Update: The F*ck It Edition

Update: The F*ck It Edition

Designing a Happy Life. Making it work. Doing our own thing. Being the change we want to see in the world. Finding a way to be thriving artists living creative lives centered around the family. Such good words. Great words. Admirable, amazing sentiments and oh my f*cking god I hope we can rise to this.

There’s a point somewhere between idea and execution. A point where you ask what have you got to lose? A point where any alternative seems better than what you are currently facing. A point at which we are all all the more likely to just say f*ck it. I’ve had enough. Let’s change this.

We hit that point soon after we realized that the New Zealand dream wasn’t our dream. We tried to make new ideas, ways out, to find elegant solutions to the problem in hand. They usually started with, well maybe if we apply for this teaching job, then we can move… Not exactly solutions, perhaps more like wishful thoughts. Then our suggestions started to move further and further away from our reality.

Because really, if you’re going to make a change, why not make a really big change? A change so different that what went before it would become almost unrecognizable, a change that divides your life into before and after.


We thought we were doing that when we moved to New Zealand. After all, we were moving to New Zealand! Not back to Europe, not somewhere else in the Midwest, but New Zealand! It sounded so exotic. But alas, our lives there had more of the stuff that had been frustrating before we moved. I suppose you can’t just change your location but do the same roles and expect it to be quantitively or qualitatively different. You’re just doing the same thing somewhere else, even further away from what you know and who you know.

Meh.

So, when we were brainstorming ideas of how we could leave behind our New Zealand lives and how we could create a new life, we got ambitious in our thoughts. Could we make a life that didn’t involve Lars being at an educational institution all the live-long day, while I wrangled children and tried to operate a business? Hey, what if we could be artists? I mean artists who get paid to do stuff, not artists like we already are… What if we could sell art and our expertise? What if we could educate on our own terms? What if we could do it our way?

What if we could indeed create our own idea of life, a life where we can be present for the kids, have a thriving family life and make a living doing what we do, what we always do anyway. Why shouldn’t we make money being artists? Why can’t we be artists and parents and be good at both? Is that too much to ask for? What’s so wrong with that? Can we add in being financially secure? We really want to be financially secure.

Enter stage left, Designing a Happy Life. We could do this and we could document this, what’s the worst that could happen?…

And so, here we are, a year or so from when I first purchased this domain name. In many ways we are designing a happy life. We moved back to the US, we’ve settled in a great little city, the kids love their school. We live in a house that is potentially perfect. Our day to day lives have a pretty good rhythm. We see the kids more, there’s more balance.

The only thing we are missing here really is the financial stability. And unfortunately that’s a whoppingly huge part of the puzzle. It seems like every week I make a new website, or have a new idea or figure out a different way that might make this all come together. Sometimes these plans are met with great enthusiasm, other times they sink without a trace. What I would really like is for someone to tell me the one thing that will work, and how we can make it work. Maybe they could hand me a list of things to do to guarantee success.

Currently we have a custom recipe painting business, a wall art for babies and kids business, our regular art partnership, a visual cookbook project and a new freelance art consulting site. Waiting in the wings are online classes in art + creativity for kids and possibly some freelance web design.

As we work our asses off trying to make it work, we need to remember the reasons we made this decision. Being self-employed is not an easy option. Not knowing what may or may not work is unsettling. We are throwing everything we can at the wall and hoping that some of it sticks. But f*ck it, I want this to work.

Maybe we are just steps away from things falling into place, or maybe we still have a mile or more to go. Or maybe our path to stability looks more like getting regular jobs. Lars has a teaching job, it’s adjunct so it’s not a whole lot of commitment. Honestly, at first I was annoyed as it “wasn’t part of the plan”, but now I recognize that it is some stability (not a great deal, but some) in a very turbulent sea. But if we need to get regular jobs, I fear that between that and childcare, we will be floating back downstream, further and further from the dream.

Throughout this whole journey, we have been tested in so many ways. To emigrate and not love it. To get a high flying fancy job and not love it. To live in paradise and not love it. To leave it all behind and realize that maybe you didn’t love it but you certainly saw some beautiful places and met some amazing people.

And if there’s a path to make this good, to make this whole roundabout circumnavigating the globe as we figure out our lives make some sense, I will damn well find it. Because this can not have all been for nothing. So, yeah. We’re ready. We’re ready for this to work, now. We’ve opened lots of doors and we’re ready for financial security to flow in. Universe, do you hear me? Because I will start shouting. I’m drawing a line in the sand today. That was then. This is now. We’re done with struggle and worry and fear and panic. We’re open to magnificence and awesomeness and all round amazingness. Flow and ease. Yes please. Universe, we’re ready for the next step.

Let’s never, ever, ever move again.

Let’s never, ever, ever move again.

As a teenager and young adult, I would only see my Dad sporadically, maybe every year, perhaps a little more often, perhaps a little less. He was a quiet man and I can be quite shy, so I mainly remember lots of our meetings being quite awkward. I hope that the silences were companionable for him at least. I have to assume that we weren’t both frantically trying to come up with something to say.


It always seemed a little ridiculous to try and explain what had happened in the last year or so, so instead we’d do a super-quick recap and then just chit chat about current affairs and programs worth watching on TV, or what kid of music we like, or what other people were up to.


It was with a huge shock that I just realized that I last wrote here at the end of February. I intend to write on an almost daily basis, but somehow life wins out. It’s been an incredible journey to emigrate twice and settle in a new city, again. Parts of that journey make a great story, but lots of it is incredibly mundane. I’ve been putting off the “and so that is how we found a house and settled in Portland, Maine” update because it seems too big, too hard to chop into easily assimilated pieces. So instead, this is how we moved to the house we knew we’d move to, but almost didn’t.


When I last wrote, we’d been in a hotel room for 18 days… we ended up staying there for a whopping eight weeks. Having your breakfast made for you everyday is not to be sniffed at. Dealing with a baby who wasn’t sleeping through the night in a pack and play in your room, plus two school-age kids sharing a bed and fighting at night, in your room, was not so much fun. It had it’s moments, this whole experience.


We tried so hard to convince ourselves that we could become country folk by sheer willpower. That we would be fine in our solitude and a good school system. That the house in the sticks would be what we needed it to be. Turns out that when the house negotiations got tricky, we were happy to put down our chips and leave the table, without a backward glance.


And so in a funny turn of events, we ended up moving into the house that we found on Christmas Day 2013 when we were in New Zealand. We found it online, the neighborhood looked good, the back garden was enormous, and it’s actually in Portland. The house itself was difficult to figure out from the highly selective photos online. It is a single family house that was chopped up into a duplex at some point; the original staircase was half removed and a back staircase built in its place.


We tried and tried to figure out how the upstairs related to the downstairs, and we couldn’t put the pieces together in our heads. We found a realtor online who came to the house and photographed it for us. Then we looked at the photographs of random walls captioned with things like “this is where the staircase used to be”, and we were still none the wiser.


Even so, it felt like our house. It would be our house.For a while, it even looked like we could arrange everything from New Zealand, and move straight into it when we got to Portland. How easy, how marvelous.


A complete and utter miscommunication somewhere along the line (I’m letting it go, in the spirit of Frozen) meant that we stopped pursuing this house, even though the owner was open to our situation, and even though the house had huge potential. When we couldn’t find anything else in Portland we came to look at the house, our house, the one we decided to move into while still on the other side of the world.


But we weren’t feeling it. The guy living downstairs was off-putting, to put it politely, the lack of space for laundry felt wrong, the whole house just didn’t seem right. But as more and more houses seemed even less right than this one, this one rose to the top.


And so after some lengthy negotiations, in March, we moved in. The guy downstairs finally moved out three months later. “Our house” is indeed “our house”. It’s a bit weird, but it is wonderful. The top floor apartment has a kitchen and enough rooms for all the kids to have their own space. Downstairs is in need of a complete renovation, but we’ll get there at some point.


We just opened up a doorway at the bottom of the stairs so we can go upstairs and downstairs without going outside. It’s pretty exciting. Imagine how it was for the cats (oh yes, we have two cats now!) to one day discover that they had a whole new floor to explore.


We’re still unpacking, our stuff arrived from New Zealand mainly in one piece. We ‘re still finding places for everything. We still need furniture so we can put everything away. We’re still figuring it all out.


But, I’ll say this. This house is exactly what we hoped that it could be. It’s big and spacious and has heaps of potential. Yes it needs work, lots of work, but it is our home now. We’re not moving again. I was never a big proponent of the “woo-woo” way of life, but this is exactly what we hoped for. Plus there are two wonderful little girls in the house opposite, who are the exact same ages as our two bigs ones. They’re like this cool little gang. It’s perfect, it really is everything we hoped for.

Let’s Sleep on It

Let’s Sleep on It

For the last eighteen days, we have been living in a hotel while searching for a house. We’ve become a bit of a fixture here, we have “our table” in the breakfast room, the front desk staff know the kids by name, in fact they even bought presents for the girls. It’s a good hotel, we’re as happy here as you can be when five people share a room and one of them has forgotten how to sleep for more that two hours in a row. We’re in the Old Port area of Portland, so bars and restaurants and cafés are just a hop, skip and a jump away. You might find us in one, trying to eat dinner before the baby melts down in a puddle of thwarted opportunities. Louisa took her first few steps in Denver, but she’s perfected her baby toddle in the hotel here. She does not like anyone or anything to stand in her way, oh no. To say that she is stubborn is an enormous undestatement.


For eighteen days we have been looking for the perfect house in the perfect neighbourhood. Actually, scratch that, we’ve been looking for a house in a neighbourhood. We’ve moved enough times to know that compromise is the name of the game when you’re house-hunting. If you can’t have it all, then what can you have? What must you have? What can you let go?


We’ve been trying lifestyles on for size. Could we live here? How would this work? We’ve found epic houses in towns which leave us cold. We adore Portland and have found some ok houses in meh neighbourhoods, and terrible houses in good neighbourhoods. We found an amazing house in a picturesque town with the best schools in the State, only to decide the next morning that we are always going to be city people. Then we found a potentially fantastic house just outside the city center. We would make it work, the kids could share a room, we don’t need a big studio or a garden. But the next day we both awoke knowing that the group of people hanging around on the street corner opposite, and the “characters” of the neighbourhood were perhaps not the ideal neighbours that we’re hoping for as we raise our three little girls.


It hurt letting that house go, but in doing so we made a choice for the family rather than a choice for us grown ups. Neither of us are searching for a life characterized by worry and hyper-vigilance, even if the cafés are awesome and the museum is on your doorstep.


We scrabbled round some more options. Can we live without a washer and dryer? What about sharing a house? Each time our desire to be in the city almost topped everything, but not at the expense of being in a home that doesn’t make you happy. Portland is a wonderful place, and probably for that very reason, houses are hard to come by. And so we kept on looking, around and about, each time deciding that really Portland proper is the place for us.


We had thought it would be easy. Buying a car was easy. Lars looked online at used cars in our price range that would fit us all in. He emailed some dealers. The dealer who replied and brought the car in question to our hotel had the sale right there. Easy peasy. Also, not a minivan. Win, win.


But houses seemed to get harder and harder. We kept willing for a mindset shift, trying to force a change somehow. It didn’t seem to be working. But really, at the end of the day, we know what we need. We have three amazing girls. They need to be safe and secure and given the opportunity to take advantage of the best education we can find. We have our artistic practice. We need time and space and limited distractions so we can get on with it. And we have our family. We need the space and ability to have some calm in our chaos. We need room to be together and also space to be apart. We need a house that functions when they’re wee, and will still work when they’re teenagers.


We want a house in a neighbourhood where we can chat with the neighbours and walk our as-yet-hypothetical little dog. We want cafés and restaurants and a bookshop or two. We want community. This is the one that we are letting go a little. It is ok, it will be ok, we will just have to get used to it. Our community will be there, they might just be a little further away.


We wanted it to be easy, and yet finding a house seemed so hard. But maybe it was easy all along, we just had to wait for the mindset shift rather than trying to force it. Today we went back to the amazing house on the outskirts of a small town, fifteen minutes drive from Portland. It has space. It has a barn. It has a ton of trees and presumably grass under all that snow. It has enormous potential but perhaps most importantly it has a sense of calm. Sunshine. History. Quiet.


We’ve decided to get over ourselves. This house gives us everything we really need and we’re fifteen minutes away from everything we want. We have our fingers crossed that this is the one, that everything will come together to work out.


Our comfort zones are being expanded, we’re city folk not country folk, but if ever there was a time to try something new, this is it. Fingers crossed, it’s going to be awesome.

It’s either going to be utterly brilliant or a bit meh. I vote for the former.

It’s either going to be utterly brilliant or a bit meh. I vote for the former.

We’ve moved quite a lot over the years. Some dramatic moves, from Edinburgh to rural Wisconsin, from Minneapolis to New Zealand, and other quieter moves, four blocks over, five blocks down. Of all the houses we’ve lived in, there has been three that have made my spirits soar every single time I’ve turned the corner and caught sight of our house, our home. An elusive balance of location, neighbourhood, and aesthetics, some houses have it, and others simply don’t. They will always be the homes that stand out for me as really important landmarks in our lives, all places that could have been our forever home under different circumstances.


There are certain vistas over a city that prompt a sharp inhalation, a quick tummy flip, a dizzying nanosecond of thought where you realise just how lucky you are. Wow. I am here, right now. Wow. The train ride from Newcastle up to Edinburgh, along the coast. That second as you enter the city as if from the underside and feel dwarfed by its shear magnificence. Every single time I made that journey I paused to reflect on the wonders of living in such a city, no matter what else was going on around me. And now, having been away from Edinburgh for twelve and a half years, it is still one of my most poignant visceral recollections of the city. In fairness, so many other memories have that delightful cloudy feel of being wrapped in just a bit too much alcohol, they’re much less tangible, much more wooly around the edges.


Other times you turn the corner to home and it’s just, well, home. There it is, just as you left it. Other journeys are just trips that you make. The view from the air is just another perspective on the same, albeit one you see much more rarely.


Today we flew in to Boston airport for the first time ever. And it felt filled with the excitement and possibility that this could be our place. The place that lifts your heart and sets you free and makes you delight in your reality, delight in the fact that you get to be here, now. Wow.


After two plane rides and a two hour coach trip, our traveling circus family have set foot in Portland, Maine, a city we have never visited. Portland, Maine is the city we have decided will be pretty damn awesome for us to raise our kids and be ourselves.


We don’t know anyone here, and we don’t really know what to expect beyond what we’ve seen online and heard second hand. And yet, we pretty much just moved half way around the world to be here right now. In the morning we will see Portland in daylight for the first time, with the hope that we fall in love, or at least into a good strong like. Failing that, we can at least hope for a companionable silence.


You know what though, I have a really good feeling about this.

Where to from here?

Where to from here?

Denver is a great place to have an extended layover. We’ve been here for three days now, trying to recharge our batteries and relax and see some sights. Our first sights were primarily the inside of shops, lots of lovely American shops. Our luggage is in Minneapolis and we are in Denver so some shopping was inevitable. And after a year or so in New Zealand where choice is limited and prices are sky high, it was mind blowing to find great winter jackets for the kids on sale for $20. Delicious.


Call me shallow, but it was so very, very good to go and have a cup of coffee and a cake in Barnes and Noble’s, then let the kids hang out in the children’s section for an hour. Just like the olden days. We feel like we’re home, America feels right and it feels good.


Alas we can’t stay in a hotel forever, although it would be quite lovely for a wee while longer. We need to get on with finding a place to lay our (many, new) hats and call home. Currently we’re thinking Portland, Maine looks good, and we’re looking for a property finding miracle.


We have to check out tomorrow so we will have to make some decisions today. We are booked on a flight to Chicago mid-afternoon. We may or may not get on that flight, but we do need to track down our bags. Maybe we should stay on the west side of the country until the bitter winter storms ease up everywhere else… Decisions, decisions.


One foot in front of the other. It’s all good.

Back in the USA!

A million moons ago we had a fitful nights sleep in Auckland, New Zealand. Since then we have had a pancake breakfast at our neighbour’s house, and wept. Deconstructed and sold the baby’s cot and our bed. Ferried a tone of furniture out to various neighbour’s houses, and wept. Sold our not-so-trusty minivan in the nick of the time back to the dealership with merely $73.20 left for us to pay on the loan, and did not weep. Almost left the stroller in the back of the minivan which would have made me weep. Said goodbye to our fabulous set of neighbours many times and wept. Forgot to say goodbye to our cat who self-selected to move to the neighbour’s house rather than move with us. Emptied out our house as best we possibly could, racing against the clock all the way. Turned away the cleaners who came at noon because the very tired baby was finally asleep and we still hadn’t emptied the house. Packed up seventy metric tonnes of our stuff into four giant bags, one carry on and four backpacks. Piled up our bags outside the house, said some more goodbyes. Texted a neighbour to ask her to empty the food out of the cupboards and fridge. Texted the realtor to tell him not to panic, our neighbour would finish the clearance. Said one last set of goodbyes (for the record this was all with the same three households) and left in a minibus taxi.


$200 in excess luggage fees and an Air New Zealand ticketing employee so helpful I hugged her, we were ready to go to security. We were so much THAT FAMILY with too much luggage and a screaming baby and bags falling over and contents spilling and oh my goodness just one step in front of the other. A sushi lunch and some souvenirs for the girls, and for the first time we felt like we could almost relax.


A twelve hour flight. As good as we could have hoped. Entry into the US and going through immigration needing to get Louisa, our baby born in New Zealand, permanent residence. All of our fears and all of the horror stories we’d been led to believe faded away. We were through customs with a visa in less than 15 minutes. Unbelievably lovely officers, super sensitive to the fact that we’d been travelling with three kids all day. An absolute ray of sunshine and a weight lifted.


A shuttle to the terminal. A ridiculously rude ineffective check in. Hot dogs and bagels in the terminal. A 90 minute delay on our flight to Denver. A certain missed connection to Minneapolis. Another hour on the plane on the runway waiting to leave. And now, we are in the air. Exhausted but happy. We’re all watching TV. The girls are watching the same cartoons they watched in New Zealand. Lars is watching his beloved and well-missed ESPN. Louisa is thankfully sleeping. And I am trying to process where we’ve been and where we we going.


Leaving New Zealand and moving back to America was this giant unknown. We might not have wanted what we had, but we knew what we had and there is a great comfort in that. And actually as soon as the girls finished school for the year, and Lars finished work for good, we started to relax a bit and have a much better time. The sun was shining, Auckland is undoubtedly a beautiful city. The act of leaving meant that we were aware of the transience of what we had. We spent much more quality time with our neighbours and we did our best to revisit some of our favorite spaces and places. The last six weeks have been tricky and uncertain and odd, but they have also ensured that we will go back to Auckland. We will revisit the good friends that we have made and we will go back and visit the parts of New Zealand that we never got to.


We have to go easy on ourselves though. This last year has been quite the venture. On the one hand I’m so sad that we didn’t get to see the whole country, but on the other hand, this year was not the time. An emigration, a new school, a new job, a new baby, a new house. Perhaps not the best year for travel. And now, we’ve left it behind. We bring an experience and friendships and a widened world view home with us. And now we have to make a new home. So where do we go from here?


The airline will put us up in a hotel in Denver tonight. We’ve never been to Colorado, so that’s pretty exciting. We had a hotel room booked in Minneapolis for the next couple of nights, but that’s ok. We’re going to try and be the kind of people who go with the flow. Maybe we will go to the east coast via Minneapolis, maybe we will come back in spring after the great thaw of 2014. It feels right. It all feels right. We’re back, and this adopted country of ours is home.


When we made the decision to move back we consciously chose to think of it as a series of small steps, one after the other. We didn’t want to get overwhelmed and we couldn’t plan too far in advance. So we sit here in the air flying above this great nation not really knowing what lies ahead of us. It might not be easy but it’s going to be good. Great in fact. It seems extraordinarily fitting that little Louisa has just started putting her steps together and learning to walk. She falls, she tumbles. She stands up and loses confidence. She delights herself when it works without even necessarily knowing what it is that she is trying to do. And she falls again. But she gets up again and again and again. And she will succeed in walking and running and living her life to the full. As will we. It really is going to be awesome.

Difficult Does Not Mean Impossible (How our Indiegogo campaign became a metaphor for our life)

Difficult Does Not Mean Impossible (How our Indiegogo campaign became a metaphor for our life)

In the beginning, there was an idea to move from America to New Zealand. It started as an inkling, an opportunity, a job posting. An application was put in, a phone interview took place. And then Lars was called to interview. A university in Auckland wanted to fly him over 9000 miles to see if he was a good fit for the position. Lars flew, he presented, he was wined and dined, he was offered the job. Meanwhile, back in Minneapolis, I was looking after the two big girls, and riding the lasting waves of morning sickness, I was about 4 months pregnant. We were in the home we wanted to stay in forever, we had plans. Our plans had never involved moving to New Zealand, and then suddenly they did.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t want to move our growing family to a place that I’d never been, but we decided that if we didn’t try it, we’d never know. And so we packed up and left. It was heartbreaking, but Auckland surprised me in a good way. Perhaps we can do this I thought to myself. Perhaps this will be ok.

Fast forward a year and a bit and obviously we’re leaving. Auckland is an amazing city, I love to go downtown and just be, just hang out and feel like you’re part of something dynamic and exciting. There’s a whole side to the city that we’ve never experienced, of course. With three small children, no babysitter and limited funds, the fancier restaurants and bars are pretty much behind an invisible curtain, but I can imagine that living here under different circumstances could be all sorts of wonderful. But for us, the decision to leave was both straight-forward and agonizing. We would leave behind the hopes and dreams and the opportunity, and walk into the unknown.

Deciding to leave was the easy part in many ways. The rest of it requires a huge leap of faith. We’re not woo-woo people, by and large, which is why we’re having to undergo this massive shift in mindset in order to get through the journey ahead.

If we believe that this is going to be difficult then it probably will be. If we think that it will be impossible then we’re pretty much ensuring that it will be.


And so, goddammit, we’re going to make it work. We’re going to make it awesome. It will be awesome because we say it will be. And we are both really freaking stubborn people when we put our minds to it.




Around the time that we decided to leave, we realised that we were effectively trapped here. It cost a gazillion dollars (approximately) to move our family over here. The university paid for an enormous amount, but we certainly contributed a hefty, hefty share. We ended up giving away a ton of stuff in the US, small appliances, kitchen equipment, furniture, clothes so that what we had would fit in the small shipping container that the university allowed in the budget.

Auckland is expensive, really, really expensive. Rent here for a small, dark, damp house was twice the cost of our three storey, four bedroom house with front and back garden in Minneapolis. Everything seems to cost at least twice what we are used to paying. All the stuff that we gave away in America, we gradually tried to replace over here for three and four times the cost. We were always running behind financially, living from paycheck to paycheck in a way that we had never anticipated when Lars was offered this fancy-pants, seemingly well-paid job. Which is all to say that living here has been financially tricky, and our savings account is woefully empty.

So, how could we leave? Flights out for five seemed to range from around $6000 to $9000. Quotes to ship back our stuff ranged from $5,000 for just boxes up to $19,000 for everything. With credit cards maxed out and few ways left to turn, we decided to start a new business venture, fast. We had been making recipes into paintings from the year when we cooked along with Rachael Ray’s 365: No Repeats, A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners. We took the images and created a new website, The Rachael Ray Project. From there, we decided to widen the reach of the endeavour so that people can have any recipe made into a painting, so we created The Recipe Painting Project. We got a couple of orders in which was a huge boost, and the plan was to start heavily marketing the ventures. But heavily marketing a new venture, looking after three children and getting ready to emigrate are not necessarily things that can all happen at the same time. At the end of each day once all the kids are finally tucked up, I’m ready to sleep and dragging myself back to work seems like a hard slog.

Some of the wisest advice I get comes from my Biz Ladies, three smart cookies across the world who I have never met in real life, but they are a lifeline to me. We get together on Skype every couple of weeks to brainstorm and cheerlead and problem-solve, and they pretty much always have wining ideas. But when they suggested that Lars and I crowdsource the journey home I was skeptical. It seemed so ask-y, so in-your-face, so vulnerable. What if we came across as losers? What if no one gave more than a pity penny? What if we failed with a capital F? But really, deep within those doubts, it also seemed like an excellent idea.

Researching successful crowdsourcing campaigns, I kept coming across quotes saying things like “we spent six months preparing our campaign and worked with a team of designers, PR firms and virtual assistants to ensure that it was a success.” I was afraid. Other people advised “make sure that you prime your extensive mailing list in advance so that your strongest supporters will back you on the first day”. Ok. Yes. That. That would work if we had an extensive mailing list.

So instead we came up with a project, we decided to make The Bacon Sandwich Visual Cookbook, probably the world’s first bacon sandwich-based art-cookbook hybrid. We borrowed our neighbours house, filmed a video, edited it, wrote a description and launched. And amazingly, people pledged! Some small, some large, one magnificent. People came. They showed up and they showed us that we’re in their thoughts. You back crowd funding campaigns because you either believe in the person, or the project. It all comes down to belief. Belief that by offering your support, you can be part of making something great. Words can’t really describe what it means or how it feels when someone from your past quietly makes a donation. We’ve been incredibly touched by support from people that we never imagined would come forward. It’s been mind-blowing.





5 DAYS LEFT TO RAISE ALMOST $10,000 (SO WE CAN TRAVEL BACK 9070 MILES)



We’ve raised just over $4000 to date. With the amazing support of 51 strangers, friends, colleagues and former students (oh how magnificently students have stepped up to the plate) we have got this far. $4000 is immense, truly. When we set up the campaign, we set our target at an ambitious $14,000. We figured that amount would be difficult, but not impossible to raise, and it would allow us to fly home, set up a basic studio and complete this project. We’re almost at 30%. It’s huge, a few weeks ago I never would have imagined that we could get this far, but here we are.

Right now, we have two timelines or countdowns simultaneously running in our heads. The fundraiser ends in five days. All being well we’re getting on a plane in eleven days. There’s so much going on that there’s almost nothing going on. We have so much to do that we’re barely getting anything done. We’re trying to experience Auckland as a family before we go and yet there’s the constant feeling that we should be pushing more, posting more, doing more, packing more. We should be having more fun, banking more memories, doing more impressive stuff. People keep asking us what we’ve seen and where we’ve been and what we’re going to do before we leave. We can’t help but feel inadequate when the answer to all of those questions is not island-hopping or bungee-jumping or trail-walking or hot-spring-adventuring. We’ve seen Auckland, we’d like to see more of Auckland, and then we will be leaving Auckland. While we do that we are also running a huge crowdfunding campaign, ideally without annoying too many people with our incessant Facebook posting. Plus we are trying to find a place to call home in a country we haven’t yet returned to, in a city that we’ve never yet been.

It’s almost too much to process. So instead, we’re trying our very best to stay upbeat, to remain positive, to choose to believe that it’s all going to be more than ok. We could look at the length of time left on our Indiegogo campaign, see how far we still have to go and just give up. We could look at how daunting it is to move to yet another new city and throw in the towel. We could decide that none of it is going to work, that it’s all over, that it is too hard, we could label it as impossible.

Or we could choose success. Yes, we have a huge way to go to reach our fundraising goal, but it’s doable. Maybe it’s difficult, maybe not, but it’s not impossible. And yes, moving the family one more time but without the security of a traditional job is daunting but not impossible. Everything is possible Seriously. Maybe it looks crazy from the outside, maybe people think we’re nuts, but we have decided to believe.

I believe in the power of people, in community, in support. When we work together we can do amazing things. And I believe that individuals can change their lives phenomenally from the inside. For the next year our plan is to move, settle down, and create a home and a life that works for us. It may be unconventional, it may turn out to be nothing like we imagine, but it will be ours. We will rebuild from within, one day at a time. And when our foundation is strong, we’ll be there building a community.

One foot in front of the other. One step at a time. Walk to the edge. Hold hands. Close your eyes and leap into the unknown. And trust that the wind has got your back.






If you’d like to be part of our epic journey, please share the campaign with your network. If you’d like to be thought of with huge smiles and virtual hugs, please donate to The Bacon Sandwich Visual Cookbook campaign on Indiegogo.

Nineteen Days (A list of things I should probably be thinking about)

Nineteen Days (A list of things I should probably be thinking about)

Apparently we have a semi-plan. In nineteen days we may well be jetting back from New Zealand to the USA. If all the things that are dancing around up in the air neatly align and fall into place in the Tetris stylee, then we are indeed out of here. We will know in eight days if it’s time to go, and if it is, we will have eleven days to figure everything out. Right now it seems very doable, very matter of fact even, but I can feel a vague sense of panic circling in the periphery in a slightly sinister fashion.

So what is there to do to keep the panic at bay but make lists? And in the absence of enough mental focus to make the actual lists, I’m going to compile my uber-list of things that I will need to make lists about right here. And if the first step in getting help is admitting that you have a problem, then I’m going to come out with my biggest problem right now and get it into the open. It is the second of January, 2014 and I am delighted to say that this year I do indeed have in my possession the ultimate diary/ planner/ journal. It’ll probably make my life this year amazing just by it’s shear existence. But, alas, I do not have the correct pen. I have pens, yes, but none of them are quite perfect enough to write in the diary. So the planner is still pristine.

My name is Helen and I have a stationery-centered procrastination problem.

Ah, much better. Back to the matter at hand. Lists. Yes. Here we go.




THINGS I AM THINKING ABOUT:


  • Buy a pen (Not just any pen, a fine, black ink pen, preferably gel)

  • Write something in the diary (neatly, I do not want to have to buy a new diary because I messed it up)

  • Probably go back and write down the things I’ve already done this week and then cross them off (neatly) in a slightly smug fashion

  • The diary has space for ten goals for 2014. Think of some

  • Try not to decide half way through writing down the goals that they are lame (see earlier, no new diary because I messed it up)




  • THINGS I SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT (A TO-DO LIST OF LISTS):



    FLYING:


  • Decide where to fly to + what route to take

  • Figure out how to entertain the baby in a seat. On a plane. For hours and hours.

  • Figure out how to pay for tickets

  • Buy tickets


  • PACKING:


  • Make a list of stuff to pack in suitcases

  • Make a list of stuff to take on the flights

  • Decide what to keep and what to sell and what to give away

  • Decide for once and for all if the furniture comes with us, or is sold and replaced

  • Likewise the mixer and the toaster…

  • Get all the moving quotes in and choose a company

  • Figure out how to pay to ship stuff half way round world

  • Book and pay for the shipping of the stuff

  • Keep the coffee machine out until the very last second


  • DESTINATION:


  • Decide definitively where we should live

  • Find a house to live in

  • Figure out what to do in between flying back and moving in somewhere

  • Find a school for the big kids

  • Figure out logistics of a studio space


  • MAKING THE HOUSE (WHEREVER IT MAY BE) A HOME:


  • How do we get to Ikea?

  • How does Ikea get stuff to us?

  • What do we need to get straight away?

  • What sort of menace will the baby make if she’s not in a cot?

  • How do we make the kids rooms seem like their own immediately?


  • EVERYTHING ELSE:


  • Make sure to say goodbye to people this time

  • Make sure the kids understand, adjust and are settled

  • Walk round Target and lick stuff (kidding! I’m just going to roll around in the aisle basking in the sweet fluorescent glow of Choice)




  • That’s all I can think of for now. So, I think it’s obvious that I need to prioritise. So first thing tomorrow, come what may, I’m definitely going to go on a pen-hunt. Those goals for the year aren’t going to write themselves.





    PS If you want to help with the paying of the flights, please feel free to contribute to and share the word about our Indiegogo campaign. Only 13 days left of incessant Facebook posting!