What you are about to read was once a dream of a little girl and many years later became real. Now, normally when a young “20 something” goes on a solo trip it’s to “find herself” and as much as I wish I wasn’t tossed into that millennial statistic but alas… here I am. Guilty of such and proud of it. 3 weeks of travel, too many hours spent in the China airport freezing my ass off, many new friends, a few new songs written, some waves, incredible food…really incredible food. Did I say incredible food? Tears, laughter, a wooden penis from Asia, pancake breakfasts with a household of gems, new scents, salt, sand, curry meat pies, long drives looking at fields of sheep, feeling super lonely, and 7 rolls of film later; thus commencing this NZ blog. Buckle up, stay a while, or just cruise through the photos if you want. Two things you should know: I went on this trip in one the most unstable darkest seasons of my life and I was hoping to find home. I left with very different gifts in my arms but honestly the exchange was well worth it and better than expected. Here goes nothing…my solo trip to nz for 3 weeks. Enjoy.
March 15th. 5:30pm
I’m sitting in my living room waiting for my roommate to pick me up just looking at the space around me. The next 3 weeks of my life packed into one bag, just like my old YWAM days. This trip has been dreamt up for months…years, and now it is finally happening. It honestly felt like this trip is me embarking on leaving the wreckage. Leaving the pain, the hurt, trauma, sorrow. Leaving it all behind and stepping into whats new. Finding me again. I can’t even begin to explain how hard these last 6 months of my life were. I would never ever wish it upon anyone. It was something I would’ve never expected and never thought I would ever go through. Now I sit looking at the living room I have made home in for the last 6 months and I feel it all. Feel all the death that has happened but anticipation for the life ahead. Just me and the couch that I have watched too many episodes of friends on, cried on, napped on, and now about to leave. What is the next month of my life going to look like? Who am I going to meet? Will I find home? My roommate picks me up and we are off to the airport. As we’re driving on the 101 parallel to ocean, it doesn’t feel like I’m home. It feels like I’m leaving a geographical place. Seeing the same ocean break, the same light on the mountains, the same palm tree grove, but feeling very different. I still don’t know what that means quite yet but I’m curious to find out. Where is home really? Many say it’s where your heart is. Others would say it’s where your people are. I would argue that they are saying the same. As for me, I have no clue where home is. Where do I belong? Where will I find the peace of being known? Of course my heart floods with dreams of what that could be like. Finding my true belonging in New Zealand. Finding purpose. Finding family. Starting my own. All the dreams that most adults today say are expecting too much, or aren't realistic. I’m beginning to realize that most of my adult life will be spent trying to remember how to become more like a child again. Daily the whimsy of the child within me knocks on the walls of my heart asking to be a part of my story. This last year, those walls were hardened and I’m still fighting to find softening again. To find trust again. To find peace. Rest. Home.
We get to LAX and I load up all my bags. I feel a bit like a pack mule but it feels familiar. It reminds me of my time in Nepal, carrying everything I own, on my back, embarking into the complete unknown but bringing hope with me. Hope that secured me amidst chaos. Hope that brought joy amidst darkness. Hope that said “it’s all going to be okay”. The hope that I once carried so strong but feet like I lost it this last year. I want that back. I want me back. I go to Check in for my flight and come to find that China Airlines charges $150 to travel with a guitar. $150 that I literally did not have. This was about to get interesting. Instead of just obeying their request, I challenged it. I waited and challenged and asked questions and finally cave as they won’t budge. Something in me though said “push back” and as I made a goal to start to trust myself again, I listened. They brought my card back saying it didn't work. (muahahaha, the beginning of my master plan). I asked them to show me their rules in writing and I come to find that if the instrument is under 100cm then they can’t charge me. I asked them to measure my guitar and what do ya know… it was just under 100cm aka I won! They apologize, give me the exit row seat, and send me off free of charge. I left that moment so proud of myself. I stood up for what I felt was right. I stood up for myself. I protected Shea within me. It built trust within myself, if that makes sense. It showed me that I’m sturdy. That I’m safe. That I wont just do things because people say. I feel like that was just a sneak peak into the beginning of what this trip will be. Learning to trust me again. Walking into new health like never before. I feel it. I feel a stirring. Almost like my destiny is walking alongside me now. That I’m settling into the woman I have always been but never knew how to be. It’s liberating and unknown all at the same time. Slightly terrifying because I know there is risk ahead but I just recently told myself I can no longer afford to silence my heart. To silence my big dreams. My crazy ideas. That’s who I am at the core. A dreamer. A creative. And now i’m finally letting that place come alive.
China Airlines flight. Some ungodly time to be awake:
As I’ve been in and out of sleep on my flight to china, I really have one thought that keeps rushing through my mind: “get a damn neck pillow” plz.
1:41 PM China Time:
9 more hours in this airport. Going a bit crazy. Might try to find one of those shower places. That would be RAD. Traveling alone is equally liberating yet boring at times. Not to mention that China doesn't have google, instragram, netflix, or youtube available so um what else is there to do i mean come on… read a book or something? sheesh.
7:15 pm March 7th China Time:
3:15 am March 7th US time:
I have been in this airport for what feels like days. Morale is low, rations are low. Ramen is calling my name. I have only about 4 more hours to go PRAISE GOD. Most of my time at the airport has been filled with random things but I just made one of the best decisions of my life which was… paying $20 to take a 40 minute hot shower in a super nice lounge. If I ever write a “how to travel smart” blog… budgeting for a shower mid transit would definitely be the first on the list. I felt like a new woman after that. I then took a nap on the couch of the super nice lounge (not sure if that was allowed but i pioneered that one regardless). After waking up from the nap I went downstairs and bought myself the largest bowl of ramen I’ve basically ever seen. And guess what? I ate it all babbbyyy. It was so good. Especially because this airport is legit the tundra. Like so cold that I might try to jog with my luggage just to stay warm. Even though I didn't really leave the airport, I will say that I have some thoughts about china.
its impeccably clean. There are workers everywhere just devoted to cleaning but not just normal cleaning. I mean dusting surfaces that no one ever thinks to dust. Spot cleaning the tile, looking for even the slightest blemish.
Modern architecture everywhere layered with repetition. It was crazy how much I saw.
Different cultures are so interesting. Especially because we don't understand each other fully.
I legit cannot figure out what’s in style..?? its so foreign to me I cant figure it out haha.
After being on another 11 hour flight, I was overjoyed to hear the signals that we were landing. As the plane started to descend I watched out the window to see it all. My heart was filled with joy and excitement. The clouds started to break and I could see some of the landscape through it all. I was in awe. The most majestic landscape I had ever seen. Beautiful mountains but like none other. The color combinations were new; grey, muted purple, bright green, foggy turquoise. It was all incredible. There were winding rivers through the bottom of the mountains. No civilization in sight. I felt like it was all for me; up there in the sky to see the beauty. I took tons of film photos and cried a bit. I felt like I was being welcomed into something beautiful. We landed and the first thing i did was head outside, take off my shoes and socks, and spread my toes out in the green grass. It was a breath of fresh air to every bit of my being. I sat in the cool air summer air and just breathed. I watched. I listened. It was everything. I then went into the airport to check in to my last flight. I was shocked to see how amazing this airport was. Tiny but everything I could've ever dreamt up for an airport. Every restaurant was healthy and delicious. Small little cafes everywhere with fresh food. My american girl self was in disbelief that an airport could have healthy options. I couldn’t help but smile as I admired each new face I saw, each accent I overheard, and each smile I exchanged. I sat down with a salad and started to eat. There was an older couple next to me that I immediately felt the presence of God with. We struck up a conversation and turns out they are amazing holy spirit filled christians and they pastor a church in Auckland. They were so sweet. We chatted for a while and then they bought me a tea. Their friends ended up joining us and one of them bought me a muffin. I was so blown away with he hospitality and care. Finally I boarded onto my extremely delayed flight to Auckland and I felt like I was potentially going to go a bit crazy after traveling for so long. I boarded the plane and ended up being next to a rowdy and amazing group of people from Uruguay. They spoke some english and we laughed as we chatted a bit. One of the guys barely spoke any english and asked the different pronunciation of bitch and beach ahha! They all think it sounds the same. So as we all laughed (probably louder than the plane would've hoped), I explained the difference. I woke up realizing I had nodded off and the plane was landing.
to the sweet older couple who showed me immense hospitality within minutes of knowing me, thank you. You started off my trip with hope and rest and for that i’m grateful.
FINALLY!!! After 36 hours in the air…I had arrived to NZ. I grab my bags as Liv picks me up and I get in the car. Phoenix was driving; on of livs good friends from NZ. Immediately when I got in the car, it was thick with he scent of donuts. Which I soon was filled in on the story of how liv and phoenix dumpster dove for them before they picked me up. So there we were, on our way with a natural air freshener of 50+ dunkin donuts. We chatted a bit and I was just so overjoyed to to finally be there. After about 45 minutes in the car, we finally arrived. Although it was late at night, from what I could see, the house was beautiful. I showered, got ready for bed and hit the hay. I woke up to a soft morning light, so grateful for a real night of rest. I walked around the property and took some photos. It was so still and delightful. Green grass, overgrown lush garden boxes, chicken coup, giant clothes lines with lots of clothes drying, big front yard with a volleyball net. Wrap around porch. Worn wood piano, three guitars standing on their own in the hall. Soft. Quiet. Character. It was all so dreamy. One by one more people woke up and I came to realize that this house has 7 girls living in it. Each one unique and wonderful. The rest of the day was slow, preparing for the show and resting. We walked to the beach and I felt so satisfied. All my senses and my heart were full. The warm air, the breeze hitting the shore from the sea, the cliffs in view, the beautiful long tall wheat-like weeds ( i don't remember their name). It felt so good to sink my toes deep into the sand. We went back to the house, set up, sound checked, and warmed up the “fresh” donuts for all the people who were to come to the show. Slowly people started showing up but it ended up being a pretty small crowd. It definitely made me feel a little lame but I think I’m just learning how to see my value apart from that stuff. We all played a few games of volleyball, Lucy tokened our team name to the “california lions” and it made me laugh so hard. She went full throttle in the passion department over this backyard game and I loved every minute of it. We had lots of fun. The show finally was starting so I went up to the stage and began. I felt a bit stupid as I played because I was unsure of how people were receiving me but I kept going. I looked out to the lawn in front of me, blankets, pillows, and people were all spread out looking at me. Fearful me. I kept singing and was met with cheers after each song. Still afraid I kept playing. After I was done, I was embraced with tons of cheers and hugs and compliments. Everyone said that they were so excited for my album to be on Spotify. What a contrast. Fearful me scared if I was being received, but reality met me with such embrace. I went to sleep that night really thinking about who I am. Overthinking about everything. But still happy to be where I am. Grateful.
Whangaparaoa house, early morning. quiet. still.
pheonix and liv and I at the beach walking distance from the house. (liv pictured: standing in the middle of the shot, brown short hair. Pheonix pictured: passionately skipping a rock in the ocean. power pose if you ask me)
Everyone was so kind to embrace me last night and I felt very loved by the people around me. Lucy started calling me Shee-uh which i haven't heard since elementary school. Everyone else started picking me up and calling me shee-uh and they took on the baton from my super asian Kumon teacher and ran with it.Today we woke up and had a slow morning. Went to the market to get some breakfast food and we made oat pancakes with fruit for everyone. Then today we went to the beach and it was beautiful. It has been a really long time since I have felt the hot sun on my skin. I went into the water and swam for a bit. A beautiful contrast; cold water and hot sun. My body fully soaking it all up. We then came back to the house to make lunch. Fresh corn, carrot + cabbage asian salad, and curry chic peas. Life here is beautiful. I just wish I was in a better mental state to enjoy it all. I miss being a kid. I miss being care free. I miss no shame. I miss it all. Being an adult is so overrated I can’t even explain how overrated it is.
March 12th 2019
Yesterday Liv, Bec, Tash, and I drove to Raglan on the west coast. It was such a beautiful place. It took us about 2.5 hours to get there and the drive kind of reminded me of just driving through central California or something. But maybe like 5X more beautiful. We stopped at a real fruit ice-cream stand and man was it quite possibly the greatest thing I have tasted in a long time. Basically you pick two fruits and then they blend it with yogurt in a machine and it comes out like soft serve. Needless to say, I loved it so much that I ate two in one day. After we almost got to Raglan we stopped at a waterfall along the way. It was so strange because New Zealand’s terrain is such a weird combo of farm land with rolling hills, and tropical Island. I have never seen such a fascinating mix but it completely makes sense. The people carry that same interesting combo and I think its beautiful. We finally got to Raglan and it wasn't what I was expecting but it was better. Quaint little cafes, op shops, healthy vegan eats, coffee+surf shops, etc…Every nook and cranny of New zealand is just everything my heart loves. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing the kiwi accent all day long. We stopped at a cute little wrap+burrito spot and grabbed some lunch. Then we drove to the best surf spot in town (unfortunately without surfboards) to post up for the afternoon. As we came around a bend, we finally caught view of the ocean. Soft cream stone cliffs with green grass pushed up against the ocean harmoniously. The colors were incredible. Black sand led to turquoise waters that faded into deep teal sea. We laid on the grass and sunbathed for a few hours as we watched the surf. It took everything within me to not be mad about not being able to surf that day. Especially that they were all are lefts! Perfect rolling lefts! My goofy footed dream. It felt so blissful to feel the warm sun on my skin again. Something I have missed but love so much. I do forget though that my skin is quite pasty and its not my “shea at the end of summer” kind of skin. After the beach we went back into town to eat dinner. I had the nutritiously balanced meal of half a curry veg pie and another fruit ice cream. It was a meal of champions that bec and I split. Not mad about it one bit. We all laughed as we walked around the town barefoot looking for dinner and reminiscing on our day. We drove back through the windy farmland roads as the sun set. We all were so content after our day. Laughing and listening to music with the warm end of summer air flowing through the car. We finally got back to the house. Showered up and hung out for a bit. I randomly decided to get a stick and poke tattoo from Lucy and it honestly hurt more than any tattoo I've ever gotten. I got “137” for the address of their house. I’m kind of in love with it honestly. I went to bed tired and content.
Looking back at my short time in Whangaparaoa, I will remember the warmth of the people. The morning oatmeal with all the fix ins. The warm wind from the sea. The laughs and the real fruit ice cream. Deep chats with liv, my own hectic mind, oat pancakes, a slice of home far from mine. The waves at Raglan. Amidst all the beauty though the undeniable thing within me was the desperate need for home. For family. That need is stronger than any other thought. To everyone I met on this chapter of my stay in NZ, thank you for everything. I love you all. You’re always welcome in my home. I’ll forever have your address tattooed on my arm:)
I caught the bus with lucy into the city. I love her. She is 100% her and that’s the absolute best. I then got to a cafe called daily bread and honestly I had the best muffin of my entire life. It was so restful and beautiful to just sit and reflect on my trip so far.
Looking back on my journal from nz, the least writing I have is about my stay in Tauranga, mostly because it was the most impactful internal journey of my entire life. I would write it all out but that sounds exhausting to me. Instead I will paraphrase my journey by sharing the lyrics to the song I wrote about it after the fact. My life before Tauranga was very different than my life after. It was the first time I let go, surrendered, leaned into being weak and with that came transformation. Rest. Receiving.
Here are the lyrics to my song:
Here I learned to let go. Here I learned to surrender. Oh i’ve battled for so long, the war within my soul, I'm letting go. I came here trying to find my home. But now I know family’s where I belong. It’s so hard to admit, you’re in need without much strength, I’m going home.
Oh I’ve carried this weight for too long and now I leave it behind and now I’m just letting go. Oh by far the bravest thing I’ve ever done is leaning into surrender. But don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid it will all be okay. You’ll be kept safe, you’ll be kept safe, I’m here to stay.
I walked for hours along the shore. I cried and fought with the Lord. But I listened to my heart and felt peace flood in at once, Oh I’m sure.
Oh I’ve carried this weight for too long and now I leave it behind and now I’m just letting go. Oh by far the bravest thing I’ve ever done is leaning into surrender. But don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid it will all be okay.
Hope that sums it up. If not, well…then my time in Tauranga will forever remain a mystery. Here’s some photos from stay:
The generous home I stayed in while in The Mt. They had chickens and a garden and a grape vine and they fed me and it was beautiful. You know who you are, thank you:)
I land, super stoked for whats to come for my time on the south island. Simon’s friend cam was picking me up and I was told to look for a stylish homeless guy in a white van ha. That description was pretty much spot on. Cam pulled up and Immediately knew it was him. He got out of the van to help me load in my things only to find that he locked us out of the van as it was still running. Within 30 seconds of meeting him we were in quite a funny situation. I was laughing and made sure to take some pictures. We sat for a while and waitied until I decided to go find some help. Basically the whole hour we were stuck was humorous. Finally a 19 year old girl who works at the airport is sent to the rescue. Cam immediately asks her “so… what are you going to do…?” unsure of how she was able to help more than we could haha. She went and grabbed supplies, I went to charge my phone to call in for backup just in case our homegirl couldn't pull through. I come out right as they break into the car and we all were so happy. Cam even hugged the two girls. I laughed, we packed up my things in the van, and we were off! Cam laughed and said “welcome to christchurch!”
Cam hugging the security lady who was basically like 19. We were all shocked that somehow they broke in. One single tear was shed that day.
No one was back at the house yet so we grabbed a beer. We had some good chats and headed to the house. Dani warmly welcomed me in as she cooked us dinner. I felt so embraced by everyone. Welcomed into their daily today routines. After dinner Dani took me to all the community houses to meet everyone. It was fun and so cool to just see the way everyone lives life here. The craziest part is that about two months before I came to NZ I had a dream about a red couch in the back yard of the house in Christchurch and that the girls all really embraced me and said “she we have a space for you here” as they pointed to a red couch in the backyard. I woke up the next morning feeling so much breakthrough it was insane. After the dream I knew it meant something but I felt silly sharing about the red couch outside in someone’s yard. Turns out it clearly meant something because of what happened next. The first house we came to “wiggins” had a red couch in the backyard. WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THAT! I still didn't have a clue as to why or what but it all just reassured me that maybe ‘Im on the right track in life? Idk. Anyways… The houses all were a bit messy but filled with genuine hearts. I could feel that they have something special between them all. As if they all found safety within eachother. After our rounds we ended up back at Dani’s house, ready to hit the hay. Somehow though I ended up peeling and cutting stone fruit with Alex. He was pretty funny. I have now tokened him the nickname stone fruit because of the 100 peaches we had to prepare to be stewed and canned. The next day started of slow. Quiet morning. Porridge with plum jam, dandelion tea, and an egg with tomatoes from the garden. Fenella then picked me up, we grabbed lunch and parked by the water. We chatted and laughed and enjoyed our time. The rest of my time in Sumner was still. Gentle. Uncomfortable at times. Lonely in others. Paddled out a bit and reminded of my love for surfing. Friday night we all hung out at wiggins and had some beers, some of us too many. A guy named Brad was there. He lit up the whole room. The more beers that were drank the more depth the conversation had. At one point brad said “man i wish we could be real like this all the time. like just being able to share stuff. the real stuff like “man I'm super anxious right now or whatever”. Drunk or not, what brad said was so spot on in opinion. All of us are walking around every day trying to convince everyone that we are okay. That we have it all figured out. Which if we are all being honest we have no clue. How liberating would it be to look to the person next to you and just be real. messy. share the raw parts of life, the parts that are pretty or packaged. Thats true vulnerability. Pursuing intimacy even in the face of fear of rejection. Then brad biked to his house to grab his guitar so they all could hear me play. He got back a bit later and I played some of my songs. As I sang i saw them all soaking in the lyrics, some eyes closed. Moments like that feel a bit sacred to me which is weird because they are my lyrics but it’s something special. We all stayed up too late as cam described the gospel through a quite hilarious allegory which Brad actually loved. I went to bed full of dark chocolate and joy from my new found friendships. The next day Dani and I ended up on the red couch chatting about her past marriage and my past relationship. It was so eye opening and beautiful to share the same feelings about the hurt and pain we have been through. We both got to see that we are not alone and the there is hope for it all. The next few days consisted of mellow moments. Sunbathing on the lawn with everyone as we read, listened to music, and napped. Home cooked meals and everyone insisting I eat whatever I want from their fridge. Church. Lunch with dani’s family. A trip to the city. The lookout spot in the beautiful library. Me watching the whole new series of Queer Eye and crying a bunch.
Then sunday evening Dani asked me to play some music in the chapel for their prayer night. I said yes. The prayer chapel was small and old. Beautiful. Timeless. The wood spoke of the history and the stories. The moments in this church. Brad lent me his guitar and I just played. It was so nice because the focus wasn't on me. It was between them and God which I loved. Takes away the pressure I think. You could feel the space and it’s thickness. People were mourning the loss of the muslims that were killed in the recent shooting. As I played I was reminded of how music and worship is what I am meant to do with my life. I know it. I feel so like myself when I’m leading worship. The hard part is I just don't believe the words at all. How beautiful when I do believe the words. The next day we went to Magnet Bay which was awesome. We woke up super early and left the house while it was still dark out. We drove through rolling hills that met the ocean. The whole landscape was filled with a soft glow from the sun not quite appearing yet. We get to the surf spot and it’s farmland right up against the surf. Beautiful rolling hills with cow and sheep; uncharted land with a bunch of surfers scattered throughout it. It was a beautiful left point break. We sat and watched all day. Ate smoked salmon and veggie bagels. Laughed a lot. talked about boys and giggled. Fenella and I later that day jumped in the cold ocean just for fun. Swam around bit and chatted about the one prayer we want answered. Once again another day of everyone insisting I eat from their fridge and driving me places. It has really shown me how I want to host people. That when they are traveling, to go above and beyond to make them feel welcomed. My fridge is theirs, my car, my heart. That is something that has so inspired me since being here in NZ.
My time in Sumner was slow and still and beautiful. It was filled with deep healing that I didn’t discover fully until I left. It was so many things but what I learned really was how I want to treat friends and strangers of every kind as they pass through my town, wherever that may be in the world. To those who befriended me and welcomed me in, thank you. thank you. thank you. I needed it more that you know. Here’s a few more still moments from Sumner, road tripping south to Dunedin with Hanna, the paddle out to honor to victims of the shooting, and more:
Bus to Queenstown:
The bus has free wifi praise god. It was beautiful to see the scenery slowly progress just like a good story. What started out as rolling hills with sheep turn into ice blue water tucked up against honey grasses running between the mountains. It’s all so beautiful. The sun hitting the rocks and illuminating the clear water. The contrast of this country is incredibly majestic and mysterious all at the same time. It feels welcoming and warm yet still undiscovered. Wild but soft. I have a whole row to myself and get to admire it all from a distance which i like. I feel a little less small this way. Side note: i really have to poop on this bus but that is not going to happen for about another 30 mins which is definitely testing my skills.
I get into Queenstown and am in awe of the views. Lauren picks me up and we meet for the first time. She is everything I thought she would be and more. Light and joy, a new friend with roots before we even started. We get to her cute little studio and I meet her husband Tyler. They both felt like home to me. Immediately I could take a deep breath. As Tyler has to run out the door he says “Shea I'm excited to hear more of your story.” I felt so loved by that. It had been a while since I felt understood or found my people so that was so refreshing. Then Lauren dropped me off to spend the afternoon in town. The town is quaint and filled with people from all countries. People picnicking on the green lawn overlooking the lake, sunbathers near the water. Families, couples, travelers of all sorts. This little town is light and lovely and filled with hope for me. I walked around a bit and just inhaled deeply. Refreshed and grateful. I felt peace in every bit within me. The sun was warm and it felt like summer. I laid in the grass and read for a while. Then Lauren and Tyler met me for dinner in town. We ate at an amazing indian food place and got to know each other better. I really like them. They feel like people that really get me. Then as the bill came they paid for me! I was shocked. They said “shea your in our town. It’s our treat”. It showed me so much of what it looks like to love. We then got some ice-cream (which they insisted on buying for me once again) and watched the sunset over the lake. It was beautiful and filled with rest. We chatted about YWAM, and dreams, and the next step in our lives, etc. Then we went home, drank some beers, and chatted more. I felt so loved by them. The next day they insisted i borrow their car to drive about 45 minutes around the lake to a beautiful spot called Glenorchy. It’s ranked one of the most beautiful drives in the world, which ended up being true. I stopped at a beautiful cafe on my way and wrote about New Zealand. The more and more that life goes on, the more i realize I have such a passion for writing. Maybe I’ll do something with it someday. Maybe not. Either way I do love creatively and beautifully telling a story, whether its about a place, a moment, a smell, a heart or a memory. After the coffee shop I drove (on the left side of the road ahaha) along the lake all the way to Glenorchy. The whole time I was in awe of the views. Still blue water between the mountains. A beautiful expanse of depth. The road was windy and incredible. I had the best view in the world that day. Just me, warm air with the windows down, music, and peace. Peace and me have slowly started to meet again after about a year of missing her. She is gentle and will never force herself upon you. She waits until she is invited in; most times she waits for the space thats rightfully hers to be open again. Sometimes her space in occupied by striving, or holding on. The moment you let go, she walks right in. Surrender is the letter sent with her address on it, inviting her over for dinner. Her timing never fails, waltzing in at perfect moment when you’re finally ready.
I parked near the lake, walked out on the dock and took some photos. I then laid in the sun on the grass. You could hear the slight murmurs of the other visitors all in awe of what was right in front of us. All of us awake to something much bigger than us. Awake to abundance.
This place simply cannot be measured just by the striking landscapes, the saccades singing in the trees hidden yet their presence is always remembered, the honey grasses covering hills as far as the eye can see, the ice blue rivers running between the stark mountains, the rolling farmland with seas of sheep, or the cafes with endless wildflower topped muffins, lemon loafs, and chia puddings. You cant measure it by its cocoa dusted cappuccinos or the left breaks that you can’t wait to jump in and surf. You can’t measure it by the meat pies or the hot sun with a lack of the ozone layer. You cant measure it by the cheeky lingo and the good beer. All those things are held within my memory labeled “beauty” yet still that doesn't fully encompass this place. To me this land is powerfully historic. It’s tribal roots still running deep and strong even if not seen by the naked eye. This country carries strength and force. It carries hospitality and family. It carries warmth and invitation. It carries a deep compassion for the land. It is wild and untamed yet soft and greets you with a look that makes you want to explore. The real way to measure this country is by the hearts that roam it. I cant really describe the way I feel other than that kiwis to me are like an an army ready for battle. Not in a hostile way but in a way of unity and power. In a way that is strong and one. Family. Immediately invited in to their own, I have shared meals, laughs, waves, and homes with these amazing souls. I’ve been driven to bus stations, treated to beers, fed and insisted to eat anything and everything from their pantries. I’ve been asked to share my heart, my music, my mind. I have been cooked delicious roasted veggies, been given fresh peaches, tomatoes, grapes, eggs from the coup, pears, and more from everyones backyard garden. I have been lent surfboards, wetsuits, cars, beds, towels, showers and more. I have been listened to as I cried, and I've been invited to hitch a ride 5 hours south to help me get to where I needed to go. People have taken me on tours and shared their hometown. I even was given a stick and poke tattoo in someones kitchen. Though I’ve been here for two weeks, I know i’m barely scratching the surface. Barely even getting acquainted with this land. I know i’ll come back again with joy to hug the arms of those I’ve met thus far. One day. As for now, In a matter of hours I will be on a plane mentally preparing myself for 24 hours of travel. Leaving this whole two weeks behind, now only to be lived through the film i shot and the memories within. As there is so much I could say, what I will say is this: Thank you. thank you to everyone of you who went out of your way for me while I was in NZ. Thank you to everyone who went above and beyond so that I could enjoy my time here. Thank you for those of you who asked me who I am or how I’m doing. Thanks to you who extended your friends and family as if it were my own. Thank you to those who treated me to a meal or a beer. Thank you for those who cooked for me, lent me somewhere to sleep, a warm shower, and more. Lastly, thank you for showing me what it looks like to welcome in a stranger, a friend, a visitor. If there is one thing I have learned it’s how to treat those like me. I’ve learned that I want to love people well who come through my hometown. I want to go out of my way even if its inconvenient to show them that they are valuable. I want to cook for them, make time for them, take them where they need to go. Show them that on the complete other side of the world, they have found a friend, a piece of home, and place to be known. That’s what I’ve found here. And for that, I am forever grateful. Goodbye for now NZ, you will be cherished in the sacred spaces of my heart until we meet again one day.