Tag Archives: Happiness

And So I Said “Yes!”

Have a seat.  make yourself a nice cuppa.  Get comfortable. I’m going to tell you a modern love story.

Four years ago I got involved in a message board at a rather famous webcomic’s website.  I was playing games and posting about politics and generally being a typical citizen of the internet.  I made some friends and we all started hanging out together in an online chat room.  And it was there that I first started talking to my E.

 

I had just finished a long term relationship and was not looking for anything more serious than friendship.  He was still finishing up his Doctorate Thesis and wasn’t looking for anything past the end of school.  But we spent the nights and evenings talking about everything and anything.

 

Ideal vacations on a train through the outback, having dinner beneath the shadow of Uluru and counting the stars.  Singing songs from Broadway musicals and laughing when one of us (him) got the lyrics so horribly wrong.  This was all about three years ago. And then one night, something strange happened.  As we were saying out good nights so that I could sleep and he could make dinner, he slipped. And the words “I love you” came out of his mouth.

 

He panicked. I panicked. We both ignored it.  But then time passed and the words just seemed to be so very natural.  He slipped and said it again.  And then I slipped and said it back.  And then the whirlwind of absolute insanity happened.  Within months he was flying to the States from New Zealand to spend a week with me in DC. That time went far too quickly and we arranged to see one another in Seattle later that year.

 

And once that trip was over, my fate was sealed. It was only five months after having only spent three weeks total with him that I shoved my belongings into two suitcases and got onto the airplane to come to New Zealand.  I have been here for over 19 months and it’s like the time has both flown and stood still.  So much is happening in life that I could never have imagined.

 

Our happiness has only grown, our comfort is immeasurable, and our certainty unshakable.  So when we took the trip to the States this summer/winter it was not a surprise that he asked my father’s permission for my hand.  When we came back from the trip things continued as always.  But there was now an anticipatory excitement happening.

 

Then, about a month ago, I was daydreaming over rings online and E said to me, ‘let’s go out this saturday to look!’  So I found a few local jewelers that I liked their websites and found their addresses.  We went and spoke with a couple but the one gentleman in Devonport was astounding.  He was polite, professional, educational, and overall excited.  We left his store and looked around a bit more, but by the time that we got home, we knew that he was going to be the one.

 

So I started to tell E just what I wanted so hat he could call the jeweler, at which point E just told me to do it because I knew what I was talking about and he was clueless.  So I called and emailed the jeweler and we set up an appointment to come back and see him on the next saturday.

 

We got to his shop and he had spent his week searching for the stones for my ring.  I fell in love with them immediately.  E nodded and smiled and we decided on the ring and the setting. E and the jeweler settled on a two week period of time for the ring to be finished.

 

And so time passed. one week and then another. the days moved so slowly.  But then we got the emails from the jeweler.  Our ring was ready!  So this past saturday, October 20, we drove back to Devonport.  And my ring was there and it was gorgeous.  I tried it on and it fit absolutely perfectly.

 

And here is the next modern part.

 

I went to put the ring back into the box, so that E would be able to hide it and propose in his own time.  But he told me that I could keep wearing it, so I did.  We went and spent the afternoon with some friends at a campsite up north and then spent the rest of the weekend packing.  I kept offering for him to take it so that he could propose, but he kept telling me to leave it on. So I did.

 

And then, last night, after a particularly long night of playing Civilization 5 on the computer, we were getting ready to go to bed.  As we’re climbing tinto bed and settling into our customised cuddling positions, E said to me, “So I can’t think of how to make it a romantic surprise. I’ve been trying, but I just come up blank. So, do you want to get married?”

 

And so I said, “Yes!”

 

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Life Lesson Learned: Laundry Edition

So here I am, hanging out on my porch, well in the carport, hanging up my laundry.  See, I’d normally be on the porch, but it’s a touch windy today and the last thing I need is to have the laundry topple over (again!) onto the landlord’s daughters new flower bed.  Not good.  So instead, I’m going to take advantage of the carport’s wind-tunnel nature and put the laundry to hang in there, relying upon the not-quite gale force winds to dry my clothing.  Sure, they don’t get sunshine this way, but I also don’t spend most of my afternoon going out to pick them up off the deck and pick dried leaves and dirt from what were clean clothes.  And yeah, I could tuck them in the little space where E’s motorbike is parked, we get some sunlight there in the afternoons.  But the last time I did that and a big gust of wind came through, I was chasing the laundry down the driveway as the towels acted as sails for the Good Ship Clothing Drive that was careening towards the road.   Not a particularly fun way to spend twenty minutes.

 

So there I was, in the carport, hanging up the clothes when I came to this one shirt of mine in particular.  Now this shirt I’ve had for several years and it has seen it’s fair share of ups and downs.  It’s a gray shirt with an orange collar and orange sleeves and I got it from Old Navy, who knows how long ago.  It’s a comfortable shirt, well worn and well loved.  I use it mainly for around the house now and lazy weekends with nothing to do but relax with my man.  But today, something about this shirt made me stop as I was hanging it up.

 

I’m not sure if it was the voluminous amounts of fabric that were just not agreeing with me or the hangers.  Or if it was the somewhat stubborn seeming insistence that it would quite simply not stay on the hanger at all, thank you kindly.  But once I finally hung it up, I paused in my usual chore doing and looked at it.  Really stopped and looked at it.

 

“This shirt is huge!” I thought to myself, and half said aloud.  I turned it this way and that and then this way again, looking it over.  Now true, it was wet and it had just gone through a bit of a battle with me and the washer and a pair of pants that decided it was a great time to turn into an octopus, so it was slightly stretched out.  But no. Even accounting for that, the shirt was huge. Enormous. And that thought, of course, got me thinking other thoughts.

 

The shirt was a 3XL.  I bought it because it was comfortable to fit in.  It was nice and light, gave me room to breathe, but also room to hide. I never quite filled it all the way out, and I’m very glad for that, but I fit into it comfortably.  It was a nice second skin for me. The shirt allowed me to get service in almost every establishment I went into without really letting on just how fat I was. We were secret companions in an ongoing battle with reality.  And dammit, we were winning, my shirt and I.

 

But now, here and now, on this day, I am hanging up this shirt and it is huge. Giant. I could swallow a small child and not even notice it had eaten.  I remembered thinking the other night when I was wearing it, that it was almost like a nightgown, only a little shorter.  I looked down at the shirt that I was wearing today.  A black t-shirt. Nothing special, nothing amazing. Just one that came from those three packs of t-shirts from the Men’s department at WalMart.  it’s comfortable, not too snug, but also not too loose.  I could do my workout in this shirt if I needed to.  I can also do my dishes and still feel comfortable.  Just to make sure, I turned the shirt sideways slightly and I peeked a look at the tag.

 

XL.

 

Talk about your mind being blown.  It’s hard, sometimes, when you’re so close to everything happening, to really see the progress being made.  But I was standing there, obsessively staring at this old shirt of mine, not quite realizing that I was looking at the progress I had made.  I used to fit into that. Now, I fit into this.

 

I used to hide behind that fabric, now I’m starting to own this fabric. I used to wrap myself in security in that shirt, now I’m becoming more outgoing in this one. I did that. I beat that. I beat that old shirt.  And I’m starting to beat this new shirt as well.

 

I have a size large t-shirt hanging up in my bedroom.  It’s my Nanowrimo shirt that I bought last year.  It was way too small for me then, it’s still slightly too small for me now.  Next year, next year, It will be too big for me.  I have come so far, but I have still further to go.  But for the moment, I’m going to finish my laundry, and then have a cuppa tea.

 

Thank you, Grey and Orange shirt. Thank you.

Browns Bay

photo found here:  http://widescreenstuff.vndv.com/new_zealand/default.html

A view from the grass at Browns Bay

 

Today I spent a lovely day in Browns Bay.  The reason for my trip was quite mundane.  I had to get my fingerprints done in order to send in my FBI request for my background check for my next round of Visa applications!  Hooray! It’s that time again!  We are all so joyous, can’t you feel it?

 

Anyway.

 

After getting my prints done up I had the afternoon to wander around and enjoy the town.  And while I did not get into the residential areas of town, it’s still lovely.  It’s actually what I think of now when I think of small towns on the coast in New Zealand.

 

There’s a main street that has all of the shops and cafes, the little bakeries and chemists.  There’s the housewares store and the book store.  The camera shop and the pet shop.  And there’s the jewelry store and the cafes.  About half dozen cafes in all, not including the obligatory Starbucks.   There are offshoot roads that lead to more shops, including a wool shop with very friendly staff!

 

But just behind the row of shops is exactly what I think of when my brain ponders the East Coast of New Zealand.  An expanse of green grass, not too long, and a smattering of trees that leads right to a small drop of and poof, you’re in sand. And just there, a ways from the green grass, is the water.

 

The tide was out while I was there, sitting on the grassy knoll and looking out across the bay.  The sand stretches quite a ways when the tide is out, you could probably easily walk thirty or forty, or even fifty feet, out from ‘shore’ and still not be in too deep of water that you could not get back.  Since this was the first sustained ‘nice’ day in a while, everybody was out along the water with their kids and their dogs.  And tourists and visitors as well.   You could watch the dogs race along the beach, happily chasing one another, or a ball, or a stick three times their own size.  Or squawking unhappy seagulls.  Or you could lift your eyes a bit and marvel at how the light hitting the water changed the color so dramatically.

 

For most of the bay the water seemed to be that typical dark blue that most people associate with a large body of water.  Blue, not brown.  This is so far from the Atlantic Ocean and the East Coast of the US that the two are not even comparable. the only place that I’ve seen a coastline similar is Maine, and the water there is dark blue and brown and bitterly cold.  The sand in Maine is more like fresh rocks, and not quite sand.  Although the Beaches that I’ve visited so far here have been  full of their own rocks as well, and seashells too.  not the fragments of shells that we see in Delaware, but full shells, and gorgeous.

 

But I’m digressing.

 

The water changed to a brilliant cyan, almost aqua color as the light hit and played on it.  I think some of that also had to do with depth, because there were some areas within the turquoise beauty that held onto the deep blue of the wider water.  You could almost look and see just how far you could walk out, simply by the colors in front of you.  A bit further out, was the bright orange and red and yellow of somebody’s sailboat, enjoying this weather and the water.

 

And then further east still there is more land, you could look across and see the homes of those that lived high on the cliffs, and the shiny walls of a big business.  And ever present in the slightly southerly distance is Rangitoto.  That large volcanic island’s presence ever looming over the East Coast Bays Region (Kiwis are so awesome at naming things. Seriously), with a mix of magnanimous permanency and that subtle reminder that it’s still a volcano, and capable of just about anything.

 

But those are thoughts for the back of your mind, not the forefront.  No in the foremost part of your mind you’re sitting there, enjoying your tea or coffee, and the shade of the large pine tree, watching a small pit bull drag a stick three times his weight after his owners.  You’re looking out over the sand and the rocks and the waves and not thinking much at all.   Other than just how beautiful this place is.  And just how New Zealand this place is.

 

And how so very lucky I am to live here.

Getting Back Up

Hi!

 

Have you missed me?

 

Well life has been a series of busy lately, and while all of it has been fantastic, none of it really lends itself to being ‘blog-worthy’.  Or at least, not in a way that I can think of just yet.  So what has been happening in life down here in kiwiland?  Well, let me tell you.

 

A couple weekends ago two of our really close friends got married.  It was an absolutely fantastic day, the ceremony went off just as was planned and the Bride and Groom had a great time.  I was so very happy to be not only invited but to also be a part in helping them plan and get ready for their day.  Having only known them for a few months, it’s truly amazing just how close we’ve become.  I can’t express enough or in the proper words just how humbled and grateful I am to the pair of them for allowing me to spend time with them and share in their joy on that day.  Love you both R&K!

 

This past weekend, another pair of our friends moved into their new house! And we, of course, helped them move!  Now, I know that does not necessarily sound like a barrel of laughs, and it was some hard work, but it was also absolutely great.  We got to spend time with friends, help them move onto their next big step, and generally just enjoy everybody’s company.  And while helping them move, unpack, and settle into their new place, I had time to look back, reflect, and focus on just how far this life that I’m living now is to the ones that I’ve lived before.  Doing physical labor, but laughing and joking at the same time. Everybody coming together collectively to help out, and then sitting around a table (which is gorgeous!) for a well deserved dinner.  I am struggling to figure out if life gets better than that.   The house is gorgeous, the couple fantastic, and our time spent together equally precious.  Congrats R&E!

 

What else, what else.

 

The job hunt is not so much a hunt as it is shooting arrows wildly into the forest in every direction, only to have them shot back at you with no points and no fletching. Not helpful.  But! perseverance will prevail!  Employment will be gained! Somehow.

 

Now, the biggest new thing happening to me personally is that I’ve committed to a Personal Trainer. Tom is going to be kicking my butt left, right, and sideways twice a week for 45 minutes.  After 7 months at the gym, and a significant amount of body tightening up, It was time to get even more serious.  I’ve got weight I want to, must, lose and it’s not going to come off on it’s own.  And while I’ve stuck with going to the gym at least twice a week for 7 months, I need something more. I need to keep pushing myself even more, harder than before.  I must lose this weight.  The rest of my life depends upon hitting that healthy moment and then keeping going.  And that’s not an exaggeration.

 

Today was my second session with Tom and everything went well.  Really well, actually.  But it was the last ‘exercise’ that got me into a contemplative mood.  Essentially all I had to do was lay down on the ground on my chest and then stand back up again five times, and then lay on my back and get up again five times.  Sounds simple, right? Wrong.  It was definitely not easy.  There was so much involved, just so much energy and movement and muscles.  It was by far the hardest exercise that I did.

 

Just like life.  It’s fairly easy to get knocked down time and time again.  It’s the getting back up that’s the hardest part.  And all of this, the man who is supporting me, the friends that I’ve found and love, and the gym, this is all part of me getting back up off the ground.

 

And this time, I’m going to remain standing. And then, start running.

Knotty Knotty

I’m a tangled up Puppet…

 

I’ve been humming that song for a few days now, while sitting on my couch, surrounded by my new stash of yarns, while my Finished Projects pile up more and more on a shelf in the bookcase.

 

I’ve taken up Crochet again, and this time, it feels serious. I’ve learned new stitches, I’m finding it a bit easier to read patterns, and I’ve finished probably as many projects in two weeks time than I think I’ve started in three times as many years.  It’s finally all making sense in my head!  It is seriously quite exciting!

 

So if anybody was wondering just where I have been, and why I have not been posting as much as I was, it’s probably due to the fact that I’m on the couch, West Wing playing in the background (or Mad Men), buried under a pile of wool and acrylic yarn twisting and knotting my way to new and exciting objects.

 

I’ve been working on hats, I’ve finished up a small bowl, I’ve even got a trivet!  two shawls, a scarf, 4 headbands (two with flowers), and an evening bag!  A baby blanket and a baby hat, and an adorable stuffed snake!  I’ve got one more hat underway at the moment, and a new shawl in the making.  And after this, who knows?

 

I am getting good at this!  And I am enjoying it so much!

 

Oh and on top of the crochet, I’ve got a garden underway on my porch! Mainly herbs, but I’m also growing lettuce and spinach as well!  But that is a post for a later time.

 

I have to get back to my crochet! There’s a deadline for the shawl that I’m working on right now! I want it to be done in time for a wedding that’s in 2 weeks! Yikes! So it needs to be finished soon.  So that if I don’t like it, I have enough time to find another pattern!  I’ve done this once already.

 

This is possibly turning into a serious obsession for me.  Which is dangerous!  But oh so much fun!

Botany 10k Walk

Yeah.  You read that right.

 

10k.

 

Just about 6 miles.

 

And I did it. I set myself the goal and I completed it. Smashed it. Demolished and obliterated it.  I looked my goal in the face and I scared it into the atmosphere.

 

After crying, and whimpering and almost quitting, of course.

 

The day started out cloudy and overcast.  When we got to the race venue (which is really just a large mall/shopping center) we could see that a huge amount of rain had already come through earlier, and the sky looked to be promising more.  It was a bit brisk for a summer morning and the air was damp and humid.  So not the best thing to be walking in, but better than clear blue skies and sweltering heat.

 

The race started at 9am on the dot, there were just over 600 people there men, women, and children.  There were folks with their babies in strollers, a gentleman in a wheelchair and a father and his special needs son in a stroller.  And me.  I started off strong, matching my pace with a pair of older ladies and just keeping up.  but they soon passed me, and then more and more people passed me.  But that was alright, I was fine.  I knew that there were still people behind me.  I made it through the first 3k without any problems.

 

It was around the 3.5k mark that things got difficult.  My feet were hurting, my back was aching my knees wanted to give up.  I started to cry. I could not believe what I was doing to myself. What in the world had seeped into my brain to make me think that I had anywhere close to a chance to doing a 10k walk?  I hadn’t even hit the halfway point and I was ready to die.  How could I go around and do it again?  And then, just as I was hitting the absolute bottom of depression, the knowledge in my mind that I just could not do this thing anymore, E was there.  He had found the 4k point of the race and was waiting for me with fresh cold drinks (powerade) and encouragement.  I stopped my crying, picked my head up, and instead of turning into the finish line, I kept on going straight to start the next lap.

 

I was alone.  Completely and utterly alone.  There were no more walkers in front of me that I could see and try to match with them.  And turning around I was completely by myself.  I could see nobody.  It was just me and this course.  And the cones.  And the cars.  And so I turned up my music and I walked. And I walked. And I walked some more.  I cursed and I yelled and I chided myself.  I hated my life and everything that I was doing but I kept on moving.  Had to keep moving.

 

Got to the water station and looked at the kid behind the table, I jokingly told him that I thought I was last.  He confirmed that I was.  He told me to take a break, take a rest, have some water.  But I had to keep going, I had to keep moving.  I couldn’t stop, not even for a brief breath and some water. If I stopped moving then, I would have stopped completely.  And so I moved on.  Full of the knowledge that I was the very last person out of 600+ to be out on the course.  The very last.  Everybody was waiting on me.

 

And even that knowledge, and the fact that I knew that I would show up last and everybody would know that I was completely incapable of doing this, did not slow me down. I kept going, kept moving. Singing and dancing and walking and cursing and crying.  I was soon joined by one of the race helpers, those blessed people who get up early to stand along the route of the race and cheer you on in their bright orange vests.  She joined me to ostensibly keep me company, but also to keep an eye on me and make sure I didn’t collapse.  Also, my own personal traffic cop.  Because there were still intersections to get through and cars to avoid.  Let me tell you a personal traffic cop is a handy thing to have when all you can do is concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.

 

One kilometer to go and there was my E again, waiting with yet another cold drink and more encouragement.  So for the last kilometer of the race I walked with E and this orange-vested race lady.  It was quite something.  And as I got closer to the finish line I was greeted by more race personnel and they all offered congratulations and adulation on my continued effort. I was last.  But I had still made it that far.

 

I turned down the roadway towards the finish line and as soon as I appeared in that area the remaining racers and their friends and family all erupted into cheers and applause.  The MC of the event, a guy from the local radio station, announced to everybody that I was coming down the home stretch.  He announced me by name.  And the applause and congratulations and approval got even louder as I crossed the finish line and the clock stopped.

 

2:00:41

 

I was hurried over to a chair where the race workers took off my bib and put it into the box for the spot prizes and they removed the timing chip from my shoe for me.  I was then allowed to move into the crowd, where even more people offered personal congratulations on completing the race, and they decided to do the spot prizes and the big prize drawings.  Oddly enough, we were joined by some friends.  They had done the 5k run and had no idea that I was even there, but they heard my name over the speakers and were surprised and happy.  The prizes were awarded and then we left to go home.

 

I hurt. My entire body was aching and I could barely form complete sentences. But I had finished my goal, beaten it to the ground.  I had told myself that if I could finish this race in under 2.5 hours, I would be happy.  I blew that expectation out of the water.  And I was still alive and still breathing.

 

The applause from the other participants was the biggest mix of emotions that I have felt in some time. Pride in my accomplishment. Shame in how long it took me. Embarrassment at the attention. Guilt that it took me so long and everybody was waiting for me before the event could move on.  But mostly just relief that it was over. And then pain.

 

It’s two days later and I can say that even though I have blisters on both feet and my ribs ache as though I’ve been dry-heaving for days, I am glad that I did it.  I set myself a goal and I achieved that goal.

 

Now, I rest a bit, get my feet healed, and then back at the training.  I’ve got another big race coming up next month!

 

This one’s only 8.5k though.  Only. Hah!

Achievement Unlocked: New Visa!

So last night, I checked my email before going to bed, and there was a nice email from Immigration New Zealand, saying that my status had changed.  So i logged into their website and sure enough, it said “Work Visa January 2013”

WOOT!

It’s only a year long visa, but it’s still a visa.  I can go get permanent work now instead of temp jobs. I can be a contributor to the household instead of a drag on finances.  I get to say in new zealand!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

I am overjoyed, overexcited, and quite simply thrilled to no end.  I got very little sleep last night, and I’ve got a full day today. I’m going to crash tonight, but right now, I am on top of the world and singing songs.

And doing laundry, dishes, and straightening the lounge.  While guzzling caffeinated tea because I am dragging.

New tomorrow, here I come!

Curly Wurly

Welcome to my world!

 

I’m going to divert a bit here and move on to being a complete and total corporate shill for the moment.

 

I love Lush.  If you have not had the joy of going into a Lush store, you should.  All of their products come from natural sources, and a good deal of them are Vegan as well.  And they smell heavenly and do exactly what they say they will do.

 

My journey into the world of Lushness started a few months ago, when I picked up a container of Herbalism, their face wash/scrub with tea tree oil and other things that are good for reducing redness and blemishes.  My skin has never been quite so pretty as it is now.  Then, I discovered the solid shampoo.  The solid shampoos are round discs of, well, shampoo.  you run them over your wet hair in three swipes, Right, center, left, and then lather and rinse.  There are many different scents and they all do different things.  For example, Karma Komba is a generic shampoo that smells of the most amazing perfume that they have in the store, Karma.  Seanik is blue and has chunks of kelp visible in it, which helps for the softening of your hair.  Godiva is yellow and smells of sweet jasmine, and has chunks of conditioner right in the bar!  So it really is insanely convenient!  Soak & Float is their anti-dandruff solid shampoo, I just bought this one the other day and I haven’t tried it out yet.

 

Then, we moved into the soaps and the body washes and the perfumes and everything is just fantastic.  The face mask that I have in the fridge for helping to combat blemishes, the body lotion that smells like heaven. The foot lotion that smells like chocolate and has a hint of capsaicin in it to help your feet get warm.   The Buffy body bar.

 

Oh the body bar.  It is a solid block of shea butter and cocoa butter and oh my god heaven with little bits of ground rice and almonds and aduki beans for exfoliation.  You get your skin wet and ready, then stand out of the water and rub this all over your body, you can feel your skin exfoliating under the touch, but also the butters are just soaking their way into your body.  Rinse of the exfoliants and then step out of the shower, pat yourself dry and be prepared for skin so soft and smooth that you won’t want to stop touching yourself.  I am serious.  Luxuriant in the most classic sense.

 

But, above and beyond all of these things, above and beyond even the most astounding body butter that I have ever felt, is this shampoo Curly Wurly.  It comes in one of Lush’s black pots, and it looks a bit like a strawberry margarita with small flakes of coconut inside.  It smells like coconut definitely, with a hint of vanilla.  But it is seriously the best thing in the world.  I have never been happier with my curly hair than I was when I first washed my hair with this shampoo.  I don’t even need conditioner with it, the coconut takes care of that.  My hair is soft, smooth, shiny, and nearly tangle free.  My curls are beautiful and easy to manage. I have been leaving my hair down more and more since I discovered this shampoo, and I have not regretted it once.  Only five minutes to brush my hair before bedtime.  Five minutes!  That is insanity itself!

 

I have never, in my life, been more head over heels in love with cosmetics and body stuff like I am with Lush.  If you haven’t been to a store near you, then you should go!  Or, you can order online!  Self-confidence is at the root of all beginnings for a better life.  And their products have made my self-confidence all that much easier to enjoy!

 

Ok, I’m going to go back to playing with my hair now.

I Can Almost Reach….

The sky.

 

One of the first things that I fell in love with down here in New Zealand, other than E, was the sky.  It’s one of those visceral feelings that you get when you first get off the plane and look up, especially on a mostly clear but still fluffy cloudy day.  There is just so much sky up there.  And the color of the sky is so amazingly crisp.  And the clouds are so very close.  So very close.  At times it really does feel like you can reach up and touch them.

 

Now true, there are trees everywhere, and the land itself is so very green it could probably give Ireland a run for the money.  There are mountains and valleys, and parklands as far as you can see, with old stately trees reaching to the sun, their trunks thin and twisty.  But you look at them, even with the moss growing on the branches, and the multitude of wildlife and birds that you’re not used to and once again your eyes are drawn up and up and up to the sky.

 

It goes on for seemingly ever.  particularly if you’re standing at the top of a hill.  You can see everything on a clear day.  Sure, there are trees and hills and houses all around you, and the occasional tall office building, but all around that, there is sky.  And on some days, the color of the sky is unreal, unimaginable. You sit and you look at it and somewhere in the back of your internet filled mind you think to yourself, “This has to be photoshopped”.  But it’s not!  The sky really is that brilliant azure blue that you only usually see in children’s drawings and tourism guides.  And the clouds.

 

The white fluffy cumulus clouds that we learned about in high school.  The ones that mean fair weather, but could turn to storm clouds as well.  They are huge.  Fluffy and white and they go on forever.  They feel so very low, but they are still the same clouds that you know are not the lowest point (nimbus clouds hover lower if I remember correctly.  And of course Fog).  But they are just so very close.  And so very dramatic.

 

That’s right, fluffy bunny clouds are dramatic.  The way the light hits them, the way the curvature of the moisture has formed.  There is always a new way for the light to play against the clouds, and it does.  The air is cleaner down here, and the sky brighter, and the clouds more impressive.

 

I was driving over the Harbor Bridge the other day, well ok I was riding on the bus, and I looked out my window over the harbor and towards the city.  The skyline for downtown Auckland still causes me to catch my breath at times.  Something about it is just so very breathtakingly beautiful.  I don’t know if it’s just the SkyTower, or if it’s because the city practically rises up straight from the water, or because of the magnificent vast stretches of sky behind it.  Or if it’s some combination of the above.  But there it is again, the sky.  Any direction you look, it goes on forever.  I’ve heard people make these comments about Montana or Wyoming, but having never been there, I can’t make my own judgements there.

 

I can tell you that on a sunny spring or early summer day, when the weather is just right and the clouds oh so perfectly fluffy white and the sky is that cerulean blue that is considered to be almost perfect, on those days, it really does feel like nothing else in the world could compare to this place at that time.

 

Of course then the storm clouds move in and it begins raining buckets on your head, but that is going to happen anyway because we live on an island.

 

But rain! What about the rain?  Yes, we should talk about the rainclouds, the way they sweep in across the land and how if you know what direction you are facing, you can watch the storm systems moving towards you.  You can see the clouds forming and building and racing across the atmosphere, and even on a cloudy day where everything is overcast, there is still drama in the sky. The clouds build in layers upon themselves, and there are still shapes and forms amongst them.  And every now and then you get a spot in the clouds where the sun has broken through and there is glorious light cast upon everything.  And you can see the storm above your head and to your east, but to the west, there is sunny skies, and that beautiful blue sky.  Even as the clouds are racing overhead and you can feel the rain seeping into your skin, you know, there are sunny days still to come.

 

So while I love this county, and I do love this country, and I love the trees and the wildlife and the  people.  But the one thing that never fails to amaze me is the sky.  Photos don’t do it the true justice, since they only capture that moment.  To truly appreciate the New Zealand sky, you have to live it, watch it, be drenched by it, and then be dried by it.

 

One more thing that I love about New Zealand.

The Treads on the Mill Go Round and Round

One time, a long time ago, I had a terrifyingly traumatic experience with a treadmill.  That is to say that I got onto the treadmill and since I had improper posture/walking/gait/whatever and did not pick up my feet while walking, instead I shuffled everywhere, the treadmill and I were very close in a short period of time.

 

Like face to treads close.

 

Suffice it to say that I have not since gotten on a treadmill.  The memory of that incident, the abject terror of repeating it again, only this time with other people around to witness my humiliation. I simply could not do it.  I would look at the treadmill and think that it would be easier to do, that I could do it and it might end up being better for me than the elliptical/crosstrainer.  I could walk for longer and not get quite as tired.  But I could not quite get the memory of that tragic faceplant out of my mind.  And now that I’m at this gym where I like the people around me? And have actually gained some of their respect?  To lose it all in a moment of utter ridiculousness that would be my flying off the back of the treadmill in a glorious  ball of not yet lost fat?  Yeah, not ideal.

 

So I stuck with the elliptical.  Even though I was feeling that it wasn’t quite doing it for me anymore.  For some reason I felt as though I was not achieving my goals anymore by doing just the elliptical.  Granted, the gym has bikes available, and I know that I can do that, but I’ve found that sitting on the exercise bikes usually ends up being ten minutes worth of trying to not feel like I’ve got the worlds biggest wedgie.  And that is not conducive to getting into the ‘zone’ for a good cardio workout. It’s just not.  So the next step, logically would be the treadmill.  But how do I get over my paralyzing fear?

 

This is where E steps in.  He has more ability to encourage and support me than I think even he is aware of.  His faith in me and his strength of support have been huge.  Also, there is no way I would have gotten onto a treadmill if he were not right next to me.  If I’m going to look like a fool, I want my scrawny-legged man right next to me to make me feel better.

 

Huge props also to the guys at the gym, especially Tom.  He has been huge for my confidence, and him telling me that he knows I can do it while not being overly pushy or insistent has been huge.  He makes me want to push myself to the next level just to be able to prove to him that I can.  If those are not great qualities in a personal trainer, then I don’t know what makes a great personal trainer, obviously.

 

Another big thing was something that I picked up somewhere, but I don’t remember where.  It sounds silly at first, but visualizing myself doing pretty much anything has been a huge help.  Whether it’s been making a dinner that I’ve been thinking about lately, or writing a post that’s been on my mind, or conquering a treadmill, I’ve thought about it for at least a few days.  I know, my posts still sometimes come out very disjointed, but those are usually the ones that were spur of the moment.

 

So after a few weeks of thinking myself through the process of getting onto the treadmill and staying on it I finally did it.

 

I climbed onto the treadmill and started off slowly, but i did it. I managed to do not one, but now two workouts on the thing.  I’m still working my way up to doing the ‘preset’ workouts like the ‘glute busters’ and ‘leg trainer’ but i’m just proud that I haven’t quite fallen off of the machine yet and caused a scene of epic non-awesome proportions.

 

A fitter me, here I come!