Growing Older, Wildly

I need to start off by saying that this is a second attempt at writing on this topic. Previous to this iteration, I had eight-thousand fabulous/inspirational/hilarious/perfectly woven together words filling a blank page. So smug at FINALLY writing something of merit (or so I thought), my blog sputtered, spun-out, & died on me.  Hoping against hope that a draft had been saved (it hadn't), I'm now left with four words on a mostly blank page and a belly-full of regret. C'mon Cass, you know to hit 'save' often. GAH!

With all of this said, please note, that this second attempt might be as good as the first, or simply okay. It might also turn out to be complete crap. You decide. Writing is my favorite indulgence and salve at present, so I'll try again. And, this time, hit save more often as we go along.

Right, here we go…

Last weekend was my birthday. For someone who doesn't really 'do' birthdays (my own), I had a full 48 hours of spoiling, treats, selfish indulgence, and friend-and-family-filled frivolity  that was truly magical. There were lots of laughs, frozen cocktails, and moments of introspection amongst the din of celebration.

At one point, mid-meal in a fave little cafe in Ponsonby, I looked around the table filled to the brim with my beloveds. My favorites. My soul-people. And, I took it all in. The sights, sounds, tastes, and slight cocktail-buzz of the moment filled my gooey heart to bursting-point. And, I hate to admit this, I cried. Happy tears.

You see, we all blaze our own paths in life. And, mine's been a trip – that's for sure. From a young age, I've always done what's best for the people I care for. I've toed imaginary lines drawn in the sand of societal propriety while calmly placing my own desires and wants to one side to ensure the happiness, growth, and fulfillment of those around me. I've always grown 'older and wiser' with each year that passes – but not this year.

This year has been a time to find my feet. To walk, crawl, run, stumble, jump, and skip as far as I can… even if my feet have had to go backwards or sideways to eventually end up moving me forward.

Getting all introspective, I've decided that my next trip around the sun will not be about my feet anymore (at size 11, they're big enough, thank you!), it'll be about finding my wings and growing older wildly. This change in the way I take myself into each new day has been a long time coming.

I've spent a lot of time coming to terms with me. Learning to not just like who I've become over the years – but to love who I am now, and who I will be. All awkwardness, fear, hesitation, and bold brazenness that I am, I will accept and wildly put out into the universe with hopes of connection, laughter, and growth.

With so many lessons under my belt over these past 36 years, I've got a few tips/life hacks to share with you if you're looking at ways to genuinely get super comfy in your own skin (and I mean wearing-life-like-a-fluffy-smurf-onesie-comfy.) A lot of what I've learned is fairly cliche/common sense. But, like most things, it's easier to understand HOW to do something, than it is to actually get moving on DOING the thing.

When you start DOING, you open yourself up to failure and hurt. And, the journey to accept and share your imperfections will be a tough one at times. Shining brighter in a beam of vulnerability is, in my mind, better than staying locked up behind a mask of intrusive perfection. I hope you get something out of the below – and maybe even the above – and if you've got your own life lessons for growing older wildly, please let me know what they are!

Be your best you.
How wishy-washy does this sound? Seriously. But, it's true. There are times when we all have to actively try (super hard) to quiet our own inner-voice. You know the one. It's tinged with self-doubt and criticism and will only ever pull you down. But you need building up! To start moving forward, you need to be your best version of you, while accepting imperfections are just part of being human. Whether it's finding time in a day to meditate, looking at yourself in the mirror and finding something you love about your look each morning, or simply maintaining physical fitness – just do something positive for you. Guilt-free. No interruptions. Just know that you're on the road to happiness when you're comfortable being unapologetically you.
 

  • Apologize & forgive.
    Team, it seems so simple, but it's not. The easiest way to be free of guilt/anger/regret is to own your mistakes . We all fuck things up. We all make mistakes – most of the time, unintentionally. Putting ego and pride aside is hard. Really hard. But once you start to simply say "I'm sorry." (and mean it) you'll find your relationships become stronger, your foundation of support unmovable. In the same vein as apologizing, comes forgiveness. When someone else owns their mistakes, remember how you'd like to have your words of contrition received – and receive theirs in kind. We're all fighting our own battles. Forgive, let go, say you're sorry… and live happier for it.

 

  • Accept praise readily.
    This has been something a lot of us struggle with, accepting praise. From childhood, I've had to consciously tell myself to just say "Thank you." when someone says something nice to me or about me. The truth of the matter is that, more often than not, when someone praises or compliments me – I feel the need to belittle myself and my achievements in an effort to dampen them down, to seem less braggadocious. Where did this ugly habit creep into my world? At what age or juncture in our personal journeys do we learn that accepting praise can only happen if we ensure we shine – but not too brightly. I'm not sure of when or how, but one thing I am certain of is this: it's taken a while to poo-poo this approach to accepting and being thankful for praise. I am unrepentant in my ability to accept praise gracefully these days. Older, wilder, and thankful for kind words and gestures of others.

 

  • F*ck the critics.
    Obviously, not literally. As far as life strategies go, learning to silence the doubters, dickheads, and critics is a imperative to being comfortable and confident in your own being. It's also the hardest strategy to master, because it means not only silencing the opinions of others – but silencing your own inner-voice of doubt. In the past few years, my life has been turned upside-down, shaken, and then (still in disarray) placed neatly back right-side-up again. With all of the topsy-turviness of life, I've learned to quiet the opinions of people who don't bring growth, kindness, or positivity to my life. It's almost as simple as throwing a switch and deciding not to give a damn about someone's opinion of me. And, once you find that 'off' switch, it's just so much easier to just place everything that doesn't grow you in a Fuck-it bucket and move on. Critics? Who are they anyhow…

 

  • Wear what you want.
    Seriously. I'll keep this short and sweet. Wear what makes you feel good. Because, when you feel good you can take on just about anything.

  • Change constantly.
    Change is the best part about getting older. Call it evolution, growth, finding yourself… whatever you name it, it's change. And, it's beautiful. How boring would it be to live life without seeing/doing/experiencing something new? Beauty is in the small moments, the big KAHUNA about-faces, and in the cracks that let light and color into dark times. Don't fear the only consistent thing in life, learn to embrace it. And, love it. It's completely okay and normal to be afraid of upsetting the rhythm of life when you just start getting comfortable with routine. It's also completely okay to wait for the roller coaster to hit the pinnacle of the highest drop and throw your arms up and head back… taking in the force of free-falling with rapture and intrigue. No matter where you are in your journey, be all there. And, change it up a bit. If even just for giggles.

There you have it. A few life lessons as told by someone whose opinion is no more important than the next person in line. 36 trips around the sun have taught me to look at life as a joyous, sometimes sorrowful, journey. A precious gift to unpack, enjoy, and to dive into headfirst. Here's to growing older wildly. And loving every hedonistic, gentle, catastrophically amazing moment of it.

 

The Art Of Giving (Without Burning Out)

Don’t grow up, it’s a trap!

I have an old, worn, favourite t-shirt with these words emblazoned across the front of it in block letters that, even after many years, defiantly stand out. Black on white. Loud, and slightly faded. When I bought this shirt, on a blisteringly hot summer’s day near the ocean in Manhattan Beach, California – I believed the sentiment.

After wearing the shirt 1,000 times, I live the sentiment. Growing up, or what the world tells us growing up entails, is a pretty raw deal a lot of the time. Adulthood quite often means we become a dulled down version of the bright-eyed, curious children we once were.

So, wearing my favourite faded tee, I’ve been doing some thinking. A lot of it, actually. I’ve been building in time to dive into my own psyche. To get back to the introspective, old soul that I am & always have been. And, in exploring the dusty, often-times closed off parts of my mind, I’ve come to a conclusion about myself.

I’ve actually come to a lot of conclusions – but one in particular stands out.

My best and worst qualities are one and the same.

Huh? This is sounding interesting – & even a little bit weird. The BEST & WORST of me are one & the same?

Yep. They are. Gnarly, right? When I think about my self-exploration, my WHY becomes clear. Simply put: I am a giver. I give 110% of myself to projects. I give my time (almost 100% of it) to friends, family, colleagues, community organisations, schools, sports, ad infinitum…

Why do I know that giving is the attribute which drives me to do everything I do in life? Easy. My proverbial batteries get a huge amount of charge from being able to help others. I buzz out doing simple tasks like setting up chairs & lending a hand (literally) when people need it. I also am filled with a sense of pride in teaching others – in seeing them work hard to become their own truest versions of themselves.

In the same way that giving charges my batteries, it can also drain them very quickly if I don’t keep myself in a constant state of check. When I get into a habit of saying “Yes! Of course!” all of the time, I end up stretched. I end up exhausted. And, I end up feeling adrift – without a North Star as it were.

Let’s talk about Giving.

Giving…
Of my time.
Of my possessions.
Of my empathy.
Of my money.
Of my expertise.
Of my trust in others.
Of my positive brain space.

I give it all away. All of it. But only to a point…

Because, while giving is truly far better than receiving, I can promise you one thing: if you spend all of your time and energy giving to others without taking a break to recharge or realign your own priorities – you’ll burn out. You’ll fall out. And you’ll want to break out of the reality you’re currently living in. Fast.

There’s a balancing game in the life of a born ‘giver.’ A kind of internal checking system of self-care when deciphering the wants and desires of others – and then trying to align them to your own morals, obligations, and dreams.

Balancing the wants and desires of others is typically a big job. A big, draining, complex, ongoing, rewarding, fulfilling, scary, and mine-field laden job. Especially when giving to others extends beyond family, friends, social causes, hobbies, and colleagues…and  wades into the deep waters of (SHOCK! HORROR!) giving even more of yourself to people you may not know at all.

Know the signs of giving-fatigue, & heed them

In fact, in a world where most people are looking out for Numero Uno, being a rare unicorn of collaboration and caring nature is mostly… well, exhausting. Fall-down-flat-on-your-face-once-you-cross-the-safe-threshold-of-home exhausting. And yep, I’m tired. But, tired in a beautiful way.

Hear me out… because I’m not complaining here. Nope, the opposite is at play. I love the exhausted state of giving and pushing beyond apathy and the glorification of busy to do just that little bit more to make someone else’s journey better. What can I say? While I’m no glutton for punishment (actually, I am sometimes.) To quote rock legend John Cougar Mellencamp giving simply ‘Hurts So Good’.

I think there’s something magical about giving – in all of its forms – particularly when you see just how much small moments of attention can mean in the greater story of a person’s life.

The spicy secret-sauce keeping me going at work, at home, and beyond are those moments. Magical milliseconds when someone’s eyes light up and I see true kindness and appreciation returned to me in an unspoken gesture of thanks over a shared experience. That’s the happy-tickle that gets me excited to wake up every day and head out into the wide world with a quirky little skip in my step, and a literal twinkle in my eye. We’re honestly all in this together.

And, let’s get real here folks: there are so many more people in this world who give much, much, much more than I could ever dream of. They’re the people that realize giving others their time and effort is a gift. They are also the ones who actually see everyone. Head up, looking everyone in the eyes. They’re my heroes.

They’re sometimes unsung, and other times chirp loudly a beautiful tune to get others on board to help a cause. But, what they all have in common is a desire to do better for our shared journey while we’re all here on this spinning rock not all too far from the sun.

We’re all in this together, & none of us are getting out of here alive

And how cool is that? Realizing that we’re all in it together. Coming to that point of realization takes some people longer to understand than others – but once you know it’s a fact, you live your life differently.

More wholly.
More happily.
More openly.
More truthfully.

So, while I might give more than I should sometimes to people who may not ever appreciate the time or effort exerted on them… that’s okay. I’ll keep doing it (and, when I need to, I’ll find a quiet place to recharge.)

Why?

Simply, because I can.

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My Top Sixteen in 2016

Let’s be honest. From the moment Bowie died, the wheels started to fall off for 2016. The fact that the universe began tilting askew only ten days into the year should’ve been worrying at the time. And, with the beauty of hindsight to look back on, the passing of such a gargantuan icon so early meant more than many of us could’ve known at the time. 

Whether it was Bowie or just some kind of fu*ked up aura, from very early on in 2016 it was apparent that the highs were  going to be seriously high, and the lows were going to be the lowest many of us had ever known. For me, and I think for a lot of folks out there, I’ve been left with a calmness, a feeling of relief, that this year is over and a new year is beginning. This trip around the sun was mixture of saccharine sweet happiness, rotten milk, all wound up with a kick of vinegar and spice just to keep us honest.

January was celebrated, sun-drenched, and full to the brim with friends and family. A big ‘ol Californian contingent spent time vineyard hopping on Waiheke Island, and then played at being tourists around the North Island. A great start to a year that, with the gift of hindsight, was to become a superbly confusing, but beautiful, one.

We celebrated the birth of our beloved Sloane in February. Enjoyed Auckland Pride in Ponsonby. Played in the sunshine as often as we could. And then, we rocked through March. We became engaged in Melbourne. We celebrated. And then, spent time with our loved ones in April back home for a blink-and-your-missed-me moment, while I ticked a professional-bucket-list-item off in heading to San Diego to speak at the Social Media Marketing World Conference.

May and June were a blur. Of work, of life, of finances. I bought a house. Mended fences. Fell deeper in love. And, pushed buttons – challenging the status quo. Attempting to get others to believe in the value of Common Sense.

Together with family and friends, I stayed standing even when the world shook around, below, and above me. Sometimes I wondered if it was all worth it – it was, and is.

July was bliss. Home. California summer. Love. Las Vegas nights. Hollywood birthdays with new friends. Old friends rediscovered randomly on Santa Monica Blvd cross-walks. Wow, July. My favourite month became even more superb.

August came and went quickly. Which was a blessing in the end. Because, as I would find out, the meaty part of the year was still ahead of us – and, let’s not confuse this meaty bit with a prime cut of filet mignon, it was a dry, stinky jerky I’d soon be chewing on.

September and October brought uncertainty. Pain of loss. Loss of a belief in the goodness and fairness of others. Loss of trust. Loss of confidence. Loss of self. Had I not had my stunning fiancee, adoring baby girl, and friends & family who continually reaffirmed that ‘you are fine, you are capable, you are better than this time…’ I’m not sure I’d be writing this right now with any semblance of a positive spin.

A light in the darkness, our beloved nephew Oscar was born on the eve of another trip home to California to see my best friend of over 30 years marry her amazing Eddie. California was kind, gentle, loving, and soaked in sunlight. The trip home in October restored my faith in me. In my capabilities. In the solidifying of what matters most in life (hint, it’s the people you love most – not any of the other noise).

Late October, it was back to New Zealand, where I began a new adventure professionally. Meeting new people with big ideas, sparkling with passion as a business, and married to doing world-class work as a true team – I’d found my place and my people!

November, you were a superstar – save for a certain American presidential election which I have almost completely erased from my mind for the sake of keeping my sanity in check. If I ignore it, it’s not really real – right? My darling and I had an amazing birthday getaway on our beloved Waiheke Island and we spent the entire month laughing and dancing in the kitchen. Seriously! November, you’re my Boo.

But, all good things (I’m learning) must come to an end. Early December brought unexpected change. The wheels looked like they’d fall off. The ride got wobbly. Tears. Loss. Disappointment. But, after just having had a lot of change, I shook it off. And… joy, sunshine, happiness, thankfulness, and more were restored to my head and heart.

Looking back on 2016, it’s been a mixed bag. Not just for me, but for all of us. While I greeted each new day with energy and hope, I also felt an omnipresent wariness of life-lessons yet to be learned (or, learned again).Because of this, and keeping in the tradition of lists at the end of years, I’d like to share sixteen things I learned (or had reaffirmed) in twenty-sixteen.

In no particular order, here’s what I’ve got for you! Take the gritty, the pretty, the optimistic, the not-so-positive, the uplifting and mix them, mould them, and meld them to suit.

More than anything though, remember this one thing: 2017 is coming.

Sixteen lessons I’ve learned in 2016

1) Sometimes kindness will be echoed with deception, disappointment, and deceit – be kind anyways. Yep, some people are just dickheads. Plain and simple. No matter how kind, hard-working, loving, helpful, or patient you are – they’re only out for themselves. I learned this (again) a few times this year. But, ya know what? I decided it’s more important to cut loose the bad eggs without letting them cool my fire, calm my passion, or temper my kindness. Everyday is another day to practice being kind. If you can be one thing, that’s the one thing you should be. It’ll ensure you a life full of love, friendship, and strong connections with those who matter most.
2) Work is work – spend time in the office, be passionate, be firm, and always learn… but remember that family & friendship is everything. This one is pretty self-explanatory. In a world where we’re all ever-connected, and trying to climb that proverbial ladder, we often put our friendships, marriages, and important relationships last. If this year has taught me anything, it’s this: work is work. While you can be passionate and proud about what you do, it shouldn’t replace your time with family and friends. Finding a good work-life balance (or, rather, integration) isn’t always easy – you have to work at it. But, believe me, the important stuff is your time and your people. Invest there, too.
3) Saltwater is the best salve. Beaches, tears. The beach has been my saviour for many years. Whether on a Californian shore, swimming in the Mediterranean, or looking out across the Pacific attempting to see home on the other side – the ocean and the sand beneath my feet have always been the best way for me to find silence, and calm. There’s a quote about seawater and tears both being the most healing things in this world, and I for one can say this isn’t far from the truth. If you can find a beach, go sit near the water. Watch the power of a gentle tide. The ebb and flow – like the heartbeat of the earth itself. When you feel small, you’ll find your centre. Promise.
4) 3am is the perfect time of day to restart. And, to sweat. When I tell people I go to the gym at 3am (not everyday!) the answer is always “Oh my god, you’re crazy!” Well… nope. I’m not crazy at all. In fact, I know myself well enough to be able to damn any clock or set metric of time if it means I get to prioritise my health. One constant in my life has always been athletics. Dad had me catching pop-flies by the ripe old age of two. From there, my life was full of sports, of teams, and of learning to work with and alongside others. Exercise for me is more than just physical, it’s the clearing of the mind while the body takes over. A sweaty, sometimes uncomfortable type of meditation in motion. The time at which I do it? It’s not important. Doing it is what matters. And, right now as a mother, colleague, friend, fiancee and more… 3am is the time I can have for me. Just, me.
5) Taking time to think deeply, to feel immensely, and cry recklessly is important. We’re all so damn busy. All. The. Damn. Time. One of the most healing, balancing, and strengthening things you can do in our connected age is just stop. Smell the roses, if there are some, or just look out a window and think. Let your mind and your body ‘just be’ for a while – and you’ll be amazed at the clarity that comes with small, meditative moments to yourself. I find my silence in motion. Exercise, walking by the beach, hiking outdoors… just me, the breeze, and an hour to feel. A lot of the time I’ll take time to recognise and allow emotions to overwhelm me. Yucky, ugly crying. Loud, rowdy thoughts. Chilled, calm soul. Whatever you need to balance, do it.
6) It’s okay to ask for help. This one seems simple. In fact, it’s a piece of advice I happily delve out to friends and family alike. Often. But, when it comes to treating ourselves as well as we treat others, the rules oftentimes don’t apply. When it comes to asking for help though (be it financial, emotional, or otherwise), it’s important to allow yourself the ability to do so. Weakness is not inherent in realising you need extra hands to carry the weight of your world – it’s strength that comes with allowing others to help. For me, asking for help has gotten easier with time. Just as I love helping my friends, I’ve realised that my friends love helping me. So… in 2017, when you need a hand up, ask. It really does take a village.
7) It’s okay to trust other people at first glance – and keep trusting them – even if you’ve been burned before. Right, so this is a hard one for even me to swallow. This year’s come-to-Jesus moment happened all at once, when people I trusted broke our shared trust irreparably. After this happened, I found a voice inside my head whispering (sometimes shouting!) ‘DO NOT TRUST ANYONE ANYMORE!’ My head and my heart were trying to keep me safe. And, if I’m honest, I listened to both for a while. But, I found that not trusting people caused me to be completely unhappy. Completely un-me. At the heart of who I am lies a happy human. A person who believes in the good of people and the world. So, not trusting means not moving forward. And if you know me well, you know that sitting still + Cassie = not possible for long. A turning point for me came when I started a new adventure – and found a safety net in new plans, new adventures…and new people. People whom I trust completely. The moral of the story? Just because you’ve been burned before, doesn’t mean you can’t safely stand (or dance) next to the fire again. Be bold. Be brave. And, trust in the goodness of others. 
 
8) It’s also okay to change your mind. Often. Yep. It is. Believe me… I’ve changed my mind more times in the past year than I had in the previous 33.5 years combined. Why? Because I am a grown-ass adult woman who is allowed to consistently learn, evolve, change and mould myself into a better version of who I am now and will be in the future. Just because you feel like pizza for dinner on Wednesday, doesn’t mean you can’t have Thai on Thursday and Japanese on Friday. I highly recommend getting comfortable with recognising moments in which you might just need to suck up a bit of ego, and flip-flop on a choice. Be it a big or small moment, allowing yourself to change your mind also allows other people to see a bit more of your genuine self. Holding tight to outdated beliefs – or even just being hard-headed for the sake of it, won’t get you very far down the road of life. And, it won’t find you happiness. That’s for certain. So, in sticking with a theme I see materialising now, go easy on yourself. Allow the winds of change to carry you where they may – just adjust those sails when and where you can.
9) Justin Beiber really is a mastermind musically (yes, I went there #Belieber) – so are Gaga, Adele, George Ezra, Keith Urban, and Christine and the Queens. Music is a language unto itself. Transcending languages, cultures, and experiences – it’s the one thing that can serve to glue us silly humans together as one. That said, it seems like (this year in particular) there are a lot of music snobs about. How about this, snobs… why don’t we just let people like what they like, and spend time not hating on Beliebers, country music fans, hard-house aficionados, et al. This trip around the sun, for me, was one made amazing when we talk about music. I discovered a lot of new artists (new to me), and really went back to the soul of what I love in music – storytelling. Think about Queen’s lyrics. Bernie Taupin’s. George Michael’s. There’s a new revolution happening, and it’s luckily favouring singer-songwriters who can yield both a pen and electric/acoustic guitar. No matter the moment, there’s a song for it or memory to be made through music. So, whether you love Slipknot or Bach, just do you. Turn it up. And, soak it in.
10) Shit is going to happen. When it does, roll with the punches and start your hustle. Shit is, well, shitty. And, it happens a lot. But, so too do good times. This year has been a decisively weird one because it seems like most people had a rough year, but not many of us can really say why. I mean, good stuff happened. A lot of good stuff. Probably more good than bad, really. But, the bad just seemed to be omnipresent. More like someone constantly poking at a bruise than an occasional sprain or broken bone. Does that make sense? What I’ve learned from the universe constantly prodding at ouchy bruises this year is this: complaining doesn’t help any situation. Neither does sitting still and wishing anything bad away. It’s perfectly normal and okay to rage and mourn when bad shit happens – but only for a little while. After the fall, you stand up. And you hustle. What do I mean by hustle? You stop feeling sorry for yourself – at least outwardly. You start smiling (again, outwardly). You start believing in yourself – wholly. At 35 years old, I’m fairly adept at the old bob-and-weave when life throws a punch or two at me. But, when a punch lands squarely between my eyes, I wait for the little cartoon birdies to clear, and then get on with it. Because, motion begets motion. And, moving forward makes me happy.
11) Putting yourself first must always come first. True story. This one, though seemingly simplistic in theory, is a hard one. Especially if, like me, you’re a mom, wife, colleague, boss, friend, cousin, daughter… etc etc. Modern life is, as we all know, BUSY. And ohhhhhhh, how I detest the glorification of busy. Oftentimes it takes just as much intestinal fortitude to take time for oneself as it does to take on a big project. I had learned over the years, but especially in the past year, to never ever apologise for taking time to myself. For taking time to work on myself. To better myself. To find my centre and learn. I found out the hard way (almost burning out completely) that being the best me that I can be is the best way to give to others. As cliche as it sounds, putting me first some of the time, helps me put others first the rest of the time. And, I’m a much happier human for it.
12) Binge watching YouTube channels (erm, hello Hannah Hart and Lacie & Robin) is a perfectly apt use of time. I never really was in to YouTubers. Never binge-watched channels. Never really consumed shows on YouTube voraciously… until 2016. This year was a year of discovery for me (in more than one way, on more than one channel and platform), and in that I have learned a lot from simply binge-watching funny, interesting, insightful, silly, crazy, in-depth shows online. My two fave channels, are above. Hannah Hart, a newcomer into my realm of knowing, is a big star on the interwebs. She’s got millions upon millions of followers, has a new book out, and a movie, too! But, she’s just Hannah. And, I love that about her. Her content is refreshingly funny, self-deprecating, and genuine. Check her channel out if you have time – she’s constantly creating new stories and shows. Something’s bound to tickle your entertainment fancy with her. And, alongside Hannah, I love Lacie & Robin. Though they may not have millions upon millions of followers, they’re just as amazing storytellers and content creators. Gorgeous women through and through, I am more than proud to call them friends. And, am more than okay admitting I binge-watch their content when they release it like a true fangirl should. 🙂 People always say ‘use your time wisely’ and I reckon watching all of the ladies listed above is as good a use of time as any.
13) Getting out there on a limb means you’ll gather more fruit… or something like that. Simply put, you’ve got to put yourself out there every once and a while if you want to learn, grow, and move up in life. Staying comfortable is okay if your goals in life are centred on comfort. But, if you’ve got goals that’s bigger than where you are right now (or, by rights, smaller), then you need to do something different that what you’ve always done before. That means getting used to being uncomfortable. And learning how to mask discomfort with confidence – until confidence is all you know (I’m still working on this bit). Just putting yourself out there for a new job, a relationship, a friendship… anything… is difficult. But, once you take the first step or make the first move, you’ll find that things usually end up for the better.
14) Being the most genuine version of yourself is the only way to really find happiness. Really! This year was the year when I stopped giving a flying f*ck about the opinions of people who have no discernible effect on my life. And, in doing so, have become the happiest, best version of me I’ve ever been. Ever. Living in the most genuine, unapologetic, open, and giving way possible has been healing. Epiphany after epiphany has happened. And, I’ve connected more deeply than ever with people I love on more levels than I ever knew possible. Moral of the story: just be. Happiness follows suit.

15) Find a happy place – a consistently healing place – and go there, often. My happy place is the beach. Any beach. But, particularly, a beach on Waiheke Island near vineyards, restaurants, and endless hiking trails for long meditative walks while sipping strong coffee. When I feel lost, down, out of energy, or otherwise just in a funk, the ocean heals me. A few times this year, when I thought I was at breaking point, I simply got into my car and drove to the ocean. Most of the time I’d sit in my car, windows down so I could hear the waves crashing on the shore…and think. Just think. Most of the time I’d lose myself in feeling small. And a part of something larger. And then, quickly, realise that whatever worry was tugging at my heart wouldn’t stay forever. From that point on, I would start working through solutions to whatever problem needed solving. Emotional, financial – whatever it was, it could be built up, torn down, or sewn up securely at the beach.

16) Call your parents (and your grandparents, if you still are lucky enough to have them) regularly. Just chat. Connect. Love them. The more time that flies by, the less you have to spend on the people who love you best. Call Mom and Dad. FaceTime. Skpe. Text. Remember to let them know you’re thinking of them as much as they’re thinking of you. You’ll never regret taking the time to chat about everything and nothing at all. I promise.
2016, you’ve been a frenemy to many of us. Just this week my childhood crush, George Michael, was taken at 53yrs old. Along with Bowie, bookends of a year than can also now be put to rest with sadness and genuine adoration in equal parts. 
Here’s to a new trip around the sun. To balance, to you. To all of us.
Love and light.
Cass 

My Memories of 2012

IMG_40442012 started BIG. Hubby and I put in an offer on a home that I’d fallen in love with – even though I’d been warned to never get too attached to a potential “new home” – and it was accepted! I remember my phone ringing just before boxing class started on a hot Monday afternoon. I answered expecting for our offer to have been declined…but when Hubby told me we got the house I danced, shouted, hooted, hollered and danced some more.

So, yeah, BIG is how the year started…and it’s also how the year is ending.

Looking back over the past twelve months I’m floored by how much we’ve achieved, by how many memories we’ve made…and by how many adventures (both big and small) we’ve lived. In March I set myself a personal fitness goal, one that promised to be as scary as it would be fun. I signed up for the Tough Mudder in Sydney, Australia.

20111228-190555.jpgFor six months, along with a rag-tag crew of 11 other hearty souls, I trained for the event. During these months I learned a lot about myself, about people, about trust, and about what motivates individuals. The event itself was easy when it came…but the preparation and the journey leading up to it is where many cherished and bittersweet memories now reside.

Beyond training to become a card-carrying Mudder, the true depth and happiness from the past year has come from spending time with my family and close friends. My biggest highlights were when my Mom came out to visit in March as well as when Mom and Dad visited in October and we took a trip away to Queenstown.

Adventuring in the South Island with them was awesome! We went paragliding, ascended some of the highest peaks in New Zealand, went jetboating and enjoyed time together. Before heading to the South Island, Hubby and I spent three very relaxed and fun days in Sydney (after the Tough Mudder event). We reconnected as a couple, laughed, explored and spent an epic afternoon sitting in the sun on a balcony overlooking Manly Beach drinking jug after jug of tropical sangria. Priceless!

In July, Hubby took us (the little girl and I) skiing at Mt Ruapehu. We stayed at the Chateau Tongariro and had an unforgettable vacation away – stopping along the way in small towns for photos and on the trip home to visit Rainbow Springs, some hidden hot springs and the Huka Falls. Talk about a great way to spend a birthday/wedding anniversary.

Watching our 6 year old daughter take to skiing like a fish to water was very cool. Her eyes were wide with excitement and her heart was full with adventure. I imagine she and her daddy will have many skiing trips together in the future (I will stay somewhere with sun and warmth).

In between our adventures outside of Auckland, there were hundreds of days and nights spent enjoying time with our friends. To say we’re blessed with a group of great people is an understatement of huge proportions. From Saturdays after rugby with the crew to BBQs on weekends to random times in town and on empty beaches (surrounded by kids!) – we’ve spent a lot of time laughing. A lot!

Beyond the good times, there’ve also been some trials and tribulations along the way. I’ve been knocked down, have trusted too openly, and have sat reeling from deceptions. That said, I have stuck to my guns and gotten back up – stronger and happier than I was before. For me, I have come to realize that it’s the hard times that teach us the true depth of our own intestinal fortitude. Thanks to a strong group of close friends and family I remain true to myself, standing tall, looking at myself in the mirror and smiling back at the person in front of me. I reckon this is a pretty cool way to be…even cooler with a nice, crisp glass of wine in hand.

That said, what I’ve learned in the past 12 months can be summed up as the below list:

1) Trust your gut – if someone or something isn’t sitting right, move on
2) Enjoy silence – there’s something beautiful in quiet moments
3) Stick to your guns – be yourself, stand up for what’s right
4) Don’t allow others to change who you are & what you believe in – being someone else sucks
5) Take the punches, and get back up again – chalk the hard knocks up to life experience
6) Smile, laugh and enjoy every moment – just because life is too short not to
7) Determine your priorities – find out what’s most important to you, spend your time wisely
8) Keep an eye on your dreams – grab them with both hands
9) Just be happy – it’s easy to get caught up in the negative stuff, let it go

I will be carrying these lessons with me as 2013 starts. Another trip around the sun for my family and I promises to be a good one.

My goals this year are simple: to enjoy every moment I get with friends, family and colleagues.

Life is too short not to feel blessed by each new day that dawns. It’s cheesy, I know. But, it’s the simple pleasures in life, the unplanned travels, and the new memories that fill our days – and hearts – that matter most. Bygones are just that, and right here and now is what matters most.

So if you’re looking for smiles, a cold bottle of bubbles and a few random adventures…just drop on in.
The more the merrier.

Rock on, 2013!