A Charmed Life


my tribe; my heart my soul my people

‘Family is not necessarily your blood. We are raised to think that but sometimes our family lets us down and we end up creating a new family for ourselves. Family is all the people you can rely on, people who won’t judge you, people who have your back, people you can trust, people who are loyal. That’s family’

I love this quote, not least because it comes from my beloved Madonna but because it is true of my world. As I have gotten older I have learnt to be more discerning about the people I surround myself with. Not so long ago I even went so far as conducting a people detox to free myself from those who no longer served me, and so to that end – with very limited blood kin interaction – over the past few years it is the tribe I have found and chosen for myself that I have come to consider family.

And even though we are scattered around the globe I live for our interactions. I love my Whatsapp blowing up with epic conversations of everything and nothing, the belly laughs that only they can induce, our FaceTime chats, hugs (both real and virtual), the style tips, precious moments we spend together in person making memories and the unwavering love and support we have for each other through the good, bad and in between times.

I am writing this at a time when I am witness to one of my tribe go through something truly awful, and in my role as her sister friend I am there on the other side of phone; to keep her calm, make her laugh, give advice where warranted, to ensure she knows she is supported but mostly all I do is listen – anytime day or night she knows I am there to listen. And its just my turn, she is there for me when I need her, its just my turn now to be there for her.

Therein lies the magic of a tribe you create for yourself… the knowing;  knowing there are people who always have your back, knowing there are people who will lift you up when you need a boost, knowing there are people who can reflect you back to yourself when you are lost, knowing there are people who support your dreams, who motivate and challenge you. Knowing there are people – my people who teach me soul things and heart math. I read somewhere you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and thinking about it right here right now the five people I have spent the most time with just this last month, I am like ‘Hell Yes! I should be so lucky.’ There is no one I would rather be on this insane world roller coaster with. My tribe; my heart my soul my people.

Sat Nam

And… so Saudi Arabia is finally allowing women into stadiums and granting them the right to drive. This is no small feat but a rumbling war in Yemen, the Gulf row with neighbouring Qatar and the small matter of abhorrent human rights violations still make my blood boil, so yes a step in the right direction but there is too much still to fight for over there #freeAlial-Nimr  Twenty years ago this week I left everything and everyone I know in New Zealand to become a kiwi girl abroad. I left with only one real goal and that was to chase Madonna around the world and as serendipity would have it I well and truly succeeded in doing just that (36 times ten countries) with many many other adventures along the way. It has been one wild ride that’s for sure. Excited for what happens next. Bring on the next twenty #HappyAnniversaryToMe #RollOnNextChapter #PeaceLove


every day. is beautiful.

Every day in life is beautiful. Every day. Is beautiful.’ Every now and then you come across someone whose light shines so bright it touches your heart. These words are from Alice Herz-Sommer and to me, she is one such someone.

I was cooking when I heard these words, and they made me stop what I was doing and pay attention and so this is how I happened upon the documentary The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life and by extension the life of Alice Herz-Sommer. At the time of filming she, at 109 was the oldest known holocaust survivor. The short documentary documents her life; as an accomplished concert pianist who grew up in Czechoslovakia, her time in Theresienstadt concentration camp (she survived because she could play the piano and the Nazis used this prison to fool the Red Cross into believing they were benevolent towards Jews and that this was a camp where music and the arts thrived), it goes on to describe briefly her life in Israel and then lastly London where she lived independently in Belsize Park. Throughout her life, it is music that has been her spiritual sustenance and this documentary focuses on the music not on the particular events that happened during her long life.

‘Music saved my life and music saves me still… I am Jewish, but Beethoven is my religion.’

I watched her thinking how did I know of her before this moment, she should be discussed in schools so I set about writing this piece to share her with you. What captivated me was her spirit. This was a woman who experienced unthinkable horrors including the loss of her mother and husband, horrors that you and I will never know or even really understand and yet she lived with optimism and a complete lack of rancour. No pity, no tragedy in her demeanour. This is forgiveness in true practice. And even at this advanced age she was still able to recall memories from her mentally sharp mind, which made watching her on screen an invigorating experience. Alice Herz-Sommer died age 110 a week before this documentary won an Oscar in 2014. She continued to play the piano every single day right to the end of her life. There is an expression used in Kundalini yoga, which has come to be the measure by which I hold all my thoughts and actions accountable – the grace of god. Alice Herz-Sommer was the grace of god. As you go about your day my hope is that you take the essence of her words with you. ‘Every day in life is beautiful. Every day. Is beautiful.’

Sat Nam

ps speaking of la vita e bella, so happy for Ireland voting – by a huge majority – to legalise same-sex marriage, the revolution of love is in full force. #LoveWins #LoveisLove

pss please watch


amen to that

Last week Kate Moss turned 40 and the papers in the UK went gaga over this. I don’t understand why she garnered so much attention; she has to be the worst kind of role model that exists – arrogant,  privileged and selfish. As such I ignored every article that was focused on her except for one that caught my eye. It was about her aging knees. Now I have been blessed with amazing genes that don’t render me looking anywhere near the 40 that I am, so at the time of reading this article I remember thinking ‘ah well she smokes, does drugs and sun bakes so something has to give surely.’

Imagine to my horror then, when today whilst doing downward facing dog at yoga I noticed my very own aging knees. Not quite as noticeable as Kate’s but knobbly just the same. With paranoia set in I came home to do an all body search to check for signs of aging and then I realised how stupid I was being because I don’t really care. I’m 40 and this is the body I have got. Amen.



its back

tetrisI can’t remember how it came into my house, I’m sure it had something to do with my brother but once it came in, it never left. I still have it to this day at my parent’s house and can quite happily while away hours playing on it. What am I talking about it? Remember Tetris (brick game)? Of course you do. I’m pretty sure it is ubiquitous when I say it is a stalwart of a time gone by, how many of us can claim that we spent hours playing it when we should have been studying.
I don’t even understand why I love it but there is something highly addictive yet calming about forming lines and watching them disappear. Can you believe it is thirty years old this year AND finally it is about to be unleashed on a whole new generation for it has recently been announced that new versions are to be made available on PS4 and Xbox One. I’m not a gamer but I do love my Pac-Man, Mario, Donkey Kong and Tetris so I greet this news with the excitement that only a true child of the 80s would understand. How cool were the 80s? Bad fashion but great music, movies and Tetris!


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so now I’m 40 I…

Ever put the tap on in the kitchen sink to have the water fall on a spoon so it sprays all over you? That just happened to me and what do I do? Burst out laughing of course. I’m drenched but I can’t help myself with the laughing. What a change that makes for if when that was me ten years ago, I would have been hysterical about getting my hair and makeup wet and having to change my clothes. That is what I love about being 40 – the fact that I find more to laugh about in life.

At 40 I …
Am more discerning about the company I keep
Am able to go out in public sans makeup
Am comfortable with my style and don’t feel any pressure to keep up with the the latest High Street trends
Am able to go to the gynecologist without being embarrassed
Am able to understand another person’s point of view through compassion
Can say ‘no’ without feeling FOMO*
Opt to cook dinner (from scratch) for friends rather than go out drinking
Can stop fretting about others’ expectations of me
Forgive myself more easily
Know that vinegar and bicarbonate soda are great cleaning agents
Appreciate good wine – well at least appreciate good tasting wine
Appreciate what it means to stop and smell the roses
Appreciate my parents
Do not sweat the small stuff
Drink copious cups of tea
Can’t remember the last time I bought a magazine
Keep it simple
Can ask for what I want without fear
Prefer to sit at a concert
Can talk about pensions and health insurance and actually know what I’m talking about
Am prepared to pay extra to travel comfortably
Am body confident
Am able to seek counselling and work on being a better version of me
Am kinder to myself
Am mindful
And last but not least am very, very, very grateful for this life I live.


*fear of missing out

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see – This is 40

So I watched the frivolous drivel that is This is 40 and it entertained me enough to make me write about it. It is one of those movies that I wouldn’t pay to see but is just the right kind of mindless nonsense that is suitable for watching in the confines of an artificial atmosphere that exists on a plane. Made by the same producer that is behind Superbad (the title says it all as far as I am concerned) and Bridesmaids (I just did not get this movie), I had very low expectations.

While there is no plot to this movie other than the main characters (husband Pete played by Paul Rudd and wife Debbie played by Leslie Mann) approaching 40 AND it was just a series of vignettes with no resolution rather like a glossy home movie. I found I could relate to the angst the husband and wife experience that comes with reaching the milestone. They are dealing with issues we are all familiar with; health kicks, parents, money matters, sniping with each other, selfishness, family loyalty but they deal with it all with such childishness, it made me feel normal. There is something that is appealing about immature adults, don’t you think? I can relate for sometimes I find myself in situations and think ‘what would a grown up do’ conveniently forgetting that I am a grown up.

I liked this movie’s juvenile humour because it made me realise as immature as I may seem I’m definitely not the only one. Actually now that I come to think of it I only have to look at my friends to know that. Maybe I should make a home movie of our antics…now that would be something. Anyway I digress. Pretty average movie but for anyone around 40, it provides that affirmation that however you maybe feeling, whatever your circumstance, whatever it is you are doing – you are not the only one and while most of the funny scenes are predictable I still managed to laugh more than I expected to.



what would you tell your younger self?

Dr Seuss21.jpg

When we are in our teens we are in such a hurry to be older, whether it is peer pressure and/or a need to develop a sense of self. We use fake ids to get into bars/nightclubs, we drink alcohol, have sex, dress provocatively, learn to drive as soon as we are legally allowed to and we shun the very life that we lived up to that point. It is no longer cool to play last card with your brother, or to jump on trampolines, or stay at home watching tele on a Friday night. We then go through our twenties and muddle through life experiences being ‘grown ups’ and slowly this ‘living’ thing starts to make sense. If we are lucky in our thirties we see our goals being accomplished and/or we have a greater understanding of who we are OR maybe we don’t overthink life so much and just continue to drift into what the next situation brings – whatever rocks your boat, we are all on different journeys as long as we reach our bliss doesn’t really matter how we get there.

Something else happens in your thirties though, something we can all relate to in some way:  we begin to wish we were younger. On the eve of turning forty I have been thinking about my journey, feeling nostalgic and emotional, at times wondering if I would have done anything different if I had a chance for a do over… ANSWER: No way, I love where I am right now and it would not have been possible if I hadn’t been on this very ride I’m on BUT I do have some advice for the younger me…

…Right now you are in such a hurry to finish studying and leave New Zealand, because you feel like you are in the arse end of the world and nothing ever happens here but to really appreciate new experiences you need to APPRECIATE and be grateful for where you come from and you will… eventually. You will even support the All Blacks, be excited for the burgeoning film industry there, be grateful that you grew up near water/beaches and nature and be proud to tell people that you come from little ol’ New Zealand. You will never love your accent though!

You won’t understand this till you are older and had some distance but you have had a privileged upbringing surrounded by family and friends who adore you. That is precious, you are nothing without these people. BE GRATEFUL AND NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS you care about as much as you can NOW especially that with your grandma because your heart will ache for her for the rest of your life once she is gone.

Grow your hair, the Dolores O’Riorden (The Cranberries)/Natalie Imbruglia look is fine but you are so much prettier with longer hair – the boys think so too ;-).

Do not bury your head in the sand when it comes to your health. Do not ignore medical advice or your brother, get medical insurance the first time he tells you to. You never know when you will need it and you will need it.

Failing is winning. Set backs are just set ups for the future accomplishments. Every experience, every opportunity, every love – trust your gut and embrace it all for it will be the making of you. Learn to LIVE IN THE MOMENT from this very second so you are present for the memories.

Learn to love your birthday, people are well-intentioned and they only want to make the day you entered the world special for you so bask in their love, and say thank you. So simple right? I promise if you do this you will notice a change in thinking in a good way.

One more thing: It make be many many years, take you around the world and who knows how much money but the Madonna thing (some call it an obsession) will come to an end. Yeah it really does, bet that hurts a little to hear but do you really need to see her more than once or twice? Just think what else you could be doing with your energy and moola.

Above all don’t fret, the universe always has your back and you – you turn out alright.


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what it feels like for a girl… in this world

“If tomorrow women woke up and decided they liked their bodies, many industries would go out of business” (Dr Gail Dines). I read this outside a cafe this morning and it made me pause for thought. I smiled as I imagined no more waxing, no more covering up grey hair, no more make up… the easy life… if only…

Alas, we don’t live in that world, we live in a world in which the media denigrates the Duchess of Cambridge for having grey hair. Shame on her for aging, doesn’t she know we like our princesses perfect! Perfect! Now there’s a word. What does it even mean? The idea of a perfect woman changes like the wind. I think it must be very hard to be a young woman today, trying to cope with all the social pressures that exist. At nearly forty, I do think about the aging process and I do consider what goes into my body, how much I exercise, and of course how I look; but I much prefer being older because with age comes an acceptance about who I am and I don’t feel the need to rush out to buy this season’s fashion trends and I am happy to be seen with no makeup on and the greys, well they can stay until I can be bothered to find the time to go to the hairdresser. I champion the Duchess for being brave to be herself in public. I can only hope she doesn’t bow to pressure and feel the need to change herself for anyone other than herself (and maybe her family).



my partner in crime

Feeling a little nostalgic this week because it is big birthday for a dear friend of mine; someone best described as my partner in crime through my formative years.

I met my partner in crime when we were about four years old and we became fast friends and that was probably just as well, because on account of our last names starting with ‘KAN’ we were stuck together throughout our primary, secondary and tertiary schooling. I am lucky I never had to worry about being friendless on the first day of a new school or being without someone to eat lunch with because I always could rely on my partner in crime. I’m not sure what made us like each other, but knowing the people we have grown into I can see that we have strong personalities and we both love to talk so I guess it was like attracts like. And oh yes! That talking, that got us into trouble practically everywhere we went. Teachers would separate us, parent/teacher evenings meant trouble for sure, we would get hushed in the cinema and I’m sure we have been kicked out of public places.

We got up to plenty of mischief; wagging, stealing, detention, inventing our own language (of sounds) so we could communicate across the classroom and then some.. and it was always good fun. Whether it was racing home from uni to watch ‘The Love Boat’ or ‘Days of our Lives’ or just hanging out – all I really remember is laughing. She was and still is good like that – can always induce rip roaring laughter that will leave you keeling over in tears.

My memories of our friendship are long but I remember two instances when she was totally there for me. The first was when I lost a good friend at a young age.  She took it upon herself to cheer me up by way of a driving lesson. I remember she took me to some warehouse car park near the airport and ‘showed’ me how to drive with her right leg out the window. Needless to say I didn’t learn how to drive that day but I did laugh.  Then there was another time when I lost my beloved grandma in New Zealand when I was living in London therefore unable to grieve with my family. It was she who swept me up and took me back to her place and made me watch bad kiwi movies. I’m not sure I exactly laughed more like cringed but she was the perfect person to have around me in my time of need.

She is the perfect pick me up friend, the perfect fun friend, the perfect just gets it friend, the perfect partner in crime and it gives me so much pleasure to know that all these years later that not even oceans can keep us apart. So from one KAN to another KAN – here’s to the next forty and beyond dear friend!



you know you are getting old(er) when…

Until recently I thought the term ‘twerk’ was the official word for the act of writing on Twitter aka tweeting. Now that I know what it is I am wondering WHY? Why there has to be a specific word for it ? Why it needs to be validated by being added to the Oxford dictionary ? Is it really a word we will refer to in years to come ? Could it not just come under Booty Shake or Dirty Dancing ? It is hardly an actual dance form like a waltz or the hustle is it ? It just seems another way for younger people to get attention. I was young once so I understand. I did a lot of obnoxiously try-hardy things to get attention none of which however made it into the Oxford dictionary (and thank god for that).