Category Archives: Ramblings

This week’s favorite reads

Depression isn’t at all like sadness.

I think this article is the best description of depression Ive ever read. Ive never had it, but have struggled to figure out how to support people with it… And now realise the reason we all get it so wrong is because we really do not understand what it is.

I have some vague idea of that numb feeling. My early twenties were full of the kind of exhausting, overwhelming stress that did actually leave me feeling numb. I remember feeling confused when people complained about every day issues, how they had capacity to actually care enough to feel anything about things so trivial. Now, thats all I do have to worry about, I can look back and have a glimmer of understanding of how it feels to not be able to feel. The difference being, I wasn’t depressed. I had an end point, I had an exit strategy.

So while the article sort of says there is nothing you can do, I wonder if understanding the illness a little more may lead to doing less harm in our attempts to be a friend.

Strong is the new skinny.

Another Facebook friend posted this article. It really struck a chord when I realised how little emphasis we place on the beauty of strong, fit girls. The skinny obsession has always bewildered me. Every time I pack on the pounds, its not my size that freaks me out, its how unfit I feel, how weak. Every time I lose a bit of weight, I very quickly stop caring about thinness, and very quickly start tracking the speed I run, the weights I can lift and (like on Sunday) how AWESOME it is to go for a run with a friend, and yap the whole way, feeling awesome.

The overwhelming vibe I get from the article is that the focus on skinniness is overwhelming negative, while the focus on strength could change the way girls perceive themselves and others perceive us forever.

Dabbling in the Share Market

One revelation that recently came to me, is that when you have some savings and you are almost 30, you should probably look at other options than the bank. I always thought share trading was for people with Money (the capital ‘M’ refers to the seriousness of their bank account balances), and people with serious financial intellect.

I have neither.

But I do have the desire to learn something new, so armed with the lesson that you never invest anything you can’t afford to lose, I signed up for a share trading account (Mine is with ANZ, but I hear Direct Brokers may be better). The sign up proces is simple and you simple get charged a transaction fee for each trade.

Im writing this, because since then, a few of us have got into it and are madly trying to convince others to look into it. I think generally, girls in my age group are very conservative about investing, and spend far, far too much of their salaries on clothes etc, while never building any wealth for themselves. Im trying to dispel the ‘I cant afford it’ myth by investment small amounts (my understanding is $3,000 is about where you want to start to ensure the trading fees dont suck up too much profit, but that can be split into 3 $1,000 investments)

Then comes the ‘Portfolio’. Based on advice, Ive sort of come to the conclusion you want to keep the vast bulk of your money in something safer. Im not convinced Im taking my own advice, but I think I may be more of a risk taker than I thought, and startup life changes your perception of risk :) So the rough plan is to keep 80% in the bank/house, 10% in high risk shares and 10% in low risk, long term holdings.

I have assumed, since Xero IPO’d and I convinced my entire family to invest, that Im a share market natural. I suppose it’s not ‘normal’ that your first dabble increases over 1,300% (is that right?) in a few years, but it sure gave me confidence. My theory is to go off my gut. I know it seems a bit cowboy, but I started with the research way of doing things, and the general consensus seemed to be its all a big gamble anyway. Like I say, I feel like a natural (terrible advice, but whatever).

So I started the year with a piddly portfolio. Unfortunately for me, Xero IPO’d when I was buying an apartment, so I made a very small, $1,000 investment initially.

I then bought $10,000 of Xero shares at $7.50 in January and kicked myself for a month when they steadily tanked. But now they’ve pretty much doubled. Im very happy as the point of that was ‘oh well, Im sure they’ll raise more than the 4% I’d get in the bank’.

I then started spamming everyone I know who has financial literacy for hot tips. On the basis that it was totally judgement free (people are quite hesitant to recommend shares in case it all goes terribly wrong), I got a few ideas.

I then had a grand plan to become a share trader. I bought $1,000 of Diligent shares at $5.20 or something. When they hit $6 a few weeks later I was like ‘kapow!’ and sold up. Then sat glumly watching them rise further and further. I was stoked at the couple of hundred extra in my pocket. It was fun, but I think I realised Im not a trader.

So I bought back in the other day at $6.85 when they went down a bit That was the same $1,000.

In the meantime, I also invested in Snakk Media. Probably my worst current investment as the price is still hovering around what I paid. Ill probably take advantage of the $0.12 offer though. I think that took $3,000 of my money. I will definitely hold onto these, but consider it the biggest gamble Ive taken. Im totally ok with it because, like I say, this is probably the best chance I have to take risks without it seriously causing harm if it turns to custard.

So thats my high risk out of the way! I think I may have got a bit over excited on that front.

Next up is the long term. I am thinking a NZX 50 fund, a bank and/or a resthome (once again based on advice from people far more competent than me).

So anyway, so far, Ive been pretty fortunate. The worst Ive done is to not make anything.

I also know, for a lot of people, the sums Im throwing around still seem like heaps. But so does the salaries that most people spend, to savers like me.

So that’s my sharemarket 2 cents :)

Lessons from the overworked.

You know its been too long when spammers are comfortable filling up comment space…

At the end of last year, I figured Id learned a few things. My bad workload planning had left me burning the midnight oil too many times and I was quite tired and unhappy with my failure to organise myself better. I get that some people thrive off overwork, but Im not one of them. I lost too much of my early twenties to stress, I didn’t plan on doing it again.

Normally those sorts of lessons die with the memory of just how hard it is to work too much, but this time, I feel like it sparked quite the long term life revolution. So here goes:

1. Money isn’t that important after all

One of the main responses to my (endless) complaining of being overworked when I was turning down invites, spare beds for friends and generally everything that people are used to me having in bucketloads… was ‘ah well, at least you’re earning heaps’.

I always suspected that money wasn’t that important to me. Security is. Money is only able to buy security and the ability to no worry about money. Im not extravagant, but I do believe firmly in a balance between earning, spending and saving/investing, I was unsure of where that balance sat.

Last year, I earned a lot (‘a lot’ is relative, but for me, it was a decent chunk of cash). At some point in the year, it became very apparent that the downsides of overwork far, far outweighed the extra money.

This is important, because I felt like I was in the unusual position to actually test my theory. That lesson stuck.

2. Living is important

Last year, I didnt do an awful lot of living. There is something to say about being time poor changing your decision making process for socialising. You make better decisions, you learn to appreciate your down time and as a result, you really start to live by the mantra ‘on your death bed, you will never look back and wish you worked more’.

I definitely have a tendency to take work life seriously. I think you need to give work and clients the respect they deserve, and I still believe delivering is far more important, on a day to day basis, than a drink with a friend. But alternatively, learning to say ‘no’ to a project so that long term you dont have to make that sacrifice is also very important.

Life is shockingly short and I genuinely believe now that you have got to get your priorities right and not let years slip by without seriously questioning how much of it you spend working. This is not to say that I, in any way dont like my job. I still think I love my job more than virtually any one else Ive met, but I do think it needs to be balanced with non-work. 40 hours is a magical number plucked randomly to be a work week. I cant believe the number of conversations Ive had with people who feel trapped their desk for those 40 hours a week, despite the fact that some weeks they have 50 hours of work to do, and others 30.

There is great joy to be had walking out the office at 2pm or 11am some days when you are uninspired, the sun in shining and you have a niece to spend time with.

3. Ego is not important

Ive had this nagging feeling for a couple of years now that some of my work decisions have been based on ego. Having employees so I can claim to have a ‘proper company’, having the ‘next big idea’ ready to go, planning to make a fortune off business ventures etc etc…

I still feel a little weird about admitting that as of this year, I dont feel as driven any more. It was a major relief to allow myself to accept that its actually ok to not stroke my own ego and present a driven front to the world. Some things have become far, far more more important. And I genuinely feel that this has been the best revelation of the year. I actually think its life changing. Its definitely funny, and I do feel when explaining this in various ways, in some circles, there is a definite vibe of ‘you must have been a failure’ as a result. Ive heard others mention the same thing after something has made them feel similar to me.

Once again, this is not to say Ive closed my mind to starting the next big thing, growing another company or any number of other things. I just dont feel like its the only option any more, and I think I would be happy with the success of my life if it never happened either. May seem a small revelation, but believe me, its an important one.

Lastly… Sorry for the complaining

The rise of #FirstWorldProblems makes it a little awkward to ever complain about anything that’s not the end of the earth… I really only wrote this as a positive thing and with full gratitude that I have the time and energy to even think about these things. While I agree, first world problems, especially these kind of ones are very trivial, I also think if you are in a position like me, you have no excuse to not work hard to live the best life you can. :)

10 posts, 7 day work weeks, scary little exercise… and 2012 is virtually over

There’s nothing like looking back over your year and patting yourself on the back for all that you achieved…

I tried to do just that about 5 minutes ago, while avoiding the last of my work for the day, and came up blank.

2012, for me, was the year of plodding along. I worked hard (probably a good thing on balance, though I dare you to have asked me that at 11pm on many nights between March and August). I had a lot of fun times (though none that stand out from the pack), a got fit, lost it all, then got fit again, just to lose it again. I learned that I’m not a workaholic after all.

2012 was the year when everyone grew up. My sister has a one year old. People got married, people I know fairly well as crazy party animals are now knocked up and residing in the suburbs. Somewhere along the line, those of us whose Facebook profiles still say ‘Single’ (or in my case, ‘in an open relationship with Nadine’) became a sort of tragic minority. On a specific day in June, I woke up and realised I didn’t want to party every night any more. Thinking it was a short term affliction, I now look back with a mixture of sadness and contentedness at a year of 9pm finishes so I could head home alone and watch X Factor.

Once, I even had a conversation, in which we mentioned in all seriousness ‘young people these days…’

2012 was the year I started to seriously question what on earth Im doing with my life. It’s the first time in my working life that Ive really been able to change things up… And disastrous work planning aside, it’s been really confusing, scary and kind of worrying how little I managed to suss out. Questions that seem fairly straight forward like ‘where do I want to live’ have kept me up at night, the fact that Im quite stuck in my ways was quite hard to acknowledge. The sudden influx of babies has really made me need to sit down and think about how I would feel with them, or without them… And to realise, no matter how much I think, I probably have very little say in what happens.

The major, major lesson I learned this year was from my mum. After attending the funeral of someone who was far too young to die, she has resolved to no longer get caught up in the little things. Her new criteria for getting wound up is “will it kill you? Will it ruin your life?” If you can answer ‘no’ then you should stop worrying. Easier said than done, but a great trick when things start to feel overwhelming.

There’s something about this time of year that really makes it hard to get stressed. The sun is shining, the christmas parties are in full swing. Old friends are coming home.

Merry christmas everyone! Ill see you next year!

Finding the good in the bad…

Last week, as I was completing the Cape Kidnappers Challenge, the universe, once again conspired to teach myself and my family that life is full of surprises.

While we were meandering up mountains, my little sister took for dog for a walk back in Wellington. The walk ended tragically, with the pup getting overexcited by another dog and bolting several hundred meters, straight across a main road.

While my poor sister watched, he was run over by one car, then hit by the next. I cannot imagine how awful the sight would have been and how horrific it was for everyone involved. It broke my heart to be all the way up the country, with her standing alone on a road with her severely injured puppy crying in pain.

However, he did survive, broken neck and all… and thanks to the kindness of strangers, things weren’t as dire as they initially seemed.

The post crash is apparently a bit of a blur, but the strangers who hit Thor immediately bundled him and Sarah into their car and took them to the closest vet. Then they stuck around most of the morning, taking her from one vet to the next, home to get her stuff (she didn’t even have her phone on her, and no way of contacting any of us)… They even made sure she was aware they’d help her financially if needed.

The people in the first car, in the meantime, got home and proceeded to ring around the vets to hunt her down and exchange numbers so they could keep in touch and hear updates… It was obviously very important to them to make sure Sarah and the dog were ok.

Nearly a week later, and the initial grimm diagnosis has been replaced with an operation and amazing care to the point that the dog is already sitting and is most likely going to make a speedy(ish) and full recovery.

The big lesson we’ve all re-learned, is that the world is full of unexpected events. Some are awful, and sometimes, when you least expect it, other people behave in ways that make you proud to be human. I’ve since heard numerous stories of enraged drivers after hitting animals. While I totally understand the trauma leads to all sorts of reactions, it’s nice to think that when you can’t be there for those you’re closest to, others take on that role with such amazing kindness.

Freedom To VS Freedom From

There have been a lot of things happen recently to spark the internal debate about what’s more important… Someone’s right to express how they think and feel, or someones right to be protected from the repercussions of that.

One of the very few pearls of wisdom I learned at Uni was the difference and importance of each. When they left it up to us to decide what was more important, I fell squarely on the side of defending Freedom From… Though apparently didn’t learn with it the ability to express why I think freedom from is such a fundamental right. Until last night when I was reading Jody Picault and on page one, found this: “No man has the natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.”

Turns out, me and Thomas Jefferson have more in common than I thought.

In our current debates around Gay Marriage, Trolls on the internet (and how to deal with them), and also in any number of other debates that have raged throughout history, it does seem to come down to one thing: Whether someone’s right to say things that impact on someone else’s freedom things under the banner of ‘Im just saying what I think’ is in any way as important as the right of the recipient to not have to deal with the emotional, social and huge number of other ramifications of being at the other end of what is realistically hate-speech. My definition of ‘hate-speech’ somewhat controversially includes nice old ladies delivering fundamentally the same message, but nicely padded in ‘normal’ social politeness.

While downing a few too many wines in Melbourne, the conversation re-sparked up, and one of our grand old democracy quotes was brought up “I may hate what you are saying, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (or words to that effect). That’s all very nice and good, but it’s totally unrealistic and we have long since left those ideals behind. No on these days is legally allowed to threaten someone with murder, even if thats simply how they feel at the time, we aren’t socially (or legally?) allowed to say that we genuinely believe that someone of [insert race here] is a lesser person because of it. It’s fair to say that we have legislated against a fair few things that would fall under the banner of ‘freedom of speech’.

Im not a huge fan of making laws against everything, unless its absolutely necessary, what I am in favour of, is a kind of social law that makes it unacceptable to publicly spout opinions that cause severe harm to others who are vulnerable. While I stand by the fact that everyone is entitled to their opinion, I don’t think spouting your opinion publicly is actually a right that comes above all others. If you (like I saw on Twitter last night) come out with some ridiculous claim about someone/thing/religion/group etc etc, you should be socially prepared to defend that, prove it and deal with the flood of angry people who disagree.

After the past few months, Im genuinely unsure where I sit on things like squatting on domains to hide them away from people you know to be rampant users of the ‘Im free to spout my hideous words whenever I feel’ ideology. Im unsure where I sit even on personally attacking people who say in a nice polite way, words that mean they believe someone is not entitled to the same human rights as them. Im unsure, basically, on a lot of the tacts people seem to feel forced or provoked to use when faced with an battle to defend freedom from discrimination.

I think in the last few months, what has really be confirmed in my mind is that there are times, and there are issues, where the harm caused to people by those who use the freedom to line so, so far outweighs the reason that freedom exists, that it needs to be a lot harder to claim. You have the right to say what you think, but that right comes hand in hand with the responsibility to be able to defend that belief publicly and ongoing to those who disagree.

Being a country our Olympians are proud to represent.

Just over a week ago, I was seething at a Stuff.co.nz headline reading “Valerie loses the Olympic Shotput Final”. It was a disgraceful and totally inaccurate title for an article about how our much admired Olympic champion from 2008 won the silver medal in London.

That Val’s longest throw was 5cms longer than what won in Beijing, or that she was let down by administrators who forgot to register her, or that she just didn’t look her usual focused self was all forgotten in the public’s reaction: Val ‘lost’ because the winner looked like a man.

Im as horrified as the rest of the country to find out that the testing set in place at the Olympics found drugs in 2 of the Gold medalist’s samples. A drug cheat, at this moment, feels like the worst kind of cheat… She deprived our country of the celebration we were planning for, she tarnished the Olympics brand, she undermined everything about competing at the top of your game, and most importantly, she stole the moment from someone who has focused virtually her entire life around winning that medal.

But there is something sick and twisted about our attitude towards not winning Gold. This Olympics had the most rigorous testing programme in place that we have ever seen, it seems this particular case was fast tracked and yes, there were definite signs that pointed towards drug abuse (Increasing your best distance by over a meter all of a sudden, after years and year seems, even to an outside observer, more than a touch odd)… But our quick and hugely personal attacks on someone who has not been proven guilty are just yuck.

Val, even in what must have been an awful moment, probably well aware that the woman who stole Gold from her was a drugs cheat, was an unbelievable example of all that is good with the Olympics. She took her Silver with as much dignity as she could muster, she didn’t say a word about the drugs cheat and she shone as an example to all of us of how to behave.

While the rest of us went wild creating memes about the man/woman, how ugly she was, how we all (totally without expertise) ‘knew’ she cheated. Some even felt entitled to rip into Val herself for not being quite up to it any more, for losing the plot, bombing out and any number of other insults that make me wonder why on earth anyone would bother to wear the Silver Fern for us at all.

So the drugs cheat has now been exposed, and people are scrambling to be the first to congratulate our second-time Olympic champion, while justifying the insults we threw at the perceived winner.

There are very few events in modern life that being together the world in the spirit of fair play and giving it all. Every single one of our athletes did us proud, its the rest of us that left a lot to be desired.

How to accidentally stop blogging

So life got pretty busy there for a while… And suddenly it’s halfway through the year.

Apparently the way to stop blogging, is to not do it one day… or the next, and rinse and repeat until eventually, it feels very weird to be back.

It’s been a crazy year. My attempt to go it alone until Jan 2012, has been wildly profitable, both business wise and emotionally. In my most busy and stressed out patches this year, while lying awake at night, unable to go to sleep because I worked until bedtime… the one BIG HUGE feeling of relief I had was that THIS is the worst it gets.

Compared to about every other stage of business stress I have experienced, this year has been one big happy walk in the park. I may be racing through the park like a headless chicken, but that’s not always such a bad thing.

One cool development as a result of having no ‘dependents’ has been my ability to expand out of my office an work on site. This has been hugely fascinating because I totally issed the ‘work for someone else’ part of my education. I love having a social club, understanding internal politics and hierarchies and processes and the joys of relying on your teammates… Just being one small cog. I now understand what my friends are talking about when discussing ‘work’.

So now we have that out of the way, I have ticked off the ‘do that awkward blog post’ task and will hopefully be repeating this more often :)

Happy half way mark everyone!

Million dollar mouse: Flower Power donates $1,000

Thanks to all our Flower Power customers. On your behalf, we just donated $1,000 to eradicate mice off the Antipodes Islands, which matched dollar for dollar by Gareth and Jo Morgan, means thats $2k towards the million dollar target.

We think its a pretty awesome cause, and love the fact that instead of thinking the problem with our environment is too big, Million Dollar Mouse, plucks off a small part of the problem, that we can actually fix.

So good on you all, Keep buying Flower Power through Powershop, and we’ll keep you posted on all the good your money is doing :)

Some other great causes Flower Power customers have donated to:
$5050 for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal
$1,000 to the Wellington Hospitals and Health Foundation

And don’t forget, you can get $50 free power, just by signing up :)

Kony 2012: because the world can see each other, we can protect each other

“If the world is a mess, what’s the simplest thing we can focus on? And joseph Kony is that person. He’s [been] a warlord for 26 years, has been abducting children from their home and making them kill people, cut people’s faces off… The worst crimes your’ve ever heard of.”

If Faceook and Twitter have their place, surely this must be it. If you haven’t watched this video yet (where have you been hiding?!?!?!), do it now.