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It’s been a busy week or two. I just had time after our Foodie Escape to catch up with the laundry and clean the house before my sister arrived. It was supposed to be a visit with her daughter (Charlie) and husband, for us all to go see the World of Wearable Arts (WOW) show, but there was a scheduling conflict, so Charlie and her dad ended up in Auckland at a Hockey tournament, and my sister visited with us solo. Which wasn’t a bad thing for her, because we had a lovely adult sisters time together!

So Y, the Husband, and I headed off to WOW together on a miserable, rainy night. It was a fabulous show, with great lighting, choreography, aerialists and singers backing up the Wearable Arts, all of which were amazing, some of which were hilarious (a fence post and fence), all of which were inventive, maximalist and minimalist, colourful and monochrome, made out of a wide range of materials. Taking binoculars definitely enhanced our enjoyment of the evening. We felt quite smug about that, as our seats (booked relatively late) were not near the front, but with the binoculars we could still make out surprising details of the art pieces. (It’s hard to call a fence post with barbed wire a garment!)

Travel Tip: If you ever come to Wellington or New Zealand in September (not always the best time to visit, unless you are a skier), be sure to schedule in a night at WOW. It is one of a kind, attracts entries from all over the world. You won’t regret it.

My Daily Delights blog has more info both on WOW, and the delights of my sister’s visit.

This morning a kaka visited our oak tree. It is now full of tiny new pale green leaves, and if only I’d had my camera at hand, the contrast of the big brown parrot against a sea of pale green would have been a beautiful photo. I realise that being a photographer perhaps means that I am just as consumed by the shots I don’t get as by the ones I do. That’s not a positive way of thinking, but I have the picture in my head, and that is a bonus, I guess!

How is it October already? And I know that in September I said I wasn’t ready for spring, but we have … wait for it … snow forecast in two days time. Given that the last time it snowed (properly) in Wellington was 2011, this is ridiculous! I know it will be cold. But I’m not holding my breath that we’ll actually see snow, especially now I’ve been stupid enough to mention it. Watch this space!

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2022 has largely been a year of hibernation for us. 2021 and 2020 saw us take advantage of the freedom of a pandemic-free New Zealand (and the end of elder care requirements) and travel locally, north and south and local trips even closer. This year, covid was loose in New Zealand, and we had no major trips we wanted to do again, and so we have hunkered down and enjoyed the comfort of home. Until last week, that is. The Husband and I piled into our car, and returned to a favourite spot about 4-5 hours northeast of Wellington.

We haven’t visited the region at this time of year before, usually waiting for another month or so, enjoying the arrival of spring and warmer temperatures in this area that is almost always noticeably warmer than here. The weather forecast wasn’t great, with a lot of rain forecast, and we almost cancelled. But we didn’t, and we were glad.

The drive north was enjoyable – it wasn’t particularly sunny, and we had rain and mist at times. A hail storm hit, but we were lucky and only had the tail end of the storm system, but even so, it made visibility scary (we would have pulled over if it had been worse or lasted longer), and the temperature dropped by 10 degrees. Then the sun came out, along with the rainbows, as we arrived into our destination, the town centre filled with blossom trees in spectacular pink. I now have a new screensaver on my phone as a result.

This is a foodie destination, with some of New Zealand’s best wines, lots of fresh farm produce, though the best horticultural treasures (cherries and stone fruits) weren’t in season. It has some excellent restaurants to match, and of a quality (dare I say it) not always found so plentifully in the provinces. A four night visit just can’t begin to do it justice! So we had each day largely planned around food, to make the most of it. We enjoyed gnocchi carbonara (well, I did, the Husband opted for something different), sweet and sour broccoli, modern Japanese dishes, a Korean bao bun, a vineyard platter lunch, brunches in chic cafes, sampling scrummy wine in the wine bar of the hotel along with the most divine asparagus bruschetta, and a delicious three course meal on Saturday night. Food in this region is a highlight, and we made the most of it. In fact, the food is the reason to visit, along with its proximity.

In between, we explored an art gallery, took a coastal walk, window-shopped in nice boutiques in local towns, and relaxed. Yes, we can relax at home. But there were no chores nagging us, no blogging to be done, no healthy meals to be cooked, and the exercise was natural, not forced. It was lovely to be out of the house, out of town, doing something different. It made me realise how much of a funk I’ve been in this year. And it made me keen to do more.

Note: Various pics are on my instagram page (I’m travellingmali there) and on my new Daily Delights blog.

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I’ve recently written about what I might say to my younger self in the context of infertility and childlessness. I found being in my 40s a wonderful experience in terms of personal growth, of increased confidence and compassion and self-knowledge, albeit that I learned this through loss. Or was it? Maybe it was just the wisdom of ageing, in my 40s and 50s. So I thought it might be fun to look at what I have learned in general, and what I wish I had known – about life, and about myself – in my teens, 20s and 30s. What would I say if I could send a letter to younger Mali? What would I want to hear?

Dear Young Mali

Life is hard. You know that. But it is wonderful too, full of excitement and adventure and friendship, laughter and love.  Enjoy it to its limits. The following advice might help you do this!

Intelligence is great. You have it. There are people with more, and many with less. In many environments, intelligence in itself is not enough. It requires confidence, understanding and insight, and perspective to be really useful. Being able to do this becomes a real skill of yours as long as you remain open and prepared to learn. Focus on all these things, and don’t underestimate your talents. Use them, don’t hide them. They are under-rated attributes.

I know that’s easier said than done. So, “fake it till you make it.” Many of the successful people you see do this. Our insecurities are not unique, and fraud syndrome is real. You’re not alone. Faking your confidence will, in fact, lead to confidence. And don’t worry about those who are so supremely confident. Many of them think they’re smarter than they are, but their confidence is often misplaced. Don’t let them intimidate you. But learn from those who show wisdom.

Speaking of insecurities and negative thoughts, you can retrain your brain. You can choose not to think about negative things. You do it be challenging the negative thoughts. Are they accurate? If not, why give them so much brain time? If they are, what can you do to change and improve yourself? Because you know that by beating yourself up, you’re not achieving anything except making yourself unhappy. And that helps no-one.

Love. It doesn’t hurt to love and be kind. Quite the opposite. If you need it, don’t forget to give it too. You will get it back tenfold. That includes loving yourself, and being kind to yourself too. Once you learn that, it’s easier to be comfortable in your own decisions, to stand up for yourself, and to be better to others. 

Decide who you want to be, as a person. And what success means for you. Knowing these two things might change the world for you. They’ll help guide you towards what you are good at, and away from what you are uncomfortable with, or what doesn’t meet your values. And be prepared to acknowledge change. 20-something Mali might feel very differently as 40-something Mali. That’s okay too. In fact, it’s very important. Change is life.

Eat more fruit. Yes, I know.

Sit up straight! I know you’re rolling your eyes at me right now, but your mother was right.

Take care of yourself. And enjoy the ride!

Love
Older Mali

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