Make the most of the Joy in life!

‘A heart to love, and in that heart, courage, to make love known’

(Macbeth – Act 2, Scene 3)

Life brings challenges so more reason to celebrate special events!!

When your child decides to get married it’s very exciting! This happened in our family recently.

The happy couple had been together 3 years and James (son) had been thinking about proposing for a while. (Hence the quote above!)

The date was set for ‘fiancee-to-be’ Danielle’s birthday.  To our delight, my daughter and I were seconded to the mission to choose the ring and Danielle’s lovely mother Maria was at the end of the phone as a consultant.

Super special and such fun!

Seeing the satisfaction on my son’s face when he found the ring was priceless.

Stage One of ‘Operation Proposal’ was complete!

On the morning of Danielle’s birthday, James gave her an envelope with instructions.

This was disconcerting as Danielle is a fabulous planner of events and surprises but this was a first for James.

The envelope revealed instructions for her to get dressed up and to text James when she was ready.  He left and came to ours to get ready.

She text and my daughter arrived at her place with another envelope with instructions. Danielle was driven to a local park where her mother and sister were waiting for her. Envelope no. 3 was handed to her asking her to follow her Mother and sister.  They went into the bush until they reached a tree with balloons on it. Danielle’s sister presented the 4th and final envelope telling her to continue on the track on her own.

She walked down and James met her at the top of a cliff looking out on the ocean.

Engagement setting
The beautiful setting for ‘the proposal’

My husband and son Simon were at each end of the walking track that passed through ‘the sacred proposal ground’ so they diverted people. The strangers were all super excited and entered into the spirit of the event!

Even when James got down on one knee Danielle asked him what he was doing. She had no idea. It was such a lovely surprise!

We were waiting in a nearby picnic area with bubbles and nibbles.

So happy that she said Yes!!

PS  Just in case someone from Mills and Boon is looking for a new story how about this…
“It was a balmy morning as the sun rose, casting a ray of hope on the nervous young man who was all aquiver with anticipation of what this glorious day might bring…the hope lay embedded in his heart that from this day forth he no longer be but a singleton striving to survive alone in this cruel and merciless world…cold in his loneliness and desolate in his heart… (let me know if you need more…I’ve got more!)


Here is the story in photos

The anticipation before we buy THE ring
Happy Mother and Son
Happy Fiance and Fiancee!
Fiancee, her Mum and Sister
The happy couple with his family


Take up the Challenge!

“Our doubts are traitors and make’ us lose the good we often might win by fearing to attempt.” – Measure for Measure (Lucio, Act 1 Scene 5)

“To know and not ‘do’ is to not know at all”

This is just one of the inspirational mantras I have on post-its around my office after writing up my notes from the weekend.

Being accepted to be part of the National Speakers Association of New Zealand Inc. and then attending the National Conference over the weekend has been the most inspiring,  challenging, informative and uplifting experiences I’ve had in a long time.

The experience of interacting with local, national and international speakers, receiving coaching, collaboration and open-hearted generosity has been humbling and heartwarming.

Pushing myself to take up the opportunity to stand on stage in front of some of the best in the world and be challenged, encouraged, corrected and taught highlighted for me that fear really is the only roadblock.

WHY wouldn’t I want the opportunity to learn from the best, to be challenged and pushed to be ‘more’?

To honour our human dignity we must strive to be the best version of ourselves if we are to make life-enhancing connections with others and the environment.

I’m constantly challenged by this thought.

When I look back on my life I don’t want to have ‘missed out’ and after this weekend I’ve just got SO much more to do!

I’m in absolute awe of the incredible people I came into contact with. What an honour.

Learn. Share. Grow. Belong

So here I am standing before some of the best in the world!

Damn the stress

We should never underestimate, overlook, sell short, undervalue or ignore the power and need for human connection. Especially at Christmas, actually, because of Christmas.

While we’re running around trying to find matching serviettes, enough cutlery for the table, driving to the mall to buy one more roll of wrapping paper because the final present is 1cm longer than what’s left on the roll and all the other stresses that someone decided must happen at Christmas, let’s all just STOP.



Remember what is important

Christmas is a time of human connection, of families, of people, of love. It really is as simple as that.

Our immediate family have a 100% agreed and committed rule; whenever we can we must attend each others birthdays and be present on Christmas day.  Our language of love is presence rather than presents. (Retailers I do want you to do well and I certainly support you at other times of the year because we do buy each other spontaneous ‘this is perfect for you’ gifts)

This has worked out very well for us, apart from my eldest son’s birthday this year. He turned 31 and I was in Spain. Of course, we made him a ridiculous video singing happy birthday badly but I felt bad. What I should have felt was grateful that I’ve been there to share 30 other birthdays with him.

So today when I was in wet slidey traffic in an overcrowded mall carpark surrounded by drivers who had their ‘invisible to other cars’  magic glasses on and had forgotten that their indicators are not Christmas lights, I decided to keep my ‘Merry Christmas’ demeanour, smiled and waved and decided to go home instead of find a park. Damn the stress. To hell with the stress in fact! I felt empowered and pleased with myself.

Tomorrow I have my husband and the best things I’ve ever made, my children, with me to remember all that is important. There will be phone calls between my siblings and Mother, there will be texts and messages from our overseas loved ones.

Loved ones. “Ones who are loved.” I hope everyone has this.

To those who are reading this, whether I know you or not, please know that you are a valuable person, unique, incredible (flaws and all). You count and I want to take time to acknowledge that (rather than drive around malls in a frenzy!) This is more important, it’s about people and connection.

Let’s hope Santa brings something for all children but most importantly let’s hope every human feels recognised and validated at least at Christmas. Pass it it forward…call it what you want but this time of year is perfect for letting everyone know.



Strip it all off!

You want to be happy, satisfied and have joy and meaning in your life?

Of course, you do!!  The universe wants that for YOU, simply because you are a human; unique and wonderfully designed!

The world is speeding up! There’s so much going on leading to endless decisions!!

The flipside of the availability of ‘everything’ at our fingertips is the fatigue, sadness, anxiety, depression and unhappiness.

One way of dealing with this is to take the time to reconnect with ourselves; to just ‘be’.

Strip off the negativity, the self-deprecating thoughts and the stress that the flipside of the abundance of choice, visual stimulus and endless information brings.

Strip off to find the joy that is ‘you’

Strip it back. Go on, yes I mean now. Right now.

Just STOP.

Breathe – feel that breath slowly spreading within you; exhale the stress, drop your shoulders. Repeat.

You are unique and wonderfully made. Your flaws are also the beauty of your human-ness. You ARE enough.

Not easy? Keep practising until it is.

Here’s a recipe to get going with:

  1. Self – take some time out of that 24 hours that is YOUR day just to value you.
    We can ALL find 30 seconds, then try 30 seconds twice a day, then hourly – up the ante – you got this! Ditch the ‘stinking thinking’ and just value – you, your uniqueness, your you-ness.  Make a start and perform regularly and the good old domino effect will kick in – promise!
  2. Others – value, acknowledge and relate to others honouring them with the same value that you give yourself.
  3. Creation Go find or visualise your favourite place; the beach, a mountain, a forest -that tree in the distance outside your office window; wherever.
    Get into your bare feet and feel some nature beneath you – the grass, the dirt, the sand; whatever is nearby. Look up at the sky in its vastness. Channel the positivity energy and feel it as you breathe.Once you have your place KNOW THIS:  You ARE part of something bigger than yourself and you are an important, valid and required part of this complicated beautiful picture of life.

    Without you, there’s a gap, there’s something missing!


Buythedamndress – livethedamnlife!




Uplifted on the Red-Eye flight

The red-eye from Queenstown to Auckland on a Saturday morning has been a regular for me and a challenge.

However, on my most recent experience, the atmosphere on the plane was lifted to a new place.

I have always found Air NZ staff to be lovely, helpful and efficient so I wasn’t expecting anything less. I was however pleasantly surprised by the presence, vibe, smile of a particular person.

Over the last two years, I’ve become a frequent flyer. I’d always been envious of those who travelled frequently particularly for work; thinking it sounded terribly glamorous flitting about, staying in hotels and spending a portion of work days in airports,  my favourite place for people watching.

The reality is however quite different from my fantasy ideal.

Missing home, deciding what to pack, actually packing, then re-packing,  living from a small bag (I’m a carry-on only) getting to airports, being on time, booking rental cars, organising accommodation etc; all not so glamorous and had no part in my fantasy!

I heard her before I saw her, bursting with an effervescent energy that I would have normally considered indecent at that hour of the morning but it wasn’t, not at all.

Flight Attendant Megan Lovering is an absolute delight! She loves her job and this is obvious in the authentic and positive connections she makes with others. She has her own quirky words that can’t help but bring a smile, she exudes a love of helping others and her energy appears to know no bounds. She has the ‘x-iest’ of x-factors and uses it to enhance the experience of others.

I felt compelled to share this experience with you. Mostly because I can authenticate the cliches;  one person can make a difference, positive interactions with strangers do enhance our day and one person CAN make a difference.

Megan Lovering
The lovely Megan Lovering exudes positivity and energy and makes authentic connections with people that can’t help make them feel better and the world a better place!

Tap into your inner dancer

So tonight after a bit of ‘spread-the-word-on-social-media’ we had quite a class full.

There was a range of newcomers and the experienced; an American-style tapper, those who had salsa-ed and jive-d and ballroom-ed before. There was a runner,  a couple of ladies who wanted to ‘check it out’ and a Mum brought her daughter to see if she’d like it.

The sound of the taps on the floor is empowering as toes connect  followed by heels and a shuffle or two. Ankle-thigh-hip-building strength, brain-challenging, confidence-building and feeling  ‘cool’ that it’s your own feet making that noise.

The Broadway tunes add to the atmosphere of camaraderie yet individualism. We’re partnerless; each of us singularly taking charge of our feet and contributing to the rhythm. Alone but together, part of something bigger but not better than ourselves.

Stories are shared of the fun, the experience and a new-found commonalty within a bunch of women from all walks of life.

Instructor Heidi so aptly put it when she said how we all step outside our bubble into a community of dance, skill, companionship, personal achievement and fun!

I’m out of town for the next three weeks but I know I’ll be very pleased to get to my next class.

tap class week 2
Glowing with satisfaction and empowerment after an hour long tap workout

Doing something for YOU

So today I bought myself a brand new pair of tap shoes. I was so excited! Ridiculously excited in fact!

I had to think hard about why I felt such elation.

For years I spent a lot of money on my own kids dance shoes and lessons and clothing and travelling to competitions etc. I loved it all. It was part of my role as a Mother.

Everything IS about your kids for years and years. It should be too. So much love comes from that giving.

So here I am at 55 with a pair of tap shoes and they represent a significant change.

I’m back to doing ‘me’ things, the ‘me’ things I did before I had children

BUT (a big BUT)

This time I appreciate the opportunity and the fun of learning to do something that I love.

I’ve just spent an hour practising my steps so I could tap along to ‘Pennsylvania 6-5000’ once I’d mastered them. I had to write them out and practise them until they actually worked their way into my very decrepit short term memory; kinda like me trying to get back into a dress I wore when I was 25 but worse!

The wonderful dance teacher Heidi Salverda answered my text with the name of the song; of course I knew the tune and I knew it was Glenn Miller but the name, well that was a bridge too far.

I can’t wait until next Thursday for the next lesson. I’m sure I’m looking younger and straighter. If not, who bloody cares, I FEEL great!

Tap shoes
Very excited to purchase these today FOR ME and ABOUT ME

Get off your Butt!

A new year – a new opportunity.

We over-think far too much these days. I’m not feeling happy, satisfied, slim, fit, too old, not earning enough etc etc.

We think and talk and procrastinate and seek opinions and Google endlessly.


Right now.

No more.

DO rather than think.

Simple as that.

We’re operating far too much at the ‘think’ level – we’ve forgotten about gut feeling!

Some of us are so out of tune by our gut feeling we’ve lost the ability to tune into our ‘gut’ instinct. Call it what you like but it’s that ‘feeling’ in our gut that tells us what to do – logical or not.

I was reminded of this recently by the fabulous Julieanne at the Harvey Centre

And this led me to following up on a comment made by a friend at a winery on a lovely ‘cheese-boardy-winey-live-jazzy’ Sunday afternoon.

“We should do tap dancing!” she exclaimed.

And there it was the very next day on my fb page ‘

Adult tap dancing lessons – first one free.

So I checked out whether they’d accept a 55 year old wanna be who last tap danced in a show c.1998 and had her last tap lesson when she was 12 and they welcomed me with open arms.

Heidi the instructor is a delight. She has passion for what she does and she’s a GREAT teacher. Chantelle the studio owner and by the look of her ballerina was also lovely, welcoming and put me at ease.

I didn’t struggle with the steps but because my recent tap dancing experience, as in 20 years of ‘recent experience’ involved me shuffling about to ‘the light of the silvr’y moon’ at parties, I really struggled to follow the routines and remember them.

THIS is going to be GREAT for my brain!

I LOVE tap dancing, the strength of it and the broadway music Heidi uses!

THIS is going to make me stronger.

Tap dancing is great for increasing bone density – not kidding!

If you’re a local in Auckland and want to have a go, all the details are here:

tap dancing


Trust your gut, stop over thinking and get out and DO

Buy the damn dress – it’s a metaphor for living!

Love The Skin You’re In

So after making the decision to stop colouring my hair (well not quite as it has loads of colours added but no base!) I’ve decided to concentrate on looking after my poor skin which has had a lifetime of specialist care via a facecloth, soap and whatever moisturiser was on special at the super market that week. I also had to get some ‘bits’ burned off my nose and my Doctor enforced the importance of daily SPF cream.

I visited good old Groupon after talking to my friend Penny who is a specialist in the field of skin but unfortunately lives in a different city to me. She advised some microdermabrasion treatment so I visited Groupon to look for some deals.

I tried out 3 different places which were all fine but place number 4 impressed!

The lovely Leanne not only ‘microdermabrased me’ without leaving any burn-like marks (they do disappear in a couple of days) but she also gave me a skin analysis. This involves taking photos of my skin and pointing out where the weaknesses are. She did it before and after the treatment and even I could see the difference. I liked her skin range because she said they were not about pretty smelly, nice-feeling creams but about fixing the problems. I liked that.

Leanne also has the most fabulous skin herself which I would consider her best advertising.

So after my 6 month research I have settled on a 6 week programme of microdermabrasion treatment, some special light treatments and my daily skin care routine which I’ve embarked on for the first time in 54 years!

I’ve also bought myself a big floppy sunhat and one of those visor cap things for my walk/runs.

At the end of the 6 weeks I’m going to post the before and after pics of my skin and you can see the results!

Happy days!