Monthly Archives: September 2010

Words of Wisdom for the New Arrival

Today I wrote a card for a friend who has just had a new baby. I wanted to offer some sage words of advice for this wonderful new human, and it got me to thinking – if I could sit with him today and tell him the top 5 most important things I have learned at this moment in time, they would be this….

1. Don’t take yourself too seriously. You are indeed a wondrous, rare and precious miracle – as is every other wondrous, rare, precious and miraculous human being on the planet. Love them all as much as you can – 99.9% of them are inherently good – they are all, at times, a little bit lost and often confused, as you will be too. But provided you can remember not to take yourself too seriously, you will find your way. And with good humour, and a heart filled with love, you just might help a great number of those other rare diamonds find theirs too.

2. Perspective. Gain it wherever you can, and judge nothing until you have considered it. Every view of the world is unique to the observer. You will feel intensely right at times, yet viewed from another’s perspective; you may find that a fact is more of a mirage, than a solid object. You may learn that you can also not be exactly right about all things, and that your opinions, like the wind, can change. Always be open to this, as the world will change around you every single day. Be ready to dance to her evolving music. Life may be a foxtrot one day, and a tango the next. Don’t be stuck in a place, or perspective, that no longer serves you.

3. Everything isn’t your responsibility. But be responsible for every action you take. Don’t take the world on your shoulders, as it isn’t your load to bear alone. Sometimes it is OK to ask for help, and it certainly is OK to say “No”. You are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness, but you are always responsible for how you handle their heart, in the process of the pursuit of your own freedom. Be kind to everyone.

4. The best things in life are free. From the moment you open your tiny eyes, we will be bombarding you with marketing campaigns to make you ‘want’. Society will demand that you ‘crave’, and your ego will demand that you ‘have’. When the screams of advertising become too loud, step outside and sit with your old friend Mother Nature. She bears you gifts every day of unbelievable abundance: the sea, the trees, a lake, the birds. Walk the streets and watch the people. A smile may befall you from a stranger, a tune from a street musician. Talk to an old man at your local library. Lie with your head next to an animal’s chest and listen to it purr. These free things will add more value to your life, and light in your heart, than any object you will ever buy. Feast on them.

5. This too shall pass. There will be days of great joy and days of immense sadness. All will pass. Days to come may surprise you, or delight you. They may break your heart, or light it up like a sky filled with fireworks. Let these come as they will, but don’t ponder them too much before arrival, nor dwell on them too long after their departure. Today is the day you should spend most of your time in. This moment right here, that you have right now, in the palm of your hand – this is your life, treasure it. Live every single moment with everything you have. For this too shall pass.

Vineyard’s Own Cure for the Flu

I started this blog from the confines of Lurgy Quarantine a couple of weeks back, as I was struck by the dreaded bug that seems to wreak havoc as the seasons start to change and tease us with promises of spring. I have been astounded by the numbers that were down with me over the last few weeks locked away in sickness, and by the innumerable modus operandi that this clever little virus uses on different people. For me it started with a sore throat – and I mean sore. Cut glass jammed in your tonsils and a bonfire at the back of the throat would be a good description. So it’s off to the chemist for Difflam, and Benatine throat gargle (that alleges to kill both bacterial and viral infections). I am sure I will be all sorted by tomorrow! By 5 o’clock that day, none of these things have made an ounce of difference, and I’m slugging ice and the ears feel like they are about to explode out the side of my head. So it’s off to another chemist, and after loads of sign language, (as it really is so bad that even words can’t get pass this throbbing red mass right now). Something for the pain, I manage to imply, and some Strepsil throat spray comes home with me. With the first spray, the only analogy that comes to mind for me is ‘pouring petrol on fire’. And I paid for this?? Finally, I realize that what I really, really need is a good old Nurofen hit.

I am almost at the point that I’d willingly mainline it, but thank goodness for the new fast acting stuff, I just drop a couple of tablets and about twenty minutes later- what a relief. Why is it that we think of all of these external cures, like lozenges and sprays and gargles, when at the end of the day, it’s what’s going on inside your body that is the problem. So my tip for you is – painkillers first. Well, this war is over I’m thinking as I finally sit back with a sigh of relief. A sigh that doesn’t make my throat bleed – you have no idea how heavenly such a simple thing can seem. A nice hot bath, a quiet night, and she’ll be right. Oh, how I underestimated you!

The next day, the chest infection starts. A bit of a cough builds up, and it becomes increasingly hard to breathe through the litres of liquid rubber that my chest seems to have produced overnight. It’s a wonderous thing the human body – it plans to drown the virus you see. Very clever. It’s just fails to understand that we will drown too if we lie down with this. And it’s not just trying to drown the bugs in my chest, but in my eyes and my nose, oh my goodness, it is flooding in here. Not sure if you’ll all remember the 80’s TV series “The Young Ones”? But right now, I feel like Neil in the episode where he was expelling so much gunge, his flatmates nailed a black rubbish bag over his head. It seemed so hilarious on the telly at the time. Poor Neil. I’m sorry I laughed, really I am.

So I manage to sort of sleep, sort of sitting up, for the next three nights. And then finally, it is back to the chemist – for the Codral Night and Day. I have to make a plea here – I am all for the John Key plan to eradicate the plague of P in this country. But John, you can’t take away my Codral Night and Day. Not unless you run a jolly good special on black rubbish bags, nails and good loving health care trained flatmates. I’d be doomed. Seriously.

Today, I finally relented and actually went back to bed for a nap. It lasted 5 hours. I feel like I’ve smoked half and ounce of pot my brain is so fuzzy. And I’m sure I still have enough rubber in my lungs to produce a couple of spares for the next Indy Car challenge. But I feel like I’m winning here. We don’t just have colds for a couple of days anymore. Colds like to behave like fine wine, They want time to ferment. Between one and two weeks it seems, just like wine again. Interesting! And during this time, yeast converts most of the sugars in the grape into ethanol (which is of course, alcohol) and carbon dioxide. Liquid is then transferred to vessels (just like from chest to face perhaps?).

Such similarities. I have decided to marry like with like. I am so totally repulsed now by the sickly sweetness of cough mixtures and throat lozenges, that I have decided to turn to the medicine of the gods. Wine and Whiskey.

So I’m now off to find a good heavy Cabernet Sauvignon. And of course science now agrees that resveratrol, a compound found in all red wine, will reduce the risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s. So it’s really a very positive thing. Thanks to this cold, I’ll now have some lovely red wine, and chances are, I won’t forget the name of it either! Splendid. So if you are laid up somewhere with the horrid bugs, just remember, that there really is a bright side to everything, and like good fermentation time, even flu’s come to an end. Hang in there, have a drink, and take the time out that your body is telling you it needs.

Gee you look a lot like…

 I have the sort of face that was never meant to be photographed.  Truly, you’d be lucky if 1 out of every 100 photos taken of me even resemble a human being.  I have large features, and they are not remotely symmetrical – which is apparently the foundation on which ‘beauty’ as we know it, is measured these days.  Perhaps many years ago, I would have been the perfect model for the great artists (certainly Picasso – in fact, I think God might have been having a day of dabbling with the Picasso look when he made me) and every year, I can certainly see that I am becoming more of a Rubenesque work of art than ever before. 

 But remarkably it seems that I have a face that always reminds people of lots of other faces.  For years I have been compared to Stevie Nicks, Charlene Tilton, and Kerre Woodham.  And at first I was rather miffed when people made these comparisons – not because these women weren’t all utterly fabulous, but because I was trying so damned hard to be like ‘Michele Harrod’, that I felt like all I was managing was to be a mere shadow of someone else.  And I was desperately wanting to make a far bigger impact that that. 

And I just couldn’t see the resemblances at all.  I wasn’t a great fan of Fleetwood Mac at all, so really hadn’t even seen many shots of Ms Nicks. And whilst I was a huge fan of Dallas, Charlene was just little Lucy, and I wanted desperately to be like Pamela.  And I had left for London when Kerre Woodham had first hit the scene on TV and Radio, so was really quite unsure whether to feel complimented or offended on that one.  When I got back to NZ, there were mixed messages out there in the world of media about Ms Woodham.  Which ‘one’ of her did people think I was like.  I was remarkably suspicious.  And the comparison was relentless.  I used to wonder, does Kerre Woodham ever get told – hell, you remind me of Michele Harrod?  It must drive her nuts!?   

I had the same wild curly hair and of course, now that Kerre’s book is out (From Short Fat Chick to Marathon Runner) I can completely understand – I am indeed a short fat chick.  And I do have a rather loud and distinctive laugh…   

I was recently clearing out an ancient chest, with my treasured childhood toys – my Rupert Bear, and Noddy and Big Ears Annuals, my matchbox cars, (that are still in that sturdy little cardboard bag with the metal handle that was later my first school bag), and my buidling blocks.  Really, it is quite incredible I never ended up a city planner, or in politics, with that sort of educational foundation!!  And there amongst this paraphernalia of the past, were years of photo albums.  As I was going through the photos, I stopped in sudden shock.  Oh my goodness, there was a photo of Stevie Nicks at one of our parties at the flat in London?  I don’t remember her being there?  Ha, I suddenly realised…. I really did look like her back then.  A lot.  You remember that really long frazzled hair we had back in the eighties, well before any decent product or my now revered GHD’s came into existence to get all of that wildness under control?  Wow, how cool, to have looked like the great Stevie Nicks.  I did have to laugh.

 And late last year marked the 5th birthday of the Sunday Herald.  Oh my, I can still remember the day the Sunday Herald was first published.  I had grabbed a copy and there was Kerre Woodham’s column.  This was when I began to really see who Kerre Woodham was.  And I remember reading it and actually yelling, YES, I totally agree!  I was almost exploding with pride.  She ‘speaks’ just like me, thinks just like me (or rather – I think just like her).  And I’ve been a converted follower ever since.  Her wit, wisdom, and wry rhetoric leaves me in awe.  So, needless to say, as time goes on, I feel truly honoured to be told that I remind people of Kerre Woodham.   In fact, I feel a bit like a fraud, like I have to step-up. 

 And to think I used to get miffed.   Sadly, now there is less and less chance anyone would spot any similarity.  I gave up with the long curly hair a few years back.  And the simple fact of the matter is – I’m never going to have the audacity – or the courage – to step up and run a marathon.  I believe I should get a gold medal when I get off my butt on a weekend and walk around Western Springs.  At least a bronze if I just nip round to the dairy and not take the car.  No, Kerre has surpassed my realm of ‘likeness’ and gone on to uber-fab.  And sadly, I feel a tad bereft.  

As a younger woman, evolving from the tom-boy that I was … (come on, surely you got that – Rupert Bear, matchbox cars and blocks?  There wasn’t a Barbie in site – I was like a little female Pinocchio – a lost cause on ever being a real girl) … I in all my arrogant and youthful glory, felt it rather insulting to be compared to other women.  Then the older I got, and the more wonderful female friends I acquired, my admiration and respect for these glorious creatures just grew and grew.  Suddenly I found there were role models that I was secretly aspiring to all over the place.  I was, for years, convinced that I would wake up at 32, and be just as dignified and graceful as my heroine of the time, Princess Di.  But alas, not one iota.  Still far more like the husky, bolshy, loud, power packed bomb-shells that are Stevie/Charlene/Kerre.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

 I’ve crossed over to the ‘dark side’ now– out of the perfect thirties, and into the forties, where everything that we once thought so important starts to literally drop off, like old ceramic tiles that can no longer cling to the bathroom wall.  And at last you realize, that all the regrouting in the world is not going to restore this bathroom to its former glory.  It’s time for a total makeover.  Finally I have quit the fantasy that I will attend Yoga and Pilates classes 7 times a day and end up with a body like Gwenyth.   And there is nothing sad, or sorry about this transition either.  I can’t tell you what an enormous relief it is to finally not have the pressure of having to LOOK like someone else.  

 Now it’s all just about the being.  Being me, and finding ways of dong a better job of being just that.  Day after day.  And that’s where I am suddenly finding massive inspiration from all of these wonderful role models, all right there around me, shining like the glorious stars they are.

 So I’m watching you closely Kerre, you are leading the way.  And I have to confess, having seen Annie Whittle in ‘Four Flat Whites in Italy’ earlier this year, and having had the pleasure of immersing myself in Peta Mathias’s “Can We Help It If We’re Fabulous”, I am suddenly incredibly excited about the future.  I’m even excited about the concept of being 50 one day.  How utterly magnificent!  I have even considered trying on an outrageously floral Trelise Cooper dress, and have already purchased a pair of her gorgeous reading glasses.   Yes, really, I need reading glasses – I’ve finally made it!   

I’ve quit worrying about the bits of this body that I have tried viciously to change over the years without one iota of success.  When I’m out in public, I’m now highlighting the positive, and positively hiding the rest!    Those bits are MY secrets, and if you can’t see them, then I don’t need to worry about them.  How simple it has always been.   I’d heard that famous line – that women are like fine wine, and improve with age.  I can assure you, when you are young fresh Reisling, you think this is the biggest load of codswallop you have ever heard.  But as I pass from a lively Pinot Noir into a develping Merlot, I now cherish my continual improvement into a wonderfully rich port.

And look, I’m the first to admit, we ladies give up on it being ‘all about the looks’ simply because the ‘looks’ give up on us.  Nature is a vicious fiend who can strip your dignity down with one foul pull of gravity the minute you’re not paying attention.  And the fortunate ones amongst us, we leap off the beauty wagon and to that character train just as fast as our growing thighs will allow us.   Gravity ADORES character.  It seems to pull the sheath that we have kept it covered up in for years, (our skin perhaps?) out of the way so like a glorious flower, our true selves can emerge.  And then the real party begins.  So, the next time someone says…”gee, you know, you sure remind me of…..”, smile, and hope like crazy they are right!