Thursday, February 23, 2012


At midday on 22 February 2011, I had less than 30 tweets. Yes, 3-0. I was on my lunchbreak, but hadn’t left the office.  Instead I was chatting to @saralynam on facebook who’d recently moved to London.  She told me to swap to twitter and she’d show me the ropes.

I only followed a handful of people on twitter, one of whom was my friend @mattymcleanTVNZ.  All of a sudden he tweeted that there had been another quake in Christchurch at 12.51pm.  It didn’t seem too out of the ordinary.  Then Matty tweeted that he was being flown by helicopter to Christchurch to report on it, that there had been some major damage, possibly to the Cathedral.  Apparently the earthquake had a magnitude of 6.3.

As a news junkie, my interest was piqued.  Surely not? No way…the Cathedral couldn’t have suffered any damage. That just seemed so unlikely.  It was such a solid looking building, and it had stood there for decades.  I opened up the "stuff" and "yahoo" websites, but they were taking what seemed like ages to update information. 

Grandma & I outside the Cathedral in 2001

And then there was a flurry of information. Twitter, facebook, news websites, television, started coming in from all directions. Mother Nature had dealt a cruel blow to Christchurch, the city known in New Zealand "The Garden City", and internationally as "the most English-looking city outside of England".  Our family had spent Christmas there 19 times, and we'd had numerous other holidays in Christchurch after my Grandparents had moved there in the mid-seventies.

I'd never heard of the Pyne Gould Corporation (PGC) building or the CTV building, but both had suffered serious damage.  The PGC building had pancaked. Pancaked? Wtf did that mean? And liquifaction? What the hell was that?

And, then the worst of all news started filtering in. People had died. One, two, eighteen, thirty-six people had been killed by falling masonary.  More than forty...fifty...sixty...seventy people had died. There may have been up to one hundred lost lives. No way. Not  in my beloved Christchurch.
* * *
A year has now passed.  The anniversary was marked beautifully in Christchurch, throughout New Zealand and indeed around the world.  In total, one hundred and eighty-five people lost their lives...ordinary people going about their ordinary stuff on an ordinary February day. Numerous other people suffered horrific injuries requiring amputation and on-going medical care.  Thousands and thousands of people lost their homes, livelihoods, possessions and pets.

But we gained something.  We gained a real sense of community.  We gained belief that as a nation, we will get through this together.  We will continue to provide support where needed for all affected Cantabrians and family and friends of victims around the world.

Christchurch, we are with you.  You will always be in our thoughts and hearts. 

And to those one hundred and eighty-five people...I listened to each and every one of your names as they were read out yesterday during the service.  May you rest in peace.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jimothy Lightson

Meet Jimothy Lightson, a character I invented many years ago. 
He's always been a patient little fellow, eager to please and happy to go with the status quo.

Well, that was until yesterday.  Now, Jimothy has had the tiniest taste of stardom and he's absolutely chomping at the bit for worldwide success.

I've been trying to tell him that there will be a lot of hard yakka between now and then, but he's been dancing a jig for the last day, and isn't listening to me at all.

I don't know what to do. He's driving me crazy!

It all started because of Brian Thompson of Thorny Bleeder. He hosts several different podcasts, and the one that I listen to religiously is The DIY Daily podcast. Essentially, its 15-20 minutes of hardcore motivation aimed at all those creative types amongst us, and people into marketing, branding or simply just bettering themselves.

His messages quite often boil down to "just do it".

I was listening to another of Brian's podcasts on Sunday morning in bed, and Jimothy's story was in the back of my mind. All of a sudden, I had a lightbulb moment, and I thought that I'd get up, join Soundcloud and record a podcast too by reading Jimothy's story.

Yes, I was nervous. I was worried about how my accent would sound. I didn't know if I could even get Soundcloud to work properly. But, it was Sunday and I had all the time in the world.

I went for it.  You can listen to it here:
And now, here I am 34 hours later, and this is what's happened since I hit the record button on Soundcloud:

  • The podcast has been played 132 times

  • Its been tweeted and mentioned on facebook by loads of people, some of whom I don't even know (unbelievable)

  • The number of followers on Jimothy's facebook page has doubled in size. He doesn't even have hundreds of followers, but he certainly has way more than Saturday

  • I received countless messages from people saying their kids absolutely loved the story (whew!)

  • Kevin Helas (of Roger London), a friend of mine since we were 11 and who drew Jimothy's portrait initially, became aware of what was going on via facebook and emailed me from England about finishing the illustrations (so we could publish the book in both hard and e-copies)

  • A kids radio station based in Melbourne, Australia has asked for the track to be re-recorded so they can play it.

This hasn't quite been an overnight success story, but if I hadn't leapt out of bed on my lazy Sunday and given Soundcloud a whirl, I wouldn't be sitting here now, typing this blog with my heart racing and swelling with pride and my mouth hanging open from shock (oh yeah, I'm looking gawgus at the moment).

So, in know that thing you were going to do, but haven't quite gotten around to doing yet? Yeah, that thing. Just do it, ok? The results might just blow your mind.

What?! Jimothy can't believe you haven't heard his story yet or liked his facebook page, so he's insisted that I include links to make it easy peasy (his words, not mine) for you.!/Jimothy.Lightson

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


February...what are you doing here so early? Huh?

January and I were just getting used to each other and our new routines, and now you saunter in and ruin the party.  I am happy to see you, but just a bit shocked that you appeared out of the blue so soon.

FYI February, just so you are some of my newly developed rules:

1.  No McDonalds. At all. Full stop.

2.  A minimum 500 calories dealt to per workout, minimum 5 workouts per week.

3.  Keep chipping away at Linked In. I'm still not quite up to speed with it, but slowly getting there and building my connections. I am pleased that I've finally started giving it the attention it deserves.

These aren't actually resolutions, they're just rules that seem to have developed during January's visit.

Now, February, I know that you're feeling quite flash, because you've managed to score 29 days on all the calendars around the world this year, but...there's no need to rush. Ok?

Monday, January 23, 2012


One of the coolest things about growing up in my family was that my mother encouraged my sister and I to be imaginative, especially when describing things.  A newly invented phrase or word would always be eagerly welcomed into the family vocabulary.

Below is a selection of words that you’ll find in my family dictionary:

An On – abbreviation of “Aunty Yvonne”, coined by my niece Foxglove*

Flying Daddylonglegs – otherwise known as a Crane Fly, but they’ve always looked like a Flying Daddylonglegs to me

Heel-highs – variation of high-heels, coined by my sister Dolly*

Lipsticker – Again, a word invented by Dolly*

Ninny – Mum’s word for when a child rub’s its fingers against a blanket or soft toy whilst also sucking their thumb

Ninon – another of Mum’s words, which refers to a light fabric. I refuse to use this word, it drives me up the wall

Par Cark – One of Dolly’s* mixed up words for car park (“parking lot” for the Canadians who are reading this) which seems to have stuck.

Fast-forward to present day, and overactive imaginative me and my big tweeting mouth.  I was chatting with @gr8dairynobull on twitter, and somehow coined the phrase “absomootely”. That was added to their own “moovelous” and the new Collective Dairy catchphrase “absomootely moovelous” was born.

Within days, Collective Dairy had added our catchphrase to their marketing material. How absomootely cool is that?  Its even on the home page of their website!

The Collective Dairy is a New Zealand company that specialises in delicious products such as "Russian Fudge Yoghurt", yoghurt drinks and soft cheeses.  Their products can be found in most supermarkets and many speciality stores around the country.

So, if you want a cool catch phrase or new word, come and see me. I dish them out for free...because quite frankly, I can't help myself.

* Not their real names

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Kits & Cats

Yesterday on Facebook, I saw a plea from the Waikato SPCA for kitten food.  The Waikato branch has always held a special place in my heart because that's where I met the love of my life, Edelweis.

Ever since that meeting, I've donated to the SPCA and sung their praises to all and sundry, especially those looking for a new pet.

I've kept Edelweis up-to-date on his former abode, and when the kitten food plea was posted, we discussed it at length, and he asked if I could spend some of his pocket money* on kitten food.  Bless.

My first stop today in the pouring rain was the local supermarket, where I picked up several boxes of kitten food.

The supermarket has a food donation bin specifically for the SPCA, but it was full to overflowing and this time I felt like delivering Edel's donation personally.

The next stop was the Waikato SPCA located at 219 Ellis Street, Frankton, Hamilton.

Although it was absolutely hosing down, the car-park was full. The reception area was jam-packed with new adoptive and foster families.  Some fluffy darlings were in cages in reception to entertain and entice the visitors.  Other fluffy darlings were in cages ready to be taken to their new homes by their new parents.  The staff were flat-tack on the phone and dealing with the enquiries at the counter.

Out of the blue, a favourite childhood rhyme** sprang to mind:

As I was going to St Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Each wife had seven sacks
Each sack had seven cats
Each cat had seven kits
Kits, cats, sacks and wives
How many were going to St Ives?

What I immediately wanted to know is why the hell they were going to St Ives via the Waikato SPCA?

A volunteer took Edel's kitten food donation and added it to a growing pile of cans and packets (which was heart-warming to see), and then I went out to the cattery to visit some of the current fluffy darling inmates.

Oh. My. God.

The place was heaving with cats, they were literally crawling up the walls. I've never seen so many there in all my life.  And many kittens of every colour and degree of fluffiness imaginable.

Every little fluffy darling looked happy and healthy. They were doing kitten stuff, and argh...kitten stuff is so damn cute! Bouncing, pouncing, teasing eachother, sleeping and generally being 100% gorgeous.

And along with the bouncing pouncing fluffy darling kittens, there were some adult cats who were as equally beautiful.

I have been a self-diagnosed "Crazy Cat Lady" since I was 8 years old.  Even my twitter profile states my love of cats.  But today, I felt overwhelmed.  Completely overwhelmed.  Would I really cope with a house full of cats in my old age?  I have to

Today, I realised I was a one-cat crazy cat lady, not a multiple cat crazy cat lady.

But that's ok. I've decided that if I can't be a crazy cat lady in the true sense of the moniker with multiple cats, then I CAN BE a crazy cat Aunty.  I'll continue to Aunty the cats at the Waikato SPCA by taking them food and toys, and visiting them on occasion. 

And, if you're reading this, and you think there is a place in your heart and a space in your life for a fluffy darling (either a kitten or cat), please go to the SPCA and adopt or foster one.

And maybe if you can't adopt or foster, you too could be come a crazy cat Aunty. Just maybe?

*Edel's pocket money is also known as my savings account

** Click on the link for an interesting discussion on how many were actually going to St Ives

Hey everyone, meet "Dust" who was adopted by a friend of mine, the day after this blog was first published.

I had several other friends take food and donations into the Waikato SPCA on that particular day. It just goes to show the power of the blog. I'm absolutely thrilled :-)

Friday, January 6, 2012


Ok, this may seem dorky, but I don't have the guts to write down the three things I want out of 2012.  Why?

Because of this:

I would DIE of EMBARRASSMENT if I got hit by a bus and kicked the bucket, and then while family were cleaning out my apartment (after a stunning funeral) found the "Three things I want out of 2012" list. OMG, yes, I'd be in heaven DYING watching them reading the list, especially if I hadn't achieved them.

In fact, I'm actually embarrassed for the ghost version of me just thinking about the possibility that my family would read my list following my passing.

If you can follow that logic, well done.  That's how my mind works.

But, I guess I could write them in code.  Oooh, let's give that a whirl.

Three things I want out of 2012 (in code)

1. GTM 
2. Done
3. Ralph

Hey, that wasn't so hard to do!  And now my future ghost will be able to rest easy (whilst eating as many ghost chips as I please - Kiwi joke).

Are they achievable?  Well, yes, two of the three definitely are.  They will take determination and dedication.  The third is slightly out of my hands, but life can throw the odd curveball in one's favour occasionally. 

So, bring on the favourable curveball and let's tick off the stuff on my coded list.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Don't find excuses, find solutions

One of the conversations that really resonated with me in 2011 was with my Personal Trainer.  At the time, I was working full time, writing part-time, studying part-time, tap dancing and seeing my PT for a single hour long session per week.

Quite frankly, he was a bit ticked off at my results, and although my cardio fitness was improving, he was giving me a lecture about squeezing in more individual gym sessions between our workouts. 

I was mouthing off as usual (we have the best PT / client relationship ever) saying "I'm busy with work, writing, study, tap, blah blah blah and I can't get to the gym", while he was saying that he "didn't give a toss, that I needed to find the time to haul my ass to the gym".  The language was slightly more colourful, but you get the gist.

His final parting words were "don't find excuses, find solutions".

Going to the gym at 5.30am (or in fact any time before work) was NOT an option for me because my sleep patterns were, and still are, up the doodaa. I either sleep like a baby (thanks sleeping pills) or hardly sleep at all (thanks to kicking the sleeping pill addiction).

Lunchtimes were ok-ish, but during that period in my life my real job was hectic, and often it was easier to stay at the office, and work through my lunch break rather than try to get to the gym and find a car-park (close to impossible). 

After work was also ok-ish, but often I had meetings or tap which would exhaust me.

What. To. Do. ?

Luckily for me, I had another night of insomnia.  Eventually, I could no longer accept any of my excuses. They were feeble. They were weak. And I felt like a loser with every scenario that I was able to dream up. 

Then the sun came up. I had a lightbulb moment.


What if I split the hour long sesh with the PT into 2 half hour sessions? That would ensure two kick ass workouts per week, then I'd only need to find space to get to the gym 3 times. That just seemed so much more manageable than 4 overwhelming times. Uh, extra session with the PT was really going to make that much of a difference? Yes, it was. 

To cut a long story short, that's what we did.  Two shorter PT sessions per week, then three individual cardio sessions.  I'd found a solution to what had initially seemed impossible and easier to duck out of with one of a multitude of excuses. 

Since then, I've applied to "don't find excuses, find solutions" mantra to many aspects of my life (diet, finances, housework!). And although excuses are invariably easier, solutions are invariably more satisfying.  Try it. No excuses.