So What Stops Us? Don’t Cry Over Spilt Milk

breakfastsmI was laying on the couch in our bus, headphones on, listening to some great music feeling the warmth of the sun thinking about the day ahead. Out comes a blurry eyed Judah with the intention of enjoying his morning ritual of Nutragrain and milk. I watched with a smile on my face as my 6 year old begins the process of preparing his favorite breakfast. Bowl out, cereal in, then the milk from the fridge. We use milk powder, just one of those more convenient things in a bus, so our milk is in a large glass jug. Milk poured and it’s time to eat. Judah decided there wasn’t quite enough milk in his bowl so off for a top up. Milk comes out again, topped up cereal, then as he turns to put the milk away it slipped from his hand and we had a white river running down the isle of the bus.

I was so impressed watching my 6 year old son taking responsibility for his life in the form of preparing his own breakfast every morning and probably the fact I was also still half asleep that it took me a moment to register what had just happened. Once it had sunk in that we had a wee milk disaster on our hands I realised I had a choice at that moment. I had the opportunity to respond or react. The tears came as Judah also came to realise the extent of the problem. So I quickly got up and encouraged him and said hey let’s grab a towel and we’ll get this mess cleaned up, no worries! We got the mess cleaned up, Judah had a great breakfast and is now playing nicely with his sister with expectation of a great day ahead.

I sat back down and thought about the event and how things may have turned out if I had reacted instead. Judah! What on earth do you think you are doing! Now you have spilt milk ALL over the bus and I have to clean it up, YOU need to learn to be more responsible, and what on earth were you thinking trying to get the milk out yourself! Mmmm maybe this is what they mean by don’t cry over spilt milk?

So what if that was my response? I wonder how Judah would have felt tomorrow morning when he thought about getting up to prepare his breakfast. I wonder how that would contribute to they way he feels about trying new things and wanting to grow and build confidence and begin to feel like a big boy now.

I’m sure if I had reacted this morning he would have been fine, been upset for a while then eventually got on with the day. The thing is what if I react like that often, I wonder how long it would be before his confidence began to wain and he began to stop those small growth steps of making breakfast at 6 and taking responsibility for himself.

It made me think how often I can look at situations and see the worst, the one thing that went wrong rather than the several other things that went right.

Recently I had a go at launching a new website which I am very excited about. I am one of these people that think, you never know unless you have a go. I’m a bit of an ideas person. Within two days of putting my website live it had a really good response and is slowly getting momentum. Then it came the first comment from a “well meaning person” about yea it’s a good idea but… Even after I responded they felt the need to point out another reason it wasn’t so great. At this point again I find myself having to make a choice. I have always struggled finding confidence in the things I do and you will find a few unfinished projects behind me. Some for the right reason others because of allowing myself to be influenced by what others may have said that chipped away that little more at my confidence to try new things and take myself out of my comfort zone.

My decision was to once again respond politely to the comment made about the website and remain excited about the potential and I am sitting back watching the website grow. I could have been shaken by the comment but instead I decided that sometimes people will just continue to see the things that are wrong with something rather than the several things that are right.

See it took all of a minute to clean up the milk in the bus this morning and to have a son who walked away with his confidence and dignity intact and I am pretty sure he will be up bright and early again tomorrow morning ready to give it another go knowing that if things do go wrong, it’s ok. And most likely he will be that bit wiser tomorrow and get a better grip on the jug. A lesson learnt from what some would see as a failure.

I really believe we need to see the mistakes our children make as a great opportunity to see them grow into healthy confident kids, teens, adults and this starts with us encouraging the good and the not so good when attempting to be responsible for their lives. That they come to realise it’s ok to make a mistake as long as we use it as an opportunity to learn. So when they are adults they will have no problem trying new things without the fear of failure and what follows, but instead see those failures simply as a stepping stone to getting it right.

The same can be said for us as grown ups, don’t let that fear of failure, or what people may say, or the fear of embarrassment if it all goes belly up stop you from pursuing the things you deep down wish you could be doing. I don’t know what your childhood was like, but if you had one of those ones where you just couldn’t get it right, it’s time to start spilling the milk and feel ok about it :) Now go make some breakfast!




I Burnt My Feet

hw3Wednesday morning, the bus starts up and we head out of the Cathedral Cove car park with the usual stares at a little car trailing behind the bus. Funny site this morning as we were leaving Hahei. Two hitchhikers on the side of the road with their thumbs out. They put them down when they saw our bus assuming we wouldn’t be able to stop to pick them up where they were standing. Next minute one of them catches a glimpse of a small car coming up behind us and the thumbs go up again then a total look of bewilderment as they realise no one is at the steering wheel. Love our little tow car.

Off we set to dig holes, Hot water beach here we come! Arriving nice and early we got a great spot to park the bus, relax for a bit, then headed down to the beach.

It was a funny site watching as people began to gather and take their place on the sand with shovels in hand in wait of the low tide. People seemed uncertain at first as to where or when they should start digging. I watched one man standing on the shoreline with his feet buried in the sand so decided to go say hi and see if his toes were toasty. Burying my feet next to his I had to remove them quickly as they reached the hot spring water under the sand and felt like they had been burnt. It was an unusual experience to be standing in the cold waves of the ocean and feeling the sensation of very hot water only inches below the sands surface.

More people began to show curiosity and slowly made their way closer to ask if the water was warm. Fun to watch their reactions as you encourage them to bury their feet next to yours and they feel the heat.

Once people began to hear our chatter about the hot water they began to converge shovel in hand and the dig was on!…..Then it got interesting.

I quickly worked out by noticing patterns in certain places of the sand where you were going to find the hot water. Patterns caused by the hot spring coming to the surface. People were madly digging, then I began to notice something. Listening to the chatter of several different languages you soon worked out that some were getting excited about the hot water while others made sounds of disappointment as they continued to dig cold pools of water literally a foot away from the others. We managed to dig right on top of one of the places the hot water was surfacing which made it too hot for us to dig. We began digging next to our original hole finding cold water to flow into our hot pool.

A small crowd quickly gathered around us asking how we found the hot water, I think having a kiwi accent people assumed we knew all about the beach. Some people caught on quickly and found their hot spots while others still dug in frustration trying to find theirs.

Our biggest problem was we didn’t have a shovel so I was burning my fingers trying to dig our hole deeper while the people next to us had a shovel but kept producing cold water. I suggested we connect our holes so they could benefit from our hot water but then all our hot water started to disappear as it drained into their hole. Problem solved, I asked to borrow their shovel so we could get our hole deeper, yay for collaboration! Then it began, others started to connect holes and share water to get the right temperature so everyone could begin to enjoy the experience. Then others came up with great design ideas for placing sand to get the best results of capturing and sharing water. By the end we had quite the community going on with all enjoying the company of others. Connections were made, people were laughing, and a new community was born!

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Be it for a moment it was great to sit back after we had enjoyed our little hot pool and observe how people were working together to produce the desired result, not just for themselves but for everyone involved.

This got me thinking about or lives in general and how most of the time everyone is trying to build their own life and there own space. Some do well and become very successful but usually at a price. Others seem to struggle and continue to dig up cold water. The saddest thing about both is neither of them will ever connect and possibly find a better way to do things. To collaborate and produce a life where everyone is laughing and enjoying the experience.

I wonder what our country would look like if we were to begin to connect more, to bring together our ideas and strengths. Building a real sense of community. I think Hot Water beach will be one of those experiences I will never forget and how much fun it was to briefly connect with others and enjoy a common goal making the experience great for everyone involved.

Were there barriers? Yup the most obvious being language, quite a mix of tourists from all over. Did it stop us for connecting? No, to be honest the variety actually made it even more interesting and fun.

I look at our country and there are so many barriers, different cultures, wealthy and poor, religion, and the list goes on. It’s almost sad that we feel we have to stick to our own. I would love to build a giant hot water beach and invite everyone in New Zealand to gather!

One of the best things with travelling is the people we meet. Living in a bus seems to pull down any barriers and it has been an amazing privilege to connect with all the people we have. People we never normally would have otherwise.

Here’s a fun idea, this week maybe go out and connect with someone you never normally would (heck really go mad and find someone living in a car and take them home), invite them for a meal and just hang out, you just may be pleasantly surprised not only how much fun it is but they may just be the people you need to meet right now to move forward with your next step in life. I really believe it is time to build a true sense of community in this country and begin to collaborate and create a new way to enjoy life.

One thing I have learnt is we can continue in life believing it owes us and becoming victims and playing the blame game or we can begin to build a life where people come together and build something of value that everyone will not only enjoy but benefit from. One that will benefit our future. Start digging!

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I Had No Idea What I Was Doing

duckyOne minute I was sitting in the bus catching up on emails, next minute I was knee high in mud saving ducklings. We recently had the great privilege of getting to park our bus at some friends place who live off grid. (Check out Lucy’s blog here).  It was coming into evening and I was sitting in the bus with my laptop on my knee relaxing enjoying the environment catching up on emails when Rowan called me over. I did say, “hey if you guys need a hand with anything…” Next minute I am trying to negotiate my way over an electric fence with the kick of a mule to attempt landing on the grassy patch on the other side next to a muddy mozzie ridden creek. Yea well so much for a dignified landing on the grass bank as it begin to give way underneath me and my feet sinking into a warm gooey creek bottom and feeling my jandals embed there way deep down with no hope of returning with my feet as I lift my leg to attempt an escape.

Now trying to follow direction to help catch some ducklings I stand on the bank causally waving a stick around trying to encourage the ducklings into Bex’s hands while everyone else is diving head first full of commitment into the muddy abyss to ensure no loss of life for these wee fluffy balls of cuteness. I felt completely out of my element, yet the experience was one I won’t forget and the feeling of satisfaction knowing I had contributed in some way to seeing these wee things live another day.

This got me thinking about all the experiences we have had since being on the road. I realised how much each one has contributed to my new lease of life. How I laugh more often, and feel good about moving outside the world I knew, beyond the realms of my comfort zone. I relised how far I had removed myself from the feeling of achievement and sense of adventure. I was curious, are new experiences good for us in some way? Can they benefit our health and wellbeing? The answer is yes!

It has been shown that new experiences can be beneficial in combating anxiety and depression along with building self esteem. It can increase our sense of happiness and achievement. It builds our self confidence and enables us to take on even greater tasks and accomplish more in life.

I remember when I used to jump out of planes from 10,000ft in the clouds and the sense of being able to do anything I put my mind to. A few years later I traded that for a safe life and fear began to take it’s place. I was going to say undeserved place, but I had let it in by playing life safe and settling for a good life rather than an extraordinary life. Even the hiccups from experiences can produce positive results. I remember my eighth jump, a day I will never forget. I remember getting to the dropzone and packing my parachute and the jokes we were making about it not opening, I remember getting in the plane and thinking I needed to get out (it even had to stop for a while on the way to the runway to allow another plane to land), dismissing the thought we took off. I remember getting to 5,000 feet looking out the window and thinking, anything could happen out there you just don’t know. The door opened the wind rushed in and the plane lined up for the jump run, the engine buttoned off. It was my turn to climb out the door, combating the usual brain overload of natural survival I made my way out to the door with my legs hanging, my hands on the door frame then out I went. I reached for my rip cord counted to 5 then checked my chute, I distinctly remember looking at it and thinking yup all good. Then my brain engaged and I looked again and thought, that doesn’t look right. I had what they call a bag of washing, meaning my parachute was just a big knotted up ball of ripstop nylon and was not filling with air. Everything went into slow motion yet happening in a matter of seconds. I remember talking to the cut away handle and rip cord for my reserve chute saying, “I need to pull you and I don’t want to”. Pretty much over if that one doesn’t decide to open. I remember reaching for it, pulling and arching like I have never arched before, staring out to sea and feeling the adrenaline rush through my body as I look up with absolute relief to see this tiny blue square of nylon cloth spread wide above my head. That landing was the closest I have ever got to the dropzone target.

Some would say that was a bad experience and why even try skydiving, it sounds way too dangerous. Yet this is an experience I would never trade. First off how many people can say I jumped from the clouds, I got to fly relying on a piece of material to land safely on the ground after travelling at 200km an hour towards the earth. (My instructors called me a steam train due to my generous body mass allowing terminal velocity to arrive quickly for me). The thing is after this experience I found myself with a whole new level of confidence and began to apply myself to things I would never have tried before. It was an amazing stage in my life where I went out and tried so many new things.

You know in life we can have times our parachutes fail, something happens and it allows fear in or brings us to a place of playing it safe. We all have disappointments that can cripple us in a sense and keep us from ever pursuing the things we dream about. I had a choice after my parachute failing, I could hang it up and say well at least I gave it a go and walk away knowing I have been beaten, or I could hop back in that plane and try for a better outcome next time. Statistically it was very unlikely for that to happen again. I did do 5 more jumps that went amazing before heading off on my big OE.

For so many of us somewhere along the track we may have forgotten our sense of adventure and the feeling we used to get from trying new things. Maybe you had a parachute failure of some kind that has held you back from the life you imagined you would have. Maybe starting a business that failed and put you in debt, maybe you dreamed of being a musician but someone laughed at your ability to play an instrument. Whatever it may be, my advice would be pick it up again, have another go. Learn from the reasons it failed the first time or maybe the second or third. If you gave up walking the first time you fell as a toddler you would still be sitting on your butt at your parents house with a very narrow view and understanding of the world around you. But you didn’t, you tried again and again because that is what you were naturally designed to do until you walked. That hasn’t changed, you are still designed to try again until you are flying.

My encouragement to you? Try something new this week, take yourself outside your comfort zone and that thing you have been thinking about giving a go? give it a go! The view is so much better when you are flying!

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