Thursday, 29 January 2009


You don't quite notice it until you have to climb out of it, but occasionally you get into a rut in life. Maybe "rut" is too harsh a judgement on it. Maybe calling it a "groove" is better. Currently I am in a groove. A nice, comfortable groove. One that fits and feels secure. One where no nasty surprises lurk and no major challenges can find me.

I am about to be thrown out of this groove in royal fashion this year. It's already started. I resigned from my job today. A job I have been in for five years, since I was 21 years old. A job I created (I was the first person to do it so I essentially made it what it is) and a job I love. A secure job, well-paid. And I just resigned and am throwing myself out into the wilderness of a climate of economic uncertainty. Doesn't sound like a smart move I know. But, I know deep down that I was never going to stay in this job forever and I had to leave before I started to become grouchy and intolerant of it (as you can do in certain roles after a certain period of time). And I'll be frank. I needed a really good reason to leave otherwise I would have just stayed. 

Then I'm getting married. Which is awesome and I can't wait for.

Then, of course, comes the major shift to live overseas for the overseas experience section of my life. With a totally different language and culture. Well that's subject enough for a blog by itself. In fact I'm thinking of blogging my way through my first forty days of Taiwan. Track how I feel, challenge myself to be honest and write something every day even if it's just a few lines. It's like travel writing crossed with emotional journey stuff. The finding of the inner self. Or something. We'll see. 

And it's not just me. My good friend McNerdy (check out his blog here: Scarfie Med Student) is launching himself out of his comfy groove also and is off to Med School. Five more years after already doing 6 years at uni. Madness or the brave pursuit of a long held dream? I vote the latter with an inevitable pinch of the former to spice things up a bit. 

These are indeed interesting times, globally and personally. I do like how my major sea change is going to be set against the back drop of one of the most important and pivotal years history has seen for quite some time. It's almost poetic. Or coincidence. Either way it's neat. 

Here's to change: the good, the bad and the ugly of it. May we come out the other side better people, all of us. 

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Unashamedly JAFA

I was stuck in traffic on the Southern Motorway this afternoon on my way back from Parnell when I was suddenly struck with how much I love Auckland. Which, I admit, is not the first place you expect to be when caught by this kind of realisation, but there I was, on an on-ramp, waiting behind about 50 other cars for the ramp signal to turn green for me. It obviously helped that it was one of those stunningly flawless Kiwi summer days where the sky is startling blue and the sun is searingly hot even through the windscreen. Undeniably, on days like this Auckland is at her best.

It's funny how much you take for granted when you get used to a place. It's really struck me this time upon my most recent return from overseas exactly how bloody lucky us Kiwis are to live in this country. There are a stack of awesome countries out there but on the beauty front, I think good ol' Noo Zulland has it. I was on the MOTORWAY for the love of God. Possibly the least attractive place in all of Auckland, or even the whole country... but still gorgeous.

Those of you who live in this mighty city and those who live in the rest of NZ - I strongly encourage you, next time you are out and about to look again. See it like you're seeing it for the first time. If you can't do this, you need to get out of the country to come back and truly appreciate it. Those of you who don't live here - come and see it for yourself. If the motorway in the biggest city looks this good - imagine the rest. 

The day they chose hope over fear: 20-01-09

Surely Barack Hussein Obama has one of the least likely names for a United States president. His middle name, Hussein, is the last name of the much-loathed dictator of Iraq whom American forces deposed. His last name rhymes with the still hunted Osama who was supposed to be behind the 9/11 attacks. These two names are inextricably linked to some of America's darkest moments in recent history. Yet isn't it wonderfully symbolic that the man with an unlikely name and of unlikely origin stood before us and promised to lead the way out of these dark days and into the light of a hopeful future. The man "whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served in a local restaurant." The man who is half Kenyan, half white, 100% American. The man upon whose shoulders rest not only the hopes of a nation but the entire world.

Watching his speech this morning on the TVNZ website (slept through the live coverage, oops) I was compelled to make notes. It's one of he most quotable speeches I have heard in a very long time. It mixed the exact amount of patriotism with the right amount of progressive thinking and had wisdom and inspiration sprinkled liberally on top. I'm not American, but I'll tell you something for free - I was inspired and moved by this speech. 

So much of the speech resonated for me personally. The two main quotes I noted were:
"To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are the wrong side of history; but we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."
"...also it is a parent's willingness to nurture a child that finally decides our fate."

These have been dark days. Not only for the USA but for other countries around the world. Wars have ripped countries, lands, villages and families asunder. Poverty has struck at the very heart of even the most wealthy nation in this world. Natural disasters have brought so many areas of the world to their knees. This is not the first time nor will it be the last that a series of bad things have happened in a certain period of history, but I firmly believe that the interpretation of these events is seen through the lens of the morale of the people. 

The morales of the people of America have surely taken a severe beating over the last eight years. Has global opinions of the American people ever been so low? And to be honest, this bad rep wasn't entirely fair for most of them. The Americans the rest of us in the world were actually beating up on were Bush, Cheney and that crew. And anyone insane enough to vote for them a second time. The slump in the world's shoulders when 'four more years' was announced was clearly visible. Thank God and reason and faith that enough voters got smart this time around. 

Obama is the ray of hope that was needed. And perhaps, just perhaps, America needed to hit the rock bottom of the last four years to truly appreciate the genius that I believe Obama will display in his leadership. Maybe it was the walk through the Valley of the Shadow of George. Whatever it has been, it is thankfully over. Bush left the office with an approval rating of 22%. Only one in five people actually thought he'd done a good job. Ouch. Doesn't look like he'll be on the Inspirational Speakers Circuit unless he's touting "How not to be a President." It'll be interesting to see where he winds up. 

No matter. The past is gone, hustled out by the fizzing buzz of pure anticipation of today's inauguration. Their work is cut out for them but with Obama at the helm, Americans are finally able to start the task of picking themselves up, dusting themselves off and looking towards the horizon of their new future. I congratulate you, America. You've picked a star. 

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Resolutions - you make 'em to break 'em

Well, some people do. Surely. I hear all sorts of crazed plans for the year, the likes of which I have heard in several years preceding, which have never made it to fruition. Usually those poor saps making these wild plans end up despondent by mid-Feb and start to resent the new year before it's really had a chance to prove itself.
I've been there. Many times. 

"I'm going to drop 2 sizes this year!!"
"I'm going to be completely tidy this year!"
"I'm going to get an A+ average!"

And many other things that never seem to happen if I promise them at the beginning of the year.

I find I am far more likely to achieve something like that if I begin at some obscure and non-eventful time of the year, like Mid-September for example. Or if I don't make a weighty claim that places a huge expectation on my shoulders. Letting yourself down is the worst kind of failure as you really, at the end of the day, can't kid yourself or offer any of the half-cut excuses you can try and get away with to others. Start with a realistic goal and expand from there as and when success comes your way.

So upon reflection of what this year is likely to contain for me (massive change, a fair amount of stress, crises of identity etc) I figured that the best resolution that I could make for 2009 would be to be kind to myself. To roll with the punches and not sweat the small stuff. To enjoy the experience of this year as much as possible but to know when to sit quietly in a room with nothing but my iPod and a mug of tea. 

This is the resolution I have made for 2009. This has got to be the most humane resolution I have ever made and then again the most important one yet. Being kind to yourself is not technically difficult but can be hard to achieve for certain personality types (mine included)  - the types of personality who are constantly hounded by the "Should Monster". The Should Monster is a hairy, loud bastard of a monster who bullies its targets into feeling bad for all of the things that they haven't done and inflicts amnesia upon them about the things that they HAVE achieved. It's a mean and insidious S.O.B. 

But no more! This year I am banishing the Should Monster back to its cave. It's time for a new type of resolution and a new approach to a new year. I can't do absolutely everything and I am not Super Woman. But you know what? That's O.K. with me.