Walking A Tightrope: Braving The Unknown

Here’s the thing about young, handsome Argentinian lifeguards on beaches… they’re very convincing.

VERY.
CONVINCING.

Maybe it’s was his accent, my broken Español, or the casual way in which his eyes lit up when I said “Is that hard to do?” that I decided to go out on a limb yesterday. Literally.

(NOTE: my decision may have been swayed simply by the fact that I am competitive as f*ck, & a cute kid decided to go before me – I couldn’t wimp out & still be a semi-cool-Mom after that!)

Tightrope walking, I can assure you, is not for people afraid of falling. It’s also usually not something 36yr old mother’s who have never tightrope-walked before do at a public beach on a super windy day.

But, what the hey. My inner voice whispered seductively to me “New year, same me… let’s do this, Cass. You wanted to adventure more. You wanted to make memories & try new things. Here’s your first shot at it. And, you’re only three feet above the ground.”

Damn you, seductive inner voice. As awkward as you are, you sure are convincing. Potentially just as convincing as our new, tanned friend from Argentina. So, with a little gust of wind catching me up the backside & along the path towards the tightrope (as well as a healthy cheering on from my beloved & my bestest pal) – I kicked off my jandals & climbed a tree trunk (not very high) to the springy, stringy thing I would soon be walking – or falling – across.

Lucky for me, mi amigo nuevo, saw I was nervous & gave me his hand. Though he was there to steady me as I took my first VERY uncertain first step, he also talked me through where my line of site should be, how to relax & unravel the tension in the rope through my balance, & showed me how to have fun while completely terrified.

Anyone who knows me well, knows I used to be terrified of heights. Strangely, over the years, I’ve gotten much better with heights – but walking that uneven & unsteady rubber-band was pretty nerve wracking for me.

I may have only been three feet above Terra Firma, but it just as easily could’ve been 30 or 300 feet as far as I was concerned in the moment!

Making it all the way across, I learned a few things in the minute I spent without my feet firmly planted on the ground.

Mostly, I learned these key lessons:

  1. Be courageous
    This is seriously not as easy as it sounds. Most of us like to think that we’re daring… at least a little bit. But, in practice, I personally end up turning down opportunities to try new things for fear of what others – and even my own inner-voice – might think. I consistently tell my daughter that she can’t be good at everything. You have to start somewhere, and somewhere is usually right at the beginning. No one starts off as a master. Masters were always once beginners. So, while I might end up sounding like a $.50 fortune cookie, I reckon we should all start at the beginning. Without fear. Without judgement. But, more so, with hope, joy & a sense of adventure. Courage is contagious – pass it on.
  2. Don’t Look Down
    As my Argentinean friend told me as I started walking from one tree to another “Look only ahead, not down, not to the side.” This really resonated with me in the moment – and resonates even more now thinking back on his words. We oftentimes spend so much time looking in a direction other than that in which we’re heading that we lose sight of our end destination. Even with strong winds whipping at your back, or with wobbly footing, if you look ahead & focus on what you’re hoping to achieve – your chance of getting there inherently grows by leaps & bounds. I always tell my teams at work that, as a manager, it’s my job to provide a ‘North Star’ for them to steer towards. It’s their job to get there – whether it be swinging across Orion’s Belt or sliding through the big dipper. Keep your eyes up. Move with intent.
  3. Have fun falling
    This is something I’ve grown to embrace & love over the past few years. Falling, itself, is fun. It’s the landing, if you’re not prepared for it, or it comes too soon, that hurts the most. It’s taken time, but I’ve started to not just face my fear of falling (and, failing) but to embrace it with my eyes wide open. Most probably squealing all the way to the bottom where a soft landing (or slight thunk) awaits. Falling, like flying is all part of the journey. If you embrace each moment, you’ll find fun just around every corner.

 

So, there you have it. A small moment. But, big lessons. Here’s to more travelling South Americans on Auckland beaches this summer, helping us all face our fears – while reminding us, there’s no shame in having a helping hand to steady us while we learn.

Gracias, amigo mio. Que te vayas bien.

 

Tightrope walking!
Tightrope walking!

Happy Yule, Y’all!

It’s exactly 5:51am on Christmas morning & we’re all up & amping to rock into the day.

Kenny Chesney’s Xmas album is playing in the background. The birds are singing along.

Presents are begging to be opened underneath the tree & Santa’s left us a cookie or three to munch on.

Here’s wishing you & yours a magical holiday season – wherever you are, whomever you’re with, & whatever you believe in.

Cassie & The Roma Family

Top Three EASIEST Cocktails for Summer

Sundays, they really are the best days. Aren’t they? Whether you rest up, work out, or follow your adventuresome spirit wherever it takes you – there’s magic in the restfulness of a day dedicated to play.

At our house, Sunday are usually for long walks, deep talks, beach wanderings – and cocktail practice! Yesterday we recorded our adventures in gin (a lovely, Melbournian drop features!) & quickly put together a vlog featuring the TOP THREE EASIEST gin cocktails to make at home.

The verdict? Yum! On all three counts.

Here’s to negronis in your own backyard & not paying Auckland bar prices for them…
#GinningGrinningWinning

Welcoming Disappointment

Being an adult (a happy one) is a many faceted thing. Happiness being an individual construct, we all get there on our own time, taking our own roads, and learning different lessons along the way that help us distill the good-stuff into such a potent potion that all we’re left with is appreciation.

One of the biggest moments of clarity in the realm of being at peace and finding happiness part of my life came when I realized that everyone’s a little bit messed up. And I mean, everyone. The people you love, the people you don’t. And even the people you most look up to. And it’s this imperfect perfection that binds us all together in empathy and confusion.

Being at peace with the messed-uppedness of the world around us is liberating. Truly. When you’re able to accept that disappointment & futile attempts at understanding the intentions of the universe might either break you or make you – then you’re well on your way to finding firm footing in a world always in flux.

I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that everyone’s imperfect from a very young age. It was almost as if, as a child of summer and heatwaves, I had a super-powered empathy switch that let me see other children and adults as beings who were searching for something they’d never achieve. Was it perfection they longed for? I think it was. In their quests to become as close to perfect as they could, they stumbled. Often. And, each stumble or misstep broke them. Sometimes a lot. Sometimes they were just a little bit broken. So, while many couldn’t see them, I clearly saw the cracks in their facades in eyes that didn’t dance while lips tried to mislead us with false smiles on rosy cheeks. Both the light and the darkness pushed and pulled in a tug-o-war of shadows across strained, stressed out faces.

They were trying to hide disappointment. Disappointment. Gah! It shatters people – I’ve seen it. I’ve been it. And, over time, I’ve learned to quickly move on from it.

I decided a long time ago, before Pinterest and pithy internet quotes, to not just forgive others for their fucked up states or for disappointing themselves/me/each other. But, to forgive myself first. We carry so much in this world already – why carry guilt, anger, stress, or negativity? Those things are so laden with solitude. With sadness. With bone crushing exhaustion. I instead carry curiosity, forgiveness, and understanding. As cliche as it sounds, we all do get to choose how to act and react to life. To moments. To sadness and joy. This isn’t to say that I never grapple with frustration, soul crushing despair, and other negative feelings. I do. I just accept these feelings. I stop where I am, acknowledge them. Work through why I’m feeling them. And then drop them. I will not carry them – not for long.

Many times in life, recognizing when to close a chapter versus when to keep putting pen to paper will be the difference between being happy – and not. My advice is simple: let go of what you cannot change. Hang onto the people who make you feel invincible and silly. And, forgive yourself quickly – even if you’ve fucked up royally. Beauty is all around in the random, unchangeable, and irreverent ways of the world. All of my heroes have feet of clay.

I know this much is true.

Below is a video I shot recently on the very topic of Disappointment. Have a watch, share it if you like. And, remember to go easy on yourself.

Changing How I View Change

The only constant in life, is change.

But, let’s face it, knowing that change is inevitable doesn’t make facing it particularly comfortable or easy. In fact, as a card carrying creature of habit myself, I’ll be straight up with you: change makes me shake in my proverbial (and literal) boots more often than not.

As a confident, capable human… why is that? Shouldn’t I be able to just roll with the punches and deal with the hand that I’m dealt without any speed wobbles?

Erm, nope. I can think of quite a few reasons why being nervous about change is good – and why my stomach still churns a bit at the thought of sudden, drastic, unexpected changes in life.

The first thing that makes me fear change is simply that I have grown-up responsibilities (like mortgages and bills and all of that adulting carry-on). To feel safe & supported, I need to have a firm foundation of stability across the main areas of my life. These areas include financial, emotional, spiritual & creative aspects of who I am and what I do. Should these foundations be rocked, moved, jiggled, or even hinted at being drastically altered – panic sets in.

Or at least tries to set in.

Without stability, and without a sense of being able to provide for my child, my fiancee, and myself – my world (and my sense of self worth) start to crumble. Having knowledge that our next meal, mortgage payment, hug, laugh, and moment together might not be safe all add to my feelings of worry in times of change. At the core of who we are intrinsically,  (where our basic, instinctual drives reside) we need more than anything to live in a state of comfort – which usually means habitual daily routines. When our routines are disrupted. So too are the supporting pillars of happiness and confidence.

Another reason change has always been a bit nerve-wracking for me is that I like being able to define who I am – on my own terms. We all do, right? And, to do that, I need to understand my place in the world and how my actions effect others – their well being, their health, their core values. To do this well, means I need to have (or at least feel that I have) some control over my own circumstances.

Let me elaborate more on change – and why it can break a person. Change takes away our sense of being in control of our lives & our destiny.  When I start to feel like I’ve lost all control, I take a step back, breathe deep & start to make decisions – even micro-decisions are a starting point to turn negatives into positives. I usually decide that I have in me the power to change, and that everything starts to balance itself out again. It may take some time, but my mind becomes clear, the weight on my shoulders lighter – and my confidence is restored in going through the mental steps of building positives out of perceived negatives.

I’d be telling a big ‘ol porky-pie if I said I haven’t given in to the depth of despair on more than one occasion. I’m not an automaton. I know the darkness of failure. I’ve tasted it, wallowed in it, & given in to self-doubt. But, not for long. In fact, as I get older, I am able to fall & fail fast. And then pop back to my feet, taller & stronger than before. As my ten-year-old told me yesterday, “Mom, you climbed a mountain, a really big one, and now you’re just going down the other side. The next mountain’s gonna be bigger Momma. I can tell!” (what a kid!) Having the love & support of people who continually remind you of your worth is hugely important to rolling with changes.

Is there anything good about change? I’m talking about a mushy, warm, happy-tickle good thing. YES! YES THERE IS AMAZING GOOD IN CHANGE!

If I’m honest, the good is in the slowing down and taking the time to think, reflect, and also getting super focused on planning, potential outcomes, and building resilience. By slowing down and counting my blessings, as well as looking at my achievements and skills to date (I’m talking personally & professionally), I’m able to really shine a light on the positive nature of uncertain times. The old cliches about the worst of times teaching us the best of lessons exists for a reason. That reason being that, for the most part, what doesn’t defeat us really does make us stronger. And stronger equals resilient equals a state of mind focused on success.

Because, if change is inevitable, and control is the key to feeling firm in your foundations – then giving into your own power of taking control of all situations and how you react to them means that you’re in charge of your story. Not happenstance. No other person holds the keys to how you view the world. It’s you. It’s me. It’s all of us.

Today I see change the same way I see life. Nothing is permanent. Even if the word “permanent” is a falsity when included as a binding part of a promise. Everything is in flux. Always. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is permanent. Each new day, each new experience, each new moment is a blessing and a moment to learn, to refocus, and to remember just how lucky we are to be above ground. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is a process. A life-long one. So too, is change.

Embrace the process.
Ride the waves.
Be the change.
And, when you can, help others through moments where they’re feeling vulnerable. Kindness first. Smile much. And believe that, together, we can truly overcome anything.

Find and Embrace Your Happy Places

The daily grind. The everyday-hustle. The day-to-day repetition of everyday life. Whatever you call it, most of us spend a lot of our time adhering to a routine.

You know how it goes:

Wake up.
Shower.
Dress.
Make lunches.
Drop the little ones off.
Sprint to the bus.
Grab a coffee on the run.
At the office by 8am.
Meetings.
PowerPoint.
Emails.
Phone calls.
Lunch at desk.
Afternoon hustle.
Sprint to catch bus.
Homework.
Dinner.
Emails.
Bed.
Wash…rinse…repeat.

What’s missing from all of the routine? A break from it – every day. Because, let’s face it, the moments when you step outside of the normal, out of the ho-hum, and out of the comfortable, are the moments when you truly feel alive. And, finding a moment in each day to diverge from the norm, to find a happy place isn’t all that hard.

All you need to do is actively search out moments in which you can Intentionally welcome the unintentional moments of joy, newness, and comfort outside of the rush

of modern life. So where to start? Maybe in that little moment between the lunch making and the dropping of the little ones off in the mornings. One day a week, take an alternative route and point out what you see. Make a game out of your new route to an old familiar place.

And then, grow from there. For me, my happy places usually find me when I go out with the mindset of simply wandering. Of feeling the sun on my shoulders and the wind at my back. Twice a week I take my lunch away from my desk and wander. I breathe in the fresh air, smile at passing strangers (sometimes I have to make a concerted effort to do this if the morning has been a particularly stressful one), and find a new place to grab lunch on the run.

In setting out without expectations of what I may or may not find, I’ve found a lot of places that have become my “Happy Places” – little corners of the world that were once unknown and undiscovered by myself, that are now filled with familiar faces and enticing aromas. Happy!
Sometimes we all just need to get out of the routine, before we get stick in a rut. This can be at home, at work, and beyond. Expanding your world isn’t dependent on latitude, but more often than not, it’s about attitude. Take a moment and find your happy place. Then actively search out another, and another… until you realise that, in all reality, happy places are everywhere. We carry them around with us.

It’s within ourselves that they have existed all along. Sometimes all we need to bring them to the fore is a brisk walk in the sun, a strong coffee in a new cafe, a run alongside the ocean, a rambling conversation with someone you enjoy, or a quiet moment to read.

Where’s your happy place?

First World Problems

Today I woke up in a big, comfortable California King bed next to my husband.

I was warm. Safe. Rested. Content. Hubby snored softly while our 5-year-old slept soundly down the hall.

Because I got up before the dawn, I flipped on the lights so I could brush my teeth in the light with clean water. I then looked through my closet – which is bursting at the seams – to find something to wear to work.

I chose a simple cotton dress, a pink cardigan and matching pink Chuck Taylor’s.

In the office at 6am, I got to work on my laptop, iPad2 and iPhone4. I pulled out my noise cancelling name-brand headphones and made myself the first of many cups of hot, sweet tea while I wrote blog posts for upcoming events and checked the web for the latest news.

At mid-day, a group of colleagues went out for a lunch of stunning food. There was more than we needed to eat. The flavours were superb.

After work I hit the gym and pushed my body to it’s limits before coming home to a fully stocked fridge to replenish the lost stores of nutrition and calories in my body.

It was a damn good day. No complaints.

It amazes me how often people who have more than most people on earth complain. They bitch. They moan. They roar. Oh NO! Your shoelace broke? Poor soul. Ruh roh! You got a flat tire on your gas-guzzling SUV and had to call someone to come fix it for you. TERRIBLE! (insert sarcasm)

I call these 1st World Problems. Or, un-problems.

Today was a good day in my world. I have a good vision of where I am and where I want to be at the moment. But, I think we all lose perspective every now and again. The importance of regaining quickly after it blurs and getting your head into the quit-worrying-because-you’re-damn-blessed mode is huge.

But how do you get back into a mode of not sweating the small stuff and being truly thankful for what you’ve got? It’s a state of mind, obviously, and you need to put yourself there. But, here are a few tried and true ways to get into a space of being thankful, of being fulfilled and of forgetting your own 1st World Problems.

  1. Be aware of your surroundings.
    No, really…be truly AWARE of where you are at any given time. Whether you’re at home relaxing, hiking in the Rockies, sipping bubbly on a yacht in the Mediterranean or in a mud hovel miles from civilization– take in everything that reminds you that you’re alive and safe. Realistically, if you’re reading this you have power and internet coverage. You’re better off than most just having those two things.
  2. Practice being thankful.
    This is easy to do, it takes very little time and the returns on being happy in the long run are huge. You probably don’t have to worry about basic necessities of life like shelter, clean water or food. So the next time you sit down to a meal, give the fates a silent nod of thanks for what you’ve got. Wash, rinse and repeat. You’ll find you’re thankful for everything you’ve got.
  3. Downgrade.
    Let’s face it, we’ve got too much stuff. Cleaning out our house for a big move recently found my husband and I more often than not in awe of how much crap we have. When it comes to finding happiness, less is more. Downgrade. Spend time and money on experiencing life, not buying things that you can’t take with you when you’re pushing up daisies. 
  4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
    Some people just love drama. They thrive on stress and gossip and the insipid aspects of daily life. Here’s an idea – only spend time on the people that matter and the things you consider important to you. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t confuse the small stuff for the big stuff either. Worry only when you have to. Don’t borrow sorrow and grief. Live happy.
  5. Cultivate your own ideas of happiness and contentment.
    Society tells us that we need the house, the 2.1 children, the flashy cars and the big job to be happy. I say that society’s idea of happiness stinks. Figure out what you want out of life and grab it with both hands. My idea of happiness will be different from yours. Contentment to me is wholly individual. Find your happy, and stay in that place as long as you can!

So there you have it – 1st World Problems, be damned (and, have a bit of a laugh at the irony on display)!
Get out there, practice being happy just for the sake of it.
Wear a lopsided grin. Soak it all up.

Summer so far – in photos

Summer is a magical time.

I grew up in a land of perennial summer and sunshine.

So, when then weather turns from grey, cold and wet to sunny and warm here in Auckland I become my full self.

Happy! Dancing! Swimming! Singing! Snoozing in the sun.

I’m not sure if it’s the Vitamin D coursing through my veins at a higher level, if it’s the feeling of being more alive or if I just love to work up a good sweat…whatever it is, Summer is the closest thing to magic I’ve ever known.

The sun’s been out now for four days (but will soon be going into hiding for an upcoming storm) so I thought I’d share a few happy memories that have made up Summer in Godzone thus far!

Rock on beaches, BBQs and time outdoors.

Enjoy!

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The Art of Living in the Moment

Living in the moment is an art.

Seriously, it is. It’s not quite Jackson Pollack. It’s not Picasso or Matisse. It’s not your 5yr old’s fridge hanging creations. No, it’s an art that’s wholly individual to all of us.

After learning of the passing of Natalie Murphy – the young Auckland mum who fought aggressive cancer with an amazing amount of dignity– I sat down and pondered on my own life. I thought about my responsibilities and my priorities. I thought about my child, my husband, my family and my friends. I broke down and wept.

Natalie cherished every moment, was thankful for every breath, and loved with great abandon. She didn’t apologize for her emotions (fear, sadness, anger, elation, gratitude). Even in pain and knowing the end was nigh, she carried on living and dreaming. She understood the art of living in the moment.

And she painted her life in big, beautiful brush-strokes.

Perfecting each moment happens by default when you go with the flow and don’t force or stifle your gut reactions and true emotions. Think like a kid if you must, before you were burdened with the weight of being an adult and suppressing your emotions for the sake of cultural propriety. Think with joy at the forefront of your mind. Wear a cape. Whatever you do, enjoy it.

In no particular order of importance, here are the ways in which I have learned the art of living in the moment.

Take it all in.
Yep, everything. From the brilliant colour green in a springtime moss on your front steps to the wiley smile your child gives you when they’re cracking jokes – whatever life throws at you, breathe it in. Let’s face it, we’re all lucky to be breathing at all!

Beauty is in every tiny detail.
It’s in the morning dew on tree leaves hanging low enough for you to touch. It’s in the birdsong just as dawn is breaking. It’s in a smile from a stranger. It’s that one lone, perfect daisy popping through the cracks on a busy urban sidewalk. Go on, open your eyes. Look for beauty. Seek it out. It’s all around you. I promise.

Talk to people.
Lots of people. Talk to people you know and people you don’t. Talk to the weirdos, the geeks, the nerds, the cool kids, the rough riders and the rebels. Talk to the elderly – a lot. They’ve got great stories and were your age once. They’ll have secrets to share that might just save your ass one day. Talk to kids, too. They lack filters on their comments. They’ll set you straight. 

Crack jokes – even if they’re bad ones.
You know the old saying about laughter being the best medicine, right? Well here’s a secret…it really is. Laughing heals all wounds in a moment. It doesn’t make you forget, but it’s a natural salve for the not-so-nice parts of life. The more you laugh, the better off your soul will be. And, your abs will thank you for it!

See a movie.
When it comes to movies, the art of living in the moment is all about pretending.Imagine yourself in that penthouse overlooking Central Park in New York. Pretend you’re in the South of France with James Bond, or imagine Brad Pitt is your boy toy (Angelina who?).

Fall in love with someone or something.
Love is what makes everything worth the struggle of living. It’s what binds us to our families and our friends. It’s what makes us who we are. We fight and die for love. We also reach the highest heights because of it. Whatever and whomever you’re passionate about – never, ever be afraid of loving someone. 

Focus on one thing at a time.
One of the best ways to live in the moment is to concentrate on one thing at a time. With all of the noise, interruptions, and technology stealing away our time, concentrating on one thing means you’re focused. And focus helps you gain perspective. So slow down. Streamline. Enjoy.

Banish regrets.
This is simple. Don’t do it. Don’t regret anything. Make your decisions and own them. Then move on. Living in the moment means accepting the past and believing in the future.

Push your body.
Get outdoors, work up a sweat and push your body hard – exercise is what humans thrive on. We weren’t made to sit still all day long and look at a multitude of screens. Turn off your computer. Put your phone aside. Click off the TV. Lace up your shoes and head outdoors. Being in nature and concentrating on your physical self means you’ll enjoy your everyday even more so!

Right…log off.

Do something for yourself.

Enjoy the hell out of life.

I do.

Soul of Summer

Back to the start.

I’ll start this by stating the obvious: I am a child of the sun.

Dark, cold and foreboding Winters do nothing for my mental or physical well being other than to strengthen my resolve to be somewhere hot. Somewhere with the sunlight shining down on my face.

My ancestors come from sunny, warm and fertile lands. With skin of brown and hair of gold, my love for summer and for the sun on my shoulders is innate. It’s naive. Intrinsic. Thousands of years of genetic intermingling has forged strong path which leads to who I am today. In more ways than just the basest physical needs and desires I crave, sunlight is a love of mine.

I am a sensory, emotional human being who feels most at peace when outdoors – grass or sand between my toes. Moving, always moving. Sweat beading on my forehead. I covet that slight singing feeling from the sun. That physical sensation that sits somewhere between the pain of a burn and the blandness of overcast skies.

I love not having to look for shelter in the midday heat.

I am the California Girl.

Southern California. San Diego. Go on, close your eyes and explore the images your mind conjures up immediately. I bet you see tall, tanned people. There are surfboards and cocktails in beach-side bars. Sail boats move slowly inside the harbour and seem to disappear in the shadows of the Navy aircraft carriers that loom (like sleeping monsters) near the local base. The spicy aromas wafting from a local Mexican Cantina assault your senses. You smile instinctively. I bet you’re smiling right now.

You can almost taste the salt in the ocean air.

And yes, the sky is always blue.

This isn’t just a dream folks, it was my life growing up. When I look back now, the almost-year-round summer that we enjoyed growing up meant we were outdoors kids. Sun-kissed sprogs. We were water babies. We were physical and spiritual all at once. Nature was as much a part of us as was family, school and growing.

I can’t remember a time when my skin wasn’t tanned. Honestly, I can’t. From the time we were born, my brother and I were outdoors. We grew tall and strong. Smiling. Laughing. Swimming. BBQing. And everything, even the music we listened to, had a flavour of summer. After high school I transitioned to adulthood by going to college at UCSB – another perennial summer city.

So, as you can see, sunshine is not only hardwired in my DNA, it’s also something I’ve actively courted in life.

Then came New Zealand – and the discovery of seasons.

4 Seasons in One Day.

I’d never seen snow until I met my Kiwi husband (he took me skiing at Lake Tahoe for one of our first dates). I didn’t own a pair of nice boots. My wardrobe consisted of cut offs, flip-flops, sundresses and bikinis. Moving to Auckland was an eye opener indeed for this summer girl.

In the first 48 hours I experienced seasons for the first time. And yes, seasons. Plural. We got off the plane from LAX to AKL at 5am and it was rainy and cool – almost humid. We spent the day in town where it was still and calm one minute, and windy the next.

Clouds that would generally sit on the horizon for days on end in California seemed to move at break-neck speed here. I imagined us racing them as we drove from High Street to the Ferry Terminal on Quay St. We boarded a ferry to Waiheke Island (to attend a friend’s wedding at Mudbrick there) and the skies cleared. The sun was scorching hot. Beyond hot. I’d never been burned by it before. It only took minutes here.

The thing I remember most about the wedding on Waiheke wasn’t the bride’s dress. It wasn’t the exquisite meal. It wasn’t my husband’s MC speech (and, just for the record, I wasn’t copious amounts of wine that helped my memory of these details to fade).

It was Mother Nature that I remember most. I am still in awe of what I saw that day. Standing out on a grassy hill watching rain fall from the sky and heavy clouds move from the city, across the ocean and then to us. Amazing.

But…it all seemed wrong. Rain? Wind? All in one place in one day during Summer? Weird.

Cool!

Swimmin’ in sunshine.

Now that I’ve lived in New Zealand for just under eight years I’ve come to realize that the first day of December heralds a change in my mindset. The summers here are green and lush instead of dry, brown and arid. The beaches are pristine and teeming with open spaces instead of being fulled with throngs of people jostling for position. The sounds of “Greensleeves” echo down our suburban street as Mr Whippy drives by selling his ambrosial soft serve ice cream.Kids laugh and squeal as they run through the sprinklers.

Running in the sun for joy happens more and more often.

And, the birds sing. Man, do they ever sing!

Always a positive person, when Summer hits I’m positively overflowing with cheer. The Summer this year is set to be a long and hot one. I’ve sussed my iTunes playlists, hubby has the backyard looking superb and the beach beckons. Our beer fridge is stocked with ales, ciders, white wines, bubbles and sweet iced tea. We will surely be brown, hydrated and golden this year.

If you see me smiling for no reason at all – then blame the sunshine.

Blame the summertime for my happiness.

I am a child of the sun.