Back in MY day…

There have been a profusion of cute little notes and things on Facebook recently about how different kids’ lives were back in “our day”. It recalls a bygone era when kids rode their bikes to their friends houses, climbed trees, stayed out til dark. Kids were smacked when they were naughty, didn’t answer back or swear, they knew their place.

It sounds like a lovely place and time, but it doesn’t ring true for me. The 1970s, as I remember it, involved adults being able to beat children without fear of consequence, children being abused behind closed doors and nobody talked about it, women being bullied by their husbands and having nowhere to go for help. Children had no rights – they couldn’t answer back, or speak out. Women were not the equals of men in the workplace or at home.

I am glad I don’t live in that world anymore. And I am VERY happy that my children have had a different life than the one I had.

Yes the world has changed. The world has been changing as long as humans have existed. This time is not like the time you grew up in, and children have different experiences than the ones you had. It doesn’t make yours better or more valid than theirs.

But some things never change. If I want my children to be socially responsible, thoughtful, well mannered, it’s still my job teach them how. The amount of TV they watch, the music they listen to, the games they play have less influence on them than people think. I am still the biggest shaper of my children’s lives – I still have the most influence over what they think and how they see the world. They watch everything I say and do, and they will copy me. If I want my children to spend less time in the cyberworld, then it’s up to me to turn the computer off and go play with them. Or maybe join them in cyberworld and enjoy the marvels of the wide world out there with them.

Don’t worry, one day they’ll be lamenting about ‘kids these days’ and recalling that golden age of smartphones and iPads and goodness knows what else!

This one from Facebook, I love:

First written by Judge Phillip B. Gilliam in the US in 1959, it was recently reproduced by a Northland high school principal.

It’s just as true now as it was then. And for parents as much as for the kids.

Open letter to Teen-ager

Always we hear the plaintive cry of the teen-ager. What can we do?…Were can we go?

The answer is GO HOME!

Hang the storm windows, paint the woodwork. Rake the leaves, mow the lawn, shovel the walk. Wash the car, learn to cook, scrub some floors. Repair the sink, build a boat, get a job.

Help the minister, priest, or rabbi, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army. Visit the sick, assist the poor, study your lessons. And then when you are through – and not too tired – read a book.

Your parents do not owe you entertainment. Your city or village does not owe you recreational facilities.

The world does not owe you a living…You owe the world something.

You owe it your time and your energy and your talents so that no one will be at war or in poverty or sick or lonely again.

Grow up; quit being a crybaby. Get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone, and start acting like a man or a lady.

You’re supposed to be mature enough to accept some of the responsibility your parents have carried for years.

They have nursed, protected, helped, appealed, begged, excused, tolerated and denied themselves needed comforts so that you could have every benefit. This they have done gladly, for you are their dearest treasure.

But now, you have no right to expect them to bow to every whim and fancy just because selfish ego instead of common sense dominates your personality, thinking and request.

In Heaven’s name, grow up and go home!

– South Bend Tribune, Sunday, Dec. 6, 1959.



Mother’s Day

I’ve always made a bit of a big deal of Mother’s Day. Not as a kid, but once I became a mother. I know that people complain about it being overly commercial and all that, but I love it. I can take time out to think about how far I’ve come as a mother, and (hopefully!) get a bit of appreciation for all my hard work.

When I think of Mother’s Day, I think of it in relation to me as a mother, but never really think of my own mother at all. Which may seem callous if you don’t know me. I really feel like I don’t have a mother. I don’t remember her for the first few years of my life, and she left when I was 10. Since then she has popped back in and out of my life, sometimes quite painfully. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that she isn’t really my mother. I have someone who gave birth to me, but she isn’t my ‘mum’. I know what it really means to be a mother, because I have being doing it hard-out for 25 years!

So Mother’s Day for me isn’t about cards and gifts (although I do love those), it’s about taking time to be with my children and appreciating the relationship I have with them.

Me and my beautiful children
Me and my beautiful children


Bucket list item, ticked off.

We went on a cruise March 31st – April 11. It was … interesting.

The wedding was lovely, and such a good idea – it was low-key and just right for Kim and Shelley. I love the idea of being able to avoid all the palaver of the wedding organisation. Though, organising everyone onto the ship must have been a mission!

It took me a few days to unwind once we set sail – work had been really busy and stressful. It felt weird to go from 100% busy to 0%. Nothing to do, no schedule, no appointments. So of course, once I got over the shock of that, I began structuring things around me – breakfast, gym, yoga, Downtown Abbey. Lunch, lounging, trivia, ballroom dancing, Downtown Abbey. Dinner, Downtown Abbey. We watched a lot of Downtown Abbey – all four seasons in fact.

I coped with the seasickness much better than I expected, thanks to Scopoderm patches. I put one on as soon as I felt queasy and then hardly thought about it again. The side effects were a bit interesting, but blurry vision and a rash were much better than the alternative.

After three very looooong days at sea, we arrived in Vanuatu and stopped for two nights at Santo and Champagne Bay. It was great to get off the ship, but I was surprised to find that it made me feel sick. Once back on board (or in the water) I felt fine. Weird!

Next stop was Port Vila – not really a swimming island, so we had a quick look around, went for a boat-taxi ride and then spent the day in the pool on board.

Next was Mystery Island (stunning!) for swimming, and then the last shore day was Isle of Pines (also gorgeous!).

I was happy to see land again after the last three sea days. I was ready for something different! I missed skating! We had a nice relaxing last day in Sydney before flying home for a long weekend.

All in all, it was an interesting experience. I’m not sure I’d want to do another cruise but I enjoyed the enforced relaxation part (I need that). I did start to feel a little cooped-up with nowhere to go – I think if I did another I would prefer to cruise to somewhere and then get off the ship for a few days. And since I’m not really that into beaches and such, preferably the somewhere would involve cities. It was fun hanging out with my family, and to meet Shelley’s family. The food was awesome. The weather was amazing. And of course I am always happy sharing adventures with my best friend.

Enjoying some sun and sand at the Isle of Pines
Enjoying some sun and sand at the Isle of Pines


The joys of home repair, part 2

So I got a call from the lovely Ganella yesterday. She called at 12 noon to ask if she could come round to visit right now.

I was at work, I explained.

She pushed: “How about at 12:30pm?” It would be in her lunch break, so the least I could do is pop out in my lunch break too.

Oh fine. I agreed to meet her at 12:30pm. So I finished what I was doing and raced home, making sure I was early this time. She was three minutes late (but who’s counting, other than her). It turns out she’s German. In my mind, this explains a lot.

The meeting took about five minutes – I explained in person what I had been saying in emails for the past six months, and showed her what needed to be fixed. She said she’d organise someone to do the work, we shook hands, she left. No reference was made to the phone conversation, no apology was forthcoming. But whatever. I just want our house fixed and signed off so I can stop thinking about it.

So here’s the thing. Is it reasonable for me to be slightly annoyed that she expects to be able to pop around at a moment’s notice? What does she think I do with my days? I can’t be the only homeowner she deals with that has a JOB. I did explain to her that I had to take time off work every time someone had to come over to fix something, or when they call a meeting to discuss our work. She didn’t seem at all concerned about this, but it is really starting to irritate me!

I’ve encountered a similar attitude with most of the contractors I’ve had to deal with. They seem genuinely surprised and sometimes annoyed that I can’t be at home during the day for them to pop over. Am I missing something here? Maybe I should start suggesting we meet at their place, just so they get the point that they are at work, JUST LIKE ME.

What’s the solution? How do other people manage this problem? What do people do when they can’t just leave work at a moment’s notice to let someone into their house to do repair work?

The only solution I’ve come up with is to leave a key and hope they don’t rifle through my undies drawer while I’m not there. Once I even left a key in the letterbox and $300 on the bench and just trusted a contractor (who I’d never met) to do what we’d agreed. He was actually incredulous that I was so trusting, but I didn’t have much choice. And he did a great job, so phew.

It’s a derby life

I’m going to my first derby bootcamp this weekend in Blenheim. It’s going to be awesome, and exhausting by the looks of things!


9:00-12.30 – Training

12.30-1:30 – Lunch

1.30-3:00 – Training and skills

3:00-3.30 – Break

3.30-5.30 – Scrimmage


10:00-2:00 – Scrimmage tourney (open to public)

HOLY MOLY my everything is going to hurt at the end of this…


The 40 b4 40 challenge: Update

In January I set myself 40 goals to achieve before I turn 40 in November. You can see the list and how its progressing OVER HERE.

Some of them are easy enough – things I intended to do anyway. Some of them I’ll definitely do and they are in the schedule.

Some things probably won’t happen, but they are goals I’ll keep in the list and think about doing in the future.

I’m not sure I’m going to go on a cruise or go jet-boating this year, if ever. What was I thinking with these ones?! I get really horribly seasick. I really want to do both of these things, but the suffering is probably not worth it.

Others, like owning a car, are on the back burner this year. We made a choice to get a new kitchen instead. It was a good call, I LOVE our new kitchen. Sometimes I stand in the dining room and admire it. It’s so smooth and shiny and clean.

I have to admit, I’ve never been one for this kind of resolution-making. I like setting goals and I like making lists, but I’ve never vowed that I will do this-or-that by a certain date. That’s not how my goal setting works. So if I don’t achieve everything on the list, no matter. There is always next year!

Day 21: Hampton Court Palace, and home

We decided to use our last day in London exploring Hampton Court Palace, 30 minutes from London central by train. This was the palace Henry VIII and his various wives, and the Edward VI (the boy king), William III of Orange and Mary II (England’s only co-regents), and Charles I and II. After this, Hampton Court fell out of favor as a royal palace and they lived elsewhere.

It’s a big place and very well preserved, but so different from the other royal dwellings we’ve seen – they’ve all been huge castles. The palace is quite dainty by comparison.
It was a lovely spring day in London today, so nice to just wander around and soak it all in before we went to Heathrow for the long journey home. We’ve had a great time, but we are definitely ready for home – family, familiarity and a comfy bed!

February 29th, 2012

This day has been a focus point for me for the past four years. On February 29th, 2008 I wondered where I’d be on Leap Day in four years time. Let me tell you the story of that day, and what happened after it. It’s not a short story, so get comfy. Or flag it altogether, I promise I won’t be offended. This is my story, for me.

On February 29th, 2008 I was lost. My life had been changing for a couple of years, so I didn’t notice the lost-ness creeping up on me. By the time it hit, I was a goner.

I don’t know where it started, but a couple of memories stand out. Coming home from work one evening in October 2006, a fleeting thought crossed my mind: “I’ve fulfilled my purpose in life…there is no point to me any more”. In the biological sense, I’d done my job. My son was soon to turn 18 and I was examining what I’d done with my life.

And I had a good life – a great job that I loved, two awesome kids, a stable relationship, a nice home. Lots of great friends.

Bebe and Antz

On my son’s 18th birthday in November 2006, I had an overwhelming sense of sadness. For his passing childhood, and for the loss of my own youth. I grieved the teenage-hood I never had because I was too busy raising two young children. I know it was my choice and I never regretted it, not even for a moment. But sometimes when I saw my little people growing up, doing things I missed out on, it made me sad.

That moment passed and life moved on. But I think something shifted without me realising it. I had a growing sense of dis-ease. Like a faint voice in the background that got louder as time went by.

Restless, irritable, discontent. This was me.

My partner was diagnosed with cancer in 2007. He shut himself away from me and didn’t want to face it. That’s just not the way I do things, so I faced up to his mortality on my own while he ignored it. We grew apart.

My job changed from being a joy to a chore – I was bored, and had no room to move. My contented life was unravelling.

Fast forward to the end of 2007. I had planned a trip for my daughter’s 16th birthday. A big OE for us both – London, Paris, Athens, Rome and everywhere in between. The thought of that adventure kept me going through 2007. The faint noise had become a din. It threatened to drown me out, but I didn’t realise that then. I thought I could move through it – my attitude to life was that everything would be okay eventually, just wait it out.

I experienced the joy of watching my baby girl turn 16 in Paris. So grown up. So didn’t need me anymore (I thought to myself).

Bebe and Meagle

At some point during our holiday, my brain made a decision that would change everything. I have trouble saying that ‘I’ made the decision, because it didn’t feel like I was deciding anything – I felt compelled to change my life. It felt necessary for survival. After I came home in January, I ended my relationship with my partner. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done. He had recently recovered from intense chemo and things were looking up. He might recover. This was my dilemma:

Do I stay with him only because he has cancer, and wait to see what happens? Or do I leave now, and become that girl who broke up with her boyfriend even though he’s dying of cancer? Rock / Hard Place.

Like I said, it felt more like a compulsion than a choice in the end. It’s one of the few choices I’ve made in my life that I feel truly bad about. It wasn’t the wrong choice – I don’t regret it, but it sits uncomfortably … if that makes sense.

At the same time, I made a decision to leave. I needed to get away. All the things that gave me joy in the past suddenly felt like they were crushing me. So I ran. At the beginning of February 2008 I quit my job, sold my house, left my partner. I’d never been so miserable.

Here’s how I remember February 2008. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t think. Everything I ate made me feel sick. I could only sleep for a couple of hours at a time before I jolted awake, exhausted but unable to sleep again. I got to cracking point in mid-February and went to a doctor for advice. She suggested I had a form of anorexia nervosa. She prescribed anti-depressants and sleeping pills. I didn’t trust myself to even fill the prescription. I tore it into tiny pieces and scuttled back into my misery.

On February 28th 2008 I was at bottom. I was too tired to do anything. I lay in my bed too exhausted to get up and eat or drink. I felt done. I was chatting online to my friend Scuddy. He told me I’d feel better if I got up, had a drink of water, ate some toast and went for a walk. It sounded so simple. So I did it. And I did feel better.

Whatever had descended felt like it might lift. It was like I could see a tiny glimmer of light down a long black corridor. I woke up the next morning with a resolve to find myself. I used to be happy. Where had that Bebe gone? She was there, I just had to figure out where exactly.

It was February 29th, 2008. Leap Day. It seemed like a good day to make a change. I took a bus to town and went to a jewellers. I purchased a plain silver bracelet. On the inside of the bracelet I had inscribed, “To thine own self be true”. To forever remind me of this day. I went home and figured that I had four years to find myself. In four years it would be February 29th again, and I’d be somewhere different. I thought about that unimagined future, and it gave me hope.

The voice that had been a din, drowning out all thought, whispered, “you can be anything you want, you can do anything you want”. It scared me, but another feeling was in there too, interest. What would I be? What would I do?

You know the rest of the story. In slow steps, I got to here and now. I left, I wandered, I cried, I found myself, I found peace. I came back, found a new job, became a grandmother, met Stephen and resumed life amongst the humans.

From this vantage point, I look back on 2008 Bebe and I’m thankful. As painful as it was to hit bottom, bouncing back up has been an amazing experience – because it is such a contrast. I’ve been able to reinvent myself and find a life for myself that is beyond my wildest dreams. And it’s a better life because it’s purposeful. I’ll never forget how I felt that day and what I did next. And if I ever do forget, I have a little jangling reminder on my left wrist.

To thine own self be true


After work last night, I met up with Gerard in Auckland city and we went for a walk around Britomart. I’d only heard of Britomart as a transport centre. And until recently, Gerard explained, the area was an urban ghetto – lots of empty and derelict buildings, a place nobody would want to go. Not so now. The area has recently undergone an amazing transformation.

Pop-up shops

I am truly impressed with this newly built shopping spot – it’s funky and attractive and makes really good use of space. It’s right in the middle of sky-scraper city, and yet the main square was roomy and light with grass and trees and warm sun and lots of people. The buildings are a mix of high-, mid- and low-rise and of old and new. The newest are a set of temporary shops that are described on the website as ‘pop-up shops’.

It inspired me. I imagine that the rubble that is Christchurch could grow into something like this.  It was vibrant and alive, full of people, but still functional – a transport centre flowing with traffic.

We need this. We need to rebuild a functioning, functional inner city that people want to work and live in. Until now I really only had a vague picture of what was possible. Now I’ve seen the reality of what we can have. I cross my fingers that those who are rebuilding my place have seen what I saw.

Because standing amongst the glass and brick and cobbles and people, I felt real hope for the first time in almost a year.

The tyranny of the scales

I weighed myself at the gym today, it made me remember once again why measuring myself this way is a waste of time.

When I first started losing weight in 2003, I was going to the gym every second day, and I weighed myself once a week. It was a good way of keeping track of the slowly diminishing number and gave me something to spur me on. Sometimes I’d gain weight and it would give me a fright, but in general, the trend was downward. Once I reached 83 kilos, the weight-loss stopped. I’d lost 45 kilos in about two years, so I was happy with this. Losing more weight would have involved serious dieting, and I didn’t think that was wise.

Since then, I have continued to eat sensibly and exercise regularly, and my weight has fluctuated very little. There have only been two only exceptions to this, in 2008-2009 and 2011.

In 2008-2009 I was very ill, culminating in the removal of my gall bladder. Both before and after surgery, I had trouble eating and dropped to about 78 kilos. The weight gradually climbed and settled again at 83 kilos once I got better. Isn’t that a funny thing?

Last year after the 22/02 earthquake, the huge changes we all went through altered my diet and exercise routine again. My weight jumped to around 87 kilos. I went back to the gym, refocused on what I was eating and once again I returned to 83 kilos.

So here’s my point …. today I weighed in at 84.5 kilos. In the past couple of months I’ve been doing a lot of running, and I know that I have changed my shape – I have more muscle and less fat. I’ve lost about half a dress size in the past two months. Not a lot, but just enough for me to notice that my clothes are looser. So I’ve gained weight and lost size.

So while the scales might be telling a sort of truth, it’s not a truth I want to listen to.