Taking to the Skies Yet Again… Scotland Here Comes Dee!

Today I am happy.

Sad to be away from my Phteven after we’ve rekindled smouldering embers. Happy to be on my way to the country where I lived for the best three short years of my childhood, Scotland.  Happy to be given an opportunity to share my enthusiasm for a cleaner, kinder and more collaborative future for us all.

I realized that to be content and cheerful as I am now, there’s a whole heap of pain and learning to pave the road to Chillville, and I only ever stop here for a week or two before I’m bound to pull back into the outskirts of Crazytown or Anxiety Alley.  But the infrastructure between all of the places and states I visit is getting strong.  My support crew and routes are solid and reliable, and help is never far away when I get lost, as I am apt to do.

I realised I was happy as I was walking down toward security screening as I’ve done dozens, perhaps hundreds of times, and I overheard and caught glimpses of farewells between friends, lovers, and family members.  Tears and awkward Kiwi blokes wondering if they absolutely had to hug their brother in law goodbye, opting for a solid handshake and should grab instead.  Kids cuddling grandparents hard around the neck and tearful waves and sniffles and sighs.  How lucky we all are to have people we care for enough that we are blessed with the pain of missing them.

So here I am sat at my computer, too many inquiries and questions to answer before I fly to Qatar in an hour.  So I’ve opted to blog instead of doing work I am desperately overdue delivering.

Why?  Because I fucking like to write.  I really do.  I wasted my words on feeble and infirm friendships and feeling like I had lost my voice in the abyss a little bit lately.  New shiny objects and self-loathing can both sometimes derail me.  The foundation of sharing, speaking, feeling, and owning my batshit beautiful can be shaken but the tremors are quiet today and I am grateful for the calm I am feeling right now.

I’m about to get on a plane and journey to Scotland to speak at a smarter cities forum.  I will say what I always say:  Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.  I will tell the story of our plucky little nation’s clean energy and phenomenal EV uptake.  I will gesticulate, I will articulate, and I will demonstrate the power that enthusiasm, community and bravery contain.

I started my day late for filming and with a four year old wrapped arms and legs around me with a snotty nose sniffling in my ear and whispers of: “Oh, I just Love you so much mummy. I weewy just sooooo Love you.

After glancing at my phone and realizing it was mere minutes until my 8:00am filming session was about to commence, I attempted, unsuccessfully to steer the film crew to our house instead of the office.  Message was received to late, so the dance of diving into the shower and out the door and applying my face en route commenced as it has done thousands of times before.

12 minutes late, with one of my oldest and dearest friends looking like an ethereal goddess as she always has and always does, I hit my marks and got my soundbites.

Then it was back in the car for a ten minute commute to see my beautiful and brilliant special needs boy.  A sore ear and high temperature did not dampen his charm or cheer.  We baked a cake and talked about his exciting trip to Raro this week.

Then back to the Hobbit homestead to finish packing, grab my passport and then head out to the airport where my foghorn friend and business development manager James Cozens was chilling out waiting to bring my car back to the office.

My. Life. Is. Hectic.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The more we attempt the more we will fail.  It is statistics and reality that we are bound by, and the more you try the more you will both succeed and fail.  None of us are actually superheroes, none of us are above melting down and meaningfully wanting to give up.

I am sat in the plane that will take me to Doha and then on to Scotland.  I am thinking about my soulmate and my children and my friends.  And I am happy.

I hope wherever you are and whatever you are doing you are as well.

XXOO

Dee

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Beyond Beautiful

This weekend we hosted the first exclusive Tesla Owner’s club meet up.  There were 11 Tesla parked in our tree-lined driveway, and a couple of dozen of the occupants piled from their cars into our warm and welcoming home.  Our ears, hearts, heads and tummies were filled with chat and treats.

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Among the guests, of course, were the wonderful wives.  We shared stories of our husbands’ obsessive chit-chat and forum shenanigans regarding electric cars, politics, futurism, and climate change. We swapped tales of silent speed and forcing our children to starve rather than eat on the new upholstery… and then giving up that rule in short order to steal some sweet silence on the first road trip, or even a commute that lasted more than 20 minutes.

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The truth is, Phteven and I haven’t entertained much in the past several months. Nor have we ventured out very often. There are times, even quintessentially social creatures resort to their cocoon.1 (1)  I’ve been a human burrito since last October, and I hope this weekend signifies a tear in this chrysalis.  I’ve got wings and they need to dry out so I can get back to flitting and flapping as is my nature.

 

Anyway.

 

Today was a treat on too many levels to speak of.  Our guests were divine, and their kids were cheeky and giggled at perfectly timed intervals.  Everyone was gone by 7:00pm, even though we practically tried everything short of kidnapping to keep last guests from leaving.  After piling them high with leftovers, there were still plenty of buns, fillings, fizzy drinks, and baking to fill the kids and I up.  Phteven had a hot date with one of his bromantic life partners, so it was just the kids and I for dinner after the last Tesla drove away.

 

While the gathering was going, the noise was steady and the smiles were plentiful. Belly laughs and big smiles filled a space that has been empty on balance for so many months.  We covered a lot of ground and made some new friends, but the conversation pieces that stuck out, and the impetus for this blog post were these:

 

1) Life is seriously fucking messy.  2)Parenting is the hardest thing any of us have ever faced.  3) People have stuff, and the ugly stuff, is actually quite beautiful.

 

Let me elaborate.

 

Catherine and I were looking out the window, over the epic view across to Herald Island.  We started with comfortable small talk, and watched the planes fly over the house as they do most days.  After some cringey mom jokes and a sigh or two, she looked me in the face and asked how I was doing.  Not as a progression or to be politic.  She asked like she gave a fuck, and in a tone that made me know she wasn’t a stranger too shit getting a bit real sometimes too.

 

I smiled, a big, goofy Dee grin that started in my heart and radiated onto my fat little face.  Everyone with an Internet connection in my extended social and even professional circle is aware of my struggles lately.  I’ve been too sad to move for weeks, and shattered and defeated for well over six months.  She’s no stranger to shoveling shit either.  She was enquiring from a place of care and concern, and we had one of those rare and perfect moments of magic, where two hearts meet at the same place after trudging through their own trenches.

 

Our chatting continued and between expletive filled accounts of our various parenting fails, and remembering fondly the time before time, when we just KNEW we would be amazing at adulting and especially parenting.  We came up with the unanimous conclusion, that no one is a better or more qualified parent, than people who have not had children. We were all in total agreement that we DEFINITELY knew more about parenting before we actually had kids. What I wouldn’t give for THAT level of confidence, even occasionally, now.  Sigh.

 

Our small group grew by a few as our animated chat continued.  We shared stories of tears, tantrums and sometimes screaming through struggles and strife.  Accounts were even verified by husbands who were within earshot.

 

I wear my heart on my sleeve, and share and over-share because I do not think my faults or struggles are unique.  I think most of us feel lost, scared, unworthy, anxious or completely out of our depth sometimes.  The fact I am more than comfortable being the hot mess that I am for the whole world to see, means I don’t have to lug around the fear of people figuring out that I am batshit.  Being my very own, unique, ridiculous, indulgent, sometimes-self-aware-but-too-fucking-lazy-and-stubborn-to-change brand of crazy is something I can claim. Work in progress, but don’t judge, we all are just that, works in progress, and some days and phases are better than others.

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I got to hang out with new people, who seem to have everything well and truly figured out. They did.  They do.  But they have their own struggles and stories too.

 

Another unanimously notable observation, was that a lot of people, waste a lot of time giving a lot of fucks about what other people think. The absurdity of trying to prove to other people that we have our shit together is just too exhausting at this stage of life.  We are not the crowd you’ll find sporting designer shades, perfect nails, or posting only our highlights reel on the socials.  We are a vast and varied bunch, but we are also, all pretty clear on where the fucks we have available are given.  We care about our families, our journeys, our planet, and the future.  We all face these passions in our own ways and feel considerably stronger given an opportunity of doing it together.

 

In case you were wondering, the fact that we ARE the crowd who drive around in very expensive electric performance vehicles, has not escaped me.  A Tesla is not a toy.  It is a hefty investment, and only the tiniest sliver of our society will be able to afford one.  Our guests today celebrate their choice, and all feel compelled to make a difference, particularly concerning climate change. They choose to spend their precious spare time taking family and friends for rides and drives, or chatting with interested members of the public at chargers, or volunteering at schools and events.  You will find them on any number of digital and real communities, flying their own flags for a better tomorrow.  Everyone in my home today had a unique story.  Everyone in my home today had seen feast and famine in their lives, everyone in my home chooses to dedicate significant resources and time to making things better for their kids, and every person and thing on the planet as well.

 

Part of feeling shitty lately, is the white middle class guilt that I labor around with. There are other layers of shit too. Crippling imposter’s syndrome, raising four fabulous and equally fucked up humans (we are all fucked up, but being a parent means you get front row seats to the fucked upedness of your children). Even feeling shitty makes a person feel shitty sometimes, because there’s really not that much to actually feel shitty about.  I won’t go on.  I could bang on almost infinitely on this tangent, but I will spare you.

 

What I am saying, in the typically sweary, convoluted, and long-winded way is simple.

 

Everyone has their stuff.  Metaphorical, tangible, and just general… stuff.  What we do with our stuff defines us far more than what that stuff actually is.

 

The 30-Day-Rule: Drop. It. Like. It’s. Hot.

 

Life is a balancing act.  My observations of late are verifying the fact it is actually impossible to be content if we don’t let some heavy shit go.

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People I know and admire can bang on and on about shit that they’ve been carrying around for an eternity.  Worse, they can blame the heavy shit (including heavy people and relationships) for holding them back and making them unhappy or unsuccessful.  The thing with perception, and what we think, and how we feel, is that it becomes our reality.  If you really want to be lighter, freer, happier and more resilient, you have to drop the heavy and unhelpful shit and keep going.  It may well weigh you down and even destroy you if you do not.

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I am a woman of vast and various faults.  I hold grudges and ghost people when I am in extreme emotional pain.  Knowing it is a step in the right direction, working on fixing it is something I need to seriously start putting effort toward.

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Our neighbours, who just happen to have doctorates, are both world record holders, and an internationally acclaimed power couple (so I hold their opinions and observations in pretty high esteem based on their pathological overachieving), have some of the best advice I have ever heard on making relationships and life work.  In their world, you get an allocated time to vent, bitch, moan, and bludgeon an issue or concern to death.  Once this allocated time is up, the issue is closed and you have to move the fuck on with your life and your relationship.

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They call this the 30-day-rule.  I am going to take it for a whirl I think, as I am notorious for holding grudges, and not letting things go.  It’s not good for me and it is not fair on other people.  I am also good at ghosting just because I get busy, not because there is any ill-will.  But that’s a blog for another day, today we are talking about cleaning out your heart and head.

 

Now, walking well away from things that do not serve us, like relationships that are unhealthy (or even worse toxic) is fine, if not essential.  All the schmaltz, hype, and pith you so often see on motivational posters, about surrounding yourself with people who are amazing, supportive, positive and successful (success is measured in so many ways, and does not have to be tied to material things) is really solid shit. You lay down with dogs you are going to get fleas. You lift others up, and you’ll both soar above the bullshit and battles that are inevitable.  Celebrating the successes and strengths of the people who become your tribe will get you through basically anything life will throw at you, and life is going to throw you some nasty shit.

 

Walking away can be clean and courteous and ought to be just that.  I’ve had some fantastic friendships end because of insurmountable incompatibilities, but you get to a point when you just have to call it.  The 30-day-rule can apply to relationships as well as situations.  From the moment the straw that breaks the camel’s back falls in your relationship (peripheral, non family and inner circle relationships, because you gotta work things out with your special people, even when it is tough as fuck to carry on. Your inner circle is your strength and foundation and very little can ever justify walking away from your truest tribe) give yourself a 30 day window to cool down and carry on, or, if you’re still quite sure the relationship is not serving you, or them, or both, drop that fucker like they are hot.  Wish them well, and close and lock the door and carry on with your life.  No need for reigniting or fanning flames which are destructive, and no need to worry about it.  The people who bring you strength, hold you accountable with kindness, and lift you higher are worthy of respect, time and concern.  People who drag you down need to find their own tribe and keep the fuck out of your way while you follow your bliss.

 

Once you’ve moved on, from a situation, circumstance, run-in or relationship, put it to bed and forget about it.  Letting things go is incredibly important for all of us.  Hanging onto things that don’t serve us (grudges, people, poorly laid plans) is a hazard to our health and only hurts your proverbial and actual heart.

 

So, if you’ve been stewing or stressing or burdened with a hot and heavy load lately, consider cutting that shit loose.  If it creeps back into your heart or mind maybe try a mantra of: “I am worthy of walking away from things that do not serve me.” Or “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”  I’ve been leaning on these two phrases heavily this week, and it’s freeing and fabulous.

 

Hope wherever you are and whatever this week has chucked at you, you are able to let the things go that do not serve you, and carry on a bit lighter and brighter for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s New Buenos Aires?

It is fair to say that Buenos Aires is one of my favourite locations on the face of this planet.  I’ve made sure I have a hefty control group of beautiful cities to base my comparison on.

After an overwhelming year, heartbreaking kid stuff, crazy growth at work, some hefty betrayals, and even being on the brink of divorce to my soul mate Phteven, I decided to take a trip with no kids and no work to celebrate turning 40, and hopefully reboot my undeniably broken brain.

Two dear friends have joined me here from New Zealand, and a third will be arriving tomorrow morning from Hong Kong.

We’ve been immersed in South American culture for nearly a week, with a small and unfortunate deviation to a sub-standard Japanese restaurant on the outskirts of Palermo.  Argentina is famous for its gorgeous food, but maybe stick to the traditional, Italian and French cuisines I’d advise.

Both of the women here with me are incredibly private people.  They do not crave attention or human interaction the way that I do, and they value an incredibly small and trusted circle of friends and don’t give too many fucks about people who fall outside of that fold. I admire them for it.  I also admire the fact they are pointing out to me the value of deeds, not words, and the beauty of sitting in silence together. Both E and P are honest to the point of brutality.  P and I have been an unlikely set of friends since we were both teenagers.  She suffers no fools, takes no prisoners, and is consistently uncompromising.  E is much gentler, and elegant AF.  She walks like a swan wafts through a canal.  P is like Florence (all about food and beauty and style) and E is like Paris (elegant and timelessly beautiful and adored).  It turns out these are also their favourite cities. So my sophisticated travel companions are quite the opposite of my fiery Latino leanings, but somehow, we have had an absolutely wonderful time together.

Different is good.  Honesty is a sign of respect and friendship.  Travel is the most magical thing human beings whose hearts are connected can share.  Being here with them has had healing powers on my heart and head beyond my highest hopes.

This is my happy place.  I yearned to come here as a child who listened to Evita several thousand times (Elaine Paige, not Madonna) and I spent one of the most magical times in my long and frequently fraught marriage here.

My first trip to my soul city was several years ago with my entire family, and my best friend Shaun from High School in Thames and his fiancé and daughter.  We landed together here and Shaun dragged me out to the streets of Buenos Aires in the pouring rain.  I was feeling travel weary and disinterested, but the electricity caught me in short order and I danced in the rain, fuelled only by Parilla and puns (Shaun is very punny) and it is a night I won’t forget.

The extended group left, and my husband and I had a rare and wonderful fortnight together without children.  We drank strong coffee every morning, and had a siesta every day.  We walked the avenues, stopping every block to snog and snuggle because South America seems to have the market cornered on accepting public displays of affection.  We coveted the antiques in San Telmo and did the Evita trail.  My heart has been aching to return here ever since then.

Sadly, my mental state and the state of play with our children meant someone had to stay in Auckland.  Steve drew the short straw, and he’s wracked with jealousy, but still glad he’s stayed home with the children.

There’s a part of me that is pleased to be here without him, as I’ve made so many friends. A Serbian/Canadian family from Ottawa spent the day with me on Thursday and I was blown away by how intelligent and warm they all were.  And funny.  So funny.  Our guide Sol has taken us around the city by day and by night, and I’ve met a simply superb scientist named Sergio who we will be having dinner with again tonight.  Add to that half the tango bar that we’ve become friends with, as well as waiters and waitresses all over the city, and I can safely say we’ve made ourselves very much at home in this beautiful place.

Two more full days does not seem sufficient.

I’m already planning our return though.

So, as the shades finally start to let in some sun on my latest and longest depressive episode (this one was a doozie!) I’ll brace myself to arrive back in New Zealand and try to step back from work and jump into my family a bit more, as I have been attempting to do for three years now.

In the meantime, I am going to smile like an idiot as marvelously attractive and expressive men make eyes at me (a welcome elixir to the poison of realizing I am now seriously middle aged) and the sunlight and rain fall through the thousands of trees that line the streets and avenues of this heavenly place.

Thank you Krissy and E and P for being a part of the most magical recovery I have ever known.  You women are wonderful and I Love the way you Love me.

The Monster in Dee

It is coming up to a calendar month since my latest deep, dark, destructive episode started taking hold.

Exacerbated by stress and some terrifying new illuminations about people who I Love more than my own eyes, I am a puddle of tears and confusion between smiling for a selfie or speaking on camera or in studio.

There’s about 2.5% of most western populations living with a Bipolar Disorder diagnosis, and managing it through various drug and general regimes.  I’d not wish this on my worst enemy, and I have a staggeringly mild case of this complex and cruel mental illness.

It is six months since we had a formidable change in our family that knocked us all on our heads.  We have been ping ponging through bouts of grief and self-loathing, and we’re settling on some uncomfortably numb acceptance of our fractured and fragile family dynamic.  All of this is happening while the world pats us on the head for our feisty fight to fix climate change as best we can by avidly championing Electric Vehicle uptake to take advantage of our clean electric grid.  Work is relentless.  Life is exhausting.  And I feel like a royal asshole because I make a conscious effort to make it look like everything is fine.

Our friends, staff and partners are incomprehensibly perfect.  People going through tragedies and trajectories that make our woes look like amateur hour are offering kindness, advice and support.

I’m not winning at friendships right now, but I wanted to take a moment to reflect on just how brilliantly our tribe have taken control and come through with kindness and calm.

Don’t get me wrong, I have also had the blinkers lifted on some gut wrenching douche-baggery of the highest order.  People I’ve trusted and helped in huge measure have shown themselves to be beyond bitchy (with a capital C!) and boring and basic, and have subsequently been blocked from our lives.  There’s something quite empowering about a righteous ghosting of some arrogant fuckwit that’s been found out and confronted.  I’m in Love with most of the world, but when I am done I am done.

So this blog.  I just wanted to give some examples of the greatness and the gift that is our plentiful and peculiar pod of people.

You may find it helpful if you are yourself, or you know someone in a fantastic funk.

  • Acting Normal

I know I am batshit crazy right now.  Off the charts blathering fool at times.  Please, feel free to remind me, and it is okay to give me that “oh my, you’re well off the deepend aren’t you poppet” look.  But carry on and be yourself around me.  It’s so comforting to be around when my friends are in my space and just letting me be the pathetic puddle I am.  A well-timed and gently delivered joke always helps too.

  • Healthy Options

Walks, rest, dragging me to the gym. Thank you.  I need to eat better, live better, and do better things while having an episode.  So thanks for helping me try to do that (and taking it easy on me if I forget)

  • Hope

THIS is the most beautiful and important part of the journey this time. Let me tell you about a conversation with Phteven tonight:

A tear stained, bathrobe clad Dee shuffled in the crazy-lady way that I do in this state, into the kitchen.  While my eyes started to leak and my mouth started to speak, my soulmate stood staring at me from his perch at our kitchen counter.  We talked about the day, we talked about our combined woes.  And then, we talked about some of our couple friends, as any couple does.  In my state I was quick to interrupt him and point out that I am far worse than any of the many quirky couple characters we were discussing.  And for the first time in the conversation there was a pause while my self-loathing welled up and fell from my eyes again.

“Baby.”

Said the man I am falling farther in Love with every minute recently.

“You are absolutely, totally, nuts… but I must be too because even the very worst bits of you I am just so madly in Love with.”

And jerky, soulful, pained and ugly crying was caught in his strong, beautiful arms.

When the sobbing quieted enough, he took my fat, red, blotchy face in his hands and kissed me in all my morning-breath-even-though-it’s-evening putridness, and he said:

“This has to be the 10thor maybe 15thtime you have been here.  Every time you think it won’t end, and every time it does.  THIS time though, THIS time, you haven’t tried to divorce me.”

And he’s right.

Unfortunately, I did realize as he said it, that I spat all the anger and vitriol I have reserved only for him historically, at a new friend. Former friend. And bitter sweet as it is, I realized I have always attacked people I Love in this state.  And it is shit.  So, if you’re one of the targets of my vitriol and attacks (and chances are if you’ve known me for more than a couple of years, you have been) I am sorry, and thank you for walking away or standing by me, neither is easy.

  • Doing what they say they will do

When you’re down, people letting you down stings a multitude of times more intensely in its magnitude. That is why we hide when we are hurting this bad.  So the few people who make it through the door or into our life when we are really off the planet, we need you to under promise and over deliver.  My beautiful and feisty femme taskforce at work have taken care, not only of me, but my company.  My foghorn has stepped up 20 fold this weekend to keep me moving, and all of them have given me cuddles and cups of tea as well.  THANK YOU!

  • Checking in

And last, but not least, it is all the people who remember to interact while I am off the planet.  People are pinging just to say hey.  It means more than I can say.  Not offering advice or offering to console me, they just let me know that I have been in their thoughts

It’s been said a million times, and it needs to be shared a million more.  It is okay to not be okay.  Hang on, minute by minute if that is what it takes, because the minutes get better.

I can’t take my gloom and fire back, but I can try to keep myself safe and distant until the sunshine peeks through again.

If you’re fighting your own monsters, as we all do in our turn, know that even though you may feel despised and alone, you are important.  The bullshit your brain tells you at these times is not real.  What is real is that we are all fragile and freaked out most of the fucking time.

Thanks to my tribe for rallying.  I’ll get better and make it up to you all soon.

XXOO

Some Dunners Stunners with my Stephanie-Jane

Nipped down to Dunedin last week to rub my friends Mr. and Mrs. Grumpybum’s tum tum (that’s the code name we came up with together to protect their anonymity).

 

Dunedin is excellent IMHO.  I Love the drive to get there, the people, the culture, the sense of community.  It feels like a tiny wee antipodean Aberdeen (others say Edinburgh, I am sticking with Aberdeen) to me.  I Loved the three years I spent in Scotland as a young child.  So it’s not a big jump to figure why Dunedin found its way so firmly into my big mushy hobbity heart as well.

It’s a student town.  And everyone who lives there is used to seeing all sorts of shenanigans.  Even the tour guide at the botanic gardens had one or two stories of student mischief to share. Here are a selection of snaps from our trip to the Botanic gardens, where we managed to get a ride in a fully electric trolly thing.

 

Dunedin has so much more to offer than student bars and cheap take-away joints (although there’s no shortage of either of these).

From the Octagon, to Otago Peninsula there’s a ton of fun shit to do and see in this plucky little shining light in the South Pacific.  This place punches so very far above its weight, and I will always jump at an opportunity to visit.

As mentioned, there is a very Scottish feel to darling Dunners.  That includes the weather.  Dunedin is prone to grey and dismal spells of weather just like her Northern twin.  I’ve seen rain come in sideways, and fog that would give my grandmother’s pea soup a run for its money in the thick and gloomy stakes.  Is this a bad thing??? HELL NO!

Here are just SOME of the views from the Otago Peninsula that you can enjoy if you hike up there for a look around.

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If you find yourself lucky enough to be placed in Dunedin in the autumn or winter, please drag your tourist ass up the hill to Larnach castle very early on a foggy morning.  It’s magic.  It feels like a scene from Wuthering Heights or, maybe, even Scooby Doo?  At any rate.  It’s proper eerie and one of my favourite things to do, on a long list of favourite things to do while I am in Otago.

The Peninsula is amazing.  That little library, the views, the teeny-tiny-windy road.  The walk to Sandfly Bay (did I get the name right?)  It’s all good.  Go there.  It’s good.

There’s also a thriving art and culture scene.  Not to brag or anything (yes, I am just about to FULLY brag) but I am friends with one of the driving forces in this area.  Pam is a soft spoken powerhouse with a git’er’done attitude and tenacity that fears no red tape or neigh sayer.  She remains unwavering in the face of obstacles or intimidation.  She’s got an eye for beauty and a heart of gold and is a force of nature in and of her own right.  She’s also one of the very first EV owners in all of New Zealand, and almost certainly the first commercial EV owner in Dunedin.  She helps organize exhibitions, record breaking meet ups, rallies, social events and countless other things in between.  She’s absolutely one of my all-star heroes.  As are the other champions I have come to know and Love in the deep South.  Alan and Veronica are full of enthusiasm and knowledge and I never quite feel like I get to spend enough time with them when I sneak down.  OH!  And Scott and Jenna!!  Artistic and tied to nature and their community inextricably.  I should stop there, because I could be here all day.

 

I realized, on this last trip, that I’ve not been to Dunedin without a visit to Nova cafe.  Why is this?  Um, because the coffee is off the fucking hook and food is amazing.  Also, it is in the lobby of the art gallery which is very warm and welcoming.  Feels quite Scandinavian to me, with all that wood and open space.  I am vastly and deeply in Love with many things Scandinavian, so that scores Dunedin some extra points.  Extra. Points. For Dunedin.

So my daughter and I had no plan as such, we just wanted to have a couple of days of girl time and to see my friends and wish them well.

We drifted around in our little rented Holden sewing machine sized car.  We got to ride in the fully electric bus around the botanic gardens.  Probably, the most fun we had though, was op-shopping around town.  The second hand stores in Auckland and Wellington can have a bit of a hipster feel, or be overpriced at times.  Not in Dunners.  No sir, they have well lit junk shopping.  No pretence or toff scoffs anywhere!  I paid $1 a piece for a set of six hand made (locally hand made) coffee mugs.  They’re beautiful.

We spent our second night at the foot of the world’s steepest street (Baldwin Street) in a lovely apartment on top of a cafe that was run by a most unpleasant young woman.  She was packing up and we asked for directions to the place we had booked to stay and she feigned complete ignorance, despite the fact the apartment was located right above the coffee shop she was just closing up.  Strange.  I thought she was having a bad day, but nope, the next day she was awful as well, as I dared to nip down and ask if they were open yet (because the doors were open) and apparently they were not.  All good.  You don’t get through 40 years on this planet being Dee West without coming across some people who have nothing but the “are you something I need to scrape off my shoe” look to offer.  It’s all good.  I don’t sweat the small stuff much these days anyway.  And the apartment was PERFECT.  We really enjoyed it.

We slept in till 8:30 on our last morning, so didn’t manage to get up in time to see a sunrise or go for one last walk on the steep streets of Dunedin.

We got to the airport without struggling through any level of traffic at all, and my daughter was pleased to bits with how tiny the airport and runway were, compared to, lets say: LAX or Heathrow.  That child has grown up proper Bougie and I’ve got no-one to blame by my own damn self for it.  But she did Love our trip to the Scotland of the South, as I always do as well.

So thanks for hosting me and Steph last week Dunners.  You really are a stunner. XXOO

Getting Bach into my Crazy Life

If you’d like, you could listen to Bach’s Orchestral Suite #3 in D Major, as it takes about the same time to listen as to read this blog.

I like Bach.  He had 20 children.  7 with his first wife Maria and another 13 with his much younger second wife Anna, an opera singer and quiet achiever who history doesn’t hold in enough regard IMHO.  11 of these children survived to adulthood.  He was quite profoundly blind further into his career, and would have required a lot of support from his family in the wake of this.  He lost 7 of his 20 children either shortly after birth or in their infancy or childhood.  Yet his marriages remained intact and his genius thrived with the strong foundation of his family and friends.

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Different times.  History is quite fascinating, and I am always comforted by the telling of it, as not a single person who graces the pages of any history book lived without extreme struggle, strife and a fairly hefty dose of eccentricity.

This song, my second favourite Bach creation (after Toccata and Fugue) is a thoughtful piece that plays an important part in hundreds of movies. It is the background music to reminiscent montages after loss or change, or plays wistfully during rainy or snowy scenes of people falling into, or out of Love.  It is the background music to thoughtfulness and nostalgia.  It is sad, and joyful, and powerfully gentle.

This is the background music playing in my mixed- up mind a lot recently.

For the third time in 15 years I am adrift and bereft of desire to stay coupled to Phteven.  There’s so much metaphor and foreshadowing that led to this place.  We’ve been to emotional hell and back at various points since meeting when I was a lost, loud, self-destructive 23-year-old working at an ISP, and he was an insecure and somewhat emotionally oblivious genius starting what would one day become a global phenomenon.

Somehow, against so many odds, that shy genius found this loquacious hurricane at just the right moment in both our lives for us to fall quite formidably in Love.

Every friendship, marriage, relationship, even our frenemies and nemesis connections go through phases and require thoughtful maintenance and management.  There’s no clear rule book as to what relationships will last and which ones will fade.

I’ve written countless blogs about clawing up the cliffs of uncertainty, pain, and difficulty so that we can rest for a time on the safe plateaus of comfort that can only be truly appreciated through struggling to get to them.  Sometimes, it gets to the point that it doesn’t seem possible to keep climbing, particularly if the next safe place is too obscured and distant to know when or how to reach it.  At the moment, I’d take a rocky outcrop to tie myself to while this storm passes.  A safe plateau seems quite inconceivably far-flung as I write this.

A formula that remained the saving grace between Phteven and I, through my big steaming pile of bat-shit crazy, and his well-documented lack of social and emotional finesse, was honesty, acceptance, humour, hope, tenacity, Love, respect, but perhaps most importantly, staggered crisis management.

What I mean, is that we have both had huge blows over the years.  Everyone does.  He doesn’t deal with mortality, and I do not deal well with failure or rejection.  He doesn’t speak his heart readily, and I never stop talking.  We’re both incredibly insecure and formed a functioning cocoon of co-dependence that was incredibly comfortable.  Sometimes, he doesn’t think how he might be affecting others, and I can’t stop thinking about everyone and everything else as other people’s happiness is one of my many anesthetising addictions to remedy the constant chatter and self-loathing that is the white noise of my epic adventure through life.

During his last rough patch, he joked often that we’d never make it through if we were to both fall off the mountain at the same time.  We took turns feeling helpless and broken and defeated.  One of us was the always the harbor, and one of us was always the ship, and we could weather any storm when these were the rules that the universe played by.

We were smacked in the face with some intense and harsh realities after years of struggling to get a diagnosis for one of our four kids.  This was after a succession of personal and professional bombshells that weakened our defenses to the point that this news was a fatal blow that fractured both of our hearts, seemingly irreparably.

We dealt with our self-loathing and grief in very different ways.  Every time I look at my husband I see our son.  I see failure.  I feel loss.  And I’ve always pushed any kindness or comfort away with fervor and force when I am in crippling emotional pain.

We’re immersed in every kind of therapy imaginable.  Couples, family and individual counselling.  We’ve got friends shoulders to cry on and spare rooms to sleep in when needs be.  We’re both lost, and sad, and filled with self-hatred and we can’t find our way back to each other, despite both being smart enough to know that it would be the most solid foundation to rebuild upon.

So Bach’s 3rd Symphony in D major plays with mournful strings in the background as my memories flicker like old movie cast onto a sheet from a projector reel.

Finding out we were pregnant with Daniel the week after my 26th Birthday. Births, funerals, travel, laughter, tears, walking away from Serato and starting new adventures.  Building the treehouse while I was building our third child in my small round body.  Second wedding, Impromptu honeymoons and weekends at the ski lodge bathing the babies in a bucket.  How could anyone not crave a continuation of a dream that flies well beyond most peoples’ wildest imaginings?

It’s messed up.  He wants to work it out.  What’s wrong with me?

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I don’t know.

My sister, who has been around for the three previous failed attempts I have made to run away from my long-suffering husband, said something insightful.  After I had finally convinced her that I was ready to walk out and close the door for good this time, she looked at me and said:

“So what is it you need?  What does happy even look like if you can’t be happy with him?”

Without taking the time to think, it poured out in a trembling timbre with a descant of tears: “I just want to not hate myself every time I look at him.  I have no idea who I am and everything I do know… I actually fucking loath right now.”

And that’s it.  It’s that simple.  There’s nothing more scandalous than my own selfishness and disorientation keeping me drifting farther away from the one true thing I used to rely on so steadily.

I don’t deserve to be Loved.  By anyone.  I don’t deserve to be tolerated after my ever-increasing catalogue of failures.  And I don’t have anything to offer to him in his dark hour, so, aside from the most final of possible solutions, what can be done to escape this relentless cycle of anger and sadness?  If anyone knows, feel free to fill me in.

Every marriage goes through dark times.  Every relationship has highs and lows.  It can feel darkest just before the dawn, so I guess I am hopeful, because things are as dark as I remember them being between us.

If I could take a magic pill to want to cling to the man I call Grumpy through the tempest that continues to rage, I would swallow it down, even if it came at great cost I would.

Our last intensive marriage counseling session I had to promise to publicly say that we are working on staying together.  This effectively, just made me worry his concern is not so much for us, or me, or even his own happiness, but that he was not keen on the embarrassment or demoralisation of separation.  An infuriating prospect when, as two total losers who were bullied mercilessly through most of their lives, we always had each other to cling to in a world that could be incredibly cruel to weirdos like us.  His strength, and one of the things I fell so deeply in Love with, is that he simply does not give a fuck.  Our core relationships and our tribe’s opinions will always matter, everyone else will solicit little more than an eye roll.  It’s who we are, it is how we roll, it is what makes it possible for us to get shit done against seemingly insurmountable odds.

He corrected me, on my assumption of the source of his protest and his hope that I would stop talking about separation.

“When you say it, it means it might really happen.” Was his earnest and poignant explanation. “And I don’t ever want it to be over.”

So I steel myself to go into battle in defense of one of the greatest Love stories I’ve ever read, which is my own.  We are all characters in our own epic adventures, and we’re all faced with incredible trials that can break us or make us.  I’ve recognised the fact I need to shed the pathetic princess pontifications I’ve perpetuated, and will build a very firm bridge to get over myself.

Things still suck.  I am still battle wearied after a roller coaster year and more triumph, tribulation than I have ever known professionally.  Add to the mix a truly exasperating and wretched last quarter, and you’ve got a recipe for total mental meltdown it turns out.  But life is tough and full of stuff.  Punishing myself and the person who knows me better than any other person on earth for it over, and over, and over again probably is not be the best remedy to the tumult of late.

I see couples married for 50 years and wonder what they may have seen together and how deeply the wounds run in their hearts since they placed them in the others’ hands.  And I get advice from people I admire and adore on their own experiences in Love and life, and the one thing that is universal is struggle.  It varies in intensity and subject matter, but it is a part of every single one of our lives and we are all given the options to let it make us stronger or break us to pieces.

So.

I guess what I am saying, in my typically verbose and dramatic way is this:

I’m going to ground for a little bit longer so I can get the tools I need to build that fucking bridge.  I’m going to build it, I am going to cross it, I am going to get over myself and keep moving fucking forward.

Take the time to listen to the song “I wish somebody would build a bridge, so I could get over myself.”  I’ll have on high rotate by the Australian band Thirsty Merc, as that’s going to take over Bach on my playlist for a while I think.

Hopefully with Phteven if he’ll have me.

Thanks for reading.  And thank you especially to everyone who’s been watching ringside or further afield and offering Love and support to both of us.  Your stories of clawing through your own tough times are humbling and helpful beyond measure.

Lots of Love from this crazy (not currently so happy) Hobbit.

XXOO