Monthly Archives: March 2011

How do you recover lost trust?

Erosion happens ...

Trust … easy to get, hard to get back.

I’m a trusting person. In fact I was filling out an ‘About You’ document for a recruitment company yesterday and one of the questions, which I had great difficulty answering, was “What are your limitations when working with others?”

When I finally answered it my response was about putting so much trust in people that I have difficulty dealing with situations in which the trust is broken.

I really don’t know how you recover lost trust, but I do know that if you decide it’s worth recovering, the road is long and hard. I’ve seen it with close friends, I’ve experienced it myself. I’m not good at it. I find it incredibly hard to forget … forgive maybe, forget no.

I know the theory – put it all behind you, forget it ever happened and start with a clean slate. Trust that the other person is doing the same. Trust that you won’t make the same mistake again.

A big hurdle is the niggling voice in your head, the one that reminds you of past infractions and spreads doubt. The one that just won’t stop day and night. It interrupts your sleep and consumes waking hours.

Other people don’t help either – the ones who don’t want you to let it go, the ones who don’t want to see you go through the hurt again, and then the ones who are just born trouble-makers!

Just like this cliff, when trust is breached erosion begins. Too much erosion without strengthening the foundation and the tree topples.

Learning more about Bach’s St Matthew Passion

In rehearsal

We approach our Orpheus Choir performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion with joy and sadness.

Joy because it’s a glorious work and so exciting to perform.

Sadness because it’s our last concert with our beloved music director of eight years, Michael. He’s leaving us to be closer to his family in Australia. Fair enough, we’ve been incredibly fortunate in having had his expertise, humor, immense knowledge and his fine attention to detail. He has challenged us and taken us to new heights where we’re now considered New Zealand’s premier symphonic choir. We will miss him.

I digress … Bach’s St Matthew Passion.

At rehearsal last night we were privileged to have eminent English choral conductor and organist Richard Marlow with us who shared some insights about the Passion. I find that every bit of extra knowledge, especially when given on a plate, enhances my enjoyment of the work. Fantastic to be able to sing, even better to understand what you’re singing about! Critical really …

The rhythms of many of the arias and anthems are based on dance metro. Marlow played a selection of opening bars to see if we could identify them – lights went on as recognition dawned of the minuet, the gigue and the saraband. No wonder the Passion has such a dance-like quality interspersed throughout. No wonder my instinct to move to the beat is so strong – I can’t help myself, but I have to!

Bach also quite intentionally made numeric connections. Two such connections follow:

In the recitative relating to Jesus being questioned by the High Priest, a questioning accompanied by 39 lashings. The lashes are represented in the recitative by exactly 39 chords – quavers with a quaver rest between. Forty lashes minus one Marlow said. His tone was such that we should know what he meant but I certainly didn’t. What has 40 lashes go to do with anything?

So I went to Google (as you do).

Forty lashes were the number determined enough to kill a man according to the Old Testament and therefore 39 lashes was the most you give a man without declaring a penalty of death. There as also the Moses Law of flogging where 40 lashes actually means 40 less one, ie. 39.

Then there’s the part in the story of the Passion in which Jesus and his disciples have assembled in the Garden of Gethsemane. The recitative which follows tells of his trembling and his tormented heart. The underlying pianissimo semiquaver beat suggests his heartbeat. I looked at the score, in one of our Choir II arias, and there it is, gently pulsing …dah dah dah dah    dah dah dah dah.

I thoroughly enjoyed the few minutes with Richard Marlow, time exceptionally well spent. Bach was a total genius – not that I haven’t thought that before.

Further note to 16-year-old self …

We're not all so perfect ...

Yesterday I posted a very long blog What would I say to my 16-year-old self? There was one very important message  I omitted, feeling that it would be better read on its own own.

It’s been spinning round in my head and I’ve been wondering how to word it without sounding preachy or pompous. You see, I’ve not always been very good dealing with it. I know the theory, but even in knowing it and acknowledging it, failure still really knocks me.

Don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is an opportunity to learn – learn how you went wrong, where you went wrong, how you could do better, what you should do next time.

You have to be prepared to pick yourself up and get on…

I’ve had a fair bit of success in my life.

I’ve also had a fair bit of failure and haven’t always been able to rise above it. Some I’ve taken really personally which has been to my own detriment. If I had the chance to do it all again knowing what I know now, of course I’d do it differently otherwise I wouldn’t have learned anything!

I’d know that the failures and disappointments can work to my advantage.

So 16-year-old self, failures will help you understand how important whatever you didn’t succeed in really was.

Failures will help you understand what you need to do better to succeed.

Turn failures into opportunities and they will make you stronger.

What would I say to my 16-year-old self?

A young flower - such as I was

An article in the latest (April) issue of New Zealand’s Next magazine prompted me to think about what I would say.

The article is entitled ‘Letter to my 16-year-old self’ with letters from several prominent New Zealanders. Actor, 83-year-old Dame Kate Harcourt, former Miss Universe Lorraine Downes, Labour List MP Jacinda Ardern, singer-songwriter Jan Hellriegel and television weather presenter Tamati Coffey. All contributors had sage advice for their younger selves … advice that can only come with age and experience. Advice often ignored when offered to a teen.

“A very important realisation that will take you many years to understand is that you are the only person who will stop you from doing what you set out to do.

It is your voice in your head that will insist you aren’t good enough, smart enough or beautiful enough, when all around you your friends and your family can’t believe you are so self-disparaging.”

Jan Hellriegel, Next Magazine, April 2011

I hated my teen years – they were packed full of self-doubt. I’ve carried things said to me at that time all through life. Things like may father saying to me “You’ve got a big bum,”  as I stood before the hall mirror.

My confidence plummeted even further on a date with a boy I thought was really cool. He told me I’d probably be more attractive in my 30’s. Where on earth did that come from? Probably his mother … It didn’t stop him trying out his clumsy seductive approaches though.

So what would I say to myself?

Believe in yourself and trust your inner voice (not the self-critic). If it doesn’t feel right, if you feel uneasy or under pressure, your voice is probably right. Go with it. It really doesn’t matter what other people think.

Value your education … keep learning, keep learning, keep learning. Work hard giving education your best shot.

Follow your dreams and your passions – build on them, enjoy them, share your enjoyment with others.


Make goals and when you’ve reached them, make others. Never stop reaching for the stars.

No one else can make you happy. Happiness comes from within and from being true to your self. Being a nice person, a kind person, and an honest and generous person will make you even more happy.

Family is precious. You can never fully appreciate them until you find they’re no longer there – try! No one will ever love you as much as your mother and father, no bond is as strong as that between immediate family, even though it is sometimes tested!  Make sure you tell them how much you love them and how much they mean to you. Hindsight is such a great thing …

True friends are precious. They are the ones who make you feel better about yourself, who help you when you are down, who are there for you no matter what. You can always count on them – they know they can count on you without question. And they’ll be with you right through life.

Remove all make-up before going to bed. Apart from cleansing your skin and giving it a chance to breathe overnight, smudged mascara in the morning isn’t a good look. Television lies – we don’t all wake-up with perfectly groomed hair and face.

Enjoy  sunshine in small doses and protect your skin, particularly your face, from the harsh rays. Not only will this help prevent skin damage but it also may help stall the inevitable process of aging. A leather look works best with leather.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, or compare anyone else to you. Comparing does you no favours and can make you lose confidence in yourself.

Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. Every major decision you make requires careful consideration – don’t be so damn impulsive!

Regard risks as opportunities – be prepared to take them.

Listen to your parents – they  have vast experience and are not stupid. They only want what’s best for you.

When you eventually have children of your own, enjoy every moment with them to the fullest. They’re not with you for very long.

Life is too short for darning socks.

Smile  – it lights up your face and brightens the day.

Take your sense of humor with you wherever you go. Laugh loud and laugh often – a day without laughter is a day wasted.

Follow your instinct – it’s usually right. Your bum is fine just as it is …

Soaking up the heat of Hot Water Beach

Sheer bliss

I’ve lived in New Zealand all my life. Until last week, I knew of Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula in name only, not as an experience.

Hot Water Beach has become part of the tourist route and judging by the number of young people in there at 8.00am, it is a huge attraction.

To get maximum enjoyment from visiting the beach you need to be there from one hour before low tide to one after low tide – a daily window of two hours. Having decided that it was a must for our Scottish visitors we found out the tide times on our chosen day and left that morning before breakfast. Hot Water Beach is about 20 minutes drive from where we were staying in Flaxhill Bay. With a 21 month old and four year old in the mix, getting out of the house early was no easy feat!

By the time we arrived the parking lot was close to full. There were people of all ages – but mostly young adults predominantly German and French speaking. First task was to hire a spade from the local kiosk – $5 hireage with a $20 deposit. Then we made the short trek toward the hot water spot crossing the stream pictured in my previous blog ‘Ocean’.

When we arrived at the spot there were already people lying in their hot water pools and many others at work digging their own pools. No-one was telling you what to do, how to do it or where. You had to burrow your toes into the sand to find a hot spot in which to create your pool and then dig.

Our efforts in the beginning were fruitless to say the least. No sooner than a trench was begun and sand with moved to one side, a wave would come in and wash our shallow hole away. It was comforting to see that we weren’t the only ones having excavation efforts drowned. So we left the men to their labour and thinking sneaky thoughts put another plan into action.

We lurked around the edges of the main section of pools, encouraging the children to dip their toes in. In truth, they didn’t need encouragement. As good child minders we had to keep a close eye on them didn’t we? It wasn’t long before our prey left the pool – and we took over! We beckoned the men “Hey, come and see what we’ve got” and with a bit more strategic digging we managed to enlarge our pool so that we could all fit in.

The water is not just hot, it’s scalding hot. Hot water bubbles up through the sand and you have to cool it down with buckets of cold water (hence the bucket in the picture). You cannot lie in the pool for too long for fear of burning. We were extremely hospitable with our pool – we could afford to be – it wasn’t long before we were inviting other people to join us to see what all the fuss was about.

Feeling a little hot from the heat of the sun and the heat of the pools I ran down and had a swim in the bay. To spite the name Hot Water Beach, the water in the bay isn’t hot. It does have warm spots though where the hot water is bubbling up from the seabed. It felt wonderfully luxurious … even getting changed back into dry clothes on shore wasn’t a problem. It was as if we were all in a mixed sauna with no need to feel embarrassed. (I confess to changing behind a rock giving me a just a touch of privacy.)

As we departed,  the two-hour window being over, people were still arriving. The tide was on the rise and pools closer to the shoreline were disappearing fast. We shook our heads, it was such a shame they were going to miss out.

It had been great fun for all of us with a heart-warming community feel about it. I really really loved it – I was like a pig in clover!

One man’s trash …

Weeds - just plants in the wrong place

Walking down to the Coromandel’s Cathedral Cove last week with friends from Scotland I was surprised to hear one exclaim delight at seeing a butterfly alighting on a thistle. She asked me to take a photo (I do so love the Scottish accent!).

In New Zealand thistles are considered weeds.

There was no butterfly – just a common old paper moth. Paper moths are not pretty, they’re a bit of a nuisance.

The phrase ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ sprang to mind.

The thistles we think of as weeds serve as the Scottish national emblem. You see them stylised in silver jewellery, you see them on postcards and posters, and according to our friends – they are traditionally used for buttonholes at weddings. They have a long history – are much loved and highly regarded.

Apparently the origin of its use as an emblem dates back to Scotland’s ancient order of chivalry known as “The Order of the Thistle.” It relates to the war between the Scottish and the Vikings of Denmark. When the Vikings attempted to surprise the Scots in a night attack, one of them supposedly placed his bare foot on a thistle causing him to dry out in pain alerting the Scots to his presence.

After this Viking episode, the thistle became known as the “Guardian Thistle” and, under James III, it became the badge of the Stuarts. Today it is the insignia of the Scottish guard and has been used on coins, bank notes, stamps and broad swords. It even decorates the tomb of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Given the legend surrounding the Scottish thistle, the plant clearly denotes bravery, courage and loyalty in the face of treachery. The tough, painful spikes of the plant itself suggest endurance and fortitude. As plant expert Arthur Lee Jacobson says about another thistle, “Though we cannot beat, nor like, nor use the damn thing, we must at least respect it as a formidable foe.”

I learned something on our walk and now have more respect for this prickly fiend. I still have nothing good to say about paper moths.

The biggest risk I’ve ever taken

I was never so alone

All day I’ve been asking myself whether I’d be able to write on this subject.

You see, I’m not a big risk taker – I’m really more of a risk averse sort of a person. Perhaps that’s because I did take a huge risk many years ago and the toll was huge.

I chose to end my marriage.

I had three young children. It’s one thing to make decision that affects only your own life, quite another when it impacts directly on others. It wasn’t a decision taken lightly … it never is.

I’m not going to go in to the why’s and wherefores here but I will say that prior to the break-up I spent two years agonising over my decision. Two years agonising over breaking up our family – taking my children from the father they loved, wondering how I was going to manage financially, how I was going to manage emotionally, whether my children were going to hate me, whether I could cope on my own, what people would think, and would I ever find happiness with someone else.

When I was able to sleep, I slept fitfully waking many times through the night, unable to stop the voices in my head.

I was running on nervous energy. In the pool, it was nothing to swim 100 laps. I had to make myself stop. There was no escape from anxiety. My weight plummeted. My hands shook and my heart raced whenever I felt threatened or challenged.

It was a terrible time.

None of my friends had been through a marriage break-up. There were no words to explain the immense grief. I felt so so alone – knowing I couldn’t go back, not knowing how to feel better, not knowing how to deal with my children’s hurt, wishing my parents were alive so that I could have strong shoulders to lean on to ease my pain.

I’ve never cried so much. The grief at losing my brother Rick, my father and mother and my marriage just poured out of me. It would only take a word or a thought and the tears would flow uncontrollably. It was good for me – I needed to do that, to get it all out.

This was all a long time ago and the risk I took, the biggest risk I’ve ever taken, was right for me and I made it through.

But in saying that, there are still times, especially at Christmas, when I feel an overwhelming sadness at the loss of our family unit.

The ones that got away

New Zealand peacherine - almost as good as the Italian peach

I adore fruit. Our bowls are always full of whatever’s in season – particularly when their seasons are short.

Such it is with the New Zealander peacherine – a hybrid combining nectarine and peach. This is the only time of year they’re available but only for a few weeks. The flesh is golden orange – firmer than a peach and the skin less furry. Another thing in their favour is that you can eat them without juices running down your chin. Yummy!

As I crunched into the one pictured I was reminded of a trip last year to the Cinque Terre with my daughter. We had spent the day rambling along rustic paths between the villages of Vernazza and Riomaggiore and had returned famished , desperately in need of a cold dip in the bay. After racing up to our villa to change into swim suits we stopped at one of the little local delicatessens choosing two ripe peaches and two fresh figs to take down to the cove.

After a brief dip to cool down I clambered up to our towels and retrieved my golden red treasure from its white paper bag.

I sat on the rocks and bit into it. It was without doubt the most delicious I’d ever had. Sweet and intense, not too juicy  with deep red flesh such as I’d never seen before. I was in total food heaven savoring every mouthful, not wanting the pleasure to end.

My enjoyment of the fig was similar. Far more flavorsome than any I’d previously eaten.

We spent an hour or so swimming in the warm water watching the passing parade of tourists and locals, in boats or simply walking along enjoying the later afternoon sun.

When we finally decided we’d had enough, we stopped in again at the little deli. We were due to leave the next day and agreed that we just had to take some peaches with us for the long train journey.

We put the peaches in the small (and useless) fridge in our room with a promise to each other that we’d remember to take them out next day.

We had to catch the train early.

I guess you know what happens next …

We caught the train. A couple of hours later I said to Ket, “Come on, let’s have our peaches now?”

We’d made the train – they hadn’t. It was a long journey from Vernazza to Prague … five trains, two planes … it felt even longer without the peaches.

I’m still thinking about them. They get sweeter with each thought…

There’s something about the number seven

Keeping Richie McCaw close to the heart

Number seven has been my special number for as long as I can remember. Whenever I’ve been asked to pick a number, seven has been my immediate response.I have absolutely no idea why.

My youngest son, a keen rugby player, has always played best at flanker – number seven position.

Richie McCaw, New Zealand and the World’s top rugby player, is also a flanker – number seven. I adore Richie McCaw – he’s the most sensational player and better than that, he reminds me of my late brother Rick. They have the same eyes. When he’s on the field I look at noone else.

The above picture featuring Richie McCaw’s signature (not my chest I hasten to mention) was taken several years ago on a rugby trip. We had travelled to Sydney for a Bledisloe Cup challenge – All Blacks versus the Wallabies (Australia). At the time Richie was nursing an injury and instead of preparing for the game at the Stadium, he was a guests of the hosts of our harbour cruise.

He was swamped by everyone wanting to have their picture taken with him and asking for autographs. He was using a big black felt pen for signing people hats, jerseys, programmes and whatever else was put in front of him.

When my friend’s turn came she, having been fortified by a few beers, proudly showed him her chest. No hesitation!

So she wore his signature all night – showing it off at every opportunity.

Next morning it was still there. She panicked. Her husband is the jealous sort, and would not have taken too kindly to another man in such close proximity to her chest.

Permanent ink …

She scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. When she came down to breakfast her chest looked red raw. She looked very embarrassed and a little fearful. Whatever was she going to do? She felt that one saving grace was our late arrival back into Wellington – her husband was sure to be asleep when she arrived home.

An early morning shower would provide another opportunity for scrubbing.

From memory she was successful and she made promise to not circulate the photo.

I haven’t!!!