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.

IMG_4001IMG_2199 (3)IMG_4002

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.


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?


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.


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.


40 Random Learnings…

It was… Not the best nor the worst of times.  It was chaos and calm and innumerable  other adjectives in varying ways on different days.BlissDancerTreasureIsland

I must say, the last quarter of this year has been a bit of an unmitigated clusterfuck.  The best way I can describe it is a long, slow, and intense nervous breakdown, leaving my nervous system, cognitive and emotional state in tatters.  I know that the dark days pass. They always pass.  But I am not yet at a turning point that I can see a brighter, breezier, easier road.

That will come.

I’ll be glad to welcome 2018.  I’ll be glad to insist on a slower pace and less race and more space to myself.

The year ahead will be my 40th on this planet.  I thought 40 would be a bigger and more daunting number.

growingoldtakelongerAs it stands,  I am quite looking forward to it.

To illustrate my enthusiasm I thought I might share 40 things I have learned over the past four decades. These are not the ultimate, not even the penultimate lessons in my life.  Just forty random observations in no particular order.

Here goes:



  1. Everyone’s home has its own smell.
  2. If your pet or child does not like someone, it is likely because that person is actually an asshole.  There are exceptions, but I do find this to be a good indicator.
  3. People are flawed.
  4. Plans change.
  5. Words can hurt and heal and can’t be reclaimed once shared.
  6. Candles are wonderful and a gift you can confidently give for nearly any occasion.
  7. Horizontal stripes make you look slightly taller and thinner while stripesvertical do the opposite.
  8. It actually is possible to disagree with someone and respect them anyway.
  9. Nobody is always right, and the people who fight the hardest to prove their point are often the most insecure. Often with good reason.
  10. It is okay to call time out on life and stay in bed late once in a while.Hand writing So Many Things in To Do List, vector concept
  11. Finding things you Love to do that are good for you (hiking, reading, writing, kayaking, yoga, skiing, drinking beautiful tea from dainty cups, etc.) can be one of the most noble and fulfilling pursuits in your life.
  12. It is never too late to try something.
  13. It is never too late to learn a new skill.
  14. It is never too late to forgive.
  15. It is never too late to apologize.
  16. It is never too late to call time out on a toxic or difficult relationship, and this can and should be done with respect and kindness.
  17. Everyone has bad habits.
  18. Being honest with yourself and others is hard and frequently worthwhile.
  19. Giving a sincere compliment can TRULY change the trajectory of a person’s day, week, year and in some special circumstances, their whole life.
  20. It is incredibly noble and worthwhile to earnestly and authentically laugh at yourself sometimes.
  21. Cruelty is never funny.
  22. Kindness is never truly wasted, despite it feeling like it may have been.
  23. There is no universal formula or indicator for guessing or supposing people’s worth and character.  Trial and error is the only way.
  24. Tastes change. In fashion, food, and even friends.  This is nothing to fear or worry about.
  25. I do not like scat jazz… But the older I get the more I enjoy jazz that isn’t scat.  Shooby do wop wee woo skippity bop be borobinwilliamssadp.  Sigh.  Nope.
  26. It is ironic, that the funniest people I’ve met and fallen deeply and importantly in Love with, are often sufferingthe most intense emotional and mental pain.
  27. I’ve not found a way to describe amazing comfort I feel, after a long day in or near the ocean, and taste the dried salt water on my skin when I rest my face on my forearm.  Growing up landlocked, this one simple sensation, reminds me that I am where I am for every good reason, and it is where I belong.
  28. Most of us hurt the people we Love the deepest and the most when we are hurting deeply ourselves.  This is counter-intuitive, but it so often seems to be the case.
  29. Love will kick your ass no matter how careful or carefree you are.  Get in the game and let Love kick the shit out of you from time to time, as it will keep you humble and honest.  Everyone who holds a part of our heart; family, friends, lovers, they all have the power to break you and build you up.  Just get on, open up those arms and that heart, and learn from the pain and grow from the nourishment of your heart finding and connecting someone else’s.
  30. Sing, dance, draw, do any/all the creative shit you can be bothered doing.  Do not do it to be the best, do it because it feeds your soul and you like it.
  31. Sad songs are salve for the soul some days, and other days you gotta get the fuck out of bed and put something chipper on and keep going.
  32. It is worthwhile to make a bucket list.  If you tick off one or a thousand items, it is nice to have little goals and thoughts.
  33. Having a pet is an invitation to heartbreak, as there’s a strong statistical probability that you (and your children/family) will outlive the adopted baby you bring into your heart and home.  Do it anyway.  And Love and learn and fill your heart and home with memories of that animal, because it is going to smart when goodbye comes to call, and be soworth every morsel of bitterness and pain to be Loved the way only and animal can.
  34. People will surprise you.  I mean this in the most uplifting and positive sense, as well as in the most soul wrenching and heart-breaking sense.  Yes.  People will surprise you.  I doubt there’s much advice to be given on managing this, because, well, surprises are, but their very nature… surprising.
  35. People are all fighting a hard battle.  Be kind beyond what you think others may deserve, as a simple kindness in the face of deep despair can change their world.  And, you may never know if it has, so go ahead and do it.
  36. Hurt people hurt people.  If someone is an asshole, it is probably because they’ve had the shit kicked out of them by life and that’s how they cope.
  37. We could all benefit if we’d take the time to: Listen. More. Carefully.
  38. You are the person you will spend the most time with in your time on this earth, so you may as well fucking like yourself.
  39. Seek out your tribe, but please do endeavour to find and learn from people who are different to yourself.  Different politics, philosophies and paths.  We learn plenty in our comfort zones, but far more when we are prepared to step safely outside and take in new perspectives.
  40. I can sum up all that I have learned in four words: Don’t be a cunt.  Well, actually, if you’re being a GC (Good Cunt) go for it.  Every day we are given dozens of choices and scenarios. Doing anything to willfully harm another, doing anything to further your own greedy or self serving trajectory, laying false witness, being two-faced, cowardly, mean, greedy, or willfully unkind is NOT the way you ought to roll.  Be a decent human.  Don’t take the path of least resistance, take the moral high ground and do good things when and how you can.


Making it Through the Crazy

There’s some varied and impressive shades of crazy floating around right now.  Perhaps it’s the eclipse, or the end of winter, or the election, or the rise of fascism.  Perhaps it’s just that everyone has to lose their shit from time to time.


Whatever it is, a lot of people who I care for deeply are feeling wounded, or weary, or unshakably sad.


A lot of these people are staring down the barrel of vast levels of stress, or a long and unrelenting string of shitty news or tough situations.  Some crazy is circumstantial.  Some crazy is seasonal.  Some crazy is chemical.  Some crazy is reactive.  Some crazy is just crazy.


My homegirl Frida knew a think or two about managing the crazies.

I’ve also been tumbling down the abyss for weeks.  This journey is not new or interesting after three decades of highs and lows, it is a familiar and hated companion.  One silver lining in this dark cloud, is that It’s a privilege to be called upon by friends and even acquaintances who feel themselves slipping down the into a dark place.  A cuddle, a conversation, and a reminder that the shadows do eventually get chased away with powerful streaks of Love and light.  Even if it may not feel like it will ever end, it does.  And being the person to remind anyone of this fact, almost makes my own dark times worthwhile.  Almost.


Here stands humanity.  The rise of hate seems to be gaining a terrifyingly historic level of momentum, and yet people aren’t calling the terror committed in hate what it is, and what it is, is terrorism.  Then there’s acidification of the oceans, bleaching of the reefs, rising sea levels, deforestation, mass extinction and an impending antibiotic resistance.  I could go on, but I won’t.  Suffice to say, life’s pretty heavy in a lot of micro and macro fronts right now, and it can break even the most resilient of brains.


Today, after a lovely school visit, and the kindness, kisses, and cuddles of trusted friends, I am quietly optimistic that there’s a corner being turned.  I want to give anyone who’s currently being chased by the proverbial black dog some sage advice, as serious sad can strike anywhere, anytime, and hang around well beyond any usefulness.


  • Boundaries


boundaries-lir-820x321The irony of me passing on this advice is NOT lost on me I assure you.  I skip headlong through life, falling deeply in Love with all and sundry, and never stopping to think about much of anything beyond what I am feeling in any given moment.  But trust me, boundaries are important.  You can help people, you can let people in, you can laugh and cry and play with whomever you choose, and even however you choose to play!  But protect yourself.  Know when you’re in over your head or needing to take a step in a different direction.  boundaries-quote-6Let people in, but only as much as you can manage, and know when to say enough to anything.  Enough news, enough offloading, enough distraction, enough fun, enough sad, enough happy, enough anything.  You know when you’ve had enough.  Be okay with calling it.



  • Self-careselfcare

Many, if not most of us do not ascribe to the tenants of self-care, despite being told over and again that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Again, you know when your body and mind need a break, be it an early night, a yoga class or just an hour of active relaxing in the kitchen.  Please, please, please find the space in your life to do something that recharges you and cares for you holistically.  When we do not make this a priority, we crash spectacularly, and often leave collateral damage in the wake of the spectacle.


  • Say NO more


Say no more.  Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.  Be clear on what you expect and clarify other people’s expectation when you take on new endeavours.  A lot of us are people pleasers, and a lot of us (forgive me for saying, but particularly women) are professional jugglers and multi-taskers.  At the top of our game we are able to fulfill numerous roles and manage to keep countless balls in the air.  But the stress of this, and the gravity that brings some of those balls to earth is simply not worth the pain that it will leave on your heart and head.  So say no sometimes.  Just.  Say.  No.


  • Find and follow your bliss


Very few people get to do a job that they truly love.  Sadly, a lot of us don’t even have hobbies or distractions.  Please, go and find something that fills up your cup and soothes your soul.  I shall be treating myself to a kayak.  I live by the water, and adore the ocean, and I crave alone time so much it actually fucking hurts me to feel the need to be alone sometimes as strongly as I do.  I will kayak, and you please, find your magic, and tell me what it is because I would be quite fascinated.


  • Be kind to those you Love


Sometimes, we lash out at our favourite people.  I can unequivocally say that I am guilty of this.  I will lash out and attempt to frighten anyone who truly occupies substantial real estate in my heart or head.  It’s a hangover from self-destructive teenage wasteland bollocks I think.  Terrifyingly, Phteven has been privy to this vitriol so many times, he is either immune or I simply do not bother to attack him anymore, and turn my sites on fresh new friendships. It’s not clever.  And you’ll lose potential life-long relationships if you test them too early or too much.  So yes.  Be kind to the people who Love you.  They’re trying to manage their own crazy as well as yours I’d hazard a fairly educated guess.


  • Rest


You MUST get enough rest.  If you’re having trouble sleeping get thee to the chemist for some chamomile and valerian.  Turn off your devices, lock your door.  Soak in a hot mineral bath and get your sad ass into the sheets early.  Seriously, the lack of sleep will drive anyone around the bend, so if you feel yourself slipping please get more rest.

  • Let shit go


This may well be the single most important piece of advice on the list.  The world is a fucked up, miserable, magical, frenetic, fantastic, mystical, place full or mayhem and misunderstandings.  You must learn that you cannot control things.  You must understand that not everything is your fault.  You must just see some stuff, accept it is too heavy, and let that shit go.


Okay.  So there it is.  Advice on curbing the crazy from one of the craziest women most of you know.


If you’re struggling right now, I wish you all the comfort and compassion you need to get your feet back onto higher ground.  If you’re on a good stretch, enjoy it and maybe stop to talk to someone who is looking a bit down in the mouth, as long as you observe the boundaries and are prepared to say no if things are too much.


We all lose our shit from time to time.  We all mend hearts and heads that are too heavy or too broken to function reasonably.


Hang in there, it passes.


Lots and lots and lots of Love from Dee to you.


Thanks for reading.






Monday – Managing Mayhem and Magic

We (ChargeNet) are up to nearly 50 stations in the ground. The Auckland network haters-gonna-hate-and-ainters-gonna-aint-haters-gonna-hate-cause-they-anusremains incredibly quiet, but the rest of the nation is doing quite nicely thank you very much.  Too many new projects and not enough people, so very typical third year – and it looks like impressive viability in the crazy world that is lean start-up. There’s been a total restructure (Phteven stole my GM, with my blessing, kinda) as well.

Today is also School Holidays official kick off as it is the first Monday of the two week “break” where bedraggled and world-wearied parents have to scramble to find childcare or alternative arrangements as the schools shut their hallowed halls to the children for an entire fortnight. schoolholidayparentsbeatup

Every ten weeks we get to repeat this incredible dance, exhausted before it even begins.  By week two, there are parents all over New Zealand curled up in the fetal position crying on the floor outside the loo in their home, sobbing into a towel and mumbling: “Why can’t you juusssssttt fucking fluuuuussshhhh the godamned toilet!”


The struggle is real.  I’ve been there.  It’s fucking intense.


So add to this the fact we are leaving for a week or two of Canadian summer.  Have I packed?  No.  Have I planned?  Not really no.  Have I told my family I am coming?  Kind of… But no not really.  I told them July.  This is July right?


And just to add further insult to injury I am on a dramatic down swing in the mood department.  Not sad, just very, very angry.  I have a short fuse with most people, particularly anyone I actually give a fuck about.  Feel free to ask my best friend Rebekah, or my husband or any of the children about my current state of play in the fuse department. It. Is. Short.  Just like me.


So tonight, after losing the proverbial plot at our seven year old son, after he pelted his guest in the side with the swiss ball, after three firm and clear warnings to stop playing so rough, I was given a timely reminder about my temper.


Adam, after being spoken to in the balanced mom-voice, was asked to go to his room for the 7 minutes that is standard for his seven years of age.  The fate of his sleepover at Lolo’s house was in the balance, and he was told (in the aforementioned mom-voice) to make better decisions or lose his sleepover tonight.   Rather than taking the mom-voice delivered advice, he hurled some abuse and told me he wished I would die.  Pretty standard operating for our fraught relationship, but it still hurts.


I smacked his ass as he ran up the stairs.  If you are a parent who rages against corporal punishment, I need to take a moment to say: PLEASE chill the fuck out. hardbattle

The single thing that has been hardest and most important to learn after four very, very, different and undeniably demanding children, is this:  Do. Not. Judge.  Other parents are fighting their fucking battles and always, always intervene and speak up if you suspect abuse or interference or have genuine concerns for a child’s safety. But in the general running of life, most of us make some fairly big mistakes, but we almost always have our kids’ best interests at heart.  We have three other children who never, or nearly never get any form of physical discipline, because other forms of reward and punishment are incredibly successful. Nothing gets through to Adam when he goes into the zone.


After the altercation, and some cooling off time.  I ventured back into my middle son’s room.  Feeling like a prize shit for smacking his ass, and painfully, in fact palpably aware that the reason this child pushes my buttons is because he is just like me.


So I stood and looked across his huge room, and over his big fluffy duvet, and saw his tiny arms crossed and his beautiful bow lips curled in a pout.  And my heart fucking broke, as it does a hundred times a day, because I can’t make this shit any easier for either of us.


And as is always the case, he wound himself up so tightly he just wanted to further fuck things up by any means possible, to confirm his belief that he’s worthless.  This child is most certainly not worthless.  He is kind, and fizzes with hope and joy.  It scares strangers, friends, and even his immediate family how clever and insightful he is sometimes.  And he flies completely off the handle at the slightest thing and there is no rhyme nor reason, and the years of therapists, diagnoses, and intervention have not put this child’s demons to rest.


I asked my son what my punishment ought to be for doing exactly what I was upset at him for doing, taking things too far.  And I asked him if he understood that the reason it made me so sad, and so angry was that he was just like me, and that is a part of me that I am deeply ashamed of.


And he looked at me, not with his glazed over angry eyes, but with his hurt doe eyes.  And he said:  “Your punishment is you aren’t getting any punishment.  Even though you deserve it. You just have to keep feeling bad.”


And there went the waterworks.


Mom tears and a I took my troubled son into my arms and we sat there and laughed and cried for a little while.  He squeezed me so tight.  And I returned his pressure with appropriate mom-forced hugs.


So that’s it.


Work is nuts. Life is beyond busy.  The kids are all busy and beautiful and broken in their own ways.  My heart is full and my cup is empty, and I will be braving a long haul flight with four feral but fabulous humans that I cooked in my very own body.


Wish me luck.


Thanks for reading.


Singapore Sling Fling

Singapore is not my favourite.  Or so I thought…


It is hot, it is humid, it is stifling.  We arrived at midnight, and there was much faffing around before we arrived at the hotel.  Tired, hungry, and fed up with being on the move, I flopped into bed for a cathartic cry and fell to sleep.


The next day I was up at 5:30. Chats with my Wonder Women Fi, Philipa and Ranae in our DM group.  Down for breakfast.  Oh they do a great breakfast in the big hotels in Asia.  From Thailand, to Hong Kong, to Singapore, the fusion and variety is generally sublime. The coffee was shit though.


We had a meeting at the university cancelled as our host was unwell, so the morning was given to us for free time.  There were plans to head over to Little India for some shopping, and I opted out.  I am enjoying being on my own so much.  I like me.  I like my music.  I like reading.  I like being on my own so much.  It used to terrify me.  Now, it does not.  I relish it.


I needed to get some toggs as I forgot mine again.  So I peeled myself out of my cuddly king-size bed and hoofed it to ground level for a look around and some shopping.


A wall of wet heat blasted at me before I even managed to step outside.


I asked the bellman where the nearest shopping area was.  He laughed, and the man stepping out of the cab overheard our exchange and said “This is Singapore, there’s shopping literally everywhere.” And he was correct in his assertion.


So I turned left and landed in the lap of consumerism.  Not my favourite.  I did manage to get a lovely vintage bathing suit.  Feel a bit like middle aged Sophia Lauren when wearing it.  That’s a nice way to feel.


We had a meeting scheduled at a boutique agency that specializes in Real Estate comms.  They are based high up in an office block on Clarke Quay.  The views were stunning, and they office reminded me of my own.  The creatives were based around the corner and the two managing directors had huge desks covered in kitsch and creative trinkets.  Our host Sandi was warm and friendly and incredibly knowledgeable.  His friend and colleague Jasmine popped in and joined our conversation.  She’s an absolute rockstar!


They gave us a vast selection of Singaporean treats and nibbles and some sticky sweet coffee.  The warmth and hospitality was absolutely gobsmacking.  This was my favourite agency so far.


Directly after the meeting it was off to Raffles for a Singapore sling.  Not my favourite drink ever.  But it was the foundation for an incredibly long and interesting adventure.


That coffee kept me up all night.  But oh my goodness I am glad it did.  I had dinner and chats with my darling Ranae and we worked out a strategy including many-a-cunning-stunt to save the world.  Think we might have also worked out some plans to manage some of the stunning cunts we have to manage at times.  Have I mentioned that I Love Ranae?  Because I fucking Love that staunch, beautiful, gentle soul so much.


And then, I drank with strangers until the wee hours.  It was perfection.  Fiona stopped down to find me but I must have been out the back with my new friends and frenemy (a tall young man who called me ma’am and doesn’t believe in climate change…ouch, and ouch again, with a side of WTF).  I was complimented by another in the group for the tolerance that I showed toward him, considering how much we all had imbibed.  Thanks for that sir.  I appreciate you noticing that I am the poster girl for self-control.  Then again, maybe not.


Morning came and messages from my peers bounced across my screen.  I had a long leisurely bath and made my way down to breakfast with my friends.


The meeting was great, and another bubbly and feisty comms professional shared their passion and their story with our group.  It was agency culture (corporate), so I was not as enthusiastic with questioning as I had been with the boutique and niche agencies.


Then we went to lunch at a chicken rice place.  I abandoned my vegetarianism for a taste of the chicken.  It was okay.  I will go back to being a vegetarian now.


After lunch we headed to a mall for coffees and discussed the fire in the London flats.  The thing about being in the business of sharing information, is that we are painfully aware that bad news travels faster and farther than any other force on earth.  Tragedy pushes a lot of the buttons as far as News Values are concerned.  Personally though, I fucking hate the helplessness of seeing tragedy and not being given a call to action or the opportunity to DO SOMETHING.  Amplifying news of tragedy and fear for the sake of amplifying news and getting clicks and eyeballs across your channels makes me feel a bit sad for the communications industry.  Saying that, being well informed of current local and global events can be very useful and empowering.  Sigh.  Medium, message, message, medium, chicken, egg, voyeurism, fear, fanaticism, fake news, real news… I just don’t fucking know what I think as I sit in Changi airport feeling markedly exhausted after a very long day.


So back, to that long day.  I walked back to the hotel with Ranae and then headed directly to see my dear friend Harri and her son (who is one of Daniel’s best friends on the planet).  It was a wonderful visit.  I got to hang out with their cat, who came to Singapore all the way from Greenhithe.  I miss her being closer to me.  But thankfully there’s social media so I get to know what she is up to and she feels closer.  Which is lucky, because she’s good to the core and hates mean girl keeping up with the Jones’s bullshit as much (if not more) thank I do.


After swims and chats and much laughing I caught a cab to the airport.  Breezed through check-in.  Got to customs and the attractive Indian man scanning passports was talking to his colleague and peppering his conversation with some fairly punchy language.  I started to giggle, and he got a bit agitated.  Then I explained I like that he swore a bit, as it puts me at ease.  And then I explained that that would NEVER happen in the US, and probably not in Canada, but possibly in NZ.  He’d warmed up to our conversation enough by this point, to inquire how an American or a Canadian expresses their emotions.  I had no decent answer for him.


And now I am here.  With my slightly tipsy and extremely terrific team (they had cocktails in the sun while I had a much more family friendly afternoon) and we are at the gate lounge charging our devices and waiting to board our plane.

I didn’t mean to have such an incredibly epic time here in Singapore.  There’s social and human rights issues that make me loath to travel here, but people are beautiful the world over.  And there’s a lot of people in Singapore.  Expat and local.  Travelers and residents.


I’ll be back, but next time I come through I will bring Daniel to see Owen.


Goodnight.  I am knackered and have hours of flying to look forward to, I hope you are considerably more comfortable as you read these meanderings.









Don’t Fear Happiness

Tuesday – June 6th 2017


5:21am – An incredibly sweet little face with big brown eyes and breath that smells rather a lot like a cat litter box (we don’t have a cat… thankfully) wake me up for “tuddles” which I enthusiastically oblige, without hesitation.  Chubby little hands stroke my cheek and stubby little arms squeeze around my neck.  I lie awake listening to my baby breath and eventually fall back to sleep.


6:27 – Still can’t sleep.  I’ll check social.  (reaches for phone) Oh good, cryptic monosyllabic from some, interesting and engaging messages from others.  Reply, reply, reply, reply, bye.


7:15 – “Oh SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT!” we’ve slept in. Daniel needs to get to school and nobody’s lunches are packed.  We need to get to the gym.


8:20 – Lolo arrives and nobody has any idea what happened to our copy of George’s Marvelous Medicine but fuck-me-days it is great to see my friend (and our housekeeper) because I am free until 3:00pm.  I could not and would not have that freedom without her.  And when I get home, almost like magic, it will be tidy and fresh.


8:30 – Gym.  Music.  Really enjoying Catfish and the Bottlemen and today was also a Leonard Cohen day.  Tower of song on repeat because I fucking wanted to.


9:30 – Arrive in the office.  Dad jokes, bad puns for days.  Nick used all the hot water so I had to baste in my own gym juices for an hour while the hot water reheated.


9:45 – downstairs to see my people at solPR.  Rachelle was halfway through making by coffee, broke her nose walking into the glass door over the weekend, gentle hugs.  James arrived home after meeting with our partners in Brisbane.  Big bear hugs because James is a big bear with a voice like a foghorn.


10:30 – Meeting to discuss and design conference modules/banners/floorplan.  I am a GENIUS when it comes to details and synergies.  Can’t discuss further, NDA.


11:30 – Rush to track and field.  PANIC ATTACK!  Other parents.  Many are nice, some are lovely, but some are FUCKING RIDICULOUS!  Judgmental, unhappy, insincere and angry.  Over a decade living in this leafy suburb and I am utterly without joy and terrified of every single child’s event.  We’re weird.  I get that, it has always been that way, but I don’t know how or why it is so important for the mean girl cliques I never understood in high school to be omnipresent on the children’s watch as well.  I ran 10,000km away from mean girls, just to run into them again.  Thank God for the few friends I have.  They always safely block me from the stares and snarls of distant acquaintances who have time for such distractions as disproval.


11:32 – Kiss Stephanie-Jane goodbye and wish her luck.  It must have worked, as I will find out later she got 5th and is going to interschool, same as happened last year.  Can’t handle any more pursed lipped parents.  Run faster than the track and field kids to get the fuck back to my car where I am safe and away from there.


11:45 – Stop at the office for hugs to wash away the feeling of dread and vulnerability that happens whenever I have to face local, school, or community events.  I absorb and appreciate my hugs then bark out some suggestions between getting briefed on the mountains of stuff they are shoveling through.


12:30 – Drive to see the slender Eastern European caricature that is my Psychiatrist.


1:02 – Arrive in the newly renovated offices that smell of paint and carpet glue.


This is where the day got interesting.


More than six months since I started/changed medication.  A diagnosis I’ll talk about at length one day.  Not today though.  Rui (caricature Eastern European shrink) and I cram a shitload of conversation into our 40 minute sessions.  We talk about geopolitical states, business, sustainability, refugees, immigration, family, sex, food, travel, and sometimes we even talk about my mental state.  I often tell him I don’t agree with his observations on the world, and he often tells me that my crazy is fascinating to him.  I like being fascinating.  I also like that I am now a little less crazy.


“So how are you?” He said in an uncharacteristically concerned tone.


“I am actually, genuinely, really fucking good… Happy.  Content even maybe?”  I said.  “There’s been a lot, there’s always a lot and we’re figuring shit out, and we had a week filled with grief and big changes, but I am excited about the future. And, yes. Happy.”


A knowing smile curled across my very own eccentric psychiatric specialist.


“And you worry it will end?” He inquired with raised eyebrows.


“Yeah.” I said looking at my thinning crossed legs.  “That’s a nagging thing, and also, do I deserve to feel okay.”


“One of the strangest things about people, Dee, is that they/we seem to crave, and fear happiness.  When we are happy we are waiting for something to go wrong.  It is very strange.” He said pulling out his prescription and blood test pad and paper.


“And do you still want to die?” He said while writing something illegible on the multicolored pad he just fished out.


“Sometimes.” I said.  “But not like before.  Not constantly, not eternally, not uncontrollably.”


“Well, 30 years means you may never stop feeling it, we learn, our brains get hardwired.  You seem to be managing it better than before.”


And then we talked about my new Tesla and my marriage and my propensity to be deeply in Love with everyone always.  We talked about sustainability and Trump and Comey and Brexit and animals and dirty waterways.


And then I carry on with my day.

I arrive back at the office, where my husband, who I am more in Love with than ever asks how the eccentric shrink is, and how the appointment went.  He expresses gratitude for the improvement in my mental health since the appointments and medication began.


And life carries on.  And I am going to try really hard not to fear contentment.


Thank you for reading.