A heavy post on dealing with emotional pain and the four words that changed everything for me

In a previous post I mentioned I was going to write something about ‘dealing with your stuff’ and how to get emotional healing into your life. 

Heavy I know but I’m going to walk you through a few things I’ve learned and that have worked for me. 

First up, mental health is real and if you are having concerns, please go and get a referral off your GP to go and get assessed. There’s no shame in it and you deserve to be well. 

Secondly, what I’m about to say may trigger deep emotional pain you’ve suffered in your life so be prepared and watch out for any addictive behaviour or mood changes this could cause. 

Woah. 

OK. So as humans, we don’t like to experience pain so we do things that minimise pain or momentarily distract us from it. This could be keeping yourself busy with work, texting your crush for attention, eating, drinking, constant need to feed on people for attention- that sort of thing.

Basically anything that stops us thinking about painful moments. 

I’ve heard various counsellors say things like ‘you need to go to your pain’ which I never really understood until my friend and now Pastor Kristy Whitfield came out with these amazing words she learned at Bible College:

“Anger is unprocessed hurt”

I’ll say it again because this is huge and unlocked a whole lot of healing for me:

“Anger is unprocessed hurt”

 I realised that I’d been carrying around a lot of frustration and anger and didn’t really understand why. Nothing really ‘bad’ had happened to me other than the normal bumps and disappointments of life-but who hasn’t had those?

So I figured I must have ‘unprocessed hurt’ and therefore, I needed to process it. But how do you do that?

Again, I’m not a psychologist so I can only say what I did and be careful. I lay down starfish on that floor in my bedroom with nobody around and started reframing my hurt. So instead of saying ‘that situation pissed me off” I would say “that situation hurt me,  I was hurt by that”. 

Now the key is not to put any judgement on the hurt. Don’t minimise or try and pick winners and losers and rationalise the scenario. Just address the hurt. As you name it, the feelings will come back and you will start to feel terrible. You might cry or feel upset and angry but that’s OK, that’s the processing happening. Let the feelings you’ve been suppressing pour out of you onto the floor and let them leave your body. A friend of mine went to grief counselling and was told that “emotions are like quicksand, the more you struggle against them the deeper you’ll sink, so just float on the surface and let them be.” You’ll find the big feelings will be around your family and your relationships. Again, don’t try and judge ‘well I said some hurtful things too” just acknowledge your hurt and let it be about  your healing. As Joyce Meyer famously says “hurting people hurt people” so the more healed you are, the less likely you are to hurt others in the future—let this be about you. 

I have a much better control on angry and frustrated feelings now as I can reframe them as hurt “that hurt me” —it’s not victimhood it’s just being self aware and then you can let the feeling go. Anger is a defence system-especially for women and we can build up walls, not wanting to appear weak. But you end up carrying the burden of that hurt and it can really weigh you down. 

Proceed with caution but process those emotions and you’ll live more free and healed. 

The things nobody ever teaches you about friends at work

 “I don’t have any friends”

A Rich Lister told me that once as he was looking over my shoulder, busted looking at Facebook at work. 

“Are those all your friends?”

I half laughed and he looked at me quite seriously and confessed that he knew a lot of people but that he didn’t have any real friends. 

I remember thinking that was really sad and I didn’t really see the point of having heaps of money and being admired and what not if you didn’t have anyone to share your toys with. 

But this is what we are taught at work.

In my first proper job as a rep for Tip Top Ice Cream I remember doing supermarket visits with one of the other girls on a Friday. It was about five o’clock and I remember asking her if she wanted to go and get a drink. She sharply told me that she had plenty of friends and didn’t “do work friends” so no, she didn’t want to have a drink with me. 

I’ve received these slaps on the face at various times through my working life and I don’t blame people because friendship requires vulnerability and some people don’t want to be vulnerable in a work context. I get that and I would definitely say, make sure you get some friends (at least one) who you don’t work with so you can have a meltdown without the whole office finding out. 

But as I look back on my working life I now know that people who  “don’t do work friends” are wrong. If you were to ask me about the projects and work stuff that I did over the years, it all blurs into a big blob of nothing. 

I remember the people: the ones who cracked me up, the ones who made my life hell and the ones were just a bit weird. 

I remember the kindness of 70 year old Shirley at Auckland City Council who used to take the dirty coffee cups of my desk and get me a clean one from the kitchen. I remember the boss from hell I had at Fairfax who used to put me in her office and shout at me for an hour every Monday morning,  and the bakery manager at Woolworths who introduced me to the joy of eating frozen lolly cake. I remember boozy Melbourne Cup sweepstakes and dancing in the Mayor’s seats at Billy Joel because my friends knew I liked him (Billy Joel, not the Mayor) and scored me the ticket for my birthday. 

As a I got older I started to subscribe to this bullshit theory of knowing lots of people but not letting anyone get close and I regret that. Agenda-based people leave you hollow and dispose of you when you aren’t fulfilling their needs anymore and much like LinkedIn connections, they aren’t worth much. I started off being good at making friends and then the world told me it was wrong so I got bad at it for a while and now I’m trying harder to make up for it and get back to the real, friendly me. The work will always be there and when I look back, the work never really mattered anyway. 

This weekend I’m doing the Tongariro Crossing (let’s see how my new leg goes) with some friends I met and kept from Auckland City Council and my Rich Lister non-friend will probably be sitting in a big house somewhere with his no-friends and I know which I’d rather have. Work friends are important and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Here's one way to escape the housing crisis and get ahead now you're back at work and feeling the burn

I know many people my age (I’ve just tuned 38) and younger feel frustrated that they aren’t getting ahead and they are on the big Monopoly board paying big city rents and not getting ahead to save for a house or a family or whatever. 

I’ve been back about  a month now and most of that time has been having meetings with various advisors to figure out how I’m going to fit into the business and how we’re actually going to do this. For those of you who don’t read my blog, I’ve recently chucked in a six figure job at an ad agency in Sydney and moved back to small town New Zealand to run my parent’s modest little motel. 

One of the things that has struck me has been how little time we spend sorting out our own stuff and our own lives. When you work at a full-time job you are constantly meeting with people and figuring out the best way to get something done. You are forced to work with stakeholders and consult and haggle and compromise. 

We’ve met with lawyers, accountants, bank managers and other wise heads to look at the options and make sure that everyone is happy and that our ideas are feasible. 

For example, one of the plans we had was quickly scuttled by an advisor but he then shared a model he had recently done for a dairy farming family transferring to the next generation and it looks like something that might work for us. We would have never come up with that option on our own

So here’s the kicker…

If you feel like you aren’t getting ahead, get your wider family involved and try and work out a solution that will benefit everyone. Before you recoil, let me first say that my family is far from perfectly harmonious and we’ve had epic rumbles. EPIC RUMBLES. Also, we are comfortable but not rich so it wasn’t an option for them to drop a 20% deposit on a million dollar Auckland property for me and my brother without a perfectly timed Lotto win. 

What it will give you is a longer term perspective. In 20 years time my parents may need full time care and can’t keep working their business. I’d be 58 (omg) and do I still want to be bouncing around in an ad agency with 20 year olds? (omg no- it’s hard enough now). 

Once you admit that you may actually need each other you can put some cards on the table and it’s amazing what will wash out. 

For example, I was paying AUD$400 per week for a half share in an apartment in Sydney.  So I automatically need about $20k per year to pay for basic, rented accommodation. My parent’s have a lot of freehold accommodation so automatically this benefits me.  If they want to go away and have time off from the motel, they need to pay a manager and find someone they can trust. So that goes in the pot. If they move away from the motel, they have to pay to live somewhere else and use their savings. Do I buy another house in Turangi (cheaper than Auckland) or stay in the manager’s house? What if we could all live in the house together for 12 months and not kill each other and then we’d all have free accommodation and have money for improvements to the motel or to buy another rental?

It’s actually extraordinary how much you can save and support each other if you get over your stuff (we all have stuff with our family—I’ll write another post on dealing with your stuff) and don’t think you have to struggle along on your own. Everyone has made mistakes with credit cards and spending in the past so don’t beat yourself up about mistakes you made when you were young and stupid. 

Also, spend some time thinking about your values. As people live longer, the model of the eldest son inheriting the farm is a bit outdated. You could probably do better with the hand up now instead of in 20 years time.  It’s a hard conversation to have as it forces your olds to start thinking about their final years as well but everyone sitting around for someone to die before you talk about it isn’t that useful either. 

Here’s some things to get you thinking about it:

1. build another unit down the back of your parent’s place. 

2. buy a share or get them to gift you a share in their house. Every year, they might gift you 5% of their house

3. move home with your parents to turn off your living costs for a while so you can save (humbling I know but…)

4. house sit your parent’s house. They can buy or lease a motorhome and travel around while they are still young enough and you can live in their house and water the plants

5. The NBR did a story (sorry paywalled) on the record number of boomer business owners who are heading into retirement  so instead of struggling along trying to strike gold with your startup, maybe you could work for equity in someone’s established business and give them a path out?

First steps:

Cry. I’m serious. I felt a huge boulder shift off me when I admitted to myself that I wasn’t getting anywhere and that it was time to close the door on the independent chapter of my life. I had more than a good run and I would encourage any young person to be as young and stupid and intrepid as possible because life isn’t all about how many acorns you acquire. But you grow and change and admitting that the things that excited you at 25 probably won’t still spin your wheels at 55 is hard reality and tears and snot and all that. 

Once you’ve done that, give your parents some credit and they will probably surprise you. They want to be wanted and part of your life. There will be many stupid, unworkable ideas but if you try and stay present and not bring up a fight from Christmas 1993 you might just strike some solutions. 

Call your Mum. That feeling you're feeling is pride and it won't help you with this one. 

It's good to be home

Well it’s been two weeks since my return to New Zealand. I watched Hunt for the Wilderpeople on the Sydney to Auckland flight (how great was Taika’s cameo in the church scene? lol) and then caught the little plane to Taupo. 

“Kia ora”

A super nice lady on my Taupo flight introduced herself and we started chatting about her travels. She was a New Zealander living in Australia and her husband had died suddenly of a heart attack. So she was in the process of getting the body transported back to his marae down Gisborne way. Air New Zealand requires that the body is embalmed before transport and then it gets vacuum packed and then you get a funeral place Auckland side to put the body in a hearse and drive it down the line. It was all morbidly fascinating so I just let her talk and you could tell she was devastated and it was not the trip that she wanted to do. 

They had just booked a cruise and he wanted to do an All Blacks tour so she said she was going to do one to honour him. She had another family tangi to go to in Turangi so that’s where she was headed. 

She apologised for telling me all her worries and her attention shifted to me and how I was going to get home from the airport. She offered me a ride for the 50 kilometres from Taupo airport to my house and made sure I had a place to stay. Once we got off the plane she helped me get my luggage and again, made sure I was OK to get home. 

It made me think of the time in Sydney where we had a client meeting at LARGE CREDIT CARD COMPANY in the CBD. My supposed team mate from the agency was driving and she had a brand new four wheel drive people mover thingo. I made the appropriate ooooos and aaaaas about how nice her new car was and we drove across the bridge to LARGE CREDIT CARD COMPANY. The meeting went late and we left the office tower to heavy wind and rain whipping up the street at 6pm. My supposed team mate, fresh of the company team building evening, then got in her brand new four wheel drive people mover thingo and drove off, leaving me standing on the side of the road in the weather. 

I just remember standing in the rain thinking “NOTE TO SELF: DON’T EVER BE THAT PERSON”. You work you arse off in a job you hate to buy a new people mover thingo to impress your neighbours and can’t even offer your work mate a lift to the nearest train station one block up the bloody road. 

The super nice lady on the flight was doing the hardest trip of her life and she still had the time to be concerned about me. There is an end and maybe we need death to remind us of what’s important. 

It’s good to be home. 

How did a man so un-Christlike get prayed into power by Christians?

I sat down on the couch yesterday afternoon hoping to see history made. I was going sit and watch and Tweet as the first woman president was swept into office by voters who were wise enough to see that complex problems aren’t solved with simplistic one-line, hate fuelled answers from an obnoxious shouty Orange Man. 

I can’t stand Trump and all that he represents. We have all experienced Trump-like figures in our daily life who bully their way into personal gain and consume people as objects and although Hillary has her faults, I believed she was the women to enter the history books and crush the patriarchy—hooray!

I got it wrong and as it turns out, so did all the mainstream media and pollsters who scrambled to adjust their figures as Trump just kept on winning states. 

So who voted for him? 

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/09/how-the-faithful-voted-a-preliminary-2016-analysis/

White, women, Christians. 

Demographically speaking…women like me. 

As a white women Christian myself my attention started to turn from the mainstream media to a lot of the Christian private media (such as blogs and social media sites) that I follow. The signs were all there had I been away from the liberal atheist media long enough to see them. 

I’m very fortunate that my church leaders are fiercely a-political and anyone that tries to push a political view in the church or its media will probably be crash tackled from the platform. I think the Australian and New Zealand churches are used to being a minority (Pentecostal Christians of which I am one make up about 2% of the New Zealand population) so we tend to be more moderate and just generally less self righteous. 

Not so in the US where the “one nation under God” thing is taken quite literally and pastors nudge their congregations toward one candidate or another. Sometimes it is subtle Facebook updates such as “protect the rights of the unborn child when you vote” or “protect the sanctity of marriage when you vote” but it all serves to influence. 

Instagram post from a large US church I was a bit disappointed with but there you go

But how could women vote for a man who so overtly doesn’t respect them and who exhibits none of the Christ-like behaviour that we are meant to hold in such high regard?

Like a lot of Christians, I do daily devotions which is basically a meeting with God where you read some Scripture and have a chat to him about things in your life. So I asked God how someone like Trump could be elected and he lead me to this Scripture (hey you want more Christian voices in the media—this is how we roll). 

“And I said to you, ‘I am God your God. Don’t for a minute be afraid of the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living.’ But you didn’t listen to me” Judges 6: 7-10 The Message

Fear. 

There are approximately 365 references in the Bible to “Fear Not” but fear they did and Trump came along and whipped up their fear and made the Christians believe that they were going to become a minority in their own country. 

So with all the praying for leadership in America we got Trump? Pope Francis denounced Trump.  One of the leading teaching pastors in the US Dr John Piper came out and said he would not vote for Trump or Clinton and I think his tweet explains some of what we ended up with. 

If you want to worship money and greed and TV celebrity then that’s what you’re going to get.  If you choose the path of fear rather than faith then you get a fear-monger. Christ asks us to live a life of faith and a life of others rather than self. American Christians chose fear and self and that’s how we got Trump. 

God Bless America. 

Why I’m moving back to New Zealand (the post I never thought I'd write)

Well this is the blog post I never thought I’d write. 

I love Sydney and have made a home here and always thought this was forever. I have amazing friends, love the weather and my church but sometimes life dishes you up a set of circumstances when you realise that you won’t be on planet earth for very long and you have to get your priorities right. 

So… I’m moving back to Tokaanu (Southern Lake Taupo) to take over the running of my parent’s motel so they can retire. 

Another thing I never thought I’d say but there you go. 

Why now?

Well a lot of things changed for me after my accident. It’s quite interesting that when your world collapses, you are forced to face a lot of your fears. The corporate world runs on fear and insecurity, especially in ad agencies. 

If I don’t work until 10pm every night people will think I’m lazy. 

If I don’t answer the email in 2 minutes people will think I’m incompetent

I don’t have that fear anymore so I found going back to the corporate life, I would just shrug my shoulders at people and walk away. I know who I am and what I’m about and if you don’t get it, well that’s not my problem.

Also, the main reason I’ve loved working in Social has been based in voice. Everyone gets a voice. The way Social has been bastardised by agencies into “pumping stuff into the back of Facebook” really doesn’t interest me anymore and working on one of the biggest influencer programmes in Australia made me resent social and the ‘pay for comment’ machine that it’s become. 

 So basically, I hated what I was doing and then my parents have had some health challenges (my Dad will be 70 next month) and they are ready to hand over the keys. There is also a lot of legal stuff going on to work out my compensation from the accident so I’ve had lots of specialist appointments I had to be in Sydney for but that’s coming to an end (fingers crossed). 

What I will miss:

Lovely friends

Sydney

My lovely apartment and Danish flatmate Martin (actually I should probably tell him I'm moving out...)

My church

My friends

Danish flatmate Martin

What I’m looking forward to:

Being able to write and post whatever I want without corporate drones telling me what to do

Being able to help my parents out

Having a free house and car and business #realtalk

Not having to work on a Windows machine

How you can help me:

The main thing I’m worried about is getting lonely and having no friends because Tokaanu is quite remote and there aren’t many youngish people so please come and visit me. We have thermal hot pools on site and the motel is halfway between Auckland and Wellington. Most people come for the hot pools and to walk the Tongariro Crossing or go skiing at Ruapehu. 

So brace yourself for some outrageous freestyle blog posts, and lots of tweets about painting, carpet laying and bed making. I won’t be doing social for the motel because it’s quite small and ticks along well as it is but I am thinking about buying a backpackers as a next step so send me an email if you know of anyone selling one in the Taupo/Rotorua area. 

I woke up the other morning with a great sense of panic that I’d made the wrong decision and then it dawned on me... “the bullshit is over” and I can go and make some beds and give people extra towels and provide people with free wifi as every accommodation place rightfully should. I am no longer a slave to a game I don’t want to play anymore and I can express myself and be the real me again. I can almost feel my personality flowing back into my bloodstream and that, I'm looking forward to. 

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Deuternomy 5:15

Resilience and how to stay 'hefted' in tough times


I was pretty pleased to see one of my favourite Twitter account people on abc news last weekend. If you don’t follow James Rebanks herdy shepherd then get to it now. He’s even got a book and movie deal off his stories and images of life in the British highlands.

He was talking about the Herdwick sheep that he farms and how resilient they are. It’s a word I’ve become more familiar with over the last few years ….resilience.

The sheep are able to sustain long periods of time in severe wind and cold rain. It’s not just the cold-there are sheep that can sustain colder, but the fact they can stand on a hill and put up with extreme driving rain and cold wind for three months at a time. The Herdwick are Viking sheep, an ancient breed that has survived hundreds of years and stuck around long enough to get their photos on Twitter.

I was looking at the images of the Herdwick sheep and how they just stand there.

In the high country, the sheep are “hefted” to the hill rather than fenced in. Hefting means that the sheep know where they live and what they are about so they don’t wander away.  Imagine if we lived our lives hefted in our situations.

It made me think about some of the cold wind and rain we have to put up with in our everyday lives where the best response is probably just to stand there -be hefted and not run away.

Just stand there.

If you are having a bad day at work…just stand there. If one of your relationships has broken down..just stand there. If someone keeps sending cold wind and rain in your direction…just stand there.

It’s in our nature to want to do something to get away from the uncomfortable conditions but it’s this scrambling that gets us in trouble.  It won’t feel comfortable and you probably won’t enjoy it but this is how we become resilient and hefted like the Herdwick sheep.  Three months of icy blasts sounds like a long time but I guess that’s the Viking resilience that’s kept them around for the long run and I think we can all learn something from these hefted sheep and their wise shepherd.


Three ways of curing yourself from people pleasing at work

I was talking to someone who had a meeting with one of the most highly regarded business men in the world. One of those private jet globe trotters you read about in the Wall Street Journal.

“So what was he like? Did he have a presence? What did he say?”

The meeting went for two hours and was all business. Famous business person spent the whole time checking his phone and barely made eye contact with the others in the room who had prepared for weeks and were all working hard to impress him.

I had to laugh.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in the last few years is don’t work to impress people or seek other’s approval. It’s been a hard fought battle for me as my nature is to seek external approval-make people rate you-that sort of thing.

There are many times over a working week I have to remind myself not to enter into the no-win game of competing with other people and trying to get the pat on the head. I often wondered why I never got the pat on the head but now I realise it’s been a blessing in disguise…so I don’t need it.

That’s the no-win game. The praise that you seek will probably make you crave more of it anyway and it will never be enough. So bow out. Choose not to be the star. Choose not to be the fastest email returner or the one who works till 9pm or the person who produces the most magnificent Excel spreadsheets because in the big picture..nobody cares and you’ll only make yourself stressed out and feel insecure.

But how do you train yourself out of this praise-seeking behavior?

1.     Praise others. Most people are starved for encouragement so become the praiser rather than the praisee.

2.     Remind yourself regularly that it’s not a competition. Many workplaces foster a competitive culture and it can be challenging to resist but mutter under your breath “I’m not playing this game. I don’t compete with others”. Seriously—it works and you’ll be amazed at how many train wrecks you avoid by not engaging in competitive behavior.

3.     Go low and go slow. This is something I’ve learned from the great Mozambique missionary Heidi Baker on community building.  Adopt a “slow and low” mindset and approach. When everyone else is trying to elevate themselves and hurry around and compete, you’ll stand out and be more effective by bowing out and not working reactively.

Everyone likes their moment in the sun and it’s natural human behavior to want to be liked and rated but it’s fleeting and the negative behavior and stress you can put on yourself in the process is not worth it. 

The famous business man got in his private jet and went on to his next round of meetings where he’ll probably check his phone continually and not make eye contact with another group of people all trying to impress him. Aren’t humans funny. 

5 ways you can stop being that micro manager that everyone hates

Of all the frustrations in work life, micro management would have to be top of the ‘most complained about’ list.

 So why to people become that thing they detest so much and how do we stop the sneaky little worm from infiltrating our work life? I’ve tried to battle the micro manager and failed.  But I’ve made the decision to not become one so here’s my 5 tips on keeping yourself from becoming the dreaded micro manager.

1.Go to less meetings. 
First of all, I’m very pro meeting and I think face-to-face communication is work and I don’t agree with a lot of the anti meeting sentiment that’s around at the moment. But you don’t need to go to everything and if someone else in your team can go, then let them go. Chill out and be selective about what you do and don’t go to.

2.You don’t need to be cc’d on every email
I see this all the time “can you please cc me on this”. You don’t need to see every email from your team. If you need an update, walk across to the person and ask them for an update. It will clear your workload and that of your team. Also, it can create a parent/child relationship where people don’t take responsibility. Let the emails flow freely without poking your nose in.

3. Brief and walk away
We have a cleaner for our apartment and I always make sure I leave the house when she arrives. Why? Because it’s annoying having someone looking over your shoulder and watching everything you do. Apply the same thinking to your team. Brief them on what needs doing and walk away. Don’t hover and pester. Let them know they can come back to you with any questions. Give time and output deadlines and leave them to get on with it.

4.Play the long game
I once worked at a place where it was a bit of a status symbol if you went up to the ad agency meetings.  People would lobby for why they ‘had’ to be there and tried to put themselves at the centre of big campaigns like the TV ones. I remember one day thinking “”I’m going to work in marketing my whole life and I don’t care if I get to go to the agency or not-I’ll get plenty of opportunity over my career” (which is even more funny now I work for one). Play the long game and let the other silly people jockey for meeting spots.

5. Change from ‘do’mode to ‘teach’ mode
Your job as a manager is to equip other people to do things, not to do everything yourself. I remember writing a press release for a media company and being very nervous about all the top journalists who would see my writing.  The press release was scribbled over and destroyed in red pen by all the executive team –except for one person-the Head of Editorial. He wrote a very polite note in the margin in tasteful, non-threatening pencil and made a small tweak to one paragraph. His was the only feedback that I took and cared about. His respect for my work and empathy as a writer has stayed with me and that’s the kind of manager I want to be.

 It’s tough working with other people and you can’t control everyone but you can make some decisions to control yourself and not become that manager that drove you up the wall. Chill out and play the long game, put people ahead of tasks, get out of everyone’s email and you’ll find you’re a lot happier and less stressed too.

Why I had to break up with New Zealand to settle in Australia

Darling Harbour, Sydney

I remember checking into my hotel at Darling Harbour and asking the receptionist where the water was. I’d just flown in from a freezing cold 4am start Wellington to Sydney flight.

It was like an epiphany. I walked through the palm trees and fountains of the harbour with the warm sun and had a sudden realisation that I was home.

From that day I made the decision that I was moving to Australia for good.

People still ask me how long I think I’ll stay here and look a bit surprised when I say ‘forever’.

Here’s why I say that.

First of all was the overwhelming sense of home that I felt and continue to feel in Sydney.

But you can’t run on feelings forever and, as part of my new migrant zeal, I read a book on the history of Australia.

One of the chapters detailed how there were two types of early settlers to Australia from England: the shipped convicts and those who chose to immigrate.

The author’s theory was that the convicts actually made a better job of settling in Australia because, once they were freed, they had nothing to go back to and made a better go of the new opportunities and adapted to the new conditions.

The voluntary migrants harked back to Mother England and didn’t settle as well. They tried to recreate the life they had in England and didn’t adapt as well.

I decided that I was going to adopt the convict strategy and force myself to forge a new life in my new colony. I banned myself from New Zealand media and old connections. I saturated myself in Australian news and read lots of books on Aussie history and politics. I went on tours of Canberra and the New South Wales parliaments and followed Mike Baird on Twitter.

I even tried to convince people that I was ‘from Sydney’ but my accent betrayed me so I was, and always will be a Kiwi. Making new friends and social connections was one of the hardest things but I’m glad I pushed through the pain barrier and the seeds I’ve sown are bearing fruit now.

My Mum and I at Darling Harbour Convention Centre

Slowly, as I’ve got more planted, I’ve allowed more ‘’New Zealand” back into my life. I still listen to Radio New Zealand at work any my family recently visited and we did all the tourist things in Sydney which was fun.

I go to a physio from Auckland and one of the other physios says he can hear us in the treating room ‘talking Nuw Zeelund” and it’s like a dull mumbled hum.

Someone asked me the other day if I identify as Aussie now and I surprised myself by saying no,  I am a New Zealander. We had to break a few things off to move forward but we're good now.