I grew up in the Waikato, in a Kiwi farming family that stood for others, where volunteering, community involvement and advocacy were part of the deal. Dad was always out at committee meetings, most of which he seemed to end up chairing. Mum was a staunch supporter of Red Cross and a regular volunteer at most community activities.
At home, I was the youngest of three, and the only daughter. As my brothers left home, it was expected that I would join in dinner conversations with my parents’ guests, where holding and defending an opinion made for robust discussion. I learned early on to listen carefully and ask questions. Occasionally my naivety caused great amusement, but it was always done with kindness.
Being able to think on my feet proved a useful skill in school debating competitions and then in university student politics, where the day was often won with one-liners.
Over ensuing years, I loved the dynamics of well-run governance meetings, and regularly found myself in the Chair, feeling like an orchestra conductor ensuring everyone was heard.
Much of my teaching career centred on supporting the successful settlement of migrants to New Zealand. From teaching ESOL to training interpreters and from coaching new arrivals to training organisations to communicate across cultures. My passion has always been for diverse and inclusive communities.
The irony of spending a lifetime standing for others, is that it is so much easier than standing for yourself. It was a lesson that fuelled many years of passion for personal development. When we continually serve others, we forget that our needs matter too. The late Dr Stephen Covey’s 3rd Alternative inspired my search for ways to help women to stand for themselves without feeling guilty.
In 2016, having decided that a decade of personal turmoil needed to end, I knew that going quietly into the second half of life was not my choice. So, I sold my house, parked my training business, packed a 7kg carry-on bag and went solo travelling for a year.
The year of travel across Southeast Asia, Great Britain and North America found me listening to countless stories of how others have dealt with drama in their life. The result was writing a book, A Bold Life – How Boomer Women are Reinventing Life Beyond Fifty. Published in April 2017, it contains the stories of nine inspiring women who have stepped into new careers, new relationships and new versions of themselves.
Their courage and compassion reinforced for me that supporting women to make the most of their lives is essential work. In our personal and professional lives, we have so much more to achieve and I am committed to standing with them, even as they stand for themselves.
My work takes me across New Zealand, mentoring, teaching and speaking with organisations who want to make the most of Baby Boomer wisdom and with individual women and men who find themselves wondering how to make more of life.
I meet women sandwiched between kids and careers and aging parents, wondering if there will ever be time for themselves.
I talk with women with outwardly 'perfect' lives, who are stifled and stuck, and settling for the notion that this is as good as it will ever get.
I have witnessed others sliding into declining health, or a growing dissatisfaction with their relationships or work, fearing that this is just their lot.
And I have stood with women, deep in the chaos of life's ‘Oh @#%&!’ moments, from a health scare, or when their job goes, or someone leaves or dies, questioning how life can ever be normal again.
I am full of admiration for those who are choosing to think for themselves and find their voices, so that they can do their own thing, not just the right thing. And especially those who are committed to leaving a positive and lasting impact on their world.
When you are ready to explore what this looks like for you, and to figure out your path to get there, take a deep breath and call.
If you are up for this, then let’s begin.