Stay curious, try something new – or take notice. It’s a take on one of the five keys to staying healthy mentally, (according to our friends at Mental Health Foundation NZ). With that in mind, here I am trying out a column in Parenting magazine. Truth is, I’m also currently trying out cheddar cheese with raisins, in a caravan on Great Barrier Island, where the wind is gusting up to 50km an hour. Last night we shook, rattled and rolled as the wind hounded our sleep, sounding more like pounding rain than fast moving air. Worried I am not, because our caravan is still standing and despite the shaking, I am rugged up with family close by, a good attitude and an iPad in my lap.
Coincidently, this is the same month I resigned from TVNZ’s Breakfast programme two years ago, beginning a journey that now finds me happily sitting here, describing my life as a portfolio of activities. The space created by not working full-time has allowed me to change how I do life – and I’d love to share some of my thoughts with you over the coming months. I’d also like to hear your stories of life lived in Aotearoa – what intrigues and inspires you.
Let’s start from two years ago. 2013 saw me unemployed and taking what I called a sabbatical – recovering from the 4.20am starts and a job that felt like a virus was taking over my mind.Healthy behaviours were at a minimum – extra curricular activities and creativity – what was that? Let’s not mention exercise, time to talk or listen to the kids and Hamish. If the family was fed regularly, it was a successful week. I wasn’t winning any prizes for domestic involvement – you should have seen my linen cupboard! Truth is, I had started not to see it.
Don’t get me wrong – I loved many of the opportunities on Breakfast. I got to cover the Christchurch earthquakes and be useful to people around the country. Report on the Royal Wedding, an election, the Olympics, even our own Rugby World Cup. I can happily say I loved my last three months on air – it’s just that TVNZ’s Breakfast wasn’t the job for me or my family long-term.
The joy of owning my own mind again was significant. The joy of being home and present for my three young children was compelling. I quickly added reading, exercise and a few creative outlets to my life. One of those outlets was Instagram. As the proud owner of a dusty BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) it was wonderful to have a super easy way to express stuff visually. I started looking around me and noticing the beauty in the familiar again, like the change of the seasons. I went through a ‘tree photo’ phase, which helped me rediscover the place I lived, and the inherent goodness of it all.
The sky, it turns out, had been showing off all the time, and I had finally taken notice. It was like flexing an unused muscle, which is now growing strong again. I see things that used to pass me by. I’ll catch myself saying to the kids, “Wow, look at the way the light hits those clouds,” or, “Do you see that silhouette of the building against the sky?” The 1000-plus followers I have on Instagram came after TVNZ – I feel like they belong to me (in a nice way), they feel earned.
So, if it’s okay with you, I’d like to take you on a journey over the next few months, using my Instagram feed. Lets see where we end up – it’ll be a window into my world, and some of the ways I am currently staying curious.