Tusen Tak Norway


Norway eh. Smug bastards reminding the rest of the world how clean, healthy, sustainable and low crime they are. Yeah, the rest of the world gets it Norway, you’re better at most things than most other countries. You can actually shut the fuck up. You smug, tall, incredibly healthy, and good-looking-winter-sport-winning mother fuckers.

OBVIOUSLY I jest.  I absolutely Love Norway.  I adore Scandinavia in general.  Iceland is a firm favourite, but Oslo has been in my top 20 and always feels a little like coming home.  The way it used to feel in Seattle, and still feels when I fly into Wellington or Buenos Aires.  Every city has a feeling, a vibration, a spirit?  Most I like, some I do not.

So my tribe up in the North had some questions, as they were all well aware that last year was as stone-cold cluster fuck from start to finish for me. Someone at this conference suggested it was because the year of the dog is a shitty year? I don’t think it had much to do with dogs. At any rate, one of the best things about the Norwegians I know, and Love is their absolute zero tolerance for bullshit. Magne, Stalle, Erik, Christina, Mikkel, Natalie, Petter, and various other Scandinavian shining stars in the vast and varied sky that hangs over my head are always there to offer a sound smack down and some real talk. “You are the one who needs to give less fucks Dee, you always tell everyone else to.” Or “You must learn the rules of poker (analogy for business) because you will never have a poker face.” Or “Dee, you cannot retire, because your passion actually scares people into submission. I will tell you when you can retire.” And “I think you would be much happier if you followed even a little of the advice you give others.” And all of this was delivered with an absolutely delicious sing song scandanavian accent, and deadpan facial expression. Oh, I do Love a good Nordic pep talk. Straight shooters the lot of them. What’s not to Love?

So I am at Oslo airport on my first leg home.  I miss my babies and wish that fucking hyperloop thing that I saw on the first day of the first show in Amsterdam was in operation so I could just get home, emission free, fast, and without too much fuss, at sub sonic (ultrasonic??? I don’t fucking know) speed.  But no.  I will be on the road for nearly 72 hours as I have an overnight stop in the Dam before continuing on to Hong Kong then home.  Hong Kong is home to one of my favourite things in the whole world, my soul sister Krissy, and she is another straight shooter who doesn’t mince words or fuck around with niceties.  I think, I am beginning to see a pattern perhaps?

Bidding a fond farewell to the country that undeniably kicked off the international EV industry, I am not even the slightest bit sad because I know I will be back.  As long as there are things to learn and share and the people I have grown so fond of here to dryly and frequently take me down a peg or two and remind me to calm the actual fuck down, I will keep returning.  Natalie and Mikkel just returned to Oslo after being in the faaaaarrr north where they were treated to a spectacle of Aurora Borealis.  Of course, they filmed it and it looks amazing, but Natalie explained in her usual earnest and magical way, that the lights absolutely convinced her that everything was going to be okay.  Her big beautiful brown eyes twinkled as they looked into mine and said; “You know what Dee, it was magic.  As if nature and the universe was putting a show on just for me, and now I know that everything is going to be okay.”  So yeah, I need an injection of that magic as I can feel myself veering ever so slightly into self-destruct mode.  This mode is best avoided when possible.  It is usually possible.

Sat at the airport, there are lots of tall people wearing really great warm winter clothes.  Someone said that Norwegians don’t smile much, I don’t agree.  Trundling my suitcases from my apartment to central station I was asked three times (with a smile) if I needed help, and it’s little more than a 5-minute walk.  As I sit here writing this there is a group of four Norwegians sipping coffee and laughing among themselves.  Most Norwegians I know have a big, round, full belly laugh.  

Exhausted, overwhelmed by the work ahead, but feeling resolute that the universe can actually be on our side if we let it be, I am looking forward to a magical year. We are about to enter the roaring 20’s.  This is going to be the part in the narrative of our planet where a culmination of climate change goals and infrastructure plans will ensure the industry that we have chosen (or perhaps chose us) will continue to grow and evolve, displacing decades of greed, waste and lies.  This will be a decade of disruption, change, rebuilding and rethinking the way we live and work.  Norway is well past many of the goals and milestones laid out for our island nation.  So, thanks for paving the way you fantastic Nordic nerds and activists.  But most of all, thank you for being home to such wonderful, warm, and welcoming friends.  Tusen Tuk. 

Thanks for reading. 

XXOO

Patience


2019 has been a stellar year.  It feels like there’s been dividends from dues paid, and a solid home, where I feel safe, because some sturdy foundations have been laid.  The universe has spoken, perhaps screamed at me, that I must slow the pace and patience pays in incredible ways.  For the first time in a couple of years, I’m content and aware that magical and meaningful things are so much more gratifying when there is some effort, planning, and yes, patience, involved.

I’ve been dancing on moonbeams for a few weeks now. Full of joy and hope.   Trying to be patient, and TRUST me I gotta try pretty hard, as this is not a virtue that I was freely blessed with.

Thousands of people pontificate on the things that are proven to stabilize anxiety and mental health, and the reason we hear/read so much about it all, is because it actually works.  So, the hot mess mama that is Dee, is choosing , mindfulness, meditation, deviation from drama, yoga, laughter, nature, and pausing a lot more.  I had a massive social streamline and am seriously surrounding myself with people who not only lift me up, but have the courage to make me aware, as well as accountable for faults, foibles, and even fantastic fuck ups.  They all piss me off from time to time, that’s how Love and friendship works.  But I am determined to have better, and be a better friend.  That means more focus, focus, focus, and plan and follow through. Many people have been incredibly patient with me, and it is incomprehensibly nice to be actively be flexing patience and the ability to prioritize.  

Feeling back in the game as I so obviously do (long may it continue), I have also mustered up the courage and strength to get back to work.  Also, thrown myself back into socializing in New Zealand again.  A lot.  After hiding in my room or running away overseas.  For the most part, being social has filled up my cup and kept me smiling.  I went to my first EV event in months, and it was challenging but clearly convinced me that is time I went full throttle back into the scene.  There’s so much work still to be done, and I Love nothing more than our community and the quirky characters who keep me on my toes and give me plenty to do and hope for.  I’ve bowed out of the distraction of Tinder (yeah, that was me you saw on there recently) it’s a rite of passage and I MUST write under a pseudonym soon to share the seriously strange, and sometimes beautiful stories.  But it’s time to bid a fond farewell to superficial distractions, as I was dating to manage my self-hating.  Basically reaching out for attention and validation.  I’ve made some incredible connections, and those friendships will continue, but I know what I want now, and patience has and will be a huge part of finding out if the universe will meet me halfway and deliver it.  I’m quietly confident it will work out.  It took 40 years to figure out what I truly want romantically, and it’s worth waiting for.  So my travel, and work, friends and family will be the focus while fate figures out what it has in store, I’m willing to wait for it.  I really do not want to end up like Aaron Burr though sir (shameless Hamilton reference).

So here’s my list of shit that really seemed to work, you can take what serves you and disregard the rest:

🙂

Occam’s Razor – Take a breath.  Everyone is NOT out to get you.  Everything is NOT your fault.  You will likely find that if you stop and remind yourself that the simplest explanation is the most likely, and simple explanations do very seldom involve conveluded passive aggression or planning from the people involved.  When you stop overthinking shit, you’ll find you’re much freer to be patient and seek solutions with the time you once wasted worrying.  I haven’t mastered this yet, but I am getting HEAPS better all the time.

Sleep – get enough decent sleep.  Feeling rested and being kind to your body and mind may mean you have to step out of your life for a bit to get the rest you need.  So do that, find a way.  Arrange someone for the kids, and get somewhere peaceful so you can catch up on clean and nurturing rest.  Your brain (and likely your friends and family) will thank you for making the effort.

Breathe – Get yourself onto YouTube and get a breathing tutorial and apply that bad ass motherfucking strategy whenever you feel you’re on the verge of losing your shit.  Breathing also means not talking, texting or further fucking up already freaky situations.

Nature – Get outside.  Put your devices down, if you have kids or pets, get those perfect little parasites involved.  The sight, sound, smell and and serious magic of mother nature is healing AF.  Get amongst it.  It’ll calm you down and help you make better decisions.  True story.

Forgiveness – Just let shit go.  Patience comes from knowing that the universe is going to sort you out.  Terrible things happen to good people, and good things happen to terrible people and none of it, seriously… NONE OF IT will be made any better if you stew and freak and fly off the handle.  

Laughter – My family is undeniably nuttier than squirrel shit.  Both nature and nuture play a part in that.  We use humour to defuse and deal with almost everything.  We convey pain through jokes and the time it takes us to belly laugh and hug it out when shit gets real is enough time to cool the brain and slow down our hearts enough that we’re more likely to show patience than say or do hurtful things that can’t be taken back.

Embrace Not Getting Your Way – This may sound counter-intuitive, but so often, things we really want or think we want are just not meant for us.  You can have a plan, it can be a really fucking good plan, but you are not guaranteed success and patiently dealing with disaster and disappointment will mean you get to embrace the shit out of the things that go right when they do. Sometimes these things require patience and planning, sometimes these things just require the patience to wait it out and let magic come to you.  Either way, if you always get what you want in short order, you won’t be a very good, nor a very happy person.  Also a true story.

There’s more, but I have been patiently procrastinating from stuff I seriously have to do so I will wrap up.

Have a great day, and a wonderful week.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

I’m Not Going to Write You a Love Story… Okay, Maybe Kinda.

Travel is something I feel blessed and obsessed about. I could happily own no home and just walk the world, provided there was regular family visits or, even better, the hobbit tribe were all in tow.  They refuse to stop their lives and leave the comfort and familiarity of friends and family to meander around the planet with their eccentric wee mother.

I’ve been in or around airports since 10pm Pacific time yesterday.  That’s well over 24 hours of the faint smell of kerosene (also known as NavGas) and the roar of jet engines as the faded background music in my rather strange and inarguably interesting existence.  I’ve met new people, sucked back more than 5 litres of bubbly water (they have the same taps in the Air Canada lounges that give you sparkling water as in the Koru lounge) and eaten my body weight in simple carbs.  You may think that not much can happen while you are in transit, but I’m struggling to pick a story to share with you, as so much cool shit has gone down, from the moment I woke up… erm… yesterday, until the point that I started writing this blog to share with you now.

I think I shall tell you a Love story.

Where shall I begin?  Let me think. 

Okay, I have been on the dating scene for well over a year now.  I’ve opted to only coffee or cocktail or hook up with people who do not live in New Zealand, for obvious reasons.  I have very much enjoyed being single and ready to mingle.  I’ve met so many nice and intelligent people and only a small smattering of absolute assholes.  I was out with my dear friends having Korean BBQ and we were swapping war stories of single days, and my friend told me a story of dating an astrophysicist. Apparently, the relationship met its doom when he couldn’t handle her asking what was before the time before time, as in, what was there before the big bang.  I thought on this for a moment. Seeing as I really don’t have an opinion or much idea about astrophysics, instead, I quite earnestly contributed this fact: “I think most, perhaps all of my relationships break down or end because I am proper fucking nuts and incredibly needy and emotional.  Or I ghost people.  Which is proper fucking nuts actually, so yes.” 

ANYWAY.

So I have met some really nice people online and IRL. I have almost absolute zero desire to be shipped out or settle down again.  I Love my Phteven more than the moon and the stars, even though we’re both feeling much better in the friend zone after a very tricky last couple of years indeed.

I do wonder though, about soulmates and true Love and the one.  I think there are a lot more than just one of the ones.  But, what if you meet and miss one!  What if the time space continuum delivers you mr. or mrs. Or ms. or zee zi so who knows RIGHT for your timing is just off?

Well.  I suspect that may have happened to me tonight.  Buckle in, I have a story to tell you.


I slept in this morning so had to rush out without even showering from the airport hotel I stayed at last night.  I met a couple of well-dressed men at the entrance, and asked them if they were waiting for the shuttle (which only comes every 20-30 minutes).  They had ordered and Uber and offered to let me tag along.  So I did.  I found out that they’d had a killer night and were feeling rather like cups of cold sick. We had nice chats and connected on LinkedIn and I gave them coffee/vitamin shots I had picked up with Dan at the bulletproof coffee lab.  They were lovely and wouldn’t even let me chip in for the Uber.

Then I found out my flight was cancelled.

Met lots of strangers, a couple of celebrities (I will NEVER tell… kidding, happy to share the goss but not write it down so ask me sometime if you see me) and generally had a fairly decent time just people watching and being the friendliest fucking person on the planet as I am prone to do most days.

Then the moment finally arrived, it was time to line up to board.

Here is where the Love story begins.

I was hiding from some ridiculously attractive and charismatic millennials who had been exchanging witty quips and champagne complaints in the lounge earlier. They were standing around by the airbridge entrance with their designer scarves and perfectly quaffed hairdos, kinda the way the mean girls in any high school guard their territories in the quad or lunchroom or common room.  ANYWAY, they were gross so I was keeping a low profile on the other end of the gate waiting area.

That, is when I saw him.  

You know when you do that thing, when you kinda feel like someone is watching you, so you look in that direction, but they aren’t. Then it happens again, a few times perhaps, and eventually you make eye contact.  Yeah.  That happened.  It was kinda nice.  

Quick Segway:  

I’ve just had three days of being mercilessly chatted up by countless people across LA.  My self-esteem is soaring pretty high currently, and my new campaign mantra is: Dee goes to California, she’s… wait for it… Making. America. Date. Again.  HAHAHhahaha.  I am so funny it actually hurts.

Anyway, back to brown eyed sweater guy.

So the look up look away game ended when my name got called over the PA as they had changed my seat from 1A to 4F.  Bastards.  I missed out on having the fish because I was in the last row, and that cod looked good on the menu.  Grrrr.

I must take a moment to describe brown eyed sweater guy. I thought for a moment he was that Zac Effron guy.  Not him in Hairspray or even Greatest Showman, more the one from that dark comedy with Seth Rogan as the neighbor of the frat house look about him.  I figured out fairly quickly it wasn’t.  But boy did I think he was cute.  And his sweater was that deep shade of merlot that has become my signature colour over the years.  I had a pastor wearing that colour in Edinburgh some months back and we are firm friends and I suspect always will be.  That colour is a great omen for me.  

ANYWAY.  Get through to the airbridge, and who is standing three people away from me??? THAT’S riiiight.  Brown eyed sweater guy.  So we exchanged sheepish smiles and I sat down and started texting my son Adam to make it look like I was very important and busy, because looking at sweater guy made me all gooey.

The line finally started to move and there was no sign of brown eyed sweater guy.  I did get to listen in on a very interesting conversation about screenplays and personal tragedy from the quirky middle-aged creatives infront of me.  I wanted to join in like ten times but it was obviously very much an intimate conversation for them.  Not intimate enough that they chose not to have it on an airbridge, but it had some pretty deep shit going on so I left them to it.

I finally got to the plane, and who is sitting next to me?!?!  Not brown eyed sweater guy.  There was a very nice property developer with a NYC accent next to me, think his name was Mike.  

However… Directly infront of me was.  YES!  Brown eyed sweater guy.  He even turned to look at me once or twice while he could pretend he was shuffling around to settle in.

Anyway, long story short, nothing much happened all flight, I had to have the ravioli because everything else was already ordered by the people who didn’t have their seat changed from 1a to 4f.  But something, I have no idea what, perhaps a panic attack or respritory issue?  Brown eyed sweater guy needed a doctor and quick!  SERIOUSLY, this drama actually happened y’all.  The man sitting next to him alerted the crew and he had a chat with a doctor and his blood pressure wasn’t right and I tried very hard not to stare, but it was happening right in the seat infront of me.  I turned to my neighbor and asked if he knew what was happening, and he just shook his head with concern and said; “He’s not doing to great.” And we had a short chat and tried not to stare.

When we landed brown eyed sweater guy walked off the plane with the paramedics.  He had an English accent and was polite without being sheepish or obsequious.  I turned to Mike again to ask him if he had overheard anything about how brown eyed sweater guy was doing, and he shrugged his shoulders.  I then smiled and said to Mike:  “well, it was most likely the fact the poor guy was overcome by my beauty.”  And Mike open mouth gafawed.  Just one big chuckle, but it was a great sound.  “Yes, I’m sure I overheard that this was the issue when he was talking to the medics.”  And we smiled.  “Yes, it happens all the time.  It’s a curse.”  And with that, the line had started to move and we shuffled off the plane, now engaged in a conversation. 

I diverted my stare as Mike and I talked and walked toward customs and immigration together. 

Nearly two hours later, I was downstairs talking to a retired woman named Dawn who really REALLY hates Trump.  As we sat and chatted and discussed the horror of climate change and the injustice of wealth distribution, who appeared in the corner of my eye?

Yup.  That’s right. It was brown eyed sweater guy. Again.

He was looking a little tired but all and all pretty good.  I caught his gaze and squealed “Oof I was worried about you!  Are you feeling okay?”  And bounded up and hugged him as I do with just about everyone everywhere all the time.

He said he’s feeling much better and thanked me for the concern.  I patted his shoulder and said my goodbyes and headed back to sit down and continue my discussions with Dawn.  He turned back to me and asked if my shirt (which is an oversized grey sweater with the words “rise up” on the front) was from Hamilton.  

I nearly cried.

“No, it’s just a shirt, but I do so fucking very much LOVE Hamilton.”

And we smiled.  And he turned and left.

And that is probably the last time in my whole life I will see brown eyed sweater guy.  

And that, is my Love story for today.  And it really isn’t a Love story at all.  Brown eyed sweater guy could very well be married or gay and not for a moment feeling the same way as I did.  But the what if thoughts make me smile.  And I will keep being me around the globe in search of the aha connection that I’ve heard people talk about.  

Thanks for reading.

Three Things

I’m adrift.  Three months since the megaquake level nervous breakdown, and feeling happier, healthier, and more optimisitic than I have done in years. I am happy, but clueless and quite lost. I’ve got no idea what I want, where I am going, what I want to be doing, or how I want to be doing it.

There are three unyielding veracities that keep filling my chest and gnawing and snarling at me if I veer too far from any of them.  

  1. I adore my family– and need more time with my tribe. We are our relationships and they are the magic that make the good times better and the bad times bearable. The kids are incredible and open and honest and FUNNY!  They are of course damaged and difficult and it feels like I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t most days.  But far fucking out these kids have a self-awareness, integrity, kindness and depth that blows my mind and both breaks and buoys my fragile and frantic heart.  They Love me. I do not feel like I have earned that, as I am painfully aware that I am a hot fucking mess and let them and anyone else foolish enough to care for me down sometimes.  It is exhausting being my friend and even more exhausting being my family.  And honestly, it is impossibly exhausting being me.  I guess if we stop to think about it, many people would acknowledge feeling a bit overwhelmed by the baggage they carry and the package that has been added to over the years that makes them who they are.  But seriously.  I am full fucking on.  Full throttle or slamming on the breaks.  Hot or cold. Meek or bold.  I am just a lot, and I scare strangers and put small children and animals at ease.  People can only handle me in small doses (those lucky fucking assholes) but I am stuck with me 24/7 and my family, even the husband who has recently agreed to a serious separation, well, they know all of this and Love, forgive and crave me in their lives anyway.  Steph cried so much today when I left.  She doesn’t generally.  And now I am crying as I write this.  I spend ¼ of the year (at least) away from them flitting around the planet to find meaning or scream from some mountaintop.  The kids and I cherish our time together, and I just think it is time we spent a bit more. This year, I will travel with them not away from them, a lot more often.  
  • This is the year of the Goddess.  Championing and supporting the amazing women I know and seeing that ripple on and on feels like it could be the single most impactful thing I could possibly do while on this earth.  We’ve been fighting ourselves, each-other, misogyny, glass ceilings, harsh dealings, and so much judgement (internally, externally, and always detrimentally) that most women find it difficult to fucking breath anymore. The sweet spot at the centre of a Venn diagram of my passions (mental health, social justice, tolerance, sustainability, carbon divestment, tipping the balance of power, shaking up the status quo, kindness, learning, humour, creativity, and just basically NOT being a fucking cunt) well smack in the middle of that huge number of passions and problems, well women being kinder to themselves and others and feeling more empowered falls quite squarely as a potential game changer for any/all of these things.  We’re more than half of the population of the planet. We need to be heard and we need to be strong if this broken clusterfuck of a planet and society in general have any chance of surviving, let alone thriving.  
  • I’m really fucking tired. Before I was adrift I was riddled with guilt and chock full of frenetic energy and guilt that kept me reaching out and striving for… hmmm.  Well fuck me gently with a chainsaw, I genuinely don’t even know what I was striving for.  I do know I had something to prove and a chip on my shoulder and felt I needed to yell to be heard.  I guess it was validation.  I was so desperate for validation and so riddled with guilt I stretched myself so thin I broke. And rather than validation, I was given the gift of a hefty and healthy reality check and an opportunity to stand up and demand to be given the time, space and resources I needed to fucking reboot and find myself.  I was juggling so many balls, flying to so many places, waving around my jazz hands, sobbing, laughing, screaming, crying, and perhaps, almost dying, because every waking moment had to be filled with purpose.  If I wasn’t charging ahead with guns blazing and raising some serious hell, I was bed ridden and sobbing.  That’s bullshit gets to be well fucking tiresome.  I am not interested in repeating the cycle that has led me to that place again.  So yes. I know a lot of you will be able to relate.  I’m forty, and I am fucking seriously bone tired.  The loving my family realization kinda touched on this point. But seriously.  Tired.  

So here I am in the Koru lounge at the Auckland airport. If you pass through I always wear moth leggings and a red tunic when I travel.  You’ll maybe see me showing someone how to use the water spout (tap on one side then the other to get hot, still below, bubbles up top) or chatting with some strangers over the trials of traveling with children, or just getting to know them for the sake of learning something from strangers.  Most of the time though, I am hiding in the corner either by myself or flanked by one or more kids and occasionally my Phoulmate Phteven (we are still undeniably best friends and I hope that never changes).

I am heading to LA to see my friends Cat and Dan and hopefully Tony and Leesa and the girls as well.  Then I am off to a very special women’s retreat in the Dominican Republic. The strength and connection I have enjoyed from attending Women Who Get Shit Done conferences here in NZ impacts my life daily.  If you are one of the WWGSD tribe, I fucking Love and respect you.  Thank you.  Seriously.

Looking for answers, and looking forward to yoga and horses on a beach and being squished back into some sort of metaphorical amalgamated and functioning alloy, instead of feeling like fractious and impossible to combine or control hard chunks of chaos (seriously, I feel like a bag full of ball bearings bumping up against each-other as they get shaken around lately).

I am going to calm the fuck down and figure shit out.

Eva told me before I left, we are all empty.  We are all trying to fill it up.  Being goal oriented and keeping going through adversity is her strategy (and it seems to work, she’s AMAZING!) and she’s made me promise to commit to a goal and give it a completion date.  So this is what I will do.  I want to choose 12 amazing women among the dozens, perhaps hundreds of beautiful women I know.  I want to intensely, sincerely, and genuinely interview them and share their stories with the world.  I want everyone to know that our heroes and the goddesses who shape our lives are ALL shoveling some serious shit, and we all fall down, we all get hurt, and we all feel lost and ready to quit.  I want to find out what they have in common, what keeps them going, what they dream about and how happy they are and why.  None of us are always completely happy.  And that’s something that I think many of my most admired goddess have in common, they know that and embrace and honour the good along with the bad.

So.  I will let you know how it goes.  And DM me if you’re keen on a no holds barred interview and being in my 2019 Year of the Goddess book that I promised Eva I would write, and send into a publisher by December 31st2019.  Even though it will likely never travel beyond my blogs, I will do what I say and I will definitely learn so much along the way.

Thanks for reading.

XXOO

Fourteen and a Life to Go

Today was beautiful, and it’s nearly over, and we will never get it back again. That’s the funny thing about time. It trickles or rushes by, but we never will get a chance to relive the moments once they pass.

I’m sat down on our front porch to write a blog about my eldest child’s 14th birthday, which I will not, and cannot share until he reads it and gives me the go ahead.  Daniel does not like surprises. Daniel’s disappointment is often immeasurable and his day is frequently ruined. He bought a hoodie to express this fact clearly to the world without actually having to engage with anyone he does not already know.

Interestingly, despite Daniel no being a fan of surprises himself, he was actually a bit of surprise.  We found out he was going to join us the same weekend we signed the contract on our second house. We were just married and bought a three bedroom ski chalet in Ohakune, to enjoy fun weekends with friends all through the winter.  Phteven and I wanted kids, but planned a good five to ten year cooling off period after our marriage.  I did ski right up until we were 8 months pregnant, but as soon as Daniel was born the trips to the snow waned and we have just recently sold the wee chalet we had lovingly named The Happy Hobbit Love Shack.

The pregnancy was hard.  I puked all over myself at St. Lukes mall early in the first trimester, then gained nearly 40kg over the next seven months and earned the dubious distinction of gestational diabetes for the efforts.  I remember polishing off half a baked cheesecake in a single sitting, stating it was the baby who was hungry and I was eating for two.

Daniel was named for a friend from high school who passed away when he was 19, and my soul mate Phteven’s best childhood mate. The quickening came on the Victoria Park flyover while I was listening to “she will be Loved” by Maroon 5 and thinking about the shy and brilliant Danny Coles who was one of my few friends during the most difficult time of my life… High School in a small town.

Daniel was born to the same Maroon 5 album Songs About Jane. I started and finished pushing him out of the safety of my body to the song Harder to Breath.  Despite an epidural, I knew when contractions were on their way. and he arrived in silence and did not cry until his tiny heel was pricked for a blood test and he received his vitamin K shot.  He hates needles to this day,  There’s a very good reason above and beyond his first tears on this earth, and I won’t cover that gruesome story in this blog.

I suspect a few people reading this can probably remember the sense of helplessness and inadequacy that bowls you over when you become a parent.  A life arrives. This delicate, floppy, noisy and, helpless creature needs you for everything.  I suppose some people have the instincts to parent in built, I did not.  I will never forget my mother-in-law putting a blue striped sock on Daniel’s tiny foot by opening up the mouth of it with her strong sausage fingers. She wrapped it around his monkey toes the way you might open a flexible shopping bag to fit in an oversized but fragile purchase at the supermarket.  I fell in Love with my mother in law and she fell in Love with Daniel at some point in his first days, and both relationships remain firm fourteen years on.

Daniel had incredible reflux.  We were terrified of co-sleeping so his wooden crib was hoisted onto a sharp angle and his safety sleeper wedge was lovingly placed at the top of the incline.  He was demand fed, and, unbeknownst to us, lactose intolerant.  I really, REALLY like cheese so he suffered as a result and we finally figured it out when he was weaned at about 9 months and could only tolerate goat milk formula.  

This is so very Daniel.  He’s suffered through my awkwardness and learning curves for 14 years. He was born to question and to confirm that we are all fundamentally fragile and undeniably needy.  His first words and phrases were pointing out the obvious, which he still does, only now often with impeccable comedic timing.  “Hepicoptor cwash” he’d say each time as his father’s model helicopter met its fate when he was just a smidge over a year old. He’d also question us and everything around him verbally and non-verbally, looking quizzically as we attempted to explain things to his insatiably curious brain.  This child is a creature of integrity who has called bullshit on anything and everything for a very long time. His thirst for justice and knowledge fight with his soft nature every day. He will stand up and question or constructively criticise everyone (especially his mother I often think) and this gift he has, has been a source of shame as he’s been pained by the potential of hurt feelings and unintended consequences of his insatiable questioning since his first words. 

Fast forward to today.  He’s the smallest in his class by a country mile, and holds himself like he is ten feet tall and does not give a single fuck about anything, while feeling scared and nervous most moments throughout any given day. He studies in the top streamed class at AJHS with other quirky kids who keep Daniel and the family in constant supply of memes, painfully funny YouTube material and very good jokes and philosophical conversations. He is not competitive. He is whatever the opposite of competitive is. He will drop out of something as soon as the fun is taken away or people put him on the stage. However, he will happily stand on any stage and perform or speak, he finds that easier than talking to a small group of peers. Not a social butterfly, but a brave and beautiful brainiac is this small dark and handsome lad.

Not surprisingly, he’s crucified occasionally for standing up for himself and others.  He is brave and panicked in equal measures as he bashes through this life with an insight and wealth of experience that many people probably never need to, or perhaps more accurately, get to know.  

This kid has become a man through a life I can’t imagine living.  He feels a guilt that is so profound and pure for his blessings.  His father and I did not have a fraction of his comfort or opportunity, and he is so sentient of his privilege it serves us a feast of humility that creates compunction and care daily, keeping us honest and exhausted.  

We all have a birth order, a narrative, and trauma. We all have mommy and daddy issues. I often ask Daniel how he grew to be so dark, sardonic and genuinely hilarious, and his response is often “deep and painful childhood trauma” to which I always respond, “Well, you’re welcome!”.  

We all make a difference every day on this earth by being amongst life or hiding from it.  Daniel is a quintessential observer of life, and a painful prodigy. He is kind and gentle to the point he refuses to hold a bird because he does not trust himself not to hurt it’s fragility.  He won’t pick up the cat because he feels like he wouldn’t like being picked up himself (after bullies threw him around making him feel powerless) so he refuses to inflict that on a living breathing creature. 

All of the people who came out of my body are extraordinary.  And they are all so indescribably unique.  Daniel is burdened with brilliance and bravery beyond my understanding.  But he uses humour to defuse pain.  He relies on logic to calm his active brain.  He’s the only true introvert in the four kid we are responsible for, and that introversion is something he grapples with consistently because he isn’t afraid to stand up and question injustice or ignorance, yet he always beats himself up for stepping out of line.  

I do hope he lets me share this.  And more than that, I hope he knows how exceedingly proud we are of the person he is.

He has scared the shit out of Phteven and me countless times. He’s got mad DJ skills while we drive in the car or he puts together a Spotify list to share, owing to his rich and diverse taste in music.  He’s dark, bright, heavy, and light.  He’s fucking great actually.  And he’s just getting started teaching anyone lucky enough to cross his path how to question themselves the way he can’t help but interrogate himself.

Happy birthday Daniel san.  If there is a single bit of truth I could offer you, it is just to stop being so painfully hard on yourself and everyone else.  We are all imperfect and illogical and we can all do better.  Your integrity and curiosity will absolutely piss people (including yourself) off. But give yourself a break because you’re already one of the best things I have ever seen in my 40 years on this earth. I just wish you could see how great you are.  The broken bits, the bright bits, the dark bits… They are what makes you Daniel Allan Alexander West, and you are better than good, you’re great.  

Scrappy – gets a wrap.


I’ve been fighting most of my life.  Fighting for what I figured was fair, fighting for friends, fighting to be heard, to be seen, to be noticed.  Fighting with myself, and those closest to me over frequently fuck knows what.  Fighting with my own fucking heart and mind most days as internal dialogue tries to convince me I’m a terrible person, and do too much, too little, or simply the wrong thing most of the time.

Interestingly, I am not actually feeling up to scrapping anymore. Think the fire in my belly and my inane sense of self-righteousness that led me to stand up to and for just about anything and everything is not even embers anymore.  

I’m fucking exhausted. I don’t want to try so hard or wage wars against every injustice that lands on my radar anymore. This year will be the year of the goddess, and I’ll gently worship and celebrate myself, and all the magical women in my tribe, and those I’ve yet to meet. It’s time to ctfo, take a step back, and lift others up while taking care of my own goddamned self for a change.

Most people, if they are truly honest with themselves, have self-sabotaged or denied themselves the comfort and joy of being their most authentic self.  Most people fight battles or struggle with their relationships or their own mind. This year has taught me something I plan on discussing in great depth over the year ahead, and that is the fact that we are all juggling and battling with what I call “mommy and daddy” issues.  We are all carrying our broken childhoods, our disappointments, and we all want to know that we are Loved and accepted unconditionally.  We all want to make our parents (whoever they are, or whoever we view as our parental figures, related or otherwise) proud.

40 years of feeling like a failure and fighting to be recognized and feeling a fire in me that is both fed and extinguished by grand deeds and gestures and being a right bossy bitch at times needs to be put to bed.  I am no closer to feeling whole.  What I have noticed that I am, is very close to my children, and they’re growing up to be amazing, empathetic, and incredibly resilient people with the confidence to question and the fearlessness to seek their own paths.  They are all adventurers and activists.  They are all full of their own moments, magic and, of course their own wounds.  

Do you remember being young and attending religious camps or youth camps?  Do you remember singing Johnny Appleseed or Koombaya around a firepit?  I vividly remember the songs “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and “Let The Sun Shine In” and my favourite song of all time, written by one of my all time historic heroes Charlie Chaplin, Smile.  I’ve included links to jog your memory if you would like to hear them.

Unfortunately, there’s a satirical version of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” that has been playing on repeat for many years in my dark and self-loathing heart.  Same tune but the words go something like:

If you’re happy and you know it

Fuck it up

If you’re happy and you know it

Lose your shit

If you’re happy and you know it

Well, you’re likely gonna blow it

Beat them to the punch

Get in first

And fuck it up.

That may or may not be relatable… It’s what I’ve done for a long time though, and this is the year I speak to that demon and tell it to pack its things and leave because I am probably well through half of my time on this planet, and have some seriously epic shit to do with some seriously amazing people, and running away and blowing things is going to have to stop being an ongoing problem.

Happy has returned after nearly two years of emptiness and struggles.  We all have a lot of shit to shovel.  Seems that kindness, generosity, and hope can at times be seen as an invitation to manipulate, maim, use, or even dig at or destroy us.  Well, I have said it before, I will say it again, it is not your fault if someone is an asshole.  They’re sent to teach us something about ourselves, and if that something is to stay well the fuck away from them that’s a lesson that’s totally worth taking on, as it will make room for people who are truly on our side.  

Someone I do not know, and will likely never see again got incredibly upset with me recently for being as open as I am about my struggles.  She LOST her shit when I openly shared the story of my visit to a psych ward after the second total nervous breakdown of 2018.  She was angry that I was trying to normalize it as. Rightly or wrongly she is of the opinion that me openly sharing my struggle cheapens other people’s suffering and choices to do it more privately or even in silence.  That’s fair.  She can fight her demons any way she chooses, but I don’t personally think that I need to be ashamed or secretive about the journey I’ve been on or what I learn with every blow and battle.  

So.

I thought I’d wrap up the week with some highlights of 2018. Here’s a list of some of the epic wins from all over the world in a year that has kicked my ass so impressively.

  • Getting my Master’s degree (one last paper to hand in and it should be golden) and traveling around Saudi Arabia and Singapore with a group of absolutely amazing friends (and my fellow students and course coordinators)
  • Jacinda
  • Tweets from Ricky Gervais
  • New friends in Ukraine and a perfect, snowy, simply amazing few days in Kyiv
  • Seriously separating from my soulmate and still remaining friends
  • Doubling the size of the ChargeNet network
  • Electric Avenue
  • Soul Sisters new and old
  • Adventures
  • Downsizing
  • Learning to ask for things
  • NZ EV podcast with Theo
  • Kind kids growing into amazing people
  • Feeling fear and doing it anyway
  • Road trips
  • Tindering like it was Tetris and learning a lot about myself and others in the process (Blogs a plenty on those adventures heading toward your eyeballs in the year ahead)
  • Scotland
  • Staying put
  • Sharing
  • Trees, bees, birds, plants, animals and communities if people caring more about the oceans and the earth getting mobilized and impactful all over the world
  • Falling down and fighting to get up stronger and smarter than before
  • Being a bit more careful 
  • Being a lot more grateful
  • Finding food again after two years with no appetite
  • Dancing even though I am a shitty dancer
  • Singing in the car with the kids
  • Saying enough is enough to some, and sticking with friends who have stood by me
  • Argentina
  • Island hopping
  • Less shopping
  • Hampers of hope
  • Retelling strange dreams and sharing funny memes
  • Wonder Women the world over
  • Feeling beautiful 

And so many more moments and memories.

This year, maybe many of us will have a chance to slow down and seek our bliss.  Maybe it’s time to stop trying to prove ourselves to ourselves and others, and just know that we are all fucked up and properly perfect in our imperfections. Maybe this is the year I start writing that fucking book and learn to build and appreciate boundaries and boundless possibilities without stepping on quite so many toes as I crash through life as a Scrappy Dee.

Who knows.  

Pretty fucking eager to see where it goes though.

Happy New Year and thanks for reading.

Meaning and Moments

 

Wrapped up in my crimson bath robe, with Closing Time (Tom Waits) on vinyl playing, rain pouring down, and a strong black coffee, I am enjoying being the happiest I remember in a very long time.

 

We are all just a collection of memories.  Painful, peaceful, plentiful, poignant, and pregnant with possibilities we are packed full of plummy pieces of everywhere we have been, and all that we have seen.

 jk

A couple of days ago, we had some of the tribe around to our home as the skies opened up and sheets of warm rain drenched the decks, our yard, and our guests shoes.  It was a magical day, and my friends held their gaze and asked me: “and are you okay?” or “but do you hear me when I tell you just as you tell me, that you are beautiful and inspirational and good?” and that set my eyes into streams that rivaled those falling from the eves of the home that has hosted so many moments over the years.  This life cannot be perfect, and none of us will walk through it unscathed or safe from battle scars and hard learned lessons.  But we all have our moments.  Moments have made me feel like an outsider and unworthy of the Love and respect I so freely heap on anyone and everyone who crosses my path. Moments have made me feisty and fearless, but they’ve also clearly made me scared and unstable.

 

2018 was a testing time.  For my family, for our friends and their families.  The political, environmental and economic landscape of our planet has been tossed and tried in ways that have left the thoughtful among us confounded, and the fearful unfortunately fortified with an arsenal of untruths and unsustainable solutions to situations they perhaps don’t even understand, as the choices and chances they make and take do not serve them or those around them.

 

Meaningful moments this year were not always good, but sometimes they were magnificent and magical.  A long night at a hotel bar in Edinburgh talking to a totally random team of huge hearted humans from all corners of the world changed me forever. Imagine this:  A priest, a professor, a single mom, several Scots, an activist and some business men walk into a bar, and talk until it closes. Sharing laughter, tears, loving insights and truths often only strangers could see so clearly, and so many secrets that we will carry with us in our suitcases of memories since that beautiful night.  One of that night’s tribe broke his arm skiing on Christmas eve, and others among us are battling with bills and bullshit in our various corners of the world.  We can call on each other if and when we need, and it’s amazing that one or two fleeting moments made us meet and forever be entwined.

 

This year, I wish you magic and meaning in the moments you collect.  I wish you the strength to see the sadness and struggles you’re given as a chance to be the comfort and kindness you know in your heart we all want and deserve. Bitter or better I think are both strengthened together, so seek those who see you for the beautiful being you are and find joy in seeing your success.  Steer clear of those false or fair weather friends with velvet tongues and gimme gloves.  Do the things that bring you joy and challenge you, and be ready to fail so you can then learn, and find a way to fly and coax others to do the same.

So, if you are reading this and you’ve suffered or struggled to the point you wondered where you’d find the strength to keep going, let me stop and congratulate you for carrying on and being here to read my meandering schmaltz.  You made it. I made it.  We made it through this exasperating year and we are both here.

 

The next few weeks will be full of family, friends for some of us, and quiet and lonely moments as well. It has been a blessing to be able to say I Love you to so many friends, lovers, collaborators and mentors over the past few days.  Soon my soul sister Krissy and her two sons will arrive here in Aotearoa and we will travel around the North Island with no itinerary, just a tent and a Tesla.  We will be collecting moments and maybe meeting up with some of you reading this now.  I know we will pass through Tauranga and Thames, and hopefully make it to Wellington as we wend our way around paradise.  Send me a message if you’re up to visitors and maybe we can make some moments of our own.

 

Thank you for reading this and so many of my emotional outpourings this year.  I don’t know much about what this year is going to mean for me or so many of us at this moment, but I do know that sharing it with the vast and varied broken and beautiful angels on earth will bring new magical moments that I can’t yet imagine.  So, buckle up buttercups.  We are in for a bumpy and beautiful ride.

 

Aroha Nui (Big Love) to you all.