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Now I Become Myself

I am sitting in bed feeling totally exhausted. It would appear that I also look exhausted. For days now people have been saying to me, “You look so tired” quickly followed by, “Have you considered a holiday?”

I have to ask myself why, when I’ve had a wonderful two week holiday recently and I came back feeling energised.

“When was that?” I ask myself.

“Oh yes, that’s right, it was in June.”

“June! That can’t be right. We’re only in August now.”

As I continue this conversation in my head one question keeps surfacing: How is it possible that only two months later I feel so unbelievably drained?

“Life, Marica. It is life,” I say to myself.

As I reflect on what ‘life’ has meant for me over this time I start to feel validated for being tired. It was as though jigsaw puzzle pieces were falling from the heavens and they were landing in exactly the right spot so that the big picture would reveal itself to me. Workload demands and pressures, numerous challenges and changes within my job and work environment proved to be emotionally taxing, the endless days of cold, wet weather and the resultant inevitable decline in my energy levels due to a lack of exposure to sunshine, my lack of self-care especially in relation to my physical needs such as not exercising regularly, not allowing myself time for the things that nourish my soul, not enough laughter, an acute awareness of the negative energy of others and feeling surrounded by it, questions about what I’m doing with my life, a sadness that people I love and feel energised by don’t live close by and even when they do everyone being too busy to take time out and be together, not tackling anything on what is fast becoming a long list of things I need to get done and feeling bad that I’m not doing anything about them, an overactive mind which is exploding with things I want to create and accomplish and being stuck with making them materialise into something meaningful and tangible, and then there are all those internal battles that seem to surface along the way that normally deplete my energy reserves even at the best of times.

“Wow, that seems pretty intense and I bet you haven’t listed everything that is going on,” says the voice within.

I began to understand why I have found these last two months so arduous. Yet there is something incredibly ordinary about all of this. There was nothing extremely unusual in what I have been dealing with. It was very much more of the same, or as some of my colleagues like to say in our weekly catch-up sessions it was ‘business as usual’, while it wasn’t the same.

“You’re beginning to sound a bit nutty,” I hear myself thinking.

As is fairly typical with me something I read this morning has triggered a series of ‘Ah-ha’ moments which link what I have been writing and thinking about. It began when I read this passage in a book a wonderful work colleague of mine loaned me called A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward An Undivided Life by Parker J. Palmer. On page 90 Parker wrote:

I do not know who coined the phrase “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better,” but he or she must have a great fantasy life. In sixty five years on earth, my pattern has never been onward and upward. It has always been up and down and back around. I follow the thread of true self faithfully for a while. Then I lose it and find myself back in the dark, where fear drives me to search for the thread once again.

Further on Parker refers to another author I have recently discovered, May Sarton. I have become a fan of May’s work after reading one of her published journals, Journal of a Solitude, and I have another sitting in my ever growing book pile, waiting to be read. I was reminded of a quote by May that seemed particularly pertinent at this moment.

Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth, and without light nothing flowers.
May Sarton

We need both the dark and the light

I realised that these past two months matter. Being tired is an important part of a process. It made me stop and evaluate where I’m at and what matters to me. Without it I won’t know the joy of not feeling this way as the days get longer, the sun shines more, and my soul starts to feel the energy of growth, inspiration, creativity and action. We are never static. Like all things that come from the earth we are all susceptible to the many elements that can hinder our growth. My tiredness has been internally driven and externally fed. The ‘darkness’ is there to add balance and to feed new life that grows within.

Hope givers

As May points out in her beautiful poem Now I Become Myself I realise this recent ‘darkness’ I have been experiencing is an expression of me growing into the person I want to be and growing me takes a lot out of us. I need these constant reminders that this is not a straightforward nor an instantaneous process – it takes ‘time, many years and places’ as May Sarton writes. It can seem like one step forward and two steps backwards as Parker Palmer points out. This is normal. This is what it means to be human. Life is a process and living our lives is work; sometimes really hard work. I am reminded that right up until the moment we die we are growing. We have a huge capacity for change and it is through the difficult times that the greatest growth occurs as long as we don’t allow the fear to send us running for shelter and not face the things we need to.

Change has begun as one season merges into another. There is a stirring within which is gaining momentum. Nature is also doing her thing. The air feels different and the spring surge is evident everywhere. Buds are beginning to burst. Colour is returning to our world down here in the Southern Hemisphere. Yellow daffodils with their message of hope are springing up everywhere and they are a joy to behold.

I’d like to leave you with May’s poem and the wish that you feel the power of growth in your life as you journey towards finding yourself. Remember that this is a lifelong journey. I’d like to suggest that as you read the poem identify what really speaks to you and work with that word, phrase or sentence. Try writing about it, drawing or creating something like a collage that will embody who you are at this moment and how you have grown or are growing. Celebrate you – the beautiful, special, talented, unique human being that you are.

May Sarton
Photo source: A portrait of the late May Sarton in the prime of her life by Thayer. Held at the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, http://www.languageisavirus.com/may-sarton/

Now I Become Myself
by May Sarton

Now I become myself. It’s taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
“Hurry, you will be dead before–”
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

Five minute quiz

In my workplace we have a daily tradition that really brings us together as a team. It centres on the ‘Five Minute Quiz’ published in our local daily newspaper The Dominion Post. This quiz consists of ten questions on a variety of trivia which always seems to spark interesting conversations, debate and a whole lot of fun. Taking the time out to answer these questions has become a habitual micro pause in our busy work day and it is something I love being a part of.

Our self-appointed quiz master has a set of rules which we are required to abide by, even when he is away and someone else is substituting in the role. For example, no answers are accepted from anyone unless they are physically in the pod area where we are doing the quiz. This means you can’t sit at your desk and participate when you feel like it. We have had some funny situations where someone sitting at their desk knows the answer and they shout it out to us. The quiz master won’t accept the answer unless the person comes over to where the rest of us are. Off course we all make sure that happens. We also operate on the premise of absolutely no cheating. We have to make a decision as a group as to which answer we will use if there are different choices on offer and we can’t say we got it right if we happened to make the wrong choice. So often I have heard the quiz master say, “Can you sleep at night if we do that?”

This has become a serious, yet fun, part of my work day. The worst thing about it is how few of the questions I can actually answer. I certainly contribute but nowhere near as much as I would like to. I am constantly amazed at the diversity of the knowledge my colleagues. I have learnt so much about my colleagues’ passions as they provide quickfire responses to questions about sport, music, books, places, historical events, and much much more. There is one woman who seems to know so many of the answers to the questions that we never question her when she suggests something because invariably she is right.

In today’s quiz there was one question that had all of us stumped. It was Question 6: Which American author wrote a famous war satire based on his experiences as an air force bombardier in 1944?


Eventually someone came up with the title of the book.

“It’s Catch 22,” said our American colleague “but I can’t remember who wrote it.”

The problem was neither could anyone else.

Unfortunately this wasn’t the only question we couldn’t answer. We only managed a seven out of ten score today.

Later in the day I went for walk along the waterfront. It was lunchtime and many people were out taking advantage of the break in the bad weather. The sun was beaming down. Its warmth was penetrating and welcomed by me. Everything was glistening. People were laughing. Today was one of those magical Wellington days when our home looks like the piece of paradise that we know it to be.

As I was taking photos a woman who was sitting on the edge of the wharf reading looked up at me and smiled.

“Would you mind taking a photo of me?” she asked.

“Off course I will,” I replied.

She put down her book and reached for her camera in her red cloth bag. We started talking and she told me she was a tourist from Germany. She was in Wellington for only two days.

I kept thinking “Thank goodness today was one of those special Wellington days.”


As she was positioning herself for the photo I noticed the title of the book she had been reading.


Catch 22! How’s that for synchronicity. I told her the story of the quiz and why I was so interested in the book.

She smiled as she informed me she had only started reading it today.

I headed back to work with the answer to Question 6 of today’s quiz imprinted in my brain because I now had a story to go with it.

Question 6: Which American author wrote a famous war satire based on his experiences as an air force bombardier in 1944?

Answer: The book is Catch 22 and the author is Joseph Heller.

Making today count

For a while now I have been thinking about how I would answer a particular question. This is no ordinary question. It is one with far reaching consequences. This question relates to something that faces every single human being whether we want to acknowledge this fact or not. We cannot negotiate our way out of this or buy our way out. Nothing we do will spare us from this one inevitable event in our lives. Many choose to ignore this reality. Others become overly obsessed by it. Then there are those people who take a stance in-between these two extremes. They realise the importance of living every moment of every day with intention and experiencing everything as fully as possible because one day it will matter – to them, to their family, to their friends, and to anyone else whose life they may have touched.

Are you wondering yet what this all important question is or have you worked it out?

The question I am thinking about, and searching for an answer to, is:

What would I be doing if I knew today was my last day alive on earth?

I can hear you saying, “That’s a bit heavy”. Yet is it?

As I grapple with daily life I have come to question whether or not this is how I want to spend my days, especially my last day of life on earth. Am I living my life the way I want to be living it? What do I like about my life? What don’t I like about it? What can I change? How do I go about changing it?

My dream is to live authentically, without regrets, and to know I made the most of every opportunity I sought out or that was presented to me. I’d love to think that in some small way I may have even made a difference somewhere along the way. I want to be able to say ‘I am living’ as opposed to ‘I am the living dead’. I want to fully experience the remarkable in the ordinary. I want to be aware of everyone and everything. I want to love and be loved. I want to be happy and at peace in mind, body and spirit.

As I write all this I sit here wondering am I achieving any of this?

Patti Digh has based her well known blog 37 Days around answering a similar question, What would I be doing today if I only had 37 days to live? She has set a time limit around her thinking because it is connected to her personal experience of her stepfather being diagnosed with lung cancer and dying 37 days later. Patti’s answer to her question is as follows:

Write like hell, leave as much of myself behind for my two daughters as I could, let them know me and see me as a real person, not just a mother, leave with them for safe-keeping my thoughts and memories, fears and dreams, the histories of what I am and who my people are. Leave behind my thoughts about living the life, that “one wild and precious life” that poet Mary Oliver speaks of. That’s what I’d do with my 37 days. So, I’m beginning here.

Patti not only answered her question she acted on it. She has written in her blog and now she has produced a book of her stories, Life Is a Verb, as a legacy to her daughters.

The world headquarters of the verb

Unfortunately many of us tend to be complacent about the way we live our lives. We don’t think anything will happen to us; we consider ourselves reasonably invincible. Most of us tend to bumble along from one thing to the next and hope it will all work out. Taking time to plan what it is we want and how we want to live never seems much of a priority. That is until something happens: to us, to a loved one, to someone we don’t know but who may have touched our lives in some way. Suddenly we find ourselves sitting up and taking notice.

I was reminded of this yesterday when I was catching up with a close friend. As we were talking she told me how she had had a health scare. A recent mammogram had revealed a lump in her breast. Fortunately it turned out to be benign.

“I don’t know why I thought this couldn’t happen to me”, she said to me. This comment made me stop and think. How right she was.

Then this morning I was going through my emails and catching up on my blog reading. A colleague had sent me a link to a blog she thought I might be interested in and she was right, I was! As I read about Anna Woolf’s plight as she comes to terms with her terminal cancer diagnosis I was yet again reminded of the importance of living intentionally and not wasting precious time. We all think, or at least hope, ‘it’ won’t happen to us but what do we do when it is our turn; when our number has been called. Are we ever ready for our last day?

Knowing that you are about to die is the strangest thing to live through. All situations and conversations take on completely different meanings.

… [such as] suddenly lacking sympathy towards others problems. It’s so disappointing that people can’t be happy with their lives – it’s hard not to say “just shut up (or something stronger) and enjoy your life”. And even if I did say this it wouldn’t make any difference.

Annie Fox blog, Wednesday 6 August 2008, Strange things

Now back to the original question: What would I be doing if I knew today was my last day alive on earth?

I realised I couldn’t answer this question easily because there are too many variables and too many unknowns about that last day or even the days beforehand. However I can imagine how I would like to be feeling on my last day. I have expressed that in the poem below. Above all else I want to be able to say goodbye to my husband, my children and the rest of my family and friends. I need them to know how important they are to me and how much they have enriched my life.

Let's make every day count

Making today count

My last breath is close.
With it my physical presence in this beautiful land,
the land of my heart and soul,
will cease.

I will still be here.
I will live on because of how I lived and what I did.
I have made sure of that.
I have done all I needed to do,
I even surprised myself.

I have:
expressed my love openly,
lived my life honestly,
been there for others,
respected everyone for who they are, as they are,
helped and supported as needed.
I have no regrets.
I have taught what I know
and learnt what I didn’t.
I have shared what I had to give
and received so much more in return.
I have lived in a way that has expressed the essence of me.

I leave you with memories
should I fade in your mind.
My journals.
My writing.
My photos.
My online artifacts.
My handiwork.
Messages as reminders.
The stories of my life.

Living in the moment.
Our gift to each other.
Experiencing all life throws us.
Catching it,
holding it close.
Perfect in its imperfection.

Here I am ready to leave
In an ordinary moment
On an ordinary day
Creating something uniquely extraordinary.

I feel a calm
A sense of inevitability
I am prepared
I won’t be happy to be leaving you
Yet I know it is time.
You will all have my heart within you
It will sing alongside you with every breath you take,
as you go about making today count.

Angle of repose

On the bus this morning I was having a conversation with a colleague who is a structural engineer. We were talking about the storms of the preceding days which have been really severe and caused extensive damage across the country. In particular we were focusing on the many reports of houses that have had to be evacuated because of slips and the natural forces of nature. As we talked about crumbling water sodden ground he reverted to technical language and started talking about the ‘angle of repose‘.

This was an unfamiliar concept but I liked the sound of it.

As I asked my colleague to explain what an angle of repose was I kept thinking about my preferred angle of repose; lying flat in a nice warm bed. This also reminded me a video my husband had shown me earlier of a tree that had fallen down in a street in Nelson. This tree was desperate to lie down flat as well. As for the driver in the car – what was he thinking?

Rain continues to fall and storms continue to lash out across our land. I can’t wait for winter to be over. I am so sick of the cold and that heavy water laden feeling. I can only imagine what the earth is feeling like. Bring on the sun and the warmth.

150 years later

The Beehive in Wellington, New Zealand

This evening I attended a celebration at Parliament honouring the contribution Croatians have made to New Zealand since the first settlers arrived in 1858.

Today, 150 years later, life is very different for over 100,000 New Zealanders who claim Croatian heritage thanks to the hard work and determination of their (and my) ancestors. They have paved the way for us by embracing life in a new land while at the same time never forgetting where they came from. This pride has been passed down the generations and it was very evident amongst the people gathered tonight to celebrate and remember.

One thing is painfully evident – the early Croatian settlers had an incredibly hard life. They found themselves heading straight for the Far North to become gumdiggers. They were ostracised and treated unfairly. Many were shocked to discover what they had come to. The sense of displacement and the vast cultural differences continued to cause problems for these settlers.

They were so sure of the opportunities here that few were prepared for the reality. Most walked off their ships in Auckland with little money, food, and no English.

And to make things much worse, they were not welcome …

They couldn’t do anything right by the British gumdiggers … They were accused of lowering the price of gum, and of damaging the economy by sending their hard-earned money back home to Croatia.

One storekeeper declared proudly that he had refused on “all occasions” to give credit to the Croatians gumdiggers, but he had “never refused a Britisher”.

Even the Prime Minister, Dick Seddon, described them as “locust-like”, and helped to usher in laws aimed at restricting the number of Croatians on the gumfields. Croatians were made to pay an alien fee, while large areas of Crown land were reserved just for the digger of British extraction”.

… As far as the rest of New Zealand was concerned, Maori and Croatian were on equal standing, at the bottom of New Zealand society.

Webby, K., & Misa, T. (2002). Tarara Maori: A forgotten history. Mana Magazine, 44, February-March, 32-36.

Stephen Jelicich points out in his recently published book From Distant Villages, that it was impossible for these early settlers to create any kind of replica of their lives back in Croatia. They had to adapt and change if they were to survive.

On the gumfields they had to reshape their lives and adjust to the harsh, bitter realities of virtual exile, unending toil and the loss of ties with their families left behind in their homeland (p46).

Throughout these tough times the Croatian personality shone through; we are a determined people. The saying, ‘When the going gets tough the tough get going’ really applied then and is equally as applicable to all those that followed later.

The Croatian settlers from Dalmatia were and still are an outgoing people, generous to a fault and welcoming to all who approached then in genuine friendship. Frankness and honesty were notable qualities (p45).

Jelicich, S.A. (2008). From Distant Villages: the lives and times of Croatian settlers in New Zealand 1858-1958. Auckland, New Zealand: Pharos.

It is no wonder that a special kind of relationship formed between the Maori and the Croatians at this time. Northland Maori coined the name ‘Tarara’ to identify anyone of Croatian descent. No one is exactly sure how this name came to be however there is speculation that it stems from the way the Croatians rolled their ‘r’s while others say it is because they spoke so fast (Webby & Misa, 2002).

The two groups still have much in common. We both love to eat, love to be noisy, love to entertain. Tarara are boisterous like the Maori and love to socialise. They’re also just as strongly family oriented as Maori. That’s one of the greatest aspects of the relationship. They have an almost identical feeling about life and death, they cry and wail the same as us, that’s why Maori and Tarara got on so well. It was a lucky mix.
Simon Petricevich: Son of Lawrence Petricevich, brother of Dame Mira Szaszy.

Webby, K., & Misa, T. (2002). Tarara Maori: A forgotten history. Mana Magazine, 44, February-March, 36.

The inevitable happened – Croatian men married Maori women – and the bond became even further cemented as they produced Tarara Maori children. There are countless examples of high profile people in our country who share this compatible genetic make-up. A large number of them were present this evening.

Some things however have persisted over the years such as being stereotyped as a foreigner. Most of us, even though we were born here, have unusual names for example. This automatically signals a possibility to a non-English cultural connection.

I have many stories to tell from my own experiences growing up in the land of my birth which wasn’t the land of my blood. My roots were firmly embedded in another culture based in an unfamiliar land yet I knew I was intimately connected to it. I grew up speaking the Croatian language, eating its food, listening to its music, learning and performing traditional dancing, and socialising with its people who were in the same situation as our family. We had almost no family here so our ethnic community became our extended family. These roots spread far and wide and tonight familiar faces emerged amongst the crowds and took me back to special times that we shared together.

This evening was a big ‘family’ reunion. It was so wonderful to catch up with my extended family that I had not seen for far too long. As I watched my parents while listening to the Prime Minister and other dignatories speak, like Professor Jamie Belich who is now back teaching at Victoria Universtiy in Wellington, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride that I was a Croatian ‘Tarara’ New Zealander.

Jamie Belich speaking at a Parliamentary reception honouring Croatians in New Zealand

It dawned on me that my parents have lived more of their lives in this ‘new’ land than they have in their beloved home country. They, along with many other Croatians, have achieved huge amounts when you consider they arrived here with nothing but their suitcases in hand and a dream. They ventured into the unknown. They were not afraid to work hard to create a better life for themselves and their families once they arrived at their destination, no matter how disappointed they may have been at what greeted them. They have achieved so much despite all the barriers and they should be so proud of this.

For a long time I have wondered who I was. Like the Tarara Maori I too feel like the product of two cultures – Croatian and New Zealand. At times I have found this to be confusing. I walked out of the Banquet Hall in the Beehive tonight feeling a glow associated with the realisation that I belonged. I am a woman of many parts and all of them matter. Just because I wasn’t born in Croatia and just because my Croatian language speaking skills may be rusty my roots are set far from here. I have an extensive biological family on the other side of the world. I am connected to them and I am connected here.

My tree stands tall and strong just like the stunning 1,200 year old Kauri tree Tane Mahuta in Waipoua Forest, Northland. I have an inner strength that comes from a people that is strong, proud and prepared to take a risk rather than sit around and complain. They are people of action yet they never forget what matters above all else – family and friends – oh yes, and having fun together.

There is one thing nagging at me though. What is my family story? How did we get to be here? My great grandfather, my grandfather and my father were all gumdiggers for a period of time. I can see I have some work to do to start unearthing our story – the story of the Sevelj family in New Zealand.

Love wins every time

I received an email this morning from a friend in Austin, Texas. The subject line said “This will warm you” and the message was a link to a video.

My first reaction to that what I was watching was one of scepticism.

“Is this for real?” I asked my husband.

As I watched the video again I got the message I needed: love surpasses anything. It is such an incredible emotion. Suddenly it became irrelevant whether what I was watching was real or not. I felt warmed just as my friend Ben had intended. I really needed this today. Apart from feeling emotionally drained from a long hard week at work, I am also physically cold because it is freezing outside.

I hope you get what you need from watching this.

Life lessons from Randy

You cannot change the cards you are dealt. Just how you play the hand.
Randy Pausch

I have written about Randy Pausch a few times in my blog. I feel as though he is a personal acquaintance yet I have never met this man and I never will.

For months a daily ritual of mine has been to check Randy’s health update web page. I needed to know what was happening to him and how his battle to stay alive was progressing. Since I first watched Randy give his now famous lecture last September I have felt connected to him even though he was a total stranger living on the other side of the world. At this moment I’m sitting here wondering how this happened and why?

The viral nature of the Internet has a part to play. However, I believe Randy connected with so many people because of his ability to tell stories rather than actually ‘lecture’ and tell us what to do and how to do it. He talked to his audience in a way that most of us could relate to. Randy told personal stories, intentionally told from the heart and we became engaged through the power of emotion. As we listened we questioned what all of this had to do with our own lives and in this way we became part of the story. Randy was able to connect with his audience on a human level because his story could be anyone’s story and this made us all sit up and take notice.

There was also an element of the unexpected in Randy’s last lecture. This noted academic chose to talk about life lessons as opposed to talking about his various academic and professional achievements or his visions for the future for his area of expertise. Randy had a plan and our reaction was an added bonus.

These lectures are routinely videotaped. I knew what I was doing that day. Under the ruse of giving an academic lecture, I was trying to put myself in a bottle what would one day wash up on the beach for my children. If I were a painter, I would have painted for them. If I were a musician, I would have composed music. But I am a lecturer. So I lectured.

I lectured about the joy of life, about how much I appreciated life, even with so little of my own left. I talked about honesty, integrity, gratitude, and other things I held dear. And I tried very hard not to be boring.
Source: Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow in The Last Lecture, page x.

After listening to Randy’s various talks and reading his book I learnt about a man who had dreams; who loved, lived and knew how to have fun; who made mistakes and learnt from them; who set about achieving his dreams; who inspired others to be more; who pushed himself; who taught with his heart as well as his head; who believed in others and their abilities; and who believed every single minute of his life and every experience was all worth it even when facing his imminent death.

For a while now I sensed that Randy’s health was on the decline. You didn’t have to be particularly brilliant to work this out; he hadn’t made an entry in his update page since 26 June and the medical data he had posted painted a grim picture. Yet every day I continued to check his web site and every day there was nothing new there. Then last night this message appeared:

July 24th, 2008: The cancer is progressing
A biopsy last week revealed that the cancer has progressed further than we had thought from recent PET scans. Since last week, Randy has also taken a step down and is much sicker than he had been. He’s now enrolled in hospice. He’s no longer able to post here so I’m a friend posting on his behalf because we know that many folks are watching this space for updates.

And this morning:

July 25th, 2008
Randy died this morning of complications from pancreatic cancer.

I feel incredibly sad at this moment.

Life is full of sad and incredibly unfair situations and moments. It seems so wrong that someone in their prime is taken away. On the other hand look at what Randy offered us and what we have all gained.

I do wonder though whether Randy would have said what he did if he didn’t know he was dying. Would his message have been different if his situation was different? Also, would we have listened to the same extent if he wasn’t dying; if the hypothetical hadn’t been real? We seem to learn the greatest amount during times when life is challenging us in some way.

Thank you Randy for teaching me the importance of dreams and dreaming. It is never to late too start dreaming and striving to make these a reality.

Randy daydreaming, circa 1968

This all began when a man was faced with answering the question: What would you say if you knew you were going to die and had a chance to sum up everything that was most important to you?

What would you say? What would you do?

The lesson for all of us is to work this out and act. Don’t wait. Life is short and every day is a gift that we take so for granted; that is until something happens and often this is too late! Life is to be lived. We only have one go at it. This is so easy to forget.

I know from personal experience that this isn’t easy to put into practice. At the very least be thankful for what you have because no matter how bad thing may seem for you there is always someone out there worse off than you.

Make today count. You could start by setting yourself up with a SuperViva life list.

Today began with an air of excitement and trepidation. Despite all the planning I felt disorganised. Being unwell didn’t help the situation. I had to make decisions and take action because time was marching by. I kept thinking of a mantra my husband, Lynsey, often recites: I’m efficient and effective and I get things done.

I needed to get things done, and fast. We had a plane to catch; the first leg of our journey to Denver, Colorado followed by Austin, Texas. I am now officially on holiday for the next two weeks and yet in between packing, an unexpected trip to the doctors, sorting out our son (who wasn’t coming with us), and securing our home in readiness for our absence, I was also checking my work emails. So many things were whirring around in my head and I needed to let some of them go.

As I became overwhelmed by everything I kept focusing on one thing; within the next 24 hours I would be reunited with my daughter Zofia and I couldn’t wait for that moment.

The day continued to unfold as it should except as one hour merged into the next time seemed to take on a different meaning. Zofia was flying out from Heathrow Airport, London at 2.25pm their time headed for Denver via Minneapolis. Lynsey and I left Wellington at 4.30pm NZ time also headed for Denver via Auckland and San Francisco. At some point, many hours later, we would all meet up in a different country and different time zone yet it will still be today. We will be travelling back in time as we make our way towards the United States. When we reach our destination we will be reliving the day we are already experiencing. This seems so unimaginable.

Apart from the time changes many other things made today unbelievably long … delayed flights, endless security checkpoints, navigating unfamiliar airports, trying to find out information, speaking English but not American, dealing with a different currency, finding food we wanted to eat, the inconsistency between the messages our bodies were sending us and the actual time in the place where we were, and the temperature differences as we moved from winter to summer. Why do we call this a holiday? Travelling is exhausting yet there is a certain exhilaration associated with it as you experience the many weird and wonderful things you get exposed to …

Tornados are not something we kiwis would normally worry about yet at Denver International Airport there are tornado shelter signs everywhere.

Tornado shelter signs at Denver International Airport

I was taken by the luggage carousels that catered specifically for oversized items like skis. This was a pertinent reminder to the fact that the Rockie Mountains with some of the world’s most famous ski fields were close by.

One of the baggage claim areas at Denver International Airport

I became excited when I saw this sign change to say ‘in range’. Zofia was getting closer.

Zofia was getting closer

And then she arrived!

Within minutes I would be seeing Zofia!

Holding my daughter in my arms made everything we had been through in the preceding hours insignificant. As we stood there hugging each other with tears streaming down both our faces my heart was bursting with love, pride and relief. Here we were together again. She was right there in front of me and not an image or a voice I could see or hear via my computer or the telephone. Our adventure could begin in earnest. No matter how tired we were after being up for the better part of 24 hours this time was precious. The clock was ticking and we wanted to make the most of our holiday together.

We headed to our hotel where our first priority was to get some sleep because in a few hours we needed to be up and ready to face the new day in whatever time zone we were in now.

Arriving at our hotel in the wee hours of the morning (Denver time)

Goodnight Kiwi

After hanging up from a Skype call with my daughter in London this evening I stumbled across this video clip on YouTube of The Goodnight Kiwi. I remembered this nightly ritual that appeared on our television screens and felt a warm glow inside. I was transported back to a time when things were very different even though in reality it wasn’t that many years ago. Technology has advanced in such a short period of time and transformed our lives in unimaginable ways. Sometimes I find myself hankering for the good old days and I’m just not old enough to be thinking like that.

As I watched this video I thought about all the kiwis living away from their home. I want to wish you all ‘goodnight’; may the new day that unfolds when you wake bring you all you dreamed of and more.

Before 24 hour TV Goodnight Kiwi signalled the end of nightly broadcasts. The last airing of this animation was in 1994. Today the characters are regarded as icons of New Zealand culture.

Good night everyone.

Come as you are


We spend far too much time and energy contemplating our inadequacies. We forget that we are all perfect in our imperfection.
Kate Dillon

As I was waiting for the lights to change at a pedestrian crossing on the corner of Cuba and Vivian Streets I looked up. This is such an interesting, and alternative, part of our city and it always has been. I have so many memories of this area dating back to my childhood.

A message painted on a window of an old building across the road struck a chord with me: ‘Come as you are’.

How often do we actually ‘come as we are’ and even more importantly how often are we accepted ‘as we are’?

I have been known to be labelled by others as a perfectionist. I never feel like this is being said as something I should be proud of. Quite the contrary; it always feels like something bad. I feel put down and worthless as though who I am and what I do is meaningless.

‘Am I really a perfectionist?’ I ask myself.

As I research what a perfectionist is I feel incredibly uncomfortable at what I discover.

‘This isn’t me,’ says the voice in my head rather emphatically.

I find myself questioning myself and the way I work. One thing I realise fairly quickly is that I do strive for excellence. I expect high standards of myself and of others. I want to be the best I can be. Yet perfectionism is something out there on the horizon that I will happily leave to others to strive for.

I know when to let go. I know when enough is enough. I know when I have taken something as far as I can. I have also learnt to love the mistakes, especially in my creative pursuits; they usually add a dimension I never expected or envisaged to whatever I was working on.

I therefore have to ask: Does being committed to doing the best you can be at any given point in time equate to being a perfectionist? Does taking pride in your work mean you’re a perfectionist? Does paying attention to detail mean you’re a perfectionist? Does striving to work to your optimum level mean you’re a perfectionist? Does seeking out new challenges and always slightly raising the bar on your own expectations mean you’re a perfectionist?

I took an online quiz in search of answers to these questions. It turns out my gut reaction was right. I’m not a perfectionist, I’m a high achiever. Now this is a lot more palatable to me.

You’re A High Achiever

You strive toward perfection, but you have a healthy understanding of what is and isn’t possible, and you’re able to enjoy the journey without getting overly hung up on the results. Good for you!

I come as I am.

Please don’t label me without knowing me. Please don’t judge me without trying to understand me and what makes me tick. Accept me for who I am and what I have to offer. Know that whatever you ask me to do I will give it my all and do the very best I can. Don’t then put me down by criticising the very things you have come to expect me.

In turn I am learning to love the fact that I am perfect in my imperfection; as we all are. Be proud of who you are, what you do, and how you do it. If it feels good inside then it is right for you. Being true to yourself is what matters most. If you need to change you will work out how when the time is right. Don’t accept ‘okay’ or ‘good’ for yourself; go for ‘great’ and beyond, and be proud of what you achieve and who you are.

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