Onward and upward

In my Year Ahead post, I alluded to the fact that Stephen and I were both looking to change things up a bit in our work lives. I can happily report that this has now happened. A few weeks ago, Stephen stepped up into a much more senior role within Gough Group. It means that he’s much busier and more stressed, but I can see that he’s also really loving the challenge.

And on Friday last week, I said goodbye to my colleagues at Regenerate Christchurch and moved on to a new role at Pegasus Health. There were lots of reasons for wanting to make this change – the main one being that the organisation has significantly shifted its focus since I arrived. Most of the people I was working with on delivering regeneration planning have now left, the work we were doing has wrapped up, and the future work programme for the organisation has not yet landed. It seemed like a good time to exit.  Added to this, the Council recently voted to reconsider its funding of RC, with a proposal to cut its financial contribution by 75%. Based on the work we’ve completed and the likely work ahead, this seems entirely reasonable. And lastly, it has become increasingly clear to me that the voluntary work I do in my community with the Dallington Residents Association, coupled with my future plans, are incompatible with my work at RC. I have regularly found myself in potential conflict of interest situations which mean that I am not able to fully contribute to conversations taking place at work and in my community. And if you know me, you’ll know how much that bothers me. I like to have an opinion about everything, and I am always happy to share it!

So my time was up at RC and it was time to move on. 

It’s Day 2 in my current role as a Senior Project Manager at Pegasus Health. So far it’s been busy and confusing – to be expected. But the people seem hardworking, and the work looks like it will be really interesting. It’s a new role and still being defined, so there will be scope for me to make it my own, which is just what I like. I’ll report back on how it’s going once I’m less confused!

A Splendid Torch

Sometimes when I’m running around like a mad thing trying to figure out how I can fit in all the meetings and catch ups with people, I pause and wonder what the heck I’m doing. I spend hours each week doing volunteer work for various organisations. Why?

This is why…

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

George Bernard Shaw – A Splendid Torch

Do you think this desire to be useful in service is something that is becoming less valued nowadays?

Crafty goals

I’m really rocking a crochet vibe lately. As I mentioned in a recent post, I picked up my knitting needles again recently, and then re-learned crochet – I find it faster and easier to do, and therefore much more satisfying.

I started out with little things just to get into the swing of it – I made two peggy square snuggle rugs, some dish cloths, baby booties, and a hat. Now I’m working on Nana blankets for Arlia, Wyatt and Jaxon.

Arlia is getting this one – in purple rather than pink (pattern here).

Then Wyatt and Jaxon will get this one in a colour of their choosing (pattern here).

Once I’ve finished those, I am keen to tackle some clothing – I’ve picked out this cocoon cardie to make for me and Megan (pattern here). It looks so snugly for winter.

In between, just as a break from the larger project, I want to make more baby things. I have some lovely baby wool that I want to make something with, and am going to make some vests, cardies, hats and booties to give to Pregnancy Help for them to pass on to parents in need.

I reckon that should keep me busy for the winter.

De-vices

I glanced down at my desk yesterday, and noticed it was strewn with my most prized positions. No surprise for guessing the brand…

When does a passion become a vice? Never, right? My current Apple lineup includes:
Apple Watch Series 4 – my constant companion
iPad Pro with pencil – not the latest but I love it so!
iPhone X – also not the latest, woah, what’s going on?!
MacBook Air – the new love of my life
Airpods – these are magical earthings

My iThings
My iThings

Fashun

I’ve never really been interested in clothes or fashion. I tend to go with the flow – I make do with what’s in the shops but usually select the current season’s version of the same stuff I always wear. Over time I’ve developed a better sense of what’s going to work for me and what I am comfortable in. Like most women, I have listened to various “fashion gurus” (remember Trinny and Susannah?!) over the years who scold me for wearing this or not wearing that. I have fought against my own preferences in order to follow along and fit in. The older I get, the less I care about following fashion advice.

Here are some things I’ve recently decided about my own likes and dislikes. My goal for this year (and beyond!) is to follow these and not listen to all the noise about what’s right and wrong:

  • I like dark colours – mostly black. It’s just easier and I’m lazy. It doesn’t mean I’m boring.
  • I prefer to wear loose-fitting clothing – I hate the feel of tight waists and restrictive arms and legs.
  • I prefer long pants / skirts / dresses – I like having my knees covered up. Skirts and dresses are okay as long as they come to mid-calf, or I wear tights underneath. Wearing a dress with pants can be a thing if I want it to be.
  • I only ever want to wear comfy shoes. High heels are awful and I’m done with them. I like lace-ups.
  • I like wearing jackets. I’m usually cold when other people are warm, so these help me stave off the cold.
  • I like wearing scarves – same reason as above. They have the added bonus of bringing in some colour when I’m in the mood for that.
  • I’ve recently decided I like wearing shirts – I like the androgyny of lace-up shoes / pants / shirt / jacket. The only problem I find is that most shirts are made for flat-chested, flat bellied women. Wear are the shirts made for curves? I’m on the look out.
  • I don’t care about labels, but I do want to shop ethically. I think it’s stupid that a shirt in a fashion shop costs five times something I can get in a department store. I do care about buying stuff that’s going to last a while, and wasn’t made with sweatshop labour. I like buying New Zealand made clothing. I’d like to have the crafty-confidence to make more of my own clothing.

What are your fashion struggles?

Now I can crochet

I recently took up knitting again after a long (20-year) hiatus, but have found it hard on my hands/wrists/shoulders/neck to manage the two needles, so took the bold step of (re)learning to crochet. My Nana taught me both as a kid, but I never really took to the crochet – it seemed overly complicated to me at the time. Then, joining a craft group and watching the ease by which crocheted items slipped off the end of the hook, I was inspired to give it a try.

Much to my delight, crochet is speedy, versatile and so easy! And portable too – I can tuck my project into a small bag and get some crafting done whenever I have some down time.
So, in the last few months, I’ve been able to whip up a couple of afghan rugs using Peggy (Granny) squares. It’s so satisfying to build a whole blanket one small square at a time.
To sharpen up my skills, I’ve been making use of YouTube. You really can learn anything with a good YouTube tutorial!

The first tutorial I found was by Bella Coco. I find English tutorials easier to follow because they use the same terminology as New Zealand (4/8ply, hook sizes, double/treble crochet etc.). This one taught me the basic double (treble) crochet:

I started with Bella Coco’s Granny Squares for beginners

I also really like Bonny Barker – even though she’s American she has a good way of explaining really complex stitches. I whipped this dish cloth up in a couple of hours:

Dish cloth for beginners

2019: The year ahead

This one’s hard to write, because I am not sure what’s going to happen in 2019! We’ve spent the last couple of years laying the groundwork for our future and I suspect 2019 will be more of the same.

I’ve established some good routines around family, fitness, food, hobbies, sport and voluntary work that I am really happy with. After a few years of struggling with taking on too much, I feel like I have a good balance between doing all the things I want, and taking time to connect with the couch.

But there are also plans afoot to change things up this year – Stephen and I are both working on shifting things around in our careers, so watch this space to see how that pans out. Ooooh, mysterious!

I took the bold step of putting my hat in the ring to be a candidate for Community Board at the end of last year. Because I have opted to stand as a People’s Choice candidate (left-aligned local body political grouping), there is a bit of a process before I can actually say I’m in the running. I can’t say that I love Politics (with a big P) but I love working in my community, and would relish the chance to get more involved. I’ve met a lot of hard-working and dedicated people since I’ve been on the Dallington Residents Association, and if I could do half the job they do, I’d be pretty proud of myself.

I think this is the first year in a really long time that Stephen and I have no (national) travel plans! We have opted not to do our usual Auckland /  Wellington / Tekapo / Random trips this year, and save it all for a big trip overseas instead. We haven’t been away on a big trip since 2015, and we actually weren’t planning on going away this year either. But when Rachael and David’s wedding invitation arrived, how could we say no?! Especially since they are getting married in Edinburgh. I can hardly wait! We are planning to go to Iceland and Ireland also – two big bucket list places for me.

I’d like to get some more renovations done this year. There are two main things I’d like to get done – the rest of the windows double-glazed and the butler’s pantry installed. But I’m not sure the budget will stretch that far, so we will see.

Year in review: 2018

Usually at this time of year I reflect on the year I’ve just finished and think about the year ahead. Sitting down to write about what happened in 2018, there were so few milestones that I decided not to do my typical month-by-month account.

The main thing we achieved in 2018 was to renovate the main bathroom. I am happy to report that it’s lovely! We made a great decision to use a bathroom designer to help with layout and selecting all the fittings, and I think it made a huge difference to the finished product. We also hoped to do convert the laundry into a butler’s pantry, but didn’t quite get there with that. Maybe this year.

Main Bathroom
Beautiful new bathroom

I had fitness goals last year … I planned to bike more – and did not achieve this! I just can’t seem to work out the logistics of biking to and from work. I also planned to run the City to Surf (fail!) but I did run the 10km event in the Christchurch Marathon. After struggling with running the last couple of years, I think I have hung up my running shoes for good. My body just doesn’t respond well to running. Instead, I’ve been enjoying a variety of different fitness classes at Les Mills – RPM and Sprint help me achieve the same cardio intensity as running without the jarring impact on my joints.

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My Marathon Medal

We didn’t travel as much as usual last year either. We had a great long weekend away in Akaroa in February, a family fun weekend in Tekapo in August, and went to Auckland Armageddon in October. I was pretty underwhelmed by Armageddon last year, so I don’t think I’ll be making the trek to Wellington or Auckland next year.

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Post hockey nosh-up with Lake Tekapo as out backdrop

2018 has been a regrouping year – resetting goals, figuring out where to next, laying the groundwork. 2019 is likely to be similar as we start to slowly move towards some of these goals.

Nana

I’ve been thinking about my Nana a lot lately. I think it’s because my grandkids are now getting to the age that I was when I spent more time with her, and I’ve been thinking about what kind of Nana she was compared to the Nana I am.

In honour of my Nana, I’ve been working on two projects – one I made for her birthday (26 October) and one that I am still working on.

With the help of a friend, I designed and made a “Nana” apron – a pinny that has big pockets on the front that I can wear when I’m baking. I love it. I called it my Dot apron. The thing I love most about it is that it has a crossover back that doesn’t have straps – it’s unfussy and easy to slip on and off. Now when I bake, I can think about Nana.

The second Nana-inspired project I’ve been working on its a crocheted Nana blanket. When each of her grandchildren were born, my Nana either knitted or crocheted them a blanket – knit for boys and crochet for girls. I still have my Nana blanket, and Antony’s was the last that she made. They are both so precious to me. So obviously I am well behind – Wyatt is about to turn 10 and he has no blanket yet!

Rather than starting with Wyatt and Arlia, I am making myself a blanket first as a tester. I am making the same style as my Nana blanket, made up of 100s of Peggy squares. I’m aiming to make a knee rug of a 100 squares, and trying to do one a day (sometimes I skip days and do multiples when I can). So far it’s taken me two months, and I’ve completed 65 squares. I’m well on track to be finished by winter!

I am inspired by my Nana everyday.

Blog, I missed you!

Poor old blog – I posted a great plan for the year and then just got on with it! Now it’s October and I realise I haven’t blogged all year.

So, what have I got to say for myself? It’s been a busy one!

In August last year I joined the Dallington Residents Association, as they were looking for new members and a new secretary. I put my hand up for the job. I blogged about that here.

Then in May this year, the Chair resigned and I found myself in the role of interim Chair (and voted in as the new Chair following the AGM in May). It’s been a big learning curve for me to be involved in local community politics, and hugely rewarding. Our committee is a group of very dedicated and long-serving members of our community – they’ve been very supportive and helpful as I learn the ropes. I couldn’t ask for a nicer bunch of people to work with.

It’s lucky that I really love doing this work, because it’s like a second part-time job! I probably work 10-15 hours a week on top of my ‘real’ job; attending meetings, keeping in touch with people, helping to plan activities, representing the committee in discussion of local issues.

It’s probably good that I’m a sticky-beak!