On being Ouma (round 3)

A wise man I know would often challenge others with the question: “is it okay to love more than one?”.

For in most Western societies, loving “more than one” man or woman is certainly frowned upon, despite the clear evidence that “human nature” would have otherwise. Yet thankfully, when it comes to children, no one would suggest that a mother or grandmother should love only one! It is one of life’s great mysteries that somehow your heart expands not only to “make room” for each new arrival, but to positively embrace each new child with great outpouring of love.

My role as “Ouma” began on in early 2009, with the arrival of Isabel (the brave one), joined three years later by Matthew (the witty one). Blessed to have them living close by, I have watched their far-too-fast growing up with love and wonder. Matthew and Isabel have filled our hearts and our lives with adventures and discoveries. We learned that it truly does take a village to raise a child, and feel so privileged to be part of that village. Having missed out on having grandparents close by in our children’s early days, we have come to appreciate how much of a loss that was to them, and to us.

And now they are three – Alfred Ernest Hall – their long awaited cousin, born in March this year on the other side of the world. A “lockdown baby”. With significant restrictions in place through a dismal London winter, Rob and Jenna hunkered down through their pregnancy, with support from friends in similar situations.

Plans for both sets of grandparents to travel in turn, to provide support soon after the birth were scuppered – they were in this together, but alone.

And now, three months on, just like that, Ouma and Peter arrived!

“So what do you think of Alfie”, their friends ask. I have no words for this – he’s a baby, a tiny treasure, perfect in every way. He eats, he sleeps, he yells (increasingly testing his vocal range), and oh boy, when he smiles and laughs, it just melts your heart.

He snuggles, he splashes in the bath, he’s learning to love storytime (currently dominated by my favourites rather than his). He dances with Mum, who sings to him in French and English, and is calmed by Peter’s magical “what’s your mattering?” that’s still working on number three, I’m pleased to say.

Even more special than Alfie though – as if that were possible – is the love and admiration that grows for your own children, and their chosen partners, as you watch them grow into wonderful loving parents. Rob, the father is the best version yet of the many versions of Rob, the man. Seeing him with Alfie feels like the circle is complete, the mantle has been passed.

I chose to be “Ouma” in tribute to my own great grandmother, Aletta Petronella Catherine de Beer (née Bester), who lived to see her great-great-grandchildren, and was beloved by us all, as we were by her. Five living generations is a feat which seems unlikely to be repeated any time soon!

The original Ouma was always calm, always ready with an ear and a shoulder, and the biggest cuddles. She was wise, and well-informed about the world, even though she never travelled. She lived by the motto “stilbly is ook an antwoord” (keeping quiet is also an answer) – and while I aspire to “be like Ouma”, that’s probably a bridge too far for me. But meanwhile, I will cuddle Alfie (currently the cute one), and take joy from my regular videocalls with Isabel (the brave) and Matthew (the witty one).

Miso walks on water

As we settle into domestic life with Rob, Jenna and baby Alfie, we must not forget the very important 4th member of the family, Miso.

At just one year old, Miso is still very much a teenager, mostly well behaved (being very well brought up, of course), but prone to occasional lapses in self control! Barking at phantom foxes at the bottom of the garden at 530am is a particular specialty… the fox WAS there, but is long gone. She annoys her mum and dad by digging up the garden, sitting on the table, and of course the challenge of all dogs when a baby arrives – waking the baby!

Miso’s morning routine starts with “puppy breakfast” delivered one tiny dog biscuit at a time by a rolling puzzle feeder, so she doesn’t gobble, followed by an hour long walk in Victoria Park.

Living near Victoria Park is truly glorious…. vast swathes of open spaces, large trees, ponds and streams, and an eclectic selection of mostly well behaved, mostly off leash dogs.

Smaller dogs are popular – it is inner city London after all – but we have also met all manner of larger specimens, all the way up to a giant piebald Great Dane. Miss Miso is game to play with all comers, usually returning to the rattle of treats in her little portable treat jar.

She cools off with a little wade in the edge of the stream, and a drink from the doggie water bottle that all walkers seem to carry.

After a week of tagging along with Rob for the morning walk while Jenna gets Alfie ready for the day, Peter and I felt well prepared to venture out on our own, with dog and baby in tow. The retractable leash appeared to be a bit of a challenge for Peter, but Miso was patient and we got to the park without incident, Alfie dozing in his pram. Off leash, Miso chased her ball and generally hooned about, until about half way round, she took off in an unexpected direction, and leapt into a pond not usually on our walking route.

In hindsight, we had been there once before, when Jenna explained that this pond had frozen over in the winter and Miso had tested her ice skating skills. Perhaps the thick layer of seaweedy, pond-scummy, green gloop made her think she could indeed walk on water again, but instead she simply disappeared, as both grandparents rushed towards the pond (one more rushed than the other), expecting her to reappear, shaking herself off and looking embarrassed. But no dog was to be seen….

As I neared the pond, trying not to bounce the sleeping baby in the pram, my top of mind thought was “don’t forget to put the brake on”. Visions of Alfie, pram and all, rolling away while I leapt into the pond to rescue Miso, were not to be contemplated.

I scanned the green, slimy pond… no Miso to be seen.

Then a tiny “njiff” at my feet… paws up on the pond wall, little bedraggled head poking out of the slime, as she clung to the edge but couldn’t get out. Now Miso is a small dog, but believe me, when all her fur is drenched and flattened and green, she is tiny! I’m not sure who was more relieved as I hooked her out by her harness. Poor little (green) thing!

Immediately back on the lead, no more adventures today, we told her. Poor Miso – too mucky to play with the puppy friends!

I saw the squirrel first, sitting right in front of us. Miso was quick (“like a fox”) – well, quick enough to escape Peter’s light hold on the leash, and she was off, into the woods, heavy leash handle bumping behind, Peter in pursuit. No squirrels were harmed.

That’s it! Home!

Now the challenge of bathing the dog! Turns out gloopy pond scum is about as hard to remove as fox poo! Our first attempt was woeful… dog now even more unhappy, and still filthy, albeit, no longer smelly. Then Jenna pulled out the “fox poo shampoo”… who knew?

Whiteness restored!

The next dog & baby walk was uneventful.

Overwhelmedness

Is that even a word?

As I sat on the plane, with 2 hours 30 minutes to go until we landed in London, it was certainly the description of the state that I found myself in.

A trip that in the past would have been unremarkable, and gone mostly unremarked. 28 hours from Auckland Airport to London Heathrow, a trip done many times before. But this time was special – a visit to meet Alfie, our three month old grandson, and to be with Rob & Jenna who were married last year, sans family, behind a perspex screen in a registry office, in lockdown.

We “zoomed” in to see them married, followed their pregnancy on zoom, celebrated the birth of Alfred Ernest Hall with champagne, on zoom. But now the waiting was almost over.

I thought I’d be excited, and of course, I was… if “excitement” simply describes a state of heightened emotion. But really the joyous excitement had been overtaken weeks and months before the departure, with the enormous weight of reality. The determined effort to get vaccinated before we flew, the new processes and procedures, the ever-changing rules, the difficulty (pre-Aussie bubble) of finding a booking in managed isolation for our return.

And then as the travel date loomed, fear set in. Not the fear of flying, nor even the fear of the dreaded virus, but that fear that keeps you awake, night after night, dwelling on all the things that could go wrong. Each morning, as I opened my eyes, I would do a mental scan – am I okay, no signs of cold or flu? Is Peter okay… is that sneeze a portent of a reason to be refused travel?

Have I read the instructions right, filled in the right forms? Have I booked the right tests, from the right places, at the right times? Peak anxiety appeared when Peter’s “fit to fly” Covid test result didn’t come through at the same time as mine – another sleepless night, discussions of whether I would fly without him.

We made no plans beyond just getting to London. When Rob asked us what we’d like to do or see while here, he was met with blank stares. All our pre-departure energies had focused simply on being here.

And then, just like that, it was time to go. Fifty kilograms of checked luggage – how did that happen? Last time we visited London, we had 15kg, of which 3kg was chocolates and Marmite for Jenna. How a baby changes things!

Empty airports. Empty planes. Plastic gloves, Janola wipes, masks, hand sanitiser – super-careful about touching anything at all. Same-same, but different.

As I finally write this, five days on, relaxation is setting in. Alfie is simply gorgeous, and I would not have missed this for the world. Rob and Jenna were so very grateful to see us – on Saturday they celebrated leaving the house together without the baby for the very first time (it was only to get takeaway coffee, but still a milestone). We’re trying to help out, without taking over – they are doing a spectacular job of being parents.

We are still being super careful. London is learning to live with the virus – so different from the lockdown mentality in Australasia, where people are “free” but borders remain firmly shut, still targeting that elusive ‘elimination’. There will no doubt be time for more reflection on that in the next weeks and months, but meanwhile, I’m off to hug the baby!

Hopes (on hold) and dreams (delayed)

Hopes and Dreams.

The food on which the human spirit flourishes.

Is it any wonder then, in a time of deep despair;
a time of crushed opportunities and postponed plans

That even the spirits of those untouched by the plague,
they too are bruised if not broken
Or simply exhausted from the overwhelming effort of “holding it together”

That we have not, as one, returned from summer holidays
renewed, refreshed and reinvigorated
But rather with that lingering loss of the unfulfilled hope of being together

With the sense that the holiday was halfhearted, incomplete
made so by the gaps, the empty seats of those not with us
those stuck, and “holding it together” also, in other parts of the world
living under more of a cloud that we, the lucky ones

Life goes on (for the lucky ones, the careful ones, the ones that heed harsh warnings)
Family events, previously worthy of celebration (and not inconsiderable airmiles)
get on with it, without us

For much as we put our hopes on hold, and dream our unfulfilled dreams
yet we know that life itself cannot be put on hold
we must get on with it, and to do that we must hide our hurt
hold on to our hopes (but not too optimistically, and certainly without certainty)
and continue to dream our dreams

Because without them, our spirit will truly be crushed
Crushed under the weight of the expectation of fortitude
and the pretense of getting on with “life as normal”.

Haere Ra 2020!

Haere Ra 2020!

A year of the highest highs, and the lowest lows, often in the same moment.

We celebrated Rob’s wedding, with joy that he and Jenna were finally tying the knot and getting on with their lives.  And with sadness that we (and others they love) could not be there to celebrate with them. 

A socially distanced wedding in a London registry office, with the NZ whanau watching on Zoom in their pyjamas at 3am, will certainly be a story for their grandchildren!

We celebrated by getting all dressed up the next evening in our wedding outfits that should have been worn in Greece, to drink champagne and Zoom in to Rob & Jenna’s first morning as a married couple.

Speaking of future generations, we truly celebrated the news that a new grandchild, currently nicknamed “Bob the Baby” is on the way in London, and are looking forward (with caution) to visiting London soon after his birth in March.

We celebrated Pip’s fabulous new job, while lamenting the lost opportunity in her previous role that held so much hope and promise.  She’s now working for Amazon Web Services, which she refers to as the “biggest startup in the world”.

We celebrated that Howard continues to make a difference for disadvantaged children, through his role at Kids Can, the charity that provides shoes, raincoats and breakfasts to low decile schools around the country.

We celebrated Pip’s recovery (mostly) from Covid-19, acquired on a business trip to Washington DC so early in the year that NZ was not yet testing anyone who hadn’t been in China!  We celebrated that she managed not to infect anyone else, on the plane back to NZ, and at home – but continue to lament the long term effects on her health.

We celebrated both Pip & Howard, and Rob & Jenna buying and moving into new homes later in the year – and look forward to actually seeing the London property in 2021! 

We celebrated that our two gorgeous grandchildren here in Auckland took to distance learning like ducks to water, not only ploughing through their school work while mummy and daddy worked around their dining room table, but making time in their daily schedule for grandparent checkins while we were all in lockdown.  Their efforts this year were rewarded with academic prizes for both at end of year school prizegivings. 

We celebrated their musical talent, with family concerts on Zoom – they definitely don’t get that talent from our side of the family!  Guitars, ukuleles, flute, piano, and beautiful singing…  wow!

We celebrated that the companies that Peter and I work with have mostly survived, and that some have even thrived.  We celebrated the people in those teams that were willing to give it their all, despite paycuts, working from home and often precarious situations, to fight for those businesses to survive. 

We celebrated the founders and entrepreneurs who continued to innovate, and perhaps more so than ever, and the investors who wrote cheques to fund some of those startups, despite the dire situations around them.

We celebrated that science is suddenly “fashionable”, and that the public is perhaps starting to understand that it is indeed the only thing that will genuinely change the world.

We celebrated Christmas – that grinchy virus couldn’t stop Christmas from coming, after all!  It was smaller, more contained, and sadder than usual as we reflected on those we love who were having even smaller Christmases than us, in far flung places.

Mostly we celebrate that we have survived – not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and economically – to fight another round.  My great grandmother, the original “Ouma” in our family, used to say that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger – I think this is what she, who lived through both world wars, was talking about! 

So lest you think I’ve lost my mind, with all this celebration, on a more serious note, 2020 was also a year of discoveries, about others, and about ourselves.  I wrote this during our first lockdown, and I think it’s still as true as it was then…

“Lockdown”… In which I discovered that…

  • Circumstances do not make people (and companies) good or bad – they simple magnify their goodness, and their badness.
  • The people that I treasure as my very best best friends are so very different from me that it’s a wonder we even found each other, let alone that we want to be with each other.
  • Family is, was and always will be my absolute number one most important thing of all.
  • How it’s possible to die of a broken heart – that pain that comes from the emptiness inside of knowing that you simply don’t know when you will even be able to see and hug and enjoy the company of one so very dear to you that it simply breaks your heart.
  • Manaakitanga is that thing that defines me – without the ability to offer hospitality to others, friends, family whanau, I simply have no purpose in my life.
  • In business, in teams, in companies…  culture is laid bare for all to see only in a crisis
    how we act, how we treat each other is the most visible and palpable evidence of the cultures we have built in our teams in and in our businesses.
  • People are (mostly) good and kind.
  • People are (mostly) incredibly naïve, stupid and out of touch with the reality of how the economy works, and what it takes to create jobs, incomes and prosperity in our society (and this does not make them bad people, just stupid and/or naïve and/or poorly informed).
  • Fear is a super-effective motivator…  you can get people to follow the great leader with exactly the right mix of fear and adoration.
  • No one (at least in New Zealand) wants to buy into a strategy that includes “Granny will die” as an outcome…  thus, people are inherently good and compassionate (but/and happy to sacrifice jobs and the economy to save Granny).
  • Pressure makes people mean…  an inherent belief that suffering should be shared means that those who could / should be benefiting, growing new jobs and new revenue streams from the crisis, are pilloried for “taking advantage” of the situation – when in fact everyone is just doing what they can to save their businesses so that they can keep paying their people and feed their kids!

I also discovered that, although we say “it’s okay to say you’re not okay”…  the reality is that when you do that, the people around you are most likely to remind you of all the others who have much more reason than you to not be okay.  They think that’s helpful, that it will make you feel better, by reminding you how lucky you are. (And indeed, you are… lucky that is).

Thereby invalidating your feelings, and making you feel like a bad person for having those feelings. 

Which is definitely NOT OKAY!

So as we head into 2021, that’s my biggest wish.  That if you are not okay, you feel empowered to say so, and that those around you understand enough to support you, even if they can’t fix anything at all!

Go well, stay well…  and celebrate the small things in life, as well as the big ones.

Here’s to many more celebrations in 2021!

Best Christmas Present Ever!

Yo! Matthew!     Isabel G!

Let me tell you ‘bout two kids from Ellerslie
Harry Potter fans they professed to be
Christmas presents done, but one was left
Grandparents did not forget…

Lend me an extendable ear, then another ear
Take off a layer each – inside there’s naught to fear
A pass the parcel task, but what’s inside, you ask
A surprise within, we think will make you grin

Let me tell you ‘bout two kids from Ellerslie
Harry Potter fans they professed to be
Christmas presents done, but one was left
Grandparents did not forget…

Is it a magic wand, or favourite spell
Keep on opening, so you can tell
Perhaps a cloak of invisibility
Or Quidditch lessons it just might be

Let me tell you ‘bout two kids from Ellerslie
Harry Potter fans they professed to be
Christmas presents, but one was left
Grandparents did not forget…

Do not be distracted by the snitch
He’s tempting you to play quidditch
But inside there’s more fun it seems
Perhaps a butterbeer or some every flavour beans

 Let me tell you ‘bout two kids from Ellerslie
Harry Potter fans they professed to be
Christmas presents, but one was left
Grandparents did not forget…

You’re almost there now, you’re getting near
Best the adults all block their ears
The next reveal may make you scream
We hope it’s something from your best dreams

Let me tell you ‘bout two kids from Ellerslie
Harry Potter fans they professed to be
Christmas presents, but one was left
Grandparents did not forget…

Let me tell you ‘bout two kids from Ellerslie
Melbourne-bound they soon will be
The Cursed Child is what they’re going to see
With love from all four of your best oldies!

A note of explanation – this year Isabel and Matthew’s grandparents collaborated to give them a trip to Melbourne to see The Cursed Child!  We wrapped up the flight tickets and the theatre tickets in a “pass the parcel” style, with each layer revealing the next verse of the story…  they didn’t guess what was coming, even at the very end!

Is it ever okay to be the “best woman”?

This is a bit like that question which asks – “is it ever okay to love two women”. Defensively, the average attached man will so no, until you remind him of his two daughters! And so it is with the question of women’s awards – they sound okay, until you think about it.

If you’re a golfer, a swimmer, a weightlifter, tennis or rugby player, perhaps even a lawn bowler (though personally I think that’s questionable) – the answer is undoubtedly yes. Being the best woman in your field is the pinnacle of sporting success.

For in sport, we find many endeavours where women cannot compete with men on an equal footing – and that’s okay.

No question that it’s appropriate to have a Women’s Rugby World Champion Team, a women’s trophy at the French Open Tennis. Yet even in the sporting world, there are some sports where this is not true. Men and women compete equally in equestrian sports, for example – though this is one of very few examples I could summon!

The natural inference of all this is that having separate men’s and women’s competitions is an inherent admission of inequalities (generally, in terms of strength when it comes to sports).

So why then do we think it’s okay to have women’s awards in business, in entrepreneurship, in life in general. And why then are there no equivalent men’s awards?

Every time I hear that there’s a women’s award, I cringe – well, actually, I die a little inside, knowing that there is still a huge hill to climb before equality is no longer a goal, but simply IS. Being the best woman scientist, the best woman in tech, businesswoman of the year is not an award, it’s an insult – a veiled message that you’re good, but not good enough for the main stage. That you’re the supporting act, one of the sub-categories.

This may sound harsh – and I don’t mean to undermine the obvious achievement of the ‘women’s award’ winners – but think about it. The only place we routinely have a best man is at a wedding – and even there, he’s not there to be celebrated! Why then do we celebrate the best woman?

Ladies – it’s time to take a stand. No more women’s awards – except, of course, where you accept that men and women are inherently unable to compete with each other!

A reflection on perfection

I am not perfect.

Those who know me will quickly agree, though may be a little surprised at my level of self-awareness.  It is, of course, our flaws rather than our perfections that make us who we are, that set us apart and that make us (and our lives) interesting.

And so it is with patchwork.  The early Amish quilters used to make a deliberate error in each piece, for fear that their perfection would offend their God!  But fortunately, I not nearly perfect enough to have to worry about that.

Over the past few weeks, I have been working, intermittently, on a small baby quilt for a friend.  A simple piece – and if I’d spent all of my time on it, it would indeed be (a bit more) perfect.  As it is, it’s full of my love and joy, and a not inconsiderable number of unsquare squares, uncorresponding corners, unmatched seams, and uneven lines.

Oh well…

Now those who strive for perfection might say ‘what’s the point of imperfect points?’  An imperfectly pieced piece belongs in the bin – or so I’ve been told.

But I say this, lovely baby:  This quilt is a message about life.  A message that you do not need to be perfect to be beautiful, you do not need to be precise to be useful.  Enjoy your imperfections, celebrate them and let them be the warmth that sustains you and those whom you love.

Imperfections

2017 – a personal reflection on thankfulness

As we lounged on our picnic blankets in the icy wind at Christmas in Park, with thousands of other Aucklanders, young Matthew (still 5) pronounced “this year is nearly finished – I think we should all say what our best thing was this year, I’ll start”.  Ever the conversationalist!

For Matthew “my first year at school” was the very best thing – a year in which he joined the ‘big boys’ and truly embraced formal learning, and all the fun of being part of a rambunctious real boys’ school environment.  Taking away the academic prize for his class (and a stellar school report highlighting a talent for languages) rewarded just one side of this multifaceted young man, with his physical talents shining through on the rugby (and apparently also cricket) field, in the pool and in the advanced trampoline squad at the gym club. matthew-year-1.jpg

Isabel too had a big year of a very different kind with half the year literally consumed by the harsh reality of leg-lengthening surgery, to add what sounds like a scant 4cm to her originally 10cm long left thigh bone (actually a 40% increase in bone length!).  Her sheer courage and determination shone through, along with her extreme obstinacy (wonder where she gets that from?) – and was recognised in the award at her school of the overall school prize for Resilience & Perseverance.  The trophy is almost as tall as she is!

Izzy's award

In truth, at least part of the recognition goes to her mum, dad and brother, who have taken this journey with her every step of the way – we will all celebrate with them on 17th January when the steel brace currently piercing flesh, muscle and bone, is removed and she can get on with all the things she loves doing.  I believe there is a long list – headed up with going to the beach, climbing a tree and jumping on the trampoline (the latter may have to wait a little longer while the bone strengthens!)

A big year for both grandchildren – and yes, I am thankful for having them both in our lives, and truly thankful that they have parents who not only love and nurture them, but teach them the importance of independence and courage, and the value of family.

best-kids.jpg

To Pip and Howard – you make us so proud.  We too celebrate your ‘best of 2017’ – a promotion for Pip in her roller-coaster job with a tech startup company (which is technically well beyond the ‘start-up’ phase of its life); and Howard’s gig as manager of the New Zealand AFL team to the world cup in Australia (and that his day job enables him to do these sorts of things!).   I am so thankful that you two found each other, celebrated your 10th wedding anniversary this year, and make such an awesome team.

pip & howard

I am thankful for Rob and Jenna – that they too have found each other, visited us for Christmas, and so very clearly make each other happy.  I love that you’re enjoying life, are happy in your work, and give us a reason to visit London regularly!  Of course, I’d love it even more if you were closer to home…  just saying.

23967152_1950773145139968_5170099412642299904_n1.jpg

At the other end of the age spectrum, I am so thankful for a year with mum, for being able to see her every day now she’s living in the back part of our house, and for the difference that her little dog Amber has made to her quality of life.  It’s never easy for a mother and daughter to live together – but boy, does it beat any of the alternatives!

mum-happy.jpg

Christmas dinner for 40 people – all seated in our dining room – was a massive highlight of my year, and I’m thankful for not only our wider family, but our very good friends who came, ate, drank and were merry.    Having good friends who know you, understand you and are there for you no matter what is indeed one of life’s great blessings.

It’s been a big year for me and Peter too – Peter told Matthew that his best thing was discovering he still has what it takes to make a difference in business, as he volunteered to take over as CEO of a lingerie company that we’ve invested in, that needed a guiding hand.  Not that any one of us ever doubted his capability – and it is awesome to see the results he’s achieving with his tiny team, as they drive for growth in online sales (and Peter learns a whole new language of e-commerce jargon).   Apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Who would have thought he’d end up running a bra business in his retirement.  Our dinner party conversations have taken on a whole new flavour!  And so I am thankful that he is (mostly) enjoying the new challenges that this job brings – and also for the fact that it hasn’t stopped us from continuing to enjoy lots of travel and other fun times in our retirement.

While I am immensely thankful that we live in New Zealand, I am equally thankful that we get to go adventuring in the wider world as well.  Cycling in Greece in September, with a side visit to London, was so much fun.  A study tour to China in October, to get a sense of their high-tech revolution was eye-opening and inspiring – and a reminder that travel expands the mind (not just the waistline!), even the old minds like ours!

zino trip 2

For me the year has been one of consolidation – stepping away from some of my roles to focus on those where I feel I can truly add value.  A diverse portfolio of young company boards and mentoring roles still keeps my brain working – and gives me good reason to at least try to “keep up” with the changes in the world.  The recognition of my contribution to angel investing in New Zealand, with the award of the Arc Angel NZ trophy in November, was a massive surprise – and renewed my determination to continue doing what I can to support start-up company founders to grow great global businesses from here in New Zealand.  I am thankful for the entrepreneurs that I work with, for their drive and their courage – and thankful that I have a small bit of experience to contribute to their journeys.

In the words of a very good friend (and no doubt some other famous person)… HOW LUCKY AM I?

They say you make your own luck – and that is in part true.  I believe that luck follows gratitude;  and that to feel truly lucky, you have to appreciate the positives in whatever life throws at you.  For many people, in my family, my community and the wider world, 2017 has not been a great year, yet even through the stories of tragedy and great harm, there is always a story of courage and resilience that shines through as well, and a reminder for the rest of us that things could always be so much worse than they are.

So here I stand, feeling thankful, blessed and yes, a little bit lucky, on the cusp of 2018 – my 60th year.  Surrounded by close and distant family (a truly kiwi whanau), great friends, appreciation and love from those around me and opportunities to make a difference in my little part of the world…  indeed, how lucky I am!

(PS.  Thank you to Don, Jenna, Pip and Rob for fabulous photographs used in this post!)

 

 

My husband has never bought me a bra…

Almost 40 years married, that’s over 100 gifting occasions, and no lingerie in sight!

BUT he did buy me shares in bra company, which is like having the key to the cookie jar.  It’s a great excuse to buy new bras – after all, as an owner, I need to test-drive the product.

Seriously though, the evidence shows that I am not alone;  that most women would love their partner to buy them lingerie, yet few ever do.  My Rose & Thorne “Bra Census” – this year digging into women’s bra stories in both Australia and New Zealand – confirmed yet again that husbands, partners, lovers are missing a trick in the gifting stakes.  Just 14% report that their partners buy them lingerie (albeit with mixed success), compared to a whopping 60% who would love it if they did!

partner lingerie buyins

So I’m sending a message to the MEN out there – this is a bra story for you!
(I’m assuming that if your partner is a woman, she already knows to buy you bras)

Sure, there are some who women who reject the idea of lingerie as a gift – but hey, that’s probably because they don’t think there’s much chance getting it right – after all most women are wearing the wrong size anyway, and that’s based on what they choose for themselves!

But look at the odds – chances are that most of us are in the majority, women secretly hankering after that thoughtful bundle of silky softness and support.

And seriously, given that we’re the ones usually buying our men their socks and underwear, wouldn’t it be awesome if they returned the favour occasionally?

Tomorrow is my birthday….  just saying!