Thursday, February 24, 2011

sad, sad, sad

Well Bunny, my beautiful dog, has gone. The tumour in her brain was aggressive and she deteriorated quickly. I had to make the hard decision to have her euthanased. How do you say goodbye to someone who was committed to you 24/7, who captured your heart (when you're not really a dog person), who loved you unconditionally and brought joy back into your life? How? Well you can't really. Holly and I were holding Bunny and stroking her as she passed away. It was so quick and peaceful. It is extremely hard to believe she has gone. The house is so empty without her. I haven't just lost a pet but a really lovely companion and friend.  I posted about Bunny last year. You can read about the impact she had on my life here

Love you Bunny girl. Miss you so much xx

This week has been a hugely tragic time for New Zealanders. Christchurch was rocked by an earthquake round lunchtime on Tuesday. It was a 6.3 magnitude quake. Not as high as the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 but much stronger as it was shallow and closer to the city. The devastation and loss of life are huge. I just cry every time I see news coverage, photos and hear the stories of survival and great loss. It's hard to believe that this is happening in our beautiful country. Christchurch, the garden city, looks like a war zone....

....and with New Zealand being the small country that it is, we all know people and have family, friends and colleagues who are a part of this tragedy. It's such an overwhelming thought. We are all affected. What can we do? As I watch from the safety of my living room I feel helpless but I'm praying. Praying for the people..... for their loss, their grief, their fear, for their recovery - mentally, emotionally, physically. I'm praying for help for them, for love and support - physical and financial, for the ability to rebuild broken hearts, minds, spirits, lives, homes, businesses..... If you are the praying type, join with me. You can also practically help Christchurch in it's hour of need by making a donation to the
Red Cross

And as so many people are saying Kia Kaha Christchurch. Even though you are so badly shaken, stand strong. We stand with you xxxxx

Photo credits:
Christchurch Cathedral  -
Pine Gould Corporation building - Mark Mitchell
Devastation -
CTV building -

Monday, February 14, 2011


I've been reflecting on the idea of my life having seasons. You know that clear cut transition from autumn to winter, winter to spring, spring to summer, summer to autumn...... cyclical, rhythmic, following familiar patterns. I've had the expectation that since I've been through the long dark winter of my husband John's diagnosis and death from melanoma cancer, at some stage I should be moving into spring and summer. I've had glimpses of it and have definitely felt optimistic about what the future holds for me.... but there always seems to be the chill of autumn and winter around. Last year it was really hard to walk alongside my sister Karen as she dealt with her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. It was definitely a cold, dark, chilling winter experience.

Then I had the most amazing trip to New York and Pennsylvania over December and January. It was a wonderful, exciting, restorative holiday that fed my body, mind, spirit and heart. It was so special!! Definitely that lovely, relaxed, summery holiday feeling season (even though it was winter!!).

When I got home I found myself once again, looking out at the new year with optimism and hope.... thinking this is my year for winter to truly be gone and for me to move fully into spring and summer. But once again life's circumstances seem to be conspiring against me. I am currently waiting on the results of some tests that I have had done on my beautiful dog Bunny. They will confirm whether or not she has an inoperable brain tumour. She is physically deteriorating at quite a rapid rate so the confirmation of cancer is looking more certain. It's so hard to look at her and know that I am going to have to make a hard call for her very soon.

Yet in the midst of the sadness and concern that I feel for her, I have lots of things that are good and worth celebrating. Yesterday my family plotted and conspired together to make Valentines Day a very special day for me. In the morning Holly's hand appeared through my door and stuck a post-it on my mirror, then it came back and put two presents on my dressing table. She wished me a very happy Valentines Day as she rushed off to work. So exciting..... then I unwrapped the gifts from Holly, Beth & Mike!

So gorgeous, thoughtful and meaningful!

Later in the day I came back from a delicious lunch with the team of girls that I work with, to find gerberas with a vintage card (also from Holly, Beth & Mike!!) on my desk - delivered by my other daughter Beth.

That evening Holly took me out for dinner only to "accidentally" bump into Beth and Mike at a lovely restaurant in Ponsonby. It was a perfect day and a perfect evening that made me feel very loved, special and incredibly grateful for my beautiful family. So winter and summer in one day. Joy and sadness, hand in hand. Maybe it is unrealistic to expect a perfectly sunny summer without a cloud on the horizon. In reality that's not our experience of summer in Auckland, especially this year. We've been flooded twice with torrential rain and are currently sweating it out in sauna-like conditions. And maybe it's time to expect that a winter might just have the odd sunny, even warmish kind of day. So I'm revising my expectations. I'm going to enjoy the warmth and beauty of my summer experiences even if they come in the midst of the cold, wintry dark. 

And anyway I really enjoyed the cold, snowy winter that I experienced in the States. I was prepared for the weather. I dressed up warmly so I could enjoy being out in the snow. I was prepared!! I'm not saying that from now on I'm going to enjoy all the winter experiences of my life but that if I prepare my heart and spirit for them, maybe I can keep weathering them without being overwhelmed.... and with that I'm also going to try to cultivate the expectation that there is still the opportunity for the loveliness and surprise of a spring flower pushing through the cold earth or the feeling of a little summer warmth on my face in the midst of a winter season.

So that's how life is for me at the moment - a mixture of seasons, feelings, emotions and circumstances that aren't orderly, rhythmic or cyclical and at times don't make a lot of sense. I'm beginning to suspect that this is probably the norm for a lot of other people too. And throughout all of this, I'll try to keep you updated on what's turning out to be the very messy, mixed bag of experiences called my life!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

new york christmas lights

It was so exciting to be in New York just before Christmas. The city is so full of energy, excitement and people. So many people working, shopping, sightseeing... coming into the city to see the lights. It's a different cultural experience too. Shops often display menorah as well as Christmas trees. There is a real sensitivity to cultural and religious differences. No one assumes that you will be celebrating Christmas and you're more likely to hear "Happy Holidays" than "Merry Christmas!"

First I had to check out Macy's. I loved their whole "believe" campaign for Christmas. They have the most beautiful lights decorating the outside of their flagship store and gloriously decorated windows with moving displays that tell Christmas stories. Embracing the "believe" slogan I entered the store. I did some pretty good Christmas shopping in there but it was crazy busy... with the emphasis on crazy. While it's chilly outside, they ramp up the heating inside. Short of walking around in my underwear I found it quite stifling. The jostling crowds of Christmas shoppers and sauna like atmosphere had a trying effect on everyone. I saw families on the edge of Christmas shopping meltdown. A few snippets of overheard conversations.... "It's too hot in here!" "I can't stand it!" "Buy your own presents!" "I'm getting out of here!" As I came up the escalator to yet another floor decked out for the holidays and teaming with people, I saw a sign that I thought said "Holiday Hell." It actually said Holiday Halls. Phew! I knew it was time to get out of there! "Believe!!" Bah humbug!! Just kidding. I still do like the whole "believe" theme but maybe not in that overheated commercial setting.

I moved on to Anthropologie - a totally different shopping experience. The Anthropologie stores are my favourite in the US. All of them are styled differently by artists, designers and crafts people. They have a strong artistic aesthetic that is quite breathtaking. Even though they can still be busy, they have a totally different atmosphere to Macy's. More peaceful! I spent hours in each shop taking in the sculptural displays, windows and out of this world styling. So creative, so beautiful, so clever. This is just one of the windows from the Rockefeller Plaza store. Everything in the window is handcrafted, sewn , knit, constructed, collaged, painted or drawn. 

Then over the road to the Rockefeller Centre. I have never been in a crowd like the one gathered there. So many people come from all over the US (and the world) to see the biggest Christmas tree ever!! It's actually from someone's yard. Each year they scour the countryside to find a suitable tree and the person is honoured to have it displayed at the Rockefeller Centre. They must have had some truck to transport it. It is enormous!!! There's a skating rink that is here just for the holiday season. The queues are huge to see the tree, to skate and the crowd is wall to wall people. Taking advantage of my small stature, I managed to wriggle my way through the crowd to the edge of the skating rink. Even with the crowd it's still magical!

Sorry this photo is blurry. I was being crushed by the crowds on all sides!! Check out the couple in the middle (with the girl in the white hat and jacket). Here is a magic New York moment. People were going "He's got a ring! He's got a ring!" and he did have one. He asked, she said yes, then they kissed and kissed and kissed...... Oooooh! Sigh! So romantic!

I moved on from the Rockefeller Centre to Times Square. It's neon, lights, people, bustle.... it's action 24/7, any time of the day or night, any time of the year. Even the NYPD have neon!

Bryant Park also has a skating rink. You might know it as it's alter ego - host to New York Fashion Week. At the time I thought Bryant Park, that sounds familiar.... I only clicked to the Fashion Week connection later in my trip (thanks Beth!). After all those seasons of watching Project Runway I should have been a bit quicker on the uptake!! Tim Gunn would be ashamed of me!

Washington Square was great contrast to the rest of the city.... tranquil, peaceful and quietly spectacular.... a lovely oasis in the midst of the busyness.

New York is a special lady who dresses up for Christmas with so many accessories, jewels, decorations.... sparkling with lights, lights and more lights. It seems that you can never have enough lights! 

So this is a little taste of New York in her Christmas finery. She's breathtaking, mind blowing and completely overwhelming.... and I wouldn't have missed seeing it for the world!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

flying, new york and the start of my adventures

Sorry I haven't blogged for sooo long. After my last post I was caught up in the flurry of getting work finished, presents wrapped and distributed, planning and preparing for my trip away (all by mid December). It was a whirl of activity and sadly I just didn't have time to post anything!! Then I was off on a big adventure to New York and Pennsylvania. I left on the 16th of December and returned exactly four weeks later. So much happened on my trip and I have so many things I want to share..... so to make it more manageable I am going to post things in small bites..... the things that I saw, that captivated and inspired that me, the experiences and great times that I had with family, friends and my adopted American family (I'll explain that relationship in a later post!)

I flew to LA via Tahiti. It was a very long flight (with no sleep) so I was very happy to land in LA. I had a three and half hour gap between landing and flying on to New York, which seemed ample in the planning stages. LAX was mad.... it took us half an hour to taxi in as there was no space for us to disembark. When we finally did, the queues for immigration and customs looped their way all around the terminal. I was sleep deprived and trying not to panic as the time kept ticking by and I was still in the queue!! Finally exactly 30 minutes before my New York flight took off, I was free and running to the Delta terminal. Phew! I made it with 15 minutes to spare!! Yay! The relief of getting on the flight was only slightly marred by a very unhappy baby and the barking/whining dog on our flight. Yes, a dog!! Never mind, at least I was on my way!!

People talk about the excitement and romance of travel. I had forgotten that long distance flights are a marathon that you have to endure the best way that you can under trying circumstances, often with severe sleep deprivation!! It's funny though, how this all fades when you arrive at your destination and the excitement truly kicks in! It was night when we flew into New York and the city lights were spectacular. Even from the height we were flying at, you could clearly see houses, buildings and whole streets fully decked out in Christmas lights! We landed and there were no queues and dramas. I just had to pick up my bags, grab a yellow cab and head into Manhattan. I was in NEW YORK!!! I was soooo excited. The last time I visited New York was in summer, three and a half years ago. Now I was seeing it in winter, all decked out for Christmas. I was so happy to arrive, eat some dinner, have a shower and get some sleep. Bed! Yay!!

It's amazing what a good night's sleep does for you. I spent the next two days exploring, shopping, eating and generally walking around being completely stunned by the energy, excitement, beauty, grit and the appearance of the unexpected that is New York. It was cold. The brisk kind of cold that takes your breath away. I loved wrapping up in my coat, boots, hat, scarf and gloves.

I loved the Christmas tree stands that were everywhere. At first I thought the trees were artificial as they look so perfect and symmetrical. They have branches that are perfectly shaped for hanging ornaments on. But no, after touching one I found out that they were real (and very prickly)! They smell so gorgeous too. The scent of Christmas on every street corner!!

Another unique American Christmas treat.... giant chocolate chip "holiday" cookies. Yes that's right, a pizza-sized cookie ready in 15 minutes!! The perfect gift for the person who has everything!

I also caught up with New Zealand friends Max and Jess. Jess is completing her doctorate at NYU so has made New York her home. The last time I saw them was in Auckland and yet it seemed so natural to be walking the streets of New York with them. You never know what you will find in New York, it's full of surprises. We walked around the corner straight into a multi-cultural festive street parade!

So this is the beginning of my adventures..... Next post - New York Christmas lights.


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