaining teenage chaperones, and I don’t know how or where to start the story of our adventures.

Japan is beautiful. Japan, in the spring, with Sakura petals falling like snow onto pristine lakes and beautiful brooks that babble in Japonic tonality, can break your Western heart to bits and stitch it back together with threads of cheerful nihilism, gentle bows and magical manners.

Highlights?  All of it. Lowlights?  Having a card skimmed at an ATM and spending three days in discussions with Visa and my bank.  All sorted now though.

This adventure started with a full and surreal flight from Auckland, bursting at the seams with toddlers, tiny tots and families being pushed to the brink and falling into the bitching and biting that we all exchange when stress levels and altitude is high, and space is limited.

We stepped off the plane to collect our luggage and catch a Shinkansen (bullet train) to Osaka.

Every stop along our way has been like stepping into a different chapter of a choose your own adventure novel, written in a familiar but foreign language.  Basically, I have spent a blissful and beautiful week bowing, saying thank you in Japanese, and generally not knowing what the fuck is going on.  It’s been brilliant.  

Daniel’s friend Ben has been an absolute gem. He researched for months and has maneuvered us safely from one end of Honshu to the other. We’ve braved an observation conveyor (I hate heights) in Osaka on a grey evening with something between thick fog and light rain misting over our mystified mugs. We’ve eaten fugu (four days ago, we are all still alive) and A5 graded beef at a tiny family run teppanyaki restaurant in Kyoto that made all three of us cry it was so delicious. We’ve laughed until our ribs and faces burned from the effort and we’ve all battled through the inevitable pangs of homesickness and general travel related stress. I am going to miss our little posse when it comes time to head home and disband. We have a groove and a pecking order, and Daniel and I are not the alphas, his funny and fabulous friend Ben and his google app are (because both mine and Daniel’s google keeps shitting itself when we try to find anything).

Now, it is probably worth mentioning that both Daniel and Ben are introverted by nature.  This means they need alone and quiet time to recharge.  Traveling with the schedule we have does not allow for a lot of down time.  Ben, being the old soul that he is politely asked for some down time chilling in the room, and while he did that my son and I bonded.  I am talking tears and cuddles kinda bonded.

I suspect every parent questions their worth in the most important role that we all do our best to fulfil. I know that I am inconsistent and extra, and the way that I am has helped shape my kids into resilient, kind, honest and incredibly funny people. We use humour to defuse most situations. It is a coping mechanism that has served us as individuals and a family unit.

Walking around Roppongi with my brilliant and anxious son, I stopped at the top of the escalator, grabbed his hand, looked into his dark brown eyes and I apologised to him for being the hot mess that I am. 

“I see how grown up you are, and how you see the world, and I know that I could have and should have been more consistent Daniel. I feel like a stone-cold fucking failure and I wish you had a better mother sometimes, I really do.”  

And then the lip quivers and tears started on both of our faces, and Daniel hugged me with the earnest he’s hugged me since he was a sweet little refluxy baby so many years ago.

“I don’t want any other mother, you don’t seem to understand how lucky I feel.  I talk to my friends about normal family stuff for us and they all seriously think I am so lucky.  You’re not perfect, but you’re perfect for me.”

Queue the unfettered ugly cry.

“I run around trying to save the world, because it feels like you do better without me.” I confided.  “I don’t feel like I deserve you. Any of you.  You’re all amazing and I don’t want you to feel the way about me I do about your grandmother.  So I run away.”  I sniffled.

“You don’t have to run away.  We might seem ungrateful, but you’re kinder than anyone I know mamma.  I just wish you were kinder to yourself.”

And I snorted and snotted for a moment anf promised I would be home more.  That’s a promise I need to endeavor to keep.

Then we went to Cinnabon and got Ben and ourselves some diabetic coma inducing deliciousness.

We arrived back at the room feeling better after our Gilmore Girls moment and explained to Ben that every family has their stuff, and feeling all the feels and having big heavy talks and cries is how we roll.  

And we all went out to grab a bite, and had Ramen in one of the top 10 little places in Tokyo.  Thank you Ben, and thank you Google.

There’s so much more to cover, but the point of this trip was to celebrate my strong, silent, eldest child’s life so far.  We’ve had an amazing time, and I will share more of our stories later, but today, if you are like me, and parenting makes you feel overwhelmed and unprepared, I suspect you’re Loved just exactly as you are, and your kids are grateful for the magic and mayhem that you surround them with.

Thanks for reading.

Mother in Law

Some months ago, when I was finally on an upswing after a fairly dark couple of years, a dear friend and mentor suggested I should take a stab at writing a screenplay.  He sent examples and links to people talking about how to write a great screenplay.  That phrase “write what you know” came up a bit.

What would I write about if I were to take my hand to such an exciting and audacious creative pursuit?

You know what.  The first and strongest idea was my mother in law Nicole.  It’s not an exaggeration to say she’s one of the best friends I have ever had in my life.  She’s also, outwardly at least, one of the most earnest curmudgeons you’ll ever meet.  She’s got a propensity to see the worst in most situations, seems she does this to be pleasantly surprised when things aren’t the worst.  She laughs at the human condition and herself and is as much an Eeyore as I am a Tigger.  Our relationship, and my mother in law’s life are sources of strength, hope, and laughter for me and the very few people she allows into her space to tell her stories to.  Add to that the fact she’s funny as fuck, and quite the cutest mean old lady imaginable, and I think it would be a friendship movie to rival Green Book, Ya-ya sisterhood or even… dare I say it… Beaches!

Mum and I are an odd couple indeed.  She’s the Dean Martin, I am the Jerry Lewis.  She’s George and I’m Gracie.  

While there is an inarguable element of comedy to our odd pairing, in the 17 years of knowing this woman, she has never lied to me.  Infact, her honesty and absolute inability to speak with a silver tongue or sugar coat anything has been a comfort through many struggles and has kept me humble and grounded when things are on an upswing.

We have both seen some of our darkest hours over the past couple of decades, and while the whole world checks in on us, it seems her and I are always front and center for each other through any crisis.  I was with her in hospital when she got her stents (she’s a new woman) and I translated grumpy mother in law vernacular to charming “please tell us exactly what is going on, we are smart enough to understand” when the doctors did their rounds.  When I was hospitalized, she was the only person permitted to see me.  And she’s been keeping an eagle eye on me, along with our neighbours and dear friends who also live on our property, Bill and Eva.  These are my foundation.  These people and my sister leigh and a small handful of dear and honest friends, our children, and my soulmate (and Nicole’s son) Phteven are what keep me tethered to this earth when my mental illness makes it almost impossible for me to carry on. They are also the only people there when I stop functioning and am laid up in a tearful heap, for however long it takes to get back on track.

My mother in law is always there to offer tough love and get me back to health and whatever frenetic level of stability I can manage on any given day.  She’s actually my hero.  She’s miserable and mean and I fucking Love her more than my own eyes.

I’m crying with every syllable I type right now. Today is her Birthday.  I won’t say how old, but I know she’s got some good years up her sleeve yet.  We still travel together, and I rely on her council and honesty in every aspect of my life. And you know what, despite the fact she is a rockstar at pointing out the painful and being more than a bit mean to me at times, I suspect she’s actually proud of me and Loves the crazy, loud, needy, passionate hurricane who married her son.  

So.  On your Birthday Mum… I know you hate a fuss.  I know you HATE how open I am.  I know you hate my constant gushing and hugs and happiness, but everyone who knows us knows that I adore you and you’ve stood by me through some pretty spicy shit.  I just wanted to say thank you.

Happy Birthday, and thank you for my surname, the genes that made your grandkids geniuses, and being my friend even though I drive you around the bend.

Love you today, and every day, even the ones I don’t like you very much.

I Swear To You


Yesterday was a big day.  It started early and my phone and meeting schedule was unrelenting from start to finish.  Thoroughly enjoyed it, and even managed to sneak in a 90 minute Thai massage between work and kid commitments, because self-care is important, and never more important than when you are under the hammer.  

A small but strong therapist dug knees and elbows into my knots, and my joints snapped, crackled, and popped while he stretched and contorted me around the table.  It is funny how pain can feel so good sometimes.  It got me to thinking about the wincing some people do when I use my rather trademark colourful language.  I swear like a sailor a lot of the time.  It seems to be both a good and a bad thing. So, as ambient piano music wafted in the background, the chance to be silent got me thinking about a thousand different things, but strangely, kept coming back to swearing.

My internal dialogue is not nearly as sweary as my speech. I can trace my affection for shocking vocabulary to my pre-teen years.  Growing up in an ultra-conservative oil/farming community, my grandparents Carl and Edna were pillars of society.  They sat on committees and were invited to all the pot lucks and bible groups, and greeted with smiles and nods as they meandered around our sleepy little hamlet. They did not drink, smoke, or swear. They fulfilled their traditional roles as bread winner and baker, farmer and home-maker with absolute Austrian precision.  My grandmother would not say shit if her mouth was full of it, and was always in total control of her faculties and put on the finest of faces.

I fucking hated that buttoned up bullshit so much. I was a weirdo from the word go. My path was, although not yet clear to me as a child, going to be paved by an over-active imagination, severe social awkwardness, a stal-worth desire for justice, and the gift of gregariousness and not having any more fucks to give after being placed firmly on the fringes of basically everything until I found my feet in a small island nation at the bottom of the planet.

The simple fact of the matter to me is, that swearing feels good.  It creates a social construct that explains in absolute terms that I do not think, nor do I want, to be stoic or slotted into a social station or class above salt of the earth.  As my best friend for well over two decades often reminds me; “Dee, you can win any award, climb any mountain, and have all the wealth in the world, but you’ll really never be anything but a cashed up bogan.”  I find that quite comforting.  I am what I am and that is all that I am, and I have a potty mouth.

After my massage and my mind meandering through my many meaningful moments dropping expletive bombs like a boss, I went to collect the kids and their friends.  Strangely, the fruit of my loins do not swear, nor are they prone to rule breaking of any kind.  I guess it isn’t that strange, as they have been raised in chaos and crave routine, in the same way I was raised in a bubble and craved chaos I suppose.  Their friends are comfortable dropping the odd expletive in my presence.  But really, they are all amazing kids with humour and manners, their social circles are seriously academic and often smart and sassy.  They spend some of their time learning to correctly say seriously cringe phrases in a variety of languages.  Then, they attempt to teach me and seem to relish the shock that shows on my face, as I am not easily surprised.  

There’s no doubt that language is a very powerful thing. What we say, how we say it makes a huge difference.  Swearing is so often shocking and I like to shock.  Swearing is a kind of verbal armor I carry around, that separates the wheat from the chaff very early on in the piece.  

There’s quite a few articles that sing the praises of the swearier types in our social circles.  As is often the case, I do not only meet, I exceed the parameters of being extra in the swearing stakes.  This time last week, I was having a 20-minute discussion with some near strangers at a conference on the use of the C bomb across different countries I’ve travelled. 

I know that when I meet someone, if they pepper the conversation with some well-chosen and appropriately placed expletives, I tend to feel more at ease. 

Regardless, I think the swearing, along with several of my other vices, will need to be re-examined and maybe shelved a little bit. 

So.  Have an excellent fucking Friday wherever you are, and thanks for reading.