Thursday, 25 December 2014

One Day at a Time: away for the holidays . . .distance between families Part 4 (and final)

The Pohutakawa tree--New Zealand's Christmas blossom
For the holidays, with family foremost in our mind, I asked my three adult (birth) children to help me answer the frequent question I am asked: how do you handle being so far from your kids/family?  You can read the first post in the series HERE.

Rachel, 27, who had her first baby in the past year, answered first-- you can find that blog entry HERE.


Keegan, 20.5, who has beat some remarkable odds at his age, answered second and THIS is where you will find the post regarding his response.




In the final post of this series Luke, 24 has responded:

Having my family move away from me is somewhat of a bittersweet experience.  Four thousand miles is a long (and expensive) way to go every time you want to see your family, and because of that we don't get to see each other as often as we want to. Luckily, there has been enough reasons for them to come here in the past year (a wedding, a baby) so we have seen each other a good amount during that time. And when those times occur it has been wonderful "quality time" and that is the paradox of having family that lives for away; you don't see each other as often but when you do it's more special.  You appreciate your time together more because it is a rare thing. I live 3.5 hours away from the rest of my family and see them about once every 1-2 months if not more often. Though our time together is super special to me, it's not as intense as family time with people who you are not positive when you're going to see them again. Everything said, I don't think my mom moving away has hindered our relationship at all. This is the age of Facebook, email, Skype, etc. and in a way, being 4,000 miles away isn't as different as being 40 miles away as it used to be.
One thing I know for near certainty, and I think it's my relationship with Luke that has really brought it home, is that having the distance has meant that when we have time together, I've been able to have experiences with him (them) that I likely wouldn't have otherwise.

Serendipity has been a bit of a buzz word for me because of its frequent appearance.

The last visit I made to Illinois Luke spent a lot of time with us in Springfield, but went back to Chicago prior to me. 

It just so happened that during my last few days in Chicago, Luke accompanied me to see my best friend in an amazing theatrical piece, we walked downtown and took in the art museum, dropped the kids at a party and bummed around the neighbourhood,and I was able to see him in two shows on subsequent nights-- in a band he's in, The Kuhl's, and his band Luke Henry & Rabbitfoot. 

Really?

What are the chances?


And none of that planning was timed.


Last year I was in the US at the time of his birthday and a couple girlfriends and I were able to attend his house concert where video was shot.(colour me thrilled)

Luke always makes a point of coming to Springfield and spending as many days with me/us as possible when we are back for visits. 

There is no greater joy than seeing your adult children really wanting to be with you.


I appreciate their genuine desire and effort more than they will ever know.

Each child, of course, brings a unique relationship and bond and with my birth children (and bonus-kids) I feel a very strong connection.


With the adult children the transition from parent-child to "friends" is absolutely undeniable.  


We get each other. 


Thanks to the internet we are in VERY frequent contact.  


And I can attest that texts would frequently go unanswered when we lived in the same town, but as they have all reflected on-- the distance has given us all a renewed appreciation of each other.


And it has given me space to sit back and watch them blossom into the lovely, responsible and creative adults that they are.


And stay out of their business, unless they want me in it. (all ya'll parents know exactly what I mean . . . they didn't give us instructions on now to put the caring/action/hover button on hold once our kids are out of our house; it takes practice)


One time when Keegan and Luke both visited New Zealand, I took Keegan to the airport a week or so prior to Luke leaving.


When I got back I was in a tear-stained heap.  It doesn't matter how old your kids are . . . for me there is something about seeing them physically fly away in a not-very-big-airplane from our small local airport that physically and emotionally feels like a piece of my heart is being ripped out.


It leaves me an emotional wreck for a chunk of time.


Snivelling still, Luke comforted me, "Mom, think about it. When would you ever have weeks on end, uninterrupted, with your adult children? This distance has allowed that to happen."


That was a particularly long visit for them and it especially highlighted that fact.


When we are together we are so TOGETHER.


The same as it has been with my BFF, my new granddaughter Bernadette. My last visit allowed me to have her every day all day (and nights) for several days. And my 92 year old mother and lots of kids, and other family, were with us much of the time.

When we lived in the same town there were pop ins for a hello or occasional family meals, but not the heart to hearts we have had in the past years I've been in New Zealand.


And there will never be a Christmas eve, just like tonight, that I don't miss the days our house was full of children, or my oldest were toddlers caught up in the awe.

But it is important to delineate between missing my "babies" and those times that sadly, I will never have again, and missing a relationship with my adult children.

So yes, of course, I am not in physical contact with our family in the US as much as we would be if we lived there, but the relationships have deepened, and ripened and --for us-- it works.

One day at a time.


from our scattered whanau to yours-- we wish you
the happiest of holidays
and a blessed New Year
Luke Otwell is a graduate of Columbia College and currently works in several capacities in the music industry in Chicago.  You can hear Luke Henry & Rabbitfoot on SoundCloud, find him at Band Camp, follow his Facebook page, see him perform live in Chicago, (and soon in NZ, again, we hope) and anticipate the release of his album in 2015.

and a very special shout of thanks to RacheLuKeegan who so generously contributed to this series and somewhere in my heart and mind will ALWAYS look like this:


Love knows no distance where hearts may feel its joy . . .

Monday, 22 December 2014

away for the holidays . . . distance between families Part 3

As an answer to the frequently asked question, how do you handle your family being in the US while you are in New Zealand?, I picked on my three adult children to help me answer that question.

You can read the intro to this series (part 1)HERE.

Part 2- the perspective of my first born can be found HERE.



Today we hear from Keegan, the youngest of my first three children, age exactly twenty and 1/2 (my solstice baby):

Loving from a distance certainly has its benefits in certain situations, and today in retrospect I find myself very grateful for my mother's move to New Zealand.  I was here, a drug addict in on and off active addiction and no semblance of recovery whatsoever.  Being a parent in that context is something that is extremely heart wrenching and difficult, especially when you are an ex-substance abuse counselor who knows the true nature of addiction and the places it can lead. I would say my mother and I share a strong connection but during that time, in active addiction, there was no one but myself.  To realize you are powerless over your own child's self destruction is something that I can't even imagine having to endure, and that distance, that 8000 miles, might have been the only thing that kept my mother sane.  Now with more than two years of recovery there actually is a long distance relationship, where before there was none. The time spent when she does come and visit is very valuable time. Maybe it's kind of sad that we have to separate for us to value each other's presence so much when it is available, but I suppose that is human nature. It transforms that interpersonal relationship into something that is no longer a commodity and the time spent together is all the more precious for it. I am grateful that my mother is able to pursue her dreams and I wouldn't want it any other way for her. It makes me feel so good when I see all of the beautiful things she is able to see, when I see they are constructing an outdoor kitchen at there newest residence, and all the other assorted things, small and large, that are just the stuff of dreams.  I could not be more happy that that is available to her. 
As you can see, Keegan and I have covered a lot of heart-wrenching and heart-opening ground and I am overwhelmed by his openness and honesty about his struggles.

My description of that time with Keegan is simply, "the perfect storm."

never judge a book by its cover
these were some difficult days
but love always prevailed
Ever loving. 

Even fewer emotional outbursts than a typical teenager.

Yes, money would go missing sometimes, there were the upheavals addiction causes, but somehow we managed to circumvent many of the tragedies others in the community did not. Partly due to a zero-tolerance approach (due to knowing there was a genetic predisposition on both sides of his family) which kept him pretty close to the nest-- but still couldn't control Addiction's wily ways.

And throughout that time I was still the recipient of full-eye-contact-I-love-yous and his trademark super-hugs.

Keegan is right.

There has been nothing more difficult than knowing, with certainty, that if your precious child continues to use drugs and/or alcohol-- they will end up dead.

So today I enjoy the gift of every day and every interaction we have-- one day at a time.

I have never been so proud as when I went to his car to ride with him and saw the bumper sticker "higher powered" and as he started the car, my eyes followed the jingle of his key ring to see that he was carrying every token he'd received from his meetings to celebrate periods of sobriety.

Getting to take in his acting during one visit, he happily introduced me to his sponsor.

And when I asked him if he might ever want to be a sponsor, his answer was without hesitation. 

YES.

Anything else Keegan achieves is icing on the cake as long as he continues to "walk the talk."  

A prolific and gifted writer, we share our work with each other and discuss ideas. The internet allows more in-depth discussion of this nature than in-person interaction frequently allows. 

We also share our hearts with each other.

The distance has provided fertile soil for people who love to write their words to communicate in real time via the internet.

Distance has allowed an easier space for me to "let go and let God" as the recovery jargon says.

In some ways-- distance has allowed us to define our relationship in a much richer way than we would be experiencing living in the same location.


Eric, Rachel, Bernadette, Luke and Keegan (shining brightly) 
Keegan Otwell is active in the Springfield theatre community, writes voraciously-- a play, working on a book, short pieces, etc., and is co-owner of the Fog Factory.

Mom and son may join forces on a writing project exploring the tumultuous terrain of surviving addiction . . .

Sunday, 21 December 2014

away for the holidays . . . distance between families Part 2.

As I type this, I have yet to hear from one of my three children asked to give their perspective of what it has been like to be separated by so many miles. (read the intro to this series here)

We'll start with hearing from Rachel, almost 27, my first born.  

(inhale) 
Having already gone through the process of our parents divorcing, and one remarrying someone who already had several children of their own-- I would say my brothers and I were already well-versed in transitions.  Though it was initially a shock and sad to think I couldn't just swing by to see my family on a whim-- or even on the holidays, we have all adapted well. My daughter, who just turned one, has already had 3 long visits from her Nana, and one could argue she has been able to squeeze in as much quality time as any other family member (if not more.)  One of the good things for me that has happened (besides of course an amazing place I know I can go visit) is the example of a parent who has chosen to live her life more deliberately than most, even when that includes making tough choices and sacrifices.  It's definitely influenced the choices I make in my own life for the better and I think it will continue to do so.
(exhale)

Honestly, I did hold my breath opening Rachel's prompt response.  

Being the oldest and a female and being at a fragile age when her father and I split, I have always seen Rachel as being the most introspective and analytical about our family situation.  

As time goes by, the mother-daughter connection becomes undeniable.  I've been fortunate enough to experience this with my own mother and the birth of Rachel and Eric's baby confirmed how much we can be telepathically tuned to each other.

Her due date was Tuesday, November 26, 2013.  I was set to land, from New Zealand, in Chicago late on Friday, November 29th.  

Just after my arrival in Chicago (staying at my best friend's over night), Rachel and I started exchanging phone calls because in her words, "something's different."  

Hence started a series of phone calls that went all throughout the night, as she allowed her husband to sleep and giving me the opportunity to coach my daughter through the terrain of early labour (how lucky was I???) 

And more times than not, I woke up thinking about her seconds before a text would come or the phone would ring.  Uncanny.

Her brother, Luke, and I boarded the 8:30 am train to Springfield, Illinois-- as planned. However what wasn't anticipated when I booked my tickets was the instruction to be dropped off, ALONE, at the hospital upon our arrival.  

Keegan, my youngest of the three, picked us up at the train station and I arrived at the hospital as active labour was kicking in and, hours later, was blessed to be present for the joyous birth of our sweetheart, Bernadette.




Today as I tried to decorate a funky small Christmas tree to add a festive flair to our home to welcome my husband's family for a holiday visit, I had an epiphany.  

Putting up the decorations I could locate, I came upon those that held the history of holidays past, when my three children were small.  


With our Pandora set playing retro Christmas music in the background I became teary as I was hanging decorations on the tiny tree.  

Then I stopped to think about where those tears were coming from.

First and foremost, they were coming from the fact that I wouldn't be having this experience of decorating a tree with my one year old granddaughter, which quickly led me to checking out that I was also really missing having that experience with my older three when they were small.

We always made a big deal of decorating the tree, playing music, exploring all of the ornaments, visiting the lighted neighbourhoods, Christmas eve service, family celebrations-- all of everything that was Christmas. 

And it hit me.

Yes, I miss my kids.  Big. Time.

But my "kids" are now adults.  With lives of their own.

Those tears were me waxing nostalgic of the amazing holiday times we did have together.

And I was also fantasising that if I was "home" I would be reliving that experience with my dear Bernadette.  

In reality?

How lucky am I that I had/have such awesome adult children that the memories of holidays and special times of the year can bring an ache for what was . . .  

But then I must remind myself that I have all that is left of those times: precious memories (and some great ornaments and photos), and most importantly, a loving relationship with my three adult children.

And I do have a ten year old at home that needs my attention.  Now.

And my granddaughter?  

She's making amazing memories with her wonderful, loving parents who need to be the people she is with when she decorates her first tree.

As it should be.


Smiling at Nana.
Fortunately, this beauty knows me well enough to continue to give me this smile via FaceTime. Yay internet!!! (which begs me to state-- I could not do this distance from family without the current ease of telephone and internet access)



Rachel Otwell is a reporter with WUIS, Springfield, Illinois--a National Public Radio affiliate.  You can find her work HERE.
a place set and waiting . . .




Saturday, 20 December 2014

away for the holidays . . . distance between families Part 1.

Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Solstice, Cheerful Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas, Happiest of New Years . . .


At this time of year-- and throughout the year-- people express curiosity about the separation from family, as a result of our move to New Zealand . . . and how we handle it.  

And of course, during this season, the issue particularly comes to my mind as well.


There are times when I find my response might sound contrived; as if I am just trying to make the best of a difficult situation so I have put a request out to my three adult children asking them:


Wondering if you might appease me. Thinking for a blog post it would be interesting to post on long distance family relationships. Would you each please send me a paragraph on your perspective of how the distance has affected our relationships?Good/bad/or otherwise?

Yes, it's a risk to put that question out there-- especially with my outspoken trio-- but I hope that our experience can shed some light on the life of long distance families for others.


Having worked with people in human services for years, I can attest to the fact that relationships between parents and adult children are unique and many families struggle with their roles within these relationships.  


I can also comment on how many people do not follow their dreams or take a chance out of fear.  


What if's? 


Hopefully, this series will let you peek a bit deeper into the window of our experience.


And possibly allow you to think a bit more about your own.


Watch this space.



Friday, 5 December 2014

ungrounded part 3: The Take-home Lesson

After sitting on the jury of a murder trial, I know one thing for sure.

It starts with words.

Listening to hours and hours of testimony in a murder trial where there was a history violence brought it all home to me . . .

Don't be grandiose and think that commercials talking about domestic violence and targeting a certain demographic are going to stop domestic violence.  

EVERY SINGLE ADULT THAT TOUCHES A CHILD'S LIFE is where the focus needs to be because violence is not confined to one demographic-- some factions have easier access to defense tactics or silence-keeping, but violence crosses all cultural and economic barriers; and we all know it.

Anyone who has read this blog knows that I love New Zealand and her people with all of my heart, but one thing I have noted is a culture where children curse more freely in a  mainstream way than anywhere else I've been.  

And children swearing is widely accepted.

How about this?

How about the schools and the parents and the entire culture take a zero tolerance stand to children cursing?

How about they expect, no, demand, a culture of respect: using please, thank you, pardon me and have consequences for swearing or hurtful words.

Violent language is still violence.  And by opening the gate a crack, so that a young child thinks it is the norm to say damn, shit, hell and fuck, the pathway is painted to call someone a "fukka" or c*nt or dumba$$.  

And we all know that happens. (and if in doubt, read my previous post HERE

If violence spewing out of mouths of babes is acceptable, then it is no surprise it leads to a culture of physical violence--especially with the addition of drugs and/or alcohol (although it happens aplenty without those special ingredients).

First things first: adults need to check their own language and model respectful interaction.  

The most powerful method of teaching is modelling words and behaviours.  

The words and deeds of the people in a child's world teach them more than any commercial or safety officer could ever dream possible.

Adults calling a child or each other STUPID, or DUMBASS or telling them to SHUT THE FUCK UP, and the like, are planting and fertilising the seed of violence in their children.  

I was a parent educator and a therapist and I was aware enough not to call my children names and to try to encourage and role-model an atmosphere of mutual respect and coached my kids to be the one that stood up for others being mistreated.

But I was far from perfect as a parent, because that is what is in the fine print:  WE ARE ALL IMPERFECT PARENTS.  I let "damns" and "sh*ts" fly enough out of exasperation that my first born once told me that for her birthday, "all I want is a mom that doesn't cuss." (hanging head in shame) 

So yes, sign me imperfect and certainly not wanting to come across as holier than thou.  

But also sign me as KNOWING that if we use violent words it WILL be easier to USE PHYSICAL VIOLENCE.  

AND VIOLENT WORDS CAN BE JUST AS HURTFUL AS BEING BEAT UP.

You can also sign me as a survivor of severe emotional abuse as a child.

Until we all do our part to end domestic violence and bullying and violence in general-- WE ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

Our part can actually be quite simple: use respectful language-- no put downs, name calling and excessive swearing; use your own manners-- pleases, thank you, pardon me; use words effectively-- that was lovely or I'm not really comfortable with that . . .  You get the gist. 

The movie Once Were Warriors is a well known, well done New Zealand movie touted for highlighting and descriptively examining domestic abuse.  

It is important to remember that abuse doesn't discriminate.  Every culture is fertile ground for violence and it thrives in each and every one.  There is no pointing the finger at another demographic and placing blame while absolving yourself and "your people."

Violence doesn't discriminate.

Abusers don't have to be gutter-drunks.  

Abusers can have charisma and charm.

Abusers can be leaders in our community in trusted positions.

But the one thing we have in our power is to take steps toward prevention.

One step at a time . . .

All over the world: use your voice as the first step toward ending violence.



while scenes like this have always been difficult for me, I will never view them quite the same again

Thursday, 4 December 2014

ungrounded part 2: THANK YOU FUKKA!

midway through sitting on a jury of a murder trial felt a bit something like this . . . for obvious reasons, i couldn't post this in the moment:

Today, I was awakened at 5:30 am by a violent sneezing attack that felt like an elf had just attempted to give me a nasal lavage with pussy willow fronds.  

Or maybe that was what I was dreaming at the time.  

Nevertheless, it was an unpleasant, itchy throated, heavy headed, nose blowing awakening--until that is--I  put the jug on and looked out my window and saw this view.  Even my legally blind, unspectacled eyes could tell I was beholding something majestic and glasses on and an iphone later, I had this beauty to show for it.  


And thank goodness for glimmers of beauty, because the rawness of my day soon took over and "awe" couldn't be further from what I would experience for its entirety.

You see, ten days ago, I started my first ever stint of civic duty that I had apparently been saving up for my entire life.  My name was chosen to sit on the jury of a lengthy murder trial.  

Today, after the ninth and most grotesque day of testimony (awful vs. awe-full) I sit typing, alone (my husband was out of the country the entire week and part of the first week as well), late at night, as I cannot speak with anyone about anything.  

My body feels like I've been run through a clothes dryer-- sore, banged, bruised; head heavy, soul sad.  

No, I'm not alone.  The members of the jury of all of our peers express their brand of full-on exasperation.  We are spent.

And I can't talk outside that little room about any of the negativity that is being incessantly shoved into my brain every day.  

And words are what I do to cope. 

So here I sit, pecking, literally nauseous at the thought of going back tomorrow and sitting in an unforgiving jury box-- on display to an accused murderer, family and supporters of the victim and everyone that falls in between, all the while, working to stay focused and open-minded.

Two days ago on the way to court on a very busy two-lane thoroughfare there was a school-uniformed teenage girl stuck in the middle of the road, trying to cross and herding a group of five very little ones.  I stopped and motioned them to cross the road, smiling widely at them all and gently pulling away as they started their amble down the side walk.

And I heard it yelled my way.

Thank You Fukka!  

The leader of the group.  The role model.  The one teaching her entourage with every step, word and deed that she makes in their presence, unleashed her branded, very special thank you.

Unable to shake the heavy heart from my verbal gift of (fucking) gratitude, sitting in the parking lot before heading into the morgue-like day ahead of me, I called my native New Zealander friend begging her to tell me that there is a word that sounds like "fucker" in their precious accent and that I had misunderstood. 

Nope, she said.  Sorry.    

As I sit here and type, I realise that those words summarise what this jury experience has felt like.  

There is no interview or logical vetting process in jury selection in New Zealand.  No questions to assess if sitting on a case such as this could be traumatic.  

In the US, I was very familiar with the procedure of potential jurors being interrogated by both attorneys--one at a time-- to assess whether they would have bias or if either the defence or prosecution just didn't feel like they were going to be helpful for their case, they could be dismissed.  I even remember the attorney I was close to attending seminars on "how to pick a jury."  Jury selection can be a lengthy and integral part of the court case.

And now I understand why.

I find it difficult to fathom that we could have abusers and victims of abuse sitting on jury of a trial full of graphic testimony on same and the dear Crown would never have bothered to inquire whether it was in her or our best interest to serve.  As if there is some inherent trust that there was a magical jury mix chosen that have the skills to work such issues out on their own-- without inciting the need for subsequent trial for a violent crime.  

A very big ask.

"Bikkies," coffee and tea are the nutrition offered our bodies, but aside from the sweet demeanour of our lovely crier and the gentle gaze of our judge-- along with him being vigilant about getting us our breaks and dismissed in a timely manner-- it doesn't appear that much thought is put into the bigger picture of what an extended jury stint takes out of the mind-body-spirit of a room full of people and the care that should be given to the choosing and the treatment in those circumstances.

So yep, right now it's fair to say that most, if not all, of the jurors are feeling a bit beat up. Tired.

As we watched person after person get excused from serving on the jury (it seemed mainly from "knowing" someone on the long witness list-- it is New Zealand after all) and as we are held captive from our lives with extended exposure to traumatic testimony I can't help but feel there's a theme running through my week.

Sure we know we are an integral part of the process and our involvement is appreciated on a somebody has to stand up and do this level.  

We don't doubt that those professionals on this case are thankful for a jury such as ourselves and the time we are serving.  

It's not exactly a sincere thank you, but much like my kid-herding friend, a we-appreciate-you-even-though-we-know-we-are-abusing-you kind of thanks.

Thank You Fukka! 

Yep, that feels about right.


Next time I get that little note in the mailbox, if there ever is a next time, I'll be sure to be the one to stand up, take care of myself and plead my own case. 


(ungrounded part 1 can be found HERE and ungrounded part 3--- the final instalment will be coming soon)

Saturday, 29 November 2014

ungrounded. part 1.

Ungrounded.

The past two weeks, save a lovely respite last weekend due to an amazing conference in nature, have been some of the most un-grounding days of my life.  (something I cannot talk about now, but will possibly vent about in the not too distant future)

What do I mean by that-- ungrounded.

Unsettled.

A challenge to stay heart-centered.

Incongruence with the task at hand and what feeds my soul.

This week I posted this photo on Instagram and Facebook of a 5:30 am view:


Yes, the gorgeousness was well-noted and served to start me off with an overwhelming sense of AROHA-- love and connection to everyone and everything.  Even though I would be walking into soul-sucking mire, for that bit of time, looking at that view-- "gratefulness" --enveloped me.


But this is the more realistic view of what I'm seeing, taken today.  You may have to peer closely to see the paint cans and disarray-- that is the upheaval that is also a part of my current life view.  

Less than grounding to be certain, but I have a choice regarding how I look at it and what parts I choose to focus on.

And yet another view of today-- looking beyond the chaos. Choosing to see the beauty, amidst the tasks at hand, while insisting on being the one to have my two feet grounded on Mother Earth to hang these clothes up and inhale the blue sky and feel the warmth of the Aotearoa sun on my skin.

This post is written cryptically I know, and for good reason.

But today I just needed to use my words to say that for this moment, this day, I choose to see and feel and experience the AROHA.

I choose to feel the love and light from my kindred spirits-- of whom I've found so many in this majestic land.

I choose to acknowledge that we were guided to this spirit-filled land for a reason.

And I express gratitude for the connections and serendipity that Life brings.  

And I am grateful to have been in the presence of a New Zealand force of love--AROHA-- last weekend whose words and energy have gotten me through this week's most challenging times.

Dr. Rangimarie Turuki Rose Pere

As I enter my daily task at hand I sing this lovely waiata (song) on the way to and from:

Te aroha
(in love)

te whakapono
(truth)

me te rangimarie
(and peace)

tatou, tatou e!
(we are united!)


Here's a dose of grounding for you today . . .  Do yourself a favour and watch this short video:


The Right To Be Me (Dr. Rangimarie Turuki Rose Pere Elder, healer and leader in the Maori community)



Sunday, 9 November 2014

the thirty-four year long train ride


Recently I realised that by the time my now ten year old is 18, I will have been feathering, welcoming chicks, delousing, nurturing, sometimes neglecting and kicking fledglings out of the nest for a totally of 34 freakin years.  Solid.

I totally get I'm not the first grandma/mama to ride that train, but this is not exactly how things were planned when looking into the crystal ball of what my life would look like.

Thankfully, I've worked in a field that demands I keep myself half-way centred if I am to be congruent in my work and with the people I serve-- otherwise, I might have had more train derailments on said unplanned train.

Being so blessed with creative adult children as well as working with many families, I felt it was okay to use some of that experience for an article that was recently published on elephant journal, which happens to be, what I consider, an online haven.

Please take a moment and check it out HERE and feel free to share if you know others that might relate.

And buckle in, because the ride will inevitably have some bumps!


Choo Choo!


Thursday, 6 November 2014

New Zealand: you've stolen my child

It's been two days of sick.

Two days of watching my ten year old boy miserable-- fever, exhaustion, stomach cramps, headaches-- his symptoms have run the gamut.  

By this afternoon I knew he was starting to improve when he said, "I need some fresh air," even though he promptly crashed for the umpteenth nap in two days shortly after uttering those words.

Having snuck outside for a phone call and a breath of fresh air, I glance up to see my boy heading towards me, "Oh this feels so good to be outside," he says, "let's go for a walk." 

Pajamas and shivers

Quite a while back he stated, "I'll never be able to live in a town again, I reckon." 

That was the first moment I suspected New Zealand and its wily ways was capturing my son.

New Zealand, you gorgeous and magical vixen, you win.

I reckon. 

Sick boy gazes at his captor.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Review-- Outboards Restaurant, Ruakaka, New Zealand

This restaurant was a great find close to our new digs.  We had heard wonderful things about it and we were not disappointed.  The ambiance is clunky-quaint and it has a lovely small town feel.

Chef Jay Maunder has done it right, but I'll let Stephen tell us how he saw it: 

video

Click HERE to access their website.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

one second


in one second life can forever change its rhyme
a gunshot
an argument
wrong place
wrong time
paying with that even though it's not mine
i forgot
didn't look
skipped over some facts
now me and you and too many people
suffering for those acts
drove too fast
drove too drunk
thought the world wouldn't stop for me
it took just one second
life interrupted
redefined
for now
for eternity

---inspired by the news, life . . . and completing season four of breaking bad

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Eyes Wide Open

Caught this today-- with eyes wide open.
Poor Knights Island baptised by rainbow.
Life is full of transitions. 

Change. Moves. Births. Deaths. Illness. Hook-ups. Break-ups. 

And the much more subtle transitions.  

Our children starting a new school year or moving into adulthood and having children of their own, starting a new project, meeting new people.

Ageing.  Ours.  Our parents.  Our kids.  Our animals.

Accidents.

Promotions. 

Challenges— physical, emotional, mental.

How we negotiate the inevitable transitional terrain, and the vulnerability it brings, determines the amount of fallout we and those around us feel.

Ignore it.  Deny it.  Then notice how your brain won’t turn off as you try to fall asleep at night.  Or how you occasionally feel your heart speeding up or skipping beats.  Or how your digestion is out of sorts.  Or the intermittent waves of panic.  Or increased irritability.

Survival doesn't have to be complex: the first step is living with eyes wide open.  

And heart wide open.

Imagine you and yours at peace and breathe evenly through your heart.

Communicate.

Connect.

Share with others.

Acknowledge the transitions in your life instead of denying their existence and placing them on a subconscious shelf, because it is then that your transitional stress will insist on manifesting in less healthy or helpful ways.

And if you can’t talk easily to others, talk to yourself.  Fully acknowledge the life changes you are experiencing.  Consider writing about it in a private journal. Or a blog!  But most importantly, do not hide behind denial extremes of the “everything is fine” OR "there's just something wrong with me" variety.  

Talk to yourself like you would a beloved friend— why wouldn’t you feel stress right now— your child is struggling with peers at school,  you are exhausted from the bumpy bedtime routine, you are not sure about the stability of your workplace, and decisions are looming around how your family will cope best with your ageing parents.  

THIS is the stuff life is made of.  And it is also the stuff that can bring those that appear the strongest and best and brightest down.

Be human.  Accept your vulnerability.

Live with eyes wide open and fully acknowledge the amazing, messy, surprising, beautiful, and frequently painful transitions that make up Life.

Signed,

Been there.  In the middle of doing that.


*** I highly recommend watching Brene Brown’s TedTalk on Vulnerability.  It’s a beautiful thing.