Over the past couple of months, I have been really struggling with life. Normally, I enjoy exercising but as I mentioned in my post about procrastination, it has been a real struggle to get through my daily workouts, even with the help of my personal trainer Alice who I see once a week. While I’ve continued to write about Anita’s Garden and develop In the Circle, I have felt despondent about whether either of these projects are really going anywhere. It’s winter and seasonal affective disorder affects a lot of people, including myself. I often feel depressed at this time of the year. It’s cold, grey and wet. Growth in the garden slows considerably and there isn’t much colour outside to cheer me up.
The other thing on my mind is finances. I’m still learning how – and whether it is indeed possible – to earn a living year round as a blogger and gardener. Gardening is seasonal. Revenue only flows in during spring and summer when my plant nursery is open and I sell seedlings to the public. I’m still looking for ways to extend this so I can support myself year round without recourse to state funds. As some of you may be aware from previous posts on my blog, I suffer from schizophrenia, which is regarded as a disability. I’m therefore entitled to be on the sickness benefit, or welfare. However, this doesn’t make me comfortable with receiving money from the state for doing nothing and I hate having to admit that I have a disability. I want to work and earn my own money, without being dependent on the state. I had to look for alternatives to law because the Law Society in New Zealand makes it very difficult to obtain a practising certificate if you have a mental illness.
Against this background, I have sought external help. One of our family friends, Christine Jull, recently became a life coach and has been helping me tremendously through her business KIS Coach Me in a relatively short space of time. Christine is very smart and, like me, has a corporate background. She has a Bachelor of Business Studies and an MBA, with over 25 years of experience in leadership, technology, audit and projects with organisations around the world. I know Christine because she used to work at the Inland Revenue Department, where she was my father’s boss. Christine is also a qualified Yoga teacher with an impressive 500 hours of experience. After going through a few health problems herself, Christine moved out of Auckland to the beautiful Matakana coast and started life coaching. So far, we have had two sessions over the phone. Christine has helped me in the following ways:
If you’re looking for a way forward to work through career, health and life issues, I highly recommend talking to Christine. She offers a free discovery call and can use this time to help you with goal setting, like she did with me. She works remotely via video calls and it doesn’t matter where in the world you are. For more information, you can reach Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org
In this section, I will be profiling inspiring individuals who have really moved me. I want to engage with their ideas and encourage others to think about different topics which affect society. To start, I can think of no one better to focus on but Max Harris. As many of you will be aware, Max is also a University of Auckland Law School alumnus with a stellar academic record. He went on to clerk for Justice Sian Elias at the Supreme Court in Wellington (New Zealand’s highest court) for eighteen months. He was then awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University, where he undertook the notoriously arduous BCL (Bachelor of Civil laws) degree. Max also graduated with a MPP (Master in Public Policy) from Oxford.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, Max then went on to become an Examination Fellow at All Soul’s College at Oxford University. This position is typically awarded to between one and three people each year, for a term of seven years. Candidates are typically the very best in their disciplines and come from all around the world. Candidates must sit a gruelling twelve-hour written exam, which is described as the most difficult examination in the world. Four to six finalists are then invited to an oral examination at which between 50 to 60 All Souls Fellows interview the candidates. There are about a dozen Prize Fellows at All Souls at any one time, and around 75 Fellows in total. Examination fellows receive lodging and meals, as well as the rather enviable opportunity to study whatever they want without having to sit exams. It is in this environment that Max is currently working towards a doctorate which focusses on constitutional law.
While it’s hard not to be bowled over by his glowing credentials, what really impresses me about Max is the way some of his observations about society resonate deeply with my own. Despite undertaking many years of academic study, both in New Zealand and overseas, he is surprisingly pragmatic. His idealism is refreshing and it’s hard not to like the man behind some ideas about how the world can be a better place. For example, Max believes that we need to rethink what belongs on the left and what belongs on the right. He gets to the very root of my own personal struggles with politics, which for me has always run deeper than simply ticking a box based on a party’s policies. Max also believes deeply in the importance of community, which is something that I value as well. In recognition of his tremendous achievements, Max was named a 40 under 40 Influencer by the University of Auckland Alumni Association. In his interview, he says:
I’ve always admired people who are humble and watching how they carry themselves has been really important for me. I’ve also come to realise there’s only so much we can do on our own; individual effort and personal qualities only go so far. It’s how we relate to other people, how we join together to tackle issues we care about, how we treat other people and how we address structures in society that is important.
While I have not yet met Max, I’m also impressed by how humble he is, despite his amazing achievements. On a personal level, perhaps the most amazing discovery is that Max has actually made me care about politics – not so much the dramas in the Beehive on a day-to-day basis, but rather the deeper issues that the government needs consider and how best they may be addressed. From someone who doesn’t bother voting, if only you were to run for PM, I’d give you my vote Max.
Over the coming weeks, I will be reading Max’s book The New Zealand Project, which was published in 2017. In his book, Max sets out his vision for the challenges confronting New Zealand. I hope to draw from Max’s book and engage with his ideas closely in future blog posts.
Everyone loves a freebie! Did you know that you are entitled to free stuff from many vendors across the entertainment and dining industries in Auckland on your birthday? I thought I’d put together a list of some of these freebies for those of you who are interested. Don’t forget to take a form of photo ID (with your date of birth) when redeeming any of these great deals!
Attractions and amusements
o Sky Tower – free admission to the observation deck https://www.skycityauckland.co.nz/offers/sky-tower/go-free-on-your-birthday/
o Kelly Tarlton’s – free admission https://support.kellytarltons.co.nz/hc/en-us/articles/115000664392-Can-I-visit-for-free-on-my-Birthday-
o Auckland Adventure Jet – free ride http://www.aucklandadventurejet.co.nz/ride-free-on-your-birthday
o Gloputt Mini Golf – play for free on your birthday https://www.gloputt.co.nz/
o Muffin Break – free muffin during your birthday month for Muffin Break Club members who are registered online https://muffinbreak.co.nz/muffin-break-club-terms-conditions/
o Columbus Coffee - free coffee or hot beverage for you and another person for members of Columbus Coffee Rewards https://www.columbuscoffee.co.nz/columbus-rewards
o Jamaica Blue – free slice of cake on your birthday for loyalty club members https://www.jamaicablue.co.nz/loyalty-program/
o Habitual Fix – free smoothie on your birthday for Habitual Fix Addicts members https://www.habitualfix.co.nz/terms-and-conditions.html
o Denny’s restaurant – birthday guest dines free with one paying guest https://dennys.co.nz/new-promotions/
o Valentine’s – free meal for the birthday guest with 3 full paying adult guests http://valentines.co.nz/
o Gengy’s – dine for $1 with three other paying guests, within 7 days of your birthday https://www.gengys.co.nz/special
o Lone Star - $20 reward voucher https://www.lonestar.co.nz/loyal-birthday-reward
o Cobb & Co – free main meal for the birthday guest with a minimum of four guests ordering one main from an age-appropriate menu (the birthday person can be one of the guests) https://www.cobb.co.nz/promotions/
o Mission Bay Café, Auckland $25 reward voucher https://missionbaycafe.eft.plus/
o Mexicali – free meal for members of the Cabana Club https://www.mexicalifresh.co.nz/cabana-club-tcs
o Burger Wisconsin – free birthday burger for loyalty club members https://www.burgerwisconsin.co.nz/
o Burger Fuel – free birthday burger for members of the VIB programme https://www.burgerfuel.com/nz/faqs
o The Cheesecake Shop – join and receive a $5 voucher for your birthday https://www.thecheesecakeshop.co.nz/cake-vouchers/
o Krispy Kreme – four free doughnuts on your birthday https://www.krispykreme.co.nz/offers
o Optihealth – free one hour treatment http://optihealth.co.nz/
o Postie+ - $10 rewards voucher for your birthday https://www.postie.co.nz/rewards-terms-and-conditions
o The Body Shop – 20% discount for loyalty club members during their birthday month https://www.thebodyshop.co.nz/love-your-body-club
Country Road - $10 reward voucher https://www.countryroad.co.nz/rewards-program